Magdalene Molly (Part 2): Not Any Spring

This is Part 2 of a 4-part story written for the 10th Daughter of Memory.


(Continued from Part 1: Hunaballu)

Not Any Spring 
Now, as she puts the iron back into the fire to heat, Bridget thinks of Sean, and the life they might have had.  Aye, it would not have been easy; that she knows.  But it would have been blessed by love and graced by the knowledge that after a hard day, they would have each other.  Indeed, it would have been a fine life.

Instead, she has this one. 

This is her penance for being a sinner.  The sisters remind her and the others of that daily.  She was damned to this hard and loveless place in order to be saved from the damnation she’s earned with her “wicked, wanton ways.”  Prayer and punishment within the cold, granite walls of Our Lady of Charity Convent is her only way to redeem herself. 

Like all the girls here, Bridget spends her days working for salvation.  She scrubs her soul as she scrubs the floors.  She washes away sins along with every filthy garment she washes in the laundry.  But after she’s paid her penance, she will be free to go home.  Or so they say, these women of God who call themselves the Sisters of Charity. 

There is no doubt in Bridget’s mind that any charity that might have once dwelt in the hearts of these women has long ago withered and died, unable to survive in the lump of stone they carried beneath the wimple.  Deprived of love by their calling, the sisters have none to offer the girls who are sent to them for redemption, most sinners and harlots like her, pregnant and alone.

“Sure, and it’s little wonder they are such shriveled up old prunes,”  Kathleen Reilly said to her as they toiled side by side one day soon after Bridget arrived.   

Kathleen is near term in her pregnancy, and lumbers about the laundry like a one of the cows ready to calf back on the farm in Dungarven.  Unlike Bridget, Kathleen probably is a “fallen woman,” and she’ll be the first to tell you so.  After her Ma died, Kathleen took her place behind the bar at her Da’s pub in Wexford.  Along with the pints and bacon baps she served up, Kathleen filled other orders for the pub’s regulars. When she became pregnant, her horrified Da hustled her off to New Ross in short order.

Because Kathleen is one of the few people in this God-forsaken place who tells the truth, Bridget likes her.


Soon after Bridget arrived at the school, Kathleen told her that not all of the nuns were what they seemed.

“Don’t let them old crones fool ya, me girl.  Many of these 'holier-than-thou' old hoors here makin’ our days miserable ain’t no more holy than I be.   They traveled down the same garden path to this life as you and me.”

What shocks Bridget most is the thought that someone who came here at 18 years like she did could still be here when they are old as most of the nuns seemed to be.

“But, I don’t understand.  Why didn’t they leave when they could?  Glory, who would choose to stay here?”

“T’weren’t no choice involved, Bridget.  If they told you that you would be leavin’ after the baby came, they were havin’ you on, darlin’.  Them what walks out of this place is few and far between.”

Kathleen’s words send a chill to Bridget’s bones.  “Away with ye, that can’t be true.  Surely some must leave,” she exclaims.

Kathleen snorts.  “Oh, yeh, and they’ll be singin’ with the angels in heaven now, sure and begorrah.”

Bridget listens in horror as Kathleen tells her that anyone who has escaped this terrible life is likely buried in the mean dirt of the chapel yard, their graves unmarked.  This is God’s punishment for fallen women. 

“Same goes for their babes, Bridget, unless there’s someone willin’ to pay a pretty price for a wee one,” Kathleen says.  “They’re naught but spawn of the Divil, ain’t they?”

Bridget shudders, as she considers the Hell she has been condemned to.

The irony is that her fall from grace in the eyes of the Church was the result of a push by the Church itself.  Everyone thinks the baby has sprung from Sean’s loins, but she and Sean have never sinned.  No, this has been her reward for taking the pie Ma baked for Father Finnegan over to the rectory last summer. 

Shouldn’t that mean I’m carryin’ a child of God, Bridget wonders.  Apparently not.  She realizes that a helping hand from that quarter will be a long time comin.’  Not this spring.  Not any spring.


  1. spawn of the divil...ugh...having a bad flash back here patti...nice continuation...

  2. Quite a tale...and so shocking that it has its base in truth. Looking forward to Part 3, but I am thinking there will not be a happy ending.

  3. This is so disturbing that I really don't know what to say. How could so many conspire to keep such an evil system going for so long? And directed at those so vulnerable. It's horrifying.

  4. 'and lumbers about the laundry like a one of the cows ready to calf back on the farm'..
    aha, loved that sentence. pretty good dialogue too

  5. Oh how sad and haunting. I'm fearing a happy ending is not in the works...

  6. ...sure and begorrah -??? I love the dialect. -J


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