Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries Research Report

Initial research conducted to inform the Executive about the operation of the Homes and Laundries in Northern Ireland concluded that limited evidence was available about the operation of these institutions across the region.

Following a public procurement exercise, the Department of Health commissioned research from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University into the operation of Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries across Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1999.

The Research Project

Researchers were asked to provide a report on the following:

  • the entry and exit pathways including how and why women came to be in the institutions, how and why they left and the duration of their stay;
  • the living and working conditions and care arrangements experienced by women or children in the institutions to include medical arrangements such as healthcare, inoculations, vaccine trials and diet;
  • the mortality rate among women and children residing or working in the institutions including information on the causes and circumstances of death;
  • the post-mortem practices and procedures in respect of children or women who died while resident or working in the institutions, including the reporting of deaths, and burial arrangements; and
  • for children who did not remain in the care of their mother, their exit pathways on leaving the institution, with specific reference to:
    • the extent of participation of mothers in decision making;
    • the procedures that were in place to obtain consent from mothers in respect of adoption; and
    • the practices and procedures for the placement of children.

The researchers were also asked to identify and report on the nature and extent of any state involvement in relation to the operation of each institution and to consider the information for the general population and the information found for Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries, taking into account changing trends over the relevant period.  The researchers were also asked to report on the living and working conditions, mortality rates and causes of death, post mortem practices including reporting of deaths and burial practices of women and children in the general population outside the institutions.

The Research Report incorporates the following components:

  • a literature review

a review of secondary evidence relating to relevant institutions identified during the course of the research and also the conditions in the general population throughout the relevant period (1922-1999). The review also includes an examination of the policy and legislative frameworks within which the institutions operated over the 77 years timespan;

  • a review of archived records

a review of primary evidence, an examination of any relevant records retained by the institutions and material still held by or on behalf of Government Departments and other statutory and non-statutory agencies; and

  • an oral history

oral accounts from those with experiences of the institutions, including former residents or workers, the wider families who observed their relative’s time in the institution and afterwards, staff and others with experience of, or who provided services to, the homes or Laundries.

The Institutions

The table below provides a list of known Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and residential facilities within the scope of the research project that were operational in Northern Ireland from 1922-1999.

Researchers were also asked to include any other Mother and Baby Homes or Magdalene Laundries their research establishes were in existence during the relevant period.


Type of Institution

Good Shepherd Sisters/ Marianville/
St Mary’s, Belfast

Mother and Baby Home /
Magdalene Laundry

Good Shepherd Sisters/ Marianvale/
St Mary’s, Newry

Mother and Baby Home /
Magdalene Laundry

Good Shepherd Sisters St Mary’s
Derry / Londonderry

Magdalene Laundry

Mater Dei Hostel

Mother and Baby Home

Belfast Midnight Mission/ Malone Place Rescue and Maternity Home, Belfast

Mother and Baby Home /
Magdalene Laundry

Thorndale House (Salvation Army)

Mother and Baby Home 

Kennedy House

Mother and Baby Home 

Hopedene Hostel

Mother and Baby Home 

Belfast Welfare Hostel

Local authority former workhouse

Coleraine Welfare Hostel

Local authority former workhouse

Mount Oriel Hostel

Mother and Baby Home

Deanery Flatlets

Independent accommodation for unwed mothers

Pre-1948 Workhouses

Multifunctional institutions that catered for various groups including unmarried mothers

The Research Report



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