Steven O’Riordan is the director of the From a Distance video to raise funds for the Magdalene survivors.
It’s hard to think that a brief encounter with Magdalene Survivor Maureen Sullivan a little over five years ago would lead to the creating, developing, production and ultimately distribution of this charity single.
“From a Distance” written by Julie Gold and produced by John Reynolds and Tim Oliver, captures the heart, mind, spirit and imagination of everything that followed since then.
I was twenty-two when this process started and even though it has been five years in the making, I have enjoyed every minute of it!
Many of Ireland’s top performers
For me its hard to think that a young lad like myself living in the countryside of Ireland in a small town called Millstreet, in Co. Cork could pull together some of Ireland’s best loved, successful, inspirational and newly established artists.
The artists involved are Sinead O’Connor, Tommy Fleming, Brian Kennedy, Ann Scott, Moya Brennan, Daniel O’Donnell, Charlie Landsborough, Lumiere, Patrick Sheehy and the not so Irish but equally incredible Glasgow Gospel Choir.
The charity single will raise funds for the survivors of Magdalene Laundries in Ireland.
A monument for the Magdalene women
With these funds the women will build a national monument to the memory of all those women who lived, died or escaped these horrific institutions.
Magdalene Laundries in short, were Irish institutions run by four Religious Orders; The Sisters of Mercy, The Sisters of Charity, The Sister of Our Lady of Charity and The Good Shepherd Convent.
One would be forgiven to think that these charitable and religious institutions were used to educate or reform the women that passed through them. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
They lost their dignity, rights and self-respect
The Irish women who entered these institutions were stripped of their dignity, human rights & self-respect. They had their names changed and worked long hours slaving over huge machines called caldrons. The women produced mass amounts of clean laundry, which in turn funded the continuation of the Magdalene Laundries, as we know it.
The women were forbidden to speak or interact with anyone from the outside world and they dared not question the authority or legal reason as to why they were there.
Effectively these women became isolated from humanity and in many cases institutionalised. The women were never allowed to develop or realise their true potential and for now have been completely forgotten by us, in Irish society.
What crime did the Magdalene women commit?
Their crime you ask? None!
Quite simply, the girls were deemed too pretty, mischievous or had been sexually assaulted by family members, strangers and in some cases their friends.
Some of these women as a result had children out of wedlock and for the most part they would never see that child again after its birth. He or she would be sold to a ‘proper’ family living in Ireland, America, Australia the UK and beyond.
The women were committed by social workers, Gardai (Police), Doctors, family members and indeed directly by The Irish State or Religious Orders.
Some were taken to jail or mental institutions
Some women were transferred to Mountjoy prison, Dublin and in other cases to state run mental institutions operating throughout Ireland.
It’s even more shocking to think that the last woman admitted to these institutions was in 1991 and the last Magdalene Laundry closed its doors in 1996.
The Magdalene women who survived these institutions formed a survivors group known as “Magdalene Survivors Together”. Magdalene Survivors Together is calling on both The Irish State and The Religious Orders to recognise the injustice these women suffered.
Women have come up against heavy opposition
However, they have come up against some heavy opposition and ultimately their story, campaign and for fight for justice has been prolonged. By buying this CD, you have effectively given a voice to these women and helped in the development of their campaign and goal to build a national monument.
For that, the women and I are extremely grateful. It is hoped that one day these women will get the justice they deserve!
To Buy the Single online just do the following;
http://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/from-distance-feat-sinead/id436325034?i=436325047 We have one day left to make sure we get as many people as possible to Download this song or buy it in Tesco’s Ireland… Please, please pass on this link Today spread the word and get people to support! We want to make it Number 1 for the Magdalene women.