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Republic of Shame: Stories from Ireland's Institutions for 'Fallen Women'

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Until alarmingly recently, the Catholic Church, acting in concert with the Irish state, operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of 'fallen women'. In the Magdalene laundries, girls and women were incarcerated and condemned to servitude. And in the mother-and-baby homes, women who had become pregnant out of wedlock were hidden fro Until alarmingly recently, the Catholic Church, acting in concert with the Irish state, operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of 'fallen women'. In the Magdalene laundries, girls and women were incarcerated and condemned to servitude. And in the mother-and-baby homes, women who had become pregnant out of wedlock were hidden from view, and in most cases their babies were adopted - sometimes illegally. Mortality rates in these institutions were shockingly high, and the discovery of a mass infant grave at the mother-and-baby home in Tuam made news all over the world. The Irish state has commissioned investigations. But the workings of the institutions and of the culture that underpinned it - a shame-industrial complex - have long been cloaked in secrecy and silence. For countless people, a search for answers continues. Caelainn Hogan - a brilliant young journalist, born in an Ireland that was only just starting to free itself from the worst excesses of Catholic morality - has been talking to the survivors of the institutions, to members of the religious orders that ran them, and to priests and bishops. She has visited the sites of the institutions, and studied Church and state documents that have much to reveal about how they operated. Reporting and writing with great curiosity, tenacity and insight, she has produced a startling and often moving account of how an entire society colluded in this repressive system, and of the damage done to survivors and their families. Republic of Shame is an astounding portrait of a deeply bizarre culture of control.


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Until alarmingly recently, the Catholic Church, acting in concert with the Irish state, operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of 'fallen women'. In the Magdalene laundries, girls and women were incarcerated and condemned to servitude. And in the mother-and-baby homes, women who had become pregnant out of wedlock were hidden fro Until alarmingly recently, the Catholic Church, acting in concert with the Irish state, operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of 'fallen women'. In the Magdalene laundries, girls and women were incarcerated and condemned to servitude. And in the mother-and-baby homes, women who had become pregnant out of wedlock were hidden from view, and in most cases their babies were adopted - sometimes illegally. Mortality rates in these institutions were shockingly high, and the discovery of a mass infant grave at the mother-and-baby home in Tuam made news all over the world. The Irish state has commissioned investigations. But the workings of the institutions and of the culture that underpinned it - a shame-industrial complex - have long been cloaked in secrecy and silence. For countless people, a search for answers continues. Caelainn Hogan - a brilliant young journalist, born in an Ireland that was only just starting to free itself from the worst excesses of Catholic morality - has been talking to the survivors of the institutions, to members of the religious orders that ran them, and to priests and bishops. She has visited the sites of the institutions, and studied Church and state documents that have much to reveal about how they operated. Reporting and writing with great curiosity, tenacity and insight, she has produced a startling and often moving account of how an entire society colluded in this repressive system, and of the damage done to survivors and their families. Republic of Shame is an astounding portrait of a deeply bizarre culture of control.

30 review for Republic of Shame: Stories from Ireland's Institutions for 'Fallen Women'

  1. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Caelainn Hogan has written a compelling, heart-wrenching, and often infuriating book about Ireland’s notorious mother-and-baby “homes” for unwed pregnant women and girls. In operation for most of the twentieth century, these institutions were run almost exclusively by Catholic nuns hand-in-glove with the Irish State. Their existence was fuelled by deep misogyny and a pervasive cultural perception of human sexuality as inherently shameful, dangerous, even evil. Even girls whose pregnancies were a Caelainn Hogan has written a compelling, heart-wrenching, and often infuriating book about Ireland’s notorious mother-and-baby “homes” for unwed pregnant women and girls. In operation for most of the twentieth century, these institutions were run almost exclusively by Catholic nuns hand-in-glove with the Irish State. Their existence was fuelled by deep misogyny and a pervasive cultural perception of human sexuality as inherently shameful, dangerous, even evil. Even girls whose pregnancies were a result of rape or sexual abuse were not afforded compassion. Approximately 30,000 females were cast out of their homes and sent to these appalling places. Often the parish priest was called in to facilitate the transfer of a “sinful” young woman from the family home to an institution; in some cases, a priest might actually be the father. An estimated 9,000 infants and children died in these mother-and-baby homes. Many deaths occurred as a result of malnutrition, measles, undiagnosed gastrointestinal illnesses, pneumonia, and convulsions. Epidemics weren’t uncommon. Large numbers of babies were buried secretly in unmarked, mass graves. At the most notorious home— operated by the Bon Secours Sisters between 1925 and 1961– in Tuam, County Galway, the remains of an estimated 800 babies and children were disposed of in a sewage tank. Perhaps not surprisingly, the religious orders have claimed to have neither knowledge nor records of these burials. To this day, the culture of silence runs very deep. After 1952, when adoption became legal in Ireland, some of the homes discovered that there were profits to be had in adopting out able-bodied children to American Catholic couples, who promised to raise them in the Church. The couples were obliged to make donations to the Sisters for their services. As for the young mothers: they were invariably pressured into consenting to the adoptions. In some cases, nuns forged the signatures of the women and falsified birth certificates, making it difficult for mothers and the children they bore to trace each other in the future. Disabled and mixed-race children—considered unsuitable for adoption—were often transferred to industrial schools. Women who became pregnant a second or third time were often sent along to the Magdalen Laundries where they did penance as slave labour. Hogan explores multiple aspects of this stain upon the Irish nation. The work and story of Catherine Corless, a local historian in Galway, is rightly highlighted. In childhood, Corless had attended school with some of the unfortunates from the Tuam Home. She and her classmates understood they were not to interact with these pitiful children. Their existence haunted her for years and prompted her determined search to find out what had gone on in the home. When a piece by Alison O’Reilly about Corless and her discoveries appeared in The Irish Mail on Sunday in the spring of 2014, the nation finally took notice. A Commission of Investigation commenced the following year, and the Commission’s final report was published on January 12, 2021. Hogan has immersed herself in the material surrounding what she calls “the industrial shame complex” of her native country. Her powerful book brings multiple strands of this story to those of us across the Atlantic. It is well worth your time. Rating: 4.5 rounded up

