The Final Journey Statue is a limestone sculpture that stands on the corner of Forster Street in Galway City, on the former site of the Convent of Mercy’s Magdalene laundry, which was demolished in 1991. 

The statue depicts a woman lifting a veil from her head, symbolizing her liberation from the oppression and stigma that she endured in the laundry. The statue is a memorial to the Magdalen women, who were women who were sent to institutions run by the Catholic Church, known as Magdalene laundries or asylums, for various reasons such as being unmarried mothers, prostitutes, orphans, or simply being considered “fallen” or “wayward” by society. The women in these laundries were subjected to hard labour, abuse, and isolation, and were often denied contact with their families or the outside world. They were also stripped of their names and identities, and forced to adopt new ones given by the nuns.

The statue was unveiled on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2009, and features inscribed poetry by Patricia Burke Brogan, a playwright and poet who is internationally known for her award-winning play “Eclipsed” about the Magdalen women. Brogan was inspired to write the play after working as a novice nun in one of the laundries in Galway in the 1960s. She later left the convent and became an outspoken critic of the Church’s treatment of the women. Her poetry on the statue reads:

“I am thinking of you all today
I who have escaped
the veils and shrouds
of your existence

You who walk head bowed
to Mass and work and Mass and work
and Mass again

You who are not allowed
to sing or laugh or cry or scream
or even dream

You whose names are changed
to Mary or Martha or Patricia
or Bride

You whose children are taken away
at birth or soon after
never to be seen again

You whose records are erased
from registers of life
no birth or death certificates
no grave stones

You who are locked away
behind high walls and barbed wire
in cold stone buildings

You who are forgotten by society
and by history

You who are my sisters”.

The Final Journey Statue is a powerful and poignant reminder of the suffering and injustice that the Magdalen women faced, and also a tribute to their resilience and dignity. It is one of the few public monuments in Ireland that acknowledges their existence and honours their memory. 

It is also a symbol of hope and healing for the survivors and their families, who have been campaigning for recognition, apology, and compensation from the Irish state and the Church for decades. The statue invites us to reflect on the past and learn from it, and to celebrate the courage and strength of the women who have finally lifted their veils.


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Final Journey Statue



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