When Maureen Sullivan was just twelveÂ years old, she confided in her teacher that sheÂ was being physically and sexually abused by herÂ stepfather. Never, in her darkest imaginings,Â could she have dreamt that she would be theÂ one who would face a harrowing punishment.
Within twenty-four hours, Maureen was taken from her home and her beloved grandmother, and sent to theÂ Magdalene Laundry in New Ross, Co. Wexford, run by the Order of the Good Shepherd nuns. She was told that sheÂ would receive an education there, but instead she wasÂ immediately stripped of her meagre possessions and thrownÂ into forced labour, washing clothes and scrubbing floors inÂ inhumane and unrelenting conditions. Not allowed to speak,Â barely fed, and often going without water, the child wasÂ viciously beaten by the nuns for years and hidden away in anÂ underground tunnel when government inspectors came. NoÂ one must see how cruelly the nuns were treating her.
In the heart-breaking Girl in the Tunnel, Maureen bravelyÂ recounts her agonising journey from a monstrously violentÂ home to the cold and brutal Magdalene laundry system, andÂ her desperate, gruelling fight for freedom and for justice.