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This book has literally changed our lives as a family. We are Irish and always knew my dad was adopted but he'd been told he was adopted as a very young baby and his mother's name and that's all. He said he'd tried to find info on her years ago but couldn't. There wasn't much more talk on the subject. Then I read the novel The Girl In The Letter by Emily Gunnis and my interest was piqued to learn more about the Magdalene Laundries. After a couple of searches came across Republic Of Shame and ord This book has literally changed our lives as a family. We are Irish and always knew my dad was adopted but he'd been told he was adopted as a very young baby and his mother's name and that's all. He said he'd tried to find info on her years ago but couldn't. There wasn't much more talk on the subject. Then I read the novel The Girl In The Letter by Emily Gunnis and my interest was piqued to learn more about the Magdalene Laundries. After a couple of searches came across Republic Of Shame and ordered it immediately. When it arrived I showed my dad and he casually mentioned, "Oh yes, I've always thought I may be one of those babies." I was stunned. I'd never thought about it so I dived straight into the book and was literally blown away. Not only by the horror of what these poor girls and their babies went through at the hands of the nuns and clergy but there in black and white was the name of the home my dad came from in Cork! Suffice to say my excitement was off the charts and because of the great resources Caelainn mentions in the book I've made contact with an organisation in Cork that have assigned a social worker to help us see if we can locate his birth mother (there's a tiny chance she's still alive) or her family. The book is a brilliant piece of journalism with so many intimate stories of those personally affected. If you have any interest whatsoever in this theme this book should be on your TBR list.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt Bender

    This is spectacular long form journalism. Hogan links the accounts of women and children being shamed, abused, isolated, commercialized, and imprisoned in institutions for “fallen women” and orphanages and laundries across Ireland. The scope of offenses and details of the victimization are shocking. She identifies the intersections of church, state, local governments, law enforcement, and class that created and perpetrated the system. Her writing and insights are great, and the volume and diversi This is spectacular long form journalism. Hogan links the accounts of women and children being shamed, abused, isolated, commercialized, and imprisoned in institutions for “fallen women” and orphanages and laundries across Ireland. The scope of offenses and details of the victimization are shocking. She identifies the intersections of church, state, local governments, law enforcement, and class that created and perpetrated the system. Her writing and insights are great, and the volume and diversity of sources are remarkable. Her reporting includes interviews with women and adults who were victims as children, and with many nuns and priests who range from apologists and skeptics to ones that acknowledge some remorse. The ongoing national debate on acknowledgment and accountability is deeply addressed. A fantastic investigative work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hazel Katherine

    This book is an exceptional piece of work. Hogan proves herself an excellently able researcher with a wonderful, easy style of writing. 'Republic of Shame' takes us on a journey through the shameful history of Ireland's recent past - with the author as tour-guide. Interspersing the historical narrative with first-person accounts of her efforts, Hogan brings the readers on her journey with her; rather than treating them merely as spectators. With insight and critical thinking skills that belie he This book is an exceptional piece of work. Hogan proves herself an excellently able researcher with a wonderful, easy style of writing. 'Republic of Shame' takes us on a journey through the shameful history of Ireland's recent past - with the author as tour-guide. Interspersing the historical narrative with first-person accounts of her efforts, Hogan brings the readers on her journey with her; rather than treating them merely as spectators. With insight and critical thinking skills that belie her tender years, Caelainn Hogan has given us a book that is essential reading for anyone with any interest in the status and treatment of women - all women, not just those condemned to slavery in laundries - in Ireland. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emma Flanagan

