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.
In the great tradition of Anna Funder's Stasiland and Barbara
Demick's Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea - both winners of the
Samuel Johnson Prize - Republic of Shame is an astounding portrait of a deeply
bizarre culture of control.
Caelainn Hogan was born in Dublin in 1988, and grew up a stone's throw from Ire land's biggest holding centre for adoptions. Her journalism has featured in The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, The New Yorker (online ), VICE Magazine, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, The Irish Times and The Dublin Review. Republic
of Shame is her first book .