Magdalene Launderies

Joni Mitchell

Joanie was an unmarried girl just turned twenty-seven

when they sent her to the sisters because of the way men looked at her.

Branded as a jezebel she knew she was not bound for heaven,

she had been cast in shame into the Magdalen launderies.


Most girls went there pregnant some by their own fathers.

Bridget got her belly from the Parish Priest.

They’re trying to wash things as white as snow,all of those woe-begotten daughters

in the steaming stains of the Magdalen launderies.


Prostitutes and destitutes and temptresses like Joanie.

Fallen women sentenced into dreamless drudgery.

Why do the call this place Our Lady Of Charity?

Of Charity?


These bloodless brides of Jesus if they could just once glimpse their groom.

They’d drop the stones concealed behind their rosaries.

They wilt the grass they walk upon they leech the light out of a room.

They’d like to wash those girls down the drains of The Magdalene Launderies.


Peg O’Connell died today.She was a cheeky girl,they stuffed her in a hole.

Surely to God you’d think at least some bells should ring.

Joanie thinks she’ll die there too and that they’ll tramp her in the dirt,

like some lame bulb that never will bloom when the springtime comes.

when the springtime comes.



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I sing this song to honour all the forgotten Innocents. I grew up and into a society that was  riddled with the concept of sin and shame.We hung our heads in silence, ignorant in our adherence to the corrupt church that wielded such fearful power over us. I was terrified of them for a while.

That Joni Mitchell could write such a beautiful song about such tragedy and cruelty is, in itself,truly a wonder.




I play this capo up 2.






prostitutes etc