    An informative book exploring Ireland’s mother and baby homes. More akin to a serious of linked articles, Caelainn Hogan journalistic skills are evident in never overwhelming the reader.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is a well-written book that was incredibly difficult to read. I could stomach reading about 20 pages at a time and it left me feeling infuriated at the culture and institutions that allowed this to happen. I kept hoping the author would end with some suggestions on ways to move forward and heal, but how do you heal from learning that your baby, who was born and died in a mother and baby institution, was buried in a sewage tank? How do you heal from an entire religious institution refusing t This is a well-written book that was incredibly difficult to read. I could stomach reading about 20 pages at a time and it left me feeling infuriated at the culture and institutions that allowed this to happen. I kept hoping the author would end with some suggestions on ways to move forward and heal, but how do you heal from learning that your baby, who was born and died in a mother and baby institution, was buried in a sewage tank? How do you heal from an entire religious institution refusing to give a single shred of information to families that have been torn apart and destroyed by their policies? How do you justify allowing priests who fathered multiple children to be buried in consecrated ground while refusing that same privilege to babies they fathered? Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any answers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liam Mac

    Even though there is some useful information in this book, the author does not stick to the subject matter that is indicated by the subtitle.  "Institutions for Fallen Women" will convey, to anyone familiar with the subject, that it means the Magdalen Laundries.  This is reinforced by the photograph on the front cover showing inmates of the Magdalen Penitentiaries taking part in a religious parade, flanked by police.  There is in fact comparatively little about Magdalen Laundries in the book.  T Even though there is some useful information in this book, the author does not stick to the subject matter that is indicated by the subtitle.  "Institutions for Fallen Women" will convey, to anyone familiar with the subject, that it means the Magdalen Laundries.  This is reinforced by the photograph on the front cover showing inmates of the Magdalen Penitentiaries taking part in a religious parade, flanked by police.  There is in fact comparatively little about Magdalen Laundries in the book.  The author is largely concerned with the related subjects of mother and baby homes and the rights and wrongs of burial practices where dead babies are concerned, which is all very well in itself, but diverges from what the buyer of the book expects.  There are far better books on the subject of the Magdalen Laundries which are not difficult to find.   Toward the end of the book the author attempts to make a comparison between the Magdalen Penitentiaries and the Direct Provision Centres.  For those not familiar with the term, "Direct Provision Centre" refers to temporary accommodation provided by the Irish government for recent immigrants.  This comparison is invalid and insulting to the survivors of the laundries.  Many of these survivors are still very much alive, having suffered for many years, sometimes almost a life sentence, at the hands of the religious orders, aided and abetted by a government under the thumb of lunatic clerics like John Charles McQuaid.  The residents of the Direct Provision Centres are not incarcerated against their will. They are not compelled to perform unpaid hard labour.  They are not punished for trying to escape, by being beaten or having their heads shaved.  They are not compelled to pray aloud all day.  Most of all, they do not have their babies forcibly taken from them and sent, via an illegal adoption system, to the USA.  Caelainn Hogan owes the former inmates of the Magdalen Laundries an apology.   

  8. 5 out of 5

    Haaziq Zahar

    Took me slightly longer to finish this book: Republic of Shame - How Ireland Punished ‘Fallen Women’ and Their Children by Caelainn Hogan. Side note: The author is younger than me! This book is a work of journalism, from the interim reports of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to interviews with those who were part of the homes, the affected mothers, Sisters, nurses, adopted children and even the community around the homes. The climax of this story was the uncovered of mo Took me slightly longer to finish this book: Republic of Shame - How Ireland Punished ‘Fallen Women’ and Their Children by Caelainn Hogan. Side note: The author is younger than me! This book is a work of journalism, from the interim reports of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to interviews with those who were part of the homes, the affected mothers, Sisters, nurses, adopted children and even the community around the homes. The climax of this story was the uncovered of more than 800 babies who were burried in a septic tank at a maternity home for unmarried mothers and babies in Tuam. What should they do with the bodies? Who is to blame? The Church which ran the homes, the State which funded the operations? The neighbours who didn’t aware or pretended not to know about what went behind the gate? Such a sad story about how women who were pregnant out of wedlock were hidden in these mother & baby homes where these mothers came voluntarily, sent by the religious people or being brought by their parents to these places, gave birth and their illegimate babies were adopted or died (super high death rate for babies in Ireland). The burden of these pregnancies fell onto the mothers, where were the fathers? Families sent their young daughters to these homes, stayed & worked there for 2 years & with limited options, either have to agree to let their baby to be adopted or faced the public judgement. Sounds like in Malaysia right? Amazing book. A must read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    — maria

