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Philomena Lee joins Judi Dench for British premiere of Philomena

Dame Judi Dench (left) and Philomena Lee attend a Philomena Gala screening
Dame Judi Dench (left) and Philomena Lee attend the Philomena Gala screening

A SURVIVOR of an Irish Mother and Baby Home took to the red carpet as a blockbuster movie based on her experiences premiered in London.

Philomena Lee, whose tragic life story has been made into a critically acclaimed film starring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, walked side by side with the stars at the film launch this month.

There she revealed that while life was tough in the church-run institution she did not expect any compensation for her suffering, claiming it was not as brutal as the Magdalene Laundries.

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Commenting just hours before she took to the red carpet with Dame Judi for the British premiere of Philomena, the Limerick native said: “I worked in a laundry for three and a half years, but it was not like the Magdalene Laundries.

“We did the laundry for the nuns and the children and ourselves. It was not commercial laundry. But the Magdalenes took it in from the churches and hotels and all over the place.”

Like many women who spent time in a Mother and Baby Home, Ms Lee was taken in after falling pregnant out of wedlock.

Her son was then taken from her before being adopted by a wealthy American couple; a fate campaigners say befell “thousands” of Irish women.

Ms Lee’s comments come a week after the son of another woman who spent years in a Mother and Baby Home called on the Irish Government and the Catholic Church to offer redress to victims.

“It seems very wrong to me that women from Laundries are being compensated, but not women whose children were farmed like animals,” Londoner Martin Husk said.

Despite her reluctance to ask for compensation, Ms Lee, who has lived in Britain since her early 20s, was scathing about the Catholic Church and the scandals that have engulfed it in Ireland over the past decade.

“It is horrendous what went on, but at that time we were all so ignorant and had a blind faith in the Catholic religion,” she said.

“You believed every single thing they told you. Everything you learned in the catechism you believed. And the Pope was infallible.”

Asked if she now feels embarrassed by the country of her birth, Ms Lee said: “Not really, because I have lived here so long. And I never brought my children up as Catholics.”

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Niall O Sullivan
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Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

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One comment on “Philomena Lee joins Judi Dench for British premiere of Philomena”

  1. Tami Manuel

    I just saw the movie, "Philomena", and I was so touched by Mrs. Lee's painful story. God Bless her, and she will see, and hold Anthony in Heaven.

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