Religious order amends headstone after Magdalene burial duplication

A religious order which listed four Magdalene women as being buried in two different locations has amended the headstone.

Last week, the Irish Examiner reported that the Good Shepherd Order refused to offer any explanation as to why the names were duplicated at two locations in Cork.

Another woman with a distinctive first name is listed twice on the same headstone at another site, but with different dates of death two months apart. The women died on dates ranging from as far back as 1882 right up until 1983.

It has since emerged that one of the headstones at St Joseph’s Cemetery has been amended. Three of the names now have asterisks attached with a footnote stating: “Interred in Residents Plot Sunday’s Well”.

However, no explanation is offered for the woman listed twice on the headstone with two different dates of death. The Sunday’s Well grave has been vandalised and is inaccessible to the public.

The change to the headstone was spotted by a group of people who attended a flower laying ceremony at the grave last Saturday afternoon.

Magdalene Laundry survivors and advocacy groups say they were not informed of the changes made to the headstone.

The Irish Examiner asked the order a series of questions on the changes, including if relatives of those buried at the graves were informed. It declined to issue a response.

Claire McGettrick of the Justice for Magdalenes advocacy group said the manner in which the women’s grave was amended highlighted the lack of dignity afforded the women even in death.

“These women were afforded little dignity in life and such discrepancies offer them no dignity in death. It is insensitive too to the families of these women who may have been visiting the wrong grave for years, only to discover their relative is actually buried in a different graveyard, which is now inaccessible,” she said.

One of the graves in St Joseph’s Cemetery was only found last summer by Justice For Magdalenes. It also located a fourth grave at Kilcully Cemetery which appears to be later burials from the Good Shepherd and Peacock Lane laundries.

In total, 188 women were buried at the four sites between 1875 and 2011. It is unclear whether death certificates exist for all of the women buried in the plots.

JFM also raised concerns about the large gap in years, roughly between the early 1890s and early 1920s during which no names are recorded at any of the grave sites.

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