    “As with the Church’s treatment of women pregnant out of wedlock and their children, the priority was secrecy. But whereas women and children suffered for secrecy, male abusers benefited from it.” I was living in Derry the year the news broke about the mass grave located in Tuam. It wasn’t something I ever remember talking about while I was living there, and the Commision’s report was concluded the year I left. It was never brought in even in jurisprudence lectures about the “ethics” of abortion. “As with the Church’s treatment of women pregnant out of wedlock and their children, the priority was secrecy. But whereas women and children suffered for secrecy, male abusers benefited from it.” I was living in Derry the year the news broke about the mass grave located in Tuam. It wasn’t something I ever remember talking about while I was living there, and the Commision’s report was concluded the year I left. It was never brought in even in jurisprudence lectures about the “ethics” of abortion. Even in one of my final lectures last year, a student my age casually used the term “living in sin” as a definition for cohabiting couples. Strange for a country that claims to want to move on from it’s religiously abusive past to still somehow be so backwards. Note: What I didn’t know until reading this was that a county over from where I was living, a mother and baby home operated until 2006. For how much I learned while living in the North of Ireland, I never knew I had lived so close to one. EDIT: lmao also really not lost on me that 2-star reviewers are from devout catholics throwing fits about Hogan calling pro-lifers “anti-choice’s” (as if that isn’t what they are). your church got women thrown out their homes, abused and killed. have fun trying to deny that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marketa

    The book is about the so called Irish "institutions" where both "fallen women" and their children were experiencing awful treatment (and I am aware of both my substantial simplification and euphemism). The stories unveiled by Hogan are extreme, yet as she demonstrates, not at all rare to be tracked in modern Ireland. Importantly, presented cases are just the tip of the iceberg, illustrating 1) the long-lasting unwillingness of the Irish state to engage with an unpleasant topic of extramarital co The book is about the so called Irish "institutions" where both "fallen women" and their children were experiencing awful treatment (and I am aware of both my substantial simplification and euphemism). The stories unveiled by Hogan are extreme, yet as she demonstrates, not at all rare to be tracked in modern Ireland. Importantly, presented cases are just the tip of the iceberg, illustrating 1) the long-lasting unwillingness of the Irish state to engage with an unpleasant topic of extramarital conception and leaving it up to the Catholic church, without any kind of responsibility or control; 2) the very much dogmatic approach to everything sexuality-related. It was simply seen as wrong and sinful; but only when it came to women, the overall absence of men as fathers is absolutely flagrant and definitely the most fascinating aspect of the issue. I find the book extremely engaging and important, yet I think it could be structured better. I would like to rate it with 4.5 stars, which is not possible so I go for 5. I definitely plan re-reading it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ffion

    3.5. It's very interesting, but is somewhat lacking in the way the information is presented. 3.5. It's very interesting, but is somewhat lacking in the way the information is presented.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I’m heartbroken that this really happened in the place I’m always so proud to call my home.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aoiffe Hughes

    This book should be read by everyone. It is an eye-opening account of the injustices suffered by countless women and their children inflicted by a State complicit with Religious orders who felt,and continue to feel, they have the right to pass judgement. Harrowing to think how these women and their children were and are treated by the religious, the state and everyone who turned a blind eye. They deserve answers and apologies.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Absolutely infuriating and heartbreaking. I will be thinking about this for a long time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I always thought Joyce was melodramatic for exiling himself from Ireland. Between this book and Say Nothing, I’m starting to see his point. In short, good God, what terrible, terrible things were done to unmarried mothers and their children. The author’s writing could be clearer—I frequently had to reread sentences—but her reporting about what happened in the mother-and-child homes is thorough and devastating. Horrendous infant mortality. Babies buried in sewage tanks. Cruelty to the children who I always thought Joyce was melodramatic for exiling himself from Ireland. Between this book and Say Nothing, I’m starting to see his point. In short, good God, what terrible, terrible things were done to unmarried mothers and their children. The author’s writing could be clearer—I frequently had to reread sentences—but her reporting about what happened in the mother-and-child homes is thorough and devastating. Horrendous infant mortality. Babies buried in sewage tanks. Cruelty to the children who survived. Falsified adoption records. Destruction of people’s lives because of shame and prejudice. What amounts to forced labor of the “penitents.” It’s staggering, and it ended recently.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    The subject is so interesting and the research was thorough. The book was written more in a research paper style than a narrative style. That's absolutely fine as needed. From my non-research perspective, it lacked that something that made it more readable. There is a movie The Magdalene Sisters that I saw years ago about the same subject. It was fantastic. It would be a great complimentary piece to this book. The subject is so interesting and the research was thorough. The book was written more in a research paper style than a narrative style. That's absolutely fine as needed. From my non-research perspective, it lacked that something that made it more readable. There is a movie The Magdalene Sisters that I saw years ago about the same subject. It was fantastic. It would be a great complimentary piece to this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aoife

