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Magdalen Laundry

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 40248 ; Johnny Mulhern]

Grace Notes sang Magdalen Laundry in 1998 on their Fellside album Red Wine & Promises. This track was also included in 2012 on their anthology 20. Lynda Hardcastle noted:

When I first heard this song (sung by Eleanor Shanley at Ballyshannon Folk Festival, 1995) it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Without being overly sentimental or apportioning blame, it tells of the plight of young Irish girls who went “astray”. There but for fortune go you or I. A powerful and beautifully written song.

Annie Grace sang Magdalen Laundry in 2004 on her Greentrax album Take Me Out Drinking Tonight.

Dutch singer Leoni Jansen sang The Magdalene Laundry in 2006 on her CD Heart Strings & Loose Ends. This track was also included in 2010 on her compilation CD The Third Road.


Grace Notes sing Magdalen Laundry

For seventeen years I’ve been scrubbing this washboard,
Ever since the fellas started in after me.
My mother poor soul didn’t know what to do,
The Canon said, Child there’s a place for you.
Now I’m serving my time at the Magdalen Laundry.
I’m towing the line at the Magdalen Laundry.

There’s girls from the country, girls from the town
With their bony white elbows going up and down
The Reverend Mother as she glides through the place
A tight little smile on the side of her face
She’s running the show at the Magdalen Laundry
She’s got nowhere to go but the Magdalen Laundry

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh Lord won’t you let me,
Don’t you let me,
Won’t you let me
Wash away the stain.
Oh Lord won’t you let me
Wash away the stain.

I’m washing altar linen and cassocks and stoles,
scrubbing long johns for these holy joes.
We know where they’ve been when they’re not saving souls,
What the red wine spilt, what the smooth hand poured.
We’re squeezing it out at the Magdalen Laundry,
We’re scrubbing it out at the Magdalen Laundry.

Sunday afternoon while the Lord’s at rest
It’s off to the prom watch the waves roll by.
We’re chewing our toffees, hear the seagully squawk,
There go the maggies, the children talk.
Through our faces they stare at the Magdalen Laundry,
In our eyes see the glare of the Magdalen Laundry.

For seventeen years I’ve been scrubbing this washboard.