In 1993 unmarked graves of 155 women were uncovered in Ireland. The bodies (save one) were quietly exhumed, cremated and re-buried in a mass grave in Glasnevin Cemetery. Five years later the story of the laundries broke (largely due to the showing in England of the film “Sex in A Cold Climate”, by filmaker Steve Humphries) bringing to light the horrible plight of the 30,000 women who were inmates of the Magdelene “Asylums”.
Run by the the Sisters of Mercy, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Sisters of Charity, inmates were forced to do hard labor for no wages, often for the rest of their lives. They were not arrested, tried, or convicted of any crimes. They were merely “detained,” indefinitely, Habeas corpus be damned. Half of the women were under the age of 23. The youngest detainee known to die in the care of the Magdelene system was 15 years old, the oldest 95.
The purpose of this detainment was to cleanse them of their sins. These sins would range from being an out of wedlock mother, being raped by family members, or being flirtatious or promisicous.
Beneficiaries of these slave labor camps included the Áras an Uachtaráin (the residence of the Irish President), Guiness Breweries, The Irish Transport System (CIÉ), The Gaiety Theatre, the Department of Defense, The Bank of Ireland, the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries, and golf clubs and hotels, to name a few.
When these internment camps became unprofitable in recent times, the laundries were closed and the land was often sold for one last big score. It is estimated that these religious Orders received €667 million this way. €667 million, yet these Orders obstinately resist any thought of redress for their victims.
This is not ancient history. This is Ireland. The last Magdelene laundry closed in 1997. Many more of these unmarked graves have been discovered and dot the Irish landscape – another unimaginable horror perpetrated and encouraged by Church and State. Like the Industrial Schools, the rampant Child Sexual Abuse, and the incredible nightmare of literally sawing women in half, the horrors of the Magdelene laundries could only exist in the secrecy and silence that Ireland so readily and tenaciously clings to and hides behind like some unholy shroud of darkness.
Growing numbers of people in Ireland are at the end of their tolerance of lies and secrecy that allow such degradation and violation to exist. The candle has been lit. We hope (perhaps beyond reason) that this candle will burn with ever increasing intensity until Ireland one day becomes a place where transparency, truth, openess and justice can find a home.
Like so many others, Dolores Maxwell was also a victim of this culture in Ireland. We hope that reporting Dolores' story on these pages will help in some small way to bring desperately needed light and transparency into Ireland.
The following letter was written by Saoirse Maxwell in an attempt to find out information about her mother's estate. The beneficiaries had been informed on 31 July 2012 that the last asset, Dolores' house, had been sold on 5 July, and that there were just a few charges relating to that sale to be paid in order for the estate to be wrapped up.
By December, Saoirse had not heard anything more. Having been informed the previous January by Dolores' solicitor/executor Joseph M. Bowe that he would not respond to any communication from her, she wrote to John White, the Managing Partner of Beauchamps Solicitors (Mr Bowe's firm) hoping to get some idea of what was happening. Mr Bowe's two co-executors were either unreachable or “unavailable” or “in a meeting,” and left calls unreturned.
This first of three letters to John White was sent 13 December by registered post, arriving at Beauchamps the following day.
Redacted Co. Galway
Dec. 13, 2012
Mr. John White
Sir John Rogerson's Quay
Re: The Estate of the late Dolores Maxwell, Redacted, Rosslare Strand, Co. Wexford.
Your Refs: JMB/MK/MAX17/3 & JMB/OLM/MAX17/4
Dear Mr. White:
I am the eldest daughter of Dolores Maxwell who died Nov. 28, 2010. I am also a beneficiary in her estate.
I was advised by your colleague – administrator and executor - Joseph M. Bowe, on July 30, 2012, (copy enclosed) that my mother's house had sold on July 5, 2012, some final bills were due in, and he would be preparing a cash account to be sent out to myself and my siblings.
I have heard nothing. Please find enclosed my attempts to determine the status of this estate, copy registered letter Oct. 23, 2012 to Mr. Bowe, as well as efforts by my sibling and fellow beneficiary Redacted Maxwell on Nov. 19 and 26, 2012. Mr. Bowe has not responded to any of our numerous attempts to communicate with him and ascertain the status of our late mother's estate.
Given the fraudulent charges for a headstone in this estate and other irregularities, the presence of a non-existent and unregistered company and the omission of gifts on the CA24 form and which I reported to Revenue, can you please advise where the administration of this estate is?
Please respond by 5pm Dec. 21, 2012 so that I may consider what steps I need to take next.
Many thanks for your time.
In a coincidence, the same day John White received Saoirse's registered letter, he also received an email from her brother (via a cc'd email sent to Mr Bowe), expressing his concern with the lack of communication, and Bowe's ongoing failure to produce some of Dolores' records Saoirse's brother had been seeking for months.Saoirse did not receive a direct response from John White, the Managing Partner of Beauchamps, but it seems he must have had a word with Joseph M. Bowe. A few days later on 19 December Mr Bowe broke his months of silence and sent a letter to Saoirse and an email to her brother.