    4.5 stars. A fantastic look into the criminal act that was the mother and baby homes system in Ireland, and all the ways the Church and State failed vulnerable women and children countless times during their operating years, and the failures following their closure. The devastation and confusion left in the wake of these homes is such a stain on the history of the country, and the way Caelainn Hogan investigated the beginning and endings of the home was done in a such a great way, I can only appl 4.5 stars. A fantastic look into the criminal act that was the mother and baby homes system in Ireland, and all the ways the Church and State failed vulnerable women and children countless times during their operating years, and the failures following their closure. The devastation and confusion left in the wake of these homes is such a stain on the history of the country, and the way Caelainn Hogan investigated the beginning and endings of the home was done in a such a great way, I can only applaud her. I also can only extend my love and sympathy to all the women and people who shared their own stories in this book, some whom have gotten the answers they need, others who never will. I'm so sorry this happened to you. This is a book I think best read in bits. I took it slowly and read it chapter by chapter, taking time to put the book down for a day or a few hours between each chapter and thinking about the stories and accounts I heard whether it be from those in the religious orders, women who had been residents of the home or people born in them. Even the people with zero connection to the homes except for the fact their back garden was a baby graveyard. I really liked this way of reading, and I felt I was able to absorb and think and appreciate everything much better. I really respect the kindness and respect Caelainn showed to everyone she spoke to in this book, and the people she was able to persuade to share some of their horrific truths and terrible memories. I also enjoyed some of the things she was able to point out in how she was treated by the nuns versus the local priest she interviewed (tea and biscuits laid out by the nuns, zero from the father himself). While this book infuriated me, and I felt sorrow and rage on behalf of everyone failed by Ireland and the horrible power the Catholic Church had over everyone for such a long time - It's just hard to really think about the shame women felt for falling pregnant, sometimes through no fault of their own, and sometimes with the help of the local priest (!!) and how whole families would turn against their daughter/sister/cousin or they would believe they would, and go through the whole ordeal alone and in secret. The one part that made me truly sad and brought me to tears was actually a 'happier' part of the book when the women returned to Dublin, and the "Magdalens" went to a special dinner in Dublin: "The fleet of buses received a Garda escort; some of the women told me it made them feel nervous. When they alighted from the buses, they were met by a welcoming party holding home-made signs that read 'The women of Ireland salute you'. They walked through the crowd beaming, gobsmacked and vindicated, their cheeks wet with tears. Grey-haired men stood openly crying, clapping them on. Women pressed their faces against the railing to serenade them with 'Molly Malone' as they made their way inside. Even for those who had never left Ireland, this was a kind of homecoming, to a country that accepted them and embraced them. A country that believed them." I really recommend this book to people who want to learn more. An excellent account of the horrors and failures of the worst thing in Irish recent memory.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    I can normally read a book in a couple of days, regardless of the subject matter I can read in the bath, whilst making dinner and I always read before bed and then have no trouble falling asleep. With this book it took me a week and I could only read it sitting down on my own. I knew a bit about the laundries and the mother and baby homes. I saw the recent report and I knew the story of Ann Lovett so I thought I would be prepared for what I read in here, but the stories and the facts of what Ire I can normally read a book in a couple of days, regardless of the subject matter I can read in the bath, whilst making dinner and I always read before bed and then have no trouble falling asleep. With this book it took me a week and I could only read it sitting down on my own. I knew a bit about the laundries and the mother and baby homes. I saw the recent report and I knew the story of Ann Lovett so I thought I would be prepared for what I read in here, but the stories and the facts of what Ireland has done to generations on women and children made me sick to my stomach and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. As well as the tales of nuns refusing pain relief in childbirth, the actions of the church in continuing these places and the babies ripped from their mother’s arms to be thrown away like rubbish, there is also the story of a collective agreement of shame and mistreatment. The fathers who dropped their daughters off at these places, the mothers who kicked their young daughter out of home and the fathers of these children who revived no consequences whatsoever. In one part the author notes that the father is listed as ‘uncle to the mother’ no notes of the police ever being informed. What I am left with after reading this, is the importance of the full truth needing to come out and also the deep desire of some section of Irish society for this to keep this buried. An absolutely essential read but my overwhelmingly feeling is of amazement that the women of Ireland have resisted the urge to burn the place down.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shane Egan

