‘Ghost House’ and ‘Disciplinary Institutions’ continued during Summer 2010

In June/July 2010, I went back to Ireland to shoot some more photographs and video footage for the ‘Ghost House’ and ‘Disciplinary Institutions’ projects. I mostly revisited previously explored locations; My aim was to try and rely less on the automatic settings of the cameras, make better use of the tripod, and generally be more thoughtful about my images. I have not looked at the video footage in depth yet, but for the photographs, the result were mixed. I did get some good images I did not get before, but some scenes I re-shot look no better in the newer, more worked versions than on the older version where I only specified the ISO and let the camera do the rest of the work.

This is a Ghost House in co. Galway that I visited in 2008. The first picture with the stairs is my favourite of everything I’ve made this year.

Ghost House

Ghost House

This is a Ghost House I saw from the road. I could not go inside because it was locked up, but I thought the exterior shot was very interesting because the walls appear to be bleeding.

'Bloody' Ghost House

I was granted authorisation to go into Woodlawn House, co. Galway. The house is empty and awaiting renovation but the elaborate interior architecture was enough to make interesting pictures.

Woodlawn House

Woodlawn House

I went back to the High Park Magdalene Laundry in Dublin, but I did not get much better pictures than last year.

Magdalene laundry, Dublin.

Magdalene laundry, Dublin.

I went back to the Good Shepherd Magdalene Laundry in Cork and got better pictures, especially from the upstairs floors. Some of these photographs need to be straightened because my tripod was not straight on the uneven floor (I need to find out how to do that).

Magdalene laundry, Cork.

(The book says ‘Ecclesiastical Law’).

Magdalene laundry, Cork.

Magdalene laundry, Cork.

I also got more pictures from Eglington and St Kevin’s insane asylums in Cork.

Eglington insane asylum, Cork.

I found by chance a Magdalene Laundry in Kinsale, co. Cork. The building itself was gutted and being transformed into flats, but the inmates cemetery was still there at the back of the building site.

Magdalene Laundry Cemetery, Kinsale, co. Cork.

Our landlady also tipped me to go see Letterfrack Industrial School: Industrial Schools were the equivalent for boys of what Magdalene Laundries were for girls. The School is now a normal school, but an information panel in the hall tells the story of the former Industrial School and the inmates cemetery has been turned into a sort of memorial.

Of course, erecting memorials afterwards does not change anything for the victims, but the contrast between the tended memorial of the Industrial School and the rusty, abandoned graves of the Magdalenes made me bitter. The wrongs done to the little boys are at least publicly acknowledged and apologies are at least paid lip service to. But the Magdalenes do not even get this: the Catholic Church still refuses to acknowledge any wrong done to the Magdalenes, despite campaigns from inmates’ descendants, and public authorities are all to eager to eradicate the Magdalene Laundries from the face of the earth, turning them into overpriced apartments without as much as a commemorative plate. Seeing this contrast made me all the more determined in my project to document the Magdalene asylums.

Letterfrack industrial school

Letterfrack industrial school


4 Responses to “‘Ghost House’ and ‘Disciplinary Institutions’ continued during Summer 2010”

  1. Stunning photos, Melanie. But one correction for you on the history: industrial schools were not the equivalent of Magdalene Laundries. Both girls and boys attended and or lived residentially at industrial schools. The schools also came under government regulations, received capitation grants and were regularly inspected. Magdalene Laundries were privately run institutions (by four religious congregations) and although the state did frequently remand women through the courts, or by transferring a girl from an industrial school to a laundry, they were not inspected and did not receive capitation grants until the late 1960’s. Moreover, under the 2002 Redress Act, survivors of industrial schools who were abused received compensation and restorative justice; the Magdalenes were omitted from this Act, along with the Bethany Home (a Protestant-run orphanage and laundry). Just wanted to clarify. Justice for Magdalenes has initiated a campaign to bring about a formal state apology and restorative justice for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries. Photos and other media are very important to the restorative justice issue, in terms of an oral and media history of the Laundries. So kudos for the very poignant photos of High Park and Sunday’s Well.

    • melaniemenardarts Says:

      Dear Mari,

      Many thanks for the historical correction. I must confess this was a quick post for my end of semester evaluation. When I actually get to properly sorting all the pictures, I will take care to explain the history more accurately 🙂

      Do not hesitate to ask if you need some pictures for a Magdalene campaign.

      I just copy your site below so it shows more clearly to the blog readers:

      Best wishes for your cause!

  2. anna liffey Says:

    Hi Melanie,I would be very interested if you have any photos you might like to share of any of the Magdalene Laundries and in particular the gravestones of Magdalene women or indeed Penitents as they were often called. I was in High Park Laundry for a time hence my interest. The photos you took are great.Kindest regards. Anna Liffey

    • melaniemenardarts Says:

      Dear Anna,

      Sorry it took me so long to reply. Yes, I would be happy to share pictures with you or anyone involved with the Magdalenes. Do you need them urgently? I have not sorted them all yet (there are only a handful on the blog at the moment) but will do so in the coming weeks before my course ends, and will post them somewhere where they are easier to find (I’m trying to make a proper website). Is it OK if I contact you back once I am done with this task? Many thanks for your support, it means a lot coming from someone who actually was in High Park.

      Kindest regards.

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