First the letter to Saoirse:
And to her brother:
By e-mail: Redacted.net
19 December 2012 Our Ref JMB/MK/MAX17/3 Your Ref:
Dolores Maxwell Decd.
I am sorry that it has taken so long to come back to you with the Cash Account and the other detail you wanted. I had prepared something and was about to issue it to all the beneficiaries when I discovered that your sister Mari had written to our Managing Partner. She referred to "fraudulent charges for a headstone in this estate and other irregularities, the presence of a non existent and unregistered company and the omission of gifts on the CA24 [Schedule of Assets] and which I reported to the Revenue". She also included copies of e.mails you had sent me.
I know nothing about the matters to which she refers and I have asked her to elaborate. Obviously, it makes sense for me to discuss these matters with my co-Executors and deal with them prior to issuing the Cash Account.
[Editor's note: We note Mr Bowe's reference in his above letter to Saoirse:
“You subsequently returned your cheque. You refused to accept any payment until we had provided you with a ‘testamentary account/full disclosure’ of your late mother's assets.”
We cannot resist offering anto give the background on that remark. ]
We were left speechless when we first read Joe Bowe's letter and email. Gobsmacked, as they say in Ireland. Having somewhat recovered, we offer a few observations.
On 30 July 2012, Joseph M Bowe sent an email to Saoirse (and we assume the eight other residual beneficiaries):
From that statement we think it natural to consider that Dolores' estate would be wound up in a short time. Of course, Mr Bowe did not say when he would be doing this work. Perhaps in his mind it was within a few months or a couple of years. We just don't know.Then four and a half months later, Mr Bowe writes to Saoirse:
So after ignoring months of emails, registered letters and phone calls seeking information about the estate from several beneficiaries, Mr Bowe is “currently” doing the work on foot of knowledge of a letter from Saoirse to his Managing Partner, and had hoped to send it out in January. We note Mr Bowe is doing this 167 days after the disposition of Dolores' last asset.
Yet to her brother, Mr Bowe describes this work as already being completed:
[Editor's note: Mr Bowe has proven himself to be very much at home giving conflicting information to different beneficiaries, so no surprise here. For example, in Paragraph 42 of his sworn affidavit to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal of 08 December 2011, Mr Bowe informs them that:
42. Nothwithstanding the foregoing and without accepting that there has been any misconduct (or any evidence thereof) on my part, it is now my intention and that of my co-Executors to instruct other Solicitors who will attempt to complete the administration of the estate of Dolores Maxwell. This decision has been taken with regret in the knowledge that it never would have been what the said Dolores Maxwell would have wanted. However, I am of the opinion that it would be impossible for me to progress matters further in the face of the action the Applicant has pursued and her own conduct in the course of the administration.
This correspondence to her misled Saoirse to believe (briefly) that Mr Bowe had actually followed through on his statement to the Tribunal. We note as a matter of record that no, of course he did not.
[Editor's note:We find our tolerance for such nonsense from the likes of Joseph M Bowe to be rapidly fleeing us. And if anyone should ever accuse us of considering Mr Bowe to be a man of his word, we will strenously and loudly deny that accusation. ]
[Editor's further note: We find Mr Bowe's statement about Saoirse's conduct to be puzzling. Since 03 December 2009, when our narrative starts, we find her conduct to be consistent. Remarkably so, given what she has endured “on the ground” in Ireland. If Mr Bowe found it “impossible” to administer Dolores' estate because of Saoirse's “conduct” at the time of his Affidavit, he would have found it impossible from day one. And impossible to this day.
Perhaps he is waiting for Saoirse's conduct to be more palatable to him. Having come to know Saoirse a bit through our efforts on this website, we think anyone that expects Saoirse to stop gathering documentation and other evidence, or knocking on doors will be disappointed. We don't expect her to stop asking questions, either. Perhaps providing honest answers would be a help. And if anyone thinks Saoirse is going to stop seeking justice for her mother, well…all we can say is “wow.” You just don't get it, do you?
No, from our view Mr Bowe's attempt to blame his difficulties on Saoirse is poor form. And besides, we learned in the crèche not to hit girls. ]
In the next part of An Open Letter to John White we will look at the “elephant in the room” contained in Mr Bowe's letter and email – his assertion that “I know nothing about the matters” Saoirse mentioned in her letter to Beauchamps Managing Partner, John White.
An Open Letter to John White Part 2
[Editor's note: As always, we seek and encourage anyone with knowledge of Dolores' life and/or the events presented here to contribute to this site. Memories, anecdotes, photos and documents are more than welcome. Clarification, correction and alternative views are encouraged and welcomed. Submissions ]TOP