    Not an easy read. Firstly because of the subject matter. The stories told of individuals who had been made to suffer within church and state run institutions are painful and infuriating. Through accounts from these women that Ireland has failed, the book helped me understand (what's known of) what had happened within the Mother and Baby Homes, and Magdelen Laundries. It helped me understand how these things happened, the organisations, people and processes involved. However it doesn't answer why Not an easy read. Firstly because of the subject matter. The stories told of individuals who had been made to suffer within church and state run institutions are painful and infuriating. Through accounts from these women that Ireland has failed, the book helped me understand (what's known of) what had happened within the Mother and Baby Homes, and Magdelen Laundries. It helped me understand how these things happened, the organisations, people and processes involved. However it doesn't answer why these things had to happen. Why the culture of shame developed to such a degree in Ireland, as to resort to hiding illegitimate children and the women who bore them? Why the nuns acted so callously towards those institutionalised. Why, in many cases, they refuse still to acknowledge the full extent of the wrong they did, to help provide answers to those looking to find where their children are buried or help unite children and their birth mothers? The ongoing issues are well illustrated here and is reason enough to recommend this book to everyone living in Ireland today. The other reason I found it difficult was due to the density of information presented. There are a lot of names, places, organisations and events presented, all while jumping forward and back in time. I took my time with it, reading much slower than usual to ensure I could absorb it as well as possible. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    A heartbreaking read but an important story that needs to be told, sharing the voices of thousands of mothers and their children who were victims of Irish state and Catholic Church, particularly between 1920s - present day. The result of the actions taken decades prior, now leaves several generations, with some people as young as in their 30s, being at a loss as to their family history and their identity due to documents either being trapped in webs of government legalese, destroyed church recor A heartbreaking read but an important story that needs to be told, sharing the voices of thousands of mothers and their children who were victims of Irish state and Catholic Church, particularly between 1920s - present day. The result of the actions taken decades prior, now leaves several generations, with some people as young as in their 30s, being at a loss as to their family history and their identity due to documents either being trapped in webs of government legalese, destroyed church records and/or falsified documents. The book holds an honesty that in Ireland, "someone knows someone" who has been a victim of the Magdalene laundries and/or Mother and Baby homes, making it Irish society's worst kept secret. A basic knowledge in Catholicism, Cannon Law and Irish Politics make this a much easier read as the book does not contain a glossary of terms. The book is also better read in small chunks, even chapter by chapter as it covers subjects including baby and infant death, slavery, sexual abuse and neglect to name some themes, which can be distressing. Hogan's writing is exceptional and her lengths and approach to uncovering these stories is just as poignant as the stories themselves. Her research is thorough and uses word of mouth and interviews with nuns, priests, charity workers, former inmates, adopted children, archives and academic/journalistic references, providing a well rounded snapshot of still a very clouded, secretive and emotive topic. A powerful read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Courts

    Republic of Shame was a spectacular read, I absolutely will be thinking about it for ages. The mother-and-baby homes and Magdalen laundries of 20th century Ireland are disturbingly, perhaps even morbidly, fascinating. They're shrouded in layers of church-and-state secrecy to this day yet are the source of so much pain that healing may take many more generations to even begin. Caelainn Hogan is, in some ways, the central character of Republic of Shame. She really shows how the 'shame-industrial c Republic of Shame was a spectacular read, I absolutely will be thinking about it for ages. The mother-and-baby homes and Magdalen laundries of 20th century Ireland are disturbingly, perhaps even morbidly, fascinating. They're shrouded in layers of church-and-state secrecy to this day yet are the source of so much pain that healing may take many more generations to even begin. Caelainn Hogan is, in some ways, the central character of Republic of Shame. She really shows how the 'shame-industrial complex' as she calls it has permeated every aspect of Irish society by traveling from place to place, interviewing men and women, from nuns and priests, to the former inmates, to the grown children who had been forced out of their unmarried mother's arms and adopted out. Many stories told in the pages of the book come from leads garnered from dog walkers passing by or even by Hogan's chance meetings with victims and survivors of the institutions. Hogan also masterfully weaves historical facts and details throughout, creating a tapestry that doesn't scapegoat any one institution or person, while still holding the church and state responsible for what are undoubtedly some of the most brutal and callous actions that could be imposed upon innocent women and children.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Louise Omer

    Journalist Caelinn Hogan has written a condemning investigation into Ireland’s historical misogyny. Mother Baby Homes and Magdalen Laundries were church-run, state-funded internment camps for women who got pregnant outside of marriage. Running throughout the 20th century, they pursued illegal adoption, neglected thousands of children, and buried children’s bodies in mass graves. To this day Catholic institutions maintain a veil of secrecy, in some cases actively destroying evidence - and the Iri Journalist Caelinn Hogan has written a condemning investigation into Ireland’s historical misogyny. Mother Baby Homes and Magdalen Laundries were church-run, state-funded internment camps for women who got pregnant outside of marriage. Running throughout the 20th century, they pursued illegal adoption, neglected thousands of children, and buried children’s bodies in mass graves. To this day Catholic institutions maintain a veil of secrecy, in some cases actively destroying evidence - and the Irish government is complicit, as recent news events showed. The “shame-industrial complex”, as Hogan calls the network of these homes, and families’ and priests’ practice of sending unmarried pregnant women to them - has its roots in industrial workhouses, and the internment of the poor. The underlying ideology is still present in Ireland today - you might remember condoms were legalised in 1985, divorce 1995, and abortion in 2018 (with some women still travelling overseas for reproductive healthcare). You have to read this book: it’s a compelling and jaw-dropping exploration of how an entire culture - not to mention hundreds of thousands of lives - are stained by the punishment of female sexuality.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Simon J Alvey

