Ruth Wilson’s major new BBC drama will explore the horror of The Magdalene Laundries

The gothic detective story delves into of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals.

From her role as the eponymous protagonist in the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Eyre and her performance as Alice Morgan in Luther, to her captivating depiction of the villainous Mrs Coulter in HBO’s adaptation of His Dark Materials, Ruth Wilson truly is an actor that can take on any character and make it her own. We’ll happily watch anything on the basis that she’s part of the cast, because her TV projects simply never miss the mark.

Whether Wilson is starring in a period drama or a contemporary thriller, her talent for portraying morally ambiguous characters is always on the money. And her latest project looks to be no exception.

Described as “a gothic detective story shot through with dark humour and elements of psychological horror”, the BBC’s upcoming gothic thriller The Woman In The Wall will examine the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals – the inhumane institutions known as The Magdalene Laundries.

As per the BBC’s official plot synopsis, the new TV series will follow Lorna Brady (played by Wilson), a woman from the small, fictional town of Kilkinure who wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house.

There’s no simple explanation for who the dead woman is or whether Lorna herself might be responsible for the apparent murder, because Lorna has a harrowing past.

“Lorna has long suffered from extreme bouts of sleepwalking, understood to have manifested around the time she was ripped from her life at the age of 15 and incarcerated in the Kilkinure Convent,” reads the synopsis.

“The convent was home to one of Ireland’s infamous Magdalene Laundries,” it continues, “a place where women were taken when they fell afoul of the social mores of their times.”

Women and girls were confined to a life of servitude in these notorious institutions for misdemeanours including getting pregnant out of wedlock, as a teenager or as a result of sexual abuse; committing adultery or engaging in prostitution; or failing to conform to societal standards. Tens of thousands of these “fallen women” passed through the laundries from the early 19th century until the middle of the 20th century and today, the Magdalene institutions are a deep source of shame in Ireland.


Source: Ruth Wilson’s major new BBC drama will explore the horror of The Magdalene Laundries

“You Are Not My Mother” – An unholy marriage of Irish folklore and familial dysfunction

Film review: Impressive debut blurs line between friction, bipolar disorder and the supernatural

By Tara Brady

Kate Dolan’s promising debut feature opens with an indelible sequence in which a baby in a buggy is parked in the middle of a suburban Dublin street. A woman walks from her house and pushes the infant into nearby woods only to assemble and light a strange, ritualistic fire around the crying child.

Thus begins an unholy marriage of Irish folklore and familial dysfunction. At its best, You Are Not My Mother’s intergenerational portrait of women and strange goings-on recalls the slow-burning Alzheimer’s horror of Natalie Erika James’s Relic.

Hazel Doupe (Float like a Butterfly) stars as a reticent, bullied teenager named Char, who lives with her depressed mum Angela (Carolyn Bracken) and increasingly odd grandmother Rita (Ingrid Craigie). As the film opens, Angela, a mere husk of a woman, is scarcely able to perform such basic maternal responsibilities as grocery shopping, driving her daughter to school, or getting out of bed.

When Angela’s car is found abandoned, with the doors flung wide open, Char and her uncle Aaron (Paul Reid) are inclined to assume the worst, even if it is indicated that this is not an isolated incident.

Angela returns, however, in weirdly irrepressible form, cooking and performing unhinged dancing around the kitchen. Granny keeps pace with her daughter’s strangeness, muttering and fashioning strange amulets.

For much of its impressive duration, Dolan’s film blurs the line between family friction, bipolar disorder and the supernatural. Mother’s lithium dose doubles as a magical sleeping elixir and as a poison. Mysterious mutterings among neighbours mark the family out as outsiders without any particular substance.

Meanwhile, away from Char’s drab home, malevolent peers await. As Halloween approaches, their tricks turn nastier. Thin spaces may await. Die Hexen’s score adds to the post-Carpenter seasonal menace, as does Narayan Van Maele’s lurking camera.

Dolan skilfully escalates her heroine’s predicament even if the final muddled mythological explanation concerning doppelgangers and changelings and fire punctures the effect during the final act. There’s enough here, however, to mark Dolan out as a film-maker.

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Nollaig na mBan: January 6th is day for the women of Ireland

The Epiphany to some, the twelfth day of Christmas to others, but going back generations, today marks Women’s Little Christmas, or Nollaig na mBan – a day when the women of the house, especially in West Cork, rested, visited friends, drank tea, ate currant cake, and even went to the pub.

We have Cork to thank for Nollaig na mBan, and Kerry, Dingle in particular, too. Women’s Little Christmas, on January 6, was celebrated mostly in the south west, with some parts of Ireland claiming to never have heard about the custom.

The actual custom was about letting women rest up on the twelfth day of Christmas, having served up a feast on December 25, men’s Christmas. If a man was to help out on Christmas Day he could face the wrath of being called an “auld woman”.

Women visited one another’s homes on January 6, having tea and sharing the last of the Christmas cake, others went to public houses, and assumed the social roles ordinarily played by men. [ . . . ]

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