Editor's Note: We are resharing this piece in the wake of Sinéad O'Connor's death, which was confirmed by her family on July 26, 2023.

Sinéad O’Connor spoke openly about her time in the Catholic Church's Magdalene Laundries during a 2013 interview. The last home of this sort shut in 1996. 

Sinéad O'Connor's 2013 interview was published just 24 hours after the release of a damning report on the Catholic Churches' "Magdelene Laundries", which highlighted state collusion with the Nuns who ran them.

O’Connor described how she was just 14 years old when she was sent to the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity laundry, in Dublin, after she was labeled a "problem child." This particular Magdalene Laundry only shut its doors in 1996.

She said “We were girls in there, not women, just children really. And the girls in there cried every day.

“It was a prison. We didn’t see our families, we were locked in, cut off from life, deprived of a normal childhood.

“We were told we were there because we were bad people. Some of the girls had been raped at home and not believed.

“One girl was in because she had a bad hip and her family didn’t know what to do with her. It was a great grief to us.”

The rock star explained how her 18 months in High Park in the Drumcondra suburb of Dublin left her so angry at the injustice that it was part of the reason she caused worldwide controversy by tearing up a picture of the Pope on live television.

She added: “It wasn’t the only reason, but it was one of them.”

Lashing out at the Church’s ‘flaccid’ apology back in 2013, O’Connor said she was ‘disgusted’ by it.

The mother-of-four said: “They said something like, ‘We’re sorry for the hurt.’

“The word hurt doesn’t cover it. I am disgusted that the State won’t apologize. I’m disgusted at the tone of the Church’s flaccid apology. The Church is getting away with it again.”

Sinéad, who claimed she suffered abuse as a child, was sent to the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Institute after she began stealing as a teenager.

She said: “My worried Dad thought he was doing the right thing by sending me to be rehabilitated. He told me he even paid for the privilege of doing so.

“He thought he was doing the right thing. He was convinced into it. He paid them to take me. I never told him the truth of how bad it was.

“There was no rehabilitation there and no therapy. Nothing but people telling us we were terrible people. I stopped the stealing all right. I didn’t want to be sent back there. But at what cost?

“I wouldn’t class myself as being abused while I was there. I came in at the tail end of it.

“But certainly some of the punishments were a little f***ing odd.

“As a punishment, I would be sent up to bed early to go to sleep with the dying old Magdalene ladies. There would be about six of them in the room and me and I was terrified. These women were old and dying and I was scared up there.

“The laundries were gone then, but I did see them in a big room, about 200 square feet full of laundries. And I saw the older women, shuffling along. We were not allowed to talk to them.”

O'Connor was outspoken about the Catholic Church during much of her professional career. In 1992 while appearing on "Saturday Night Live", she famously ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II saying "We have confidence in good over evil. Fight the real enemy!"

* Originally published in 2013, updated in July 2023.