    This is one of most thought provoking books I have read in a while. This dark underbelly of Irish society and its appalling behaviour toward unmarried mothers and their children is getting more treatment in culture. However, what this book drives home is the deep complicity of the Irish state in allowing women and children to be rejected and enslaved. The book makes clear that even as Irish society is starting to talk about these worst aspects it is still very difficult and leading to a wall of This is one of most thought provoking books I have read in a while. This dark underbelly of Irish society and its appalling behaviour toward unmarried mothers and their children is getting more treatment in culture. However, what this book drives home is the deep complicity of the Irish state in allowing women and children to be rejected and enslaved. The book makes clear that even as Irish society is starting to talk about these worst aspects it is still very difficult and leading to a wall of silence and pain. I am not the first to compare this to Stasiland, but it is a good comparison, it makes clear the unspoken trauma from a historic injustice that continues to course through society to this day. The journalistic nature of the book leads to an episodic structure, which is effective in showing the breadth of experiences, although it can detract from providing an overarching narrative, but this is a minor thought in a chillingly good account

  24. 4 out of 5

    Clazzzer C

    This is a tough but very worthwhile read. It reads like a thesis, an extensive piece of journalism. The stark facts it unveils highlighting the trauma inflicted upon women and children from the foundation of the Free State in 1922 in until the late nineties are shocking. Even today questions remain unanswered and those who were part of the concealment of information and truth, who have not yet passed away, are often reluctant to be fully transparent. It could turn a religious person against thei This is a tough but very worthwhile read. It reads like a thesis, an extensive piece of journalism. The stark facts it unveils highlighting the trauma inflicted upon women and children from the foundation of the Free State in 1922 in until the late nineties are shocking. Even today questions remain unanswered and those who were part of the concealment of information and truth, who have not yet passed away, are often reluctant to be fully transparent. It could turn a religious person against their faith entirely. The priests, nuns, uncaring men who fathered those children, parents who shunned their daughters, neighbours whose curtains twitched, doctors who falsified birth certs.... the list goes on. So many were complicit in a crime affecting tens of thousands of Irish women and children and they still have not all received answers. It is a book that everyone should read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    I probably should have picked an easier book to read while relaxing on annual leave but oh well. This book is excellently written and thoroughly researched. A huge amount of time is devoted to recounting the stories of people affected by the "shame-industrial complex", and their stories are related factually, sparing none of the nasty details. It's painful to read at times, but also draws you in and really makes you feel something about everyone Hogan met and spoke to throughout her research. Du I probably should have picked an easier book to read while relaxing on annual leave but oh well. This book is excellently written and thoroughly researched. A huge amount of time is devoted to recounting the stories of people affected by the "shame-industrial complex", and their stories are related factually, sparing none of the nasty details. It's painful to read at times, but also draws you in and really makes you feel something about everyone Hogan met and spoke to throughout her research. During the passages focused on the nitty-gritty of Hogan's investigation, her journeys around the country and the various encounters she has, the writing occasionally switches to a lighter and sometimes even humorous tone, giving you some some room to breathe while never letting you forget exactly what you're reading about.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Phillip J. O'Brien

    The story of the Mother and Baby Homes is one everyone should know and it is a most important part of Ireland’s history. It deserves to be written about with respect and this author presents not so much a book but a number of articles put together. She displays open contempt for the Catholic Church and refers to pro-life people as “anti-choice” and there are so many errors in the book I will write to Penguin Ireland about it - how some of the mistakes got past an editor is beyond me - something The story of the Mother and Baby Homes is one everyone should know and it is a most important part of Ireland’s history. It deserves to be written about with respect and this author presents not so much a book but a number of articles put together. She displays open contempt for the Catholic Church and refers to pro-life people as “anti-choice” and there are so many errors in the book I will write to Penguin Ireland about it - how some of the mistakes got past an editor is beyond me - something as simple as claiming Pope St. Gregory the Great lived in the 16th century (p60). It’s very unfortunate that Caelainn Hogan pedals her own agenda through this work rather than remaining objective because this is an important area.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ann Weisz

