Father Delaney Collection: Magdalene Laundry
One of the most notable of Father Delaney’s films was made on the grounds of The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Convent – a convent which housed a Magdalene Laundry – which closed its doors in 1999.
In the film we see the nuns and residents playing games in the garden, as well as performing in a play and dancing. Though the film is short but is the most extensive footage that is known to have been filmed inside a Magdalene Institution. The film is invaluable for the information it provides on the residents. some of whom were classed as “fallen“ women, held here against their will as punishment for some perceived misdemeanour such as sexual promiscuity or extra-marital pregnancy. The images show what the women wore, how they played, how they relate to each other, the nuns and to the filmmaker, a priest.
With permission from Father Delaney’s niece, Irene Devitt, and facilitation by the IFI Irish Film Archive access officers, this film has been used many times by contemporary filmmakers to illustrate life within a Magdalene Institution.
Father Jack Delaney (1906-1980) was ordained in 1930 at the age of 24 and served as a parish priest in Dublin in the 1930s and 1940s. He served mainly in Seán McDermott Street (then Gloucester Street), Rutland Street and Gardiner Street. His images of trips with his parishoners, tenement life, school children at play, religious processions, and scenes within the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Convent which housed a Magdalene Laundry provide us with a fascinating glimpse of life in inner city Dublin in the 1930s.
To see more of Jack Delaney Collection, click here.
With kind permission of Irene Devitt.