    A fascinating and horrific account of the institution of the Catholic Church in how they dealt with illegitimacy and unmarried pregnant women in Ireland. Frightening in the manner that society behaved towards these women and how their kids were adopted under duress or kept in institutions and how so many were buried in mass graves in a sewer! A huge indictment to Irish way of living and institutionalized religion - particularly amongst the poorest of society. I found the book to be more research A fascinating and horrific account of the institution of the Catholic Church in how they dealt with illegitimacy and unmarried pregnant women in Ireland. Frightening in the manner that society behaved towards these women and how their kids were adopted under duress or kept in institutions and how so many were buried in mass graves in a sewer! A huge indictment to Irish way of living and institutionalized religion - particularly amongst the poorest of society. I found the book to be more research based than a narrative story and wasn’t quite familiar with all the church terminology and legislation (which I think the author assumed the readers would know about). Any propensity I might’ve had to visit Ireland has vanished.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rai

    Until alarmingly recently, the Catholic Church, acting in concert with the Irish state, operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of 'fallen women'. In the Magdalene laundries, girls and women were incarcerated and condemned to servitude. And in the mother-and-baby homes, women who had become pregnant out of wedlock were hidden from view, and in most cases their babies were adopted - sometimes illegally. Mortality rates in these institutions were shockin Until alarmingly recently, the Catholic Church, acting in concert with the Irish state, operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of 'fallen women'. In the Magdalene laundries, girls and women were incarcerated and condemned to servitude. And in the mother-and-baby homes, women who had become pregnant out of wedlock were hidden from view, and in most cases their babies were adopted - sometimes illegally. Mortality rates in these institutions were shockingly high, and the discovery of a mass infant grave at the mother-and-baby home in Tuam made news all over the world. The Irish state has commissioned investigations. But the workings of the institutions and of the culture that underpinned it - a shame-industrial complex - have long been cloaked in secrecy and silence. For countless people, a search for answers continues. Republic of Shame is a fantastic piece of investigative journalism, but a hard book to read in terms of its subject matter; heart-breaking, blood boiling and poignant. Like most Irish people, I knew of the existence of these mother and baby homes, of the Magdalene laundries, of what went on within their walls, and the chokehold that the Catholic Church held on our little island, but to read detailed accounts, and survivor’s testimony, is a different matter entirely. I personally found so many accounts difficult to read and had to take 10 minutes to breathe and compose myself, to let the words and their weight sink in, before I could continue. Hogan is an incredible writer, researcher, and journalist. She holds space for these women (and men) who have agreed to speak with her and tells their stories with respect and compassion. This book was obviously a labour of love for Hogan, but also a crusade for answers, written to help bring these stories into the light, to ensure that we never forget these women and their children or what happened to them, to fight for justice for the 800 babies and children whose bodies were found in a septic tank in Tuam and the women who gave birth to them, for answers as to how this was let happen. The last Magdalene laundry in Ireland didn’t cease operation until the 1990’s – many of these women and their children are still with us, and they aren’t going to be shoved under the rug any longer. This country has treated women and children despicably, and the State and the Catholic Church have a lot to answer for. An extraordinarily important book. 5 / 5

  29. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Rosaleen

    I am disappointed to see that teenagers whose siblings had joined the British Army were locked away in Mental Institutions for punishment under Ireland`s Emergency Powers have not b een mentioned in the Republic of Shame By Caelainn Hogan. There was a Starvation Order with a flogging Order attached. That had to be worse than anything I have come across. I am the author of Ireland`s Starvation Order (self Published) Prisoner of War number 9294, I have been told by a Social worker that I am the onl I am disappointed to see that teenagers whose siblings had joined the British Army were locked away in Mental Institutions for punishment under Ireland`s Emergency Powers have not b een mentioned in the Republic of Shame By Caelainn Hogan. There was a Starvation Order with a flogging Order attached. That had to be worse than anything I have come across. I am the author of Ireland`s Starvation Order (self Published) Prisoner of War number 9294, I have been told by a Social worker that I am the only known person to hav e survived.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Such a tough, overwhelming and angering read. I wasn’t aware of the reach of the shame-industrial complex in Ireland, I knew of mother and baby homes, but not to this extent. I’m so angry and sad after reading this. The author did an amazing job of reading sources, I can’t imagine how hard some of this interviews were. She made clear efforts to engage the nuns and church on their role as well, even though these efforts were largely ignored. There’s not enough that we as a country can do for the Such a tough, overwhelming and angering read. I wasn’t aware of the reach of the shame-industrial complex in Ireland, I knew of mother and baby homes, but not to this extent. I’m so angry and sad after reading this. The author did an amazing job of reading sources, I can’t imagine how hard some of this interviews were. She made clear efforts to engage the nuns and church on their role as well, even though these efforts were largely ignored. There’s not enough that we as a country can do for the survivors of these institutions.

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