Last week I was contacted by an Irish composer called John Gibbs. John, who is originally from Dublin but living in Frankfurt, has written a number of beautiful, touching and heart rendering songs based on the Magdalene and mother and baby institution scandal here in Ireland. His songs are unlike any I have ever heard before.
After speaking with him on Friday I found out he is actually working on a project in tribute to the women and children who found themselves inside those institutions. And he has been working very closely with inspirational campaigner and researcher Catherine Corless who uncovered the Tuam baby scandal.
He sent me a number of tracks that are set to be included in the project (which won’t be completed until May) including one titled Magdalena Laundry. The song really captures the inescapable pain endured by many women and children enslaved in these institutions. John, who is 67, told me how after reading up on the scandal and felt moved to pen some tracks. He also contacted researcher Catherin Corless who gave guidance on the content of the tracks and gave him her seal of approval.
I was so touched by the Magdalena Laundry song I asked John permission to share it. He sent me the audio and lyrics and I put together this video, along with artwork from Australian Magdalene survivor Rachael Romero.
Rachael, who is now based in New York, spent time in an institution run by the Catholic church in Adelaide from the age of 14. Her art work lays bare the cruelty suffered by children and women inside these institutions.
Unfortunately John doesn’t currently have a website which I can link to. Though I know you will be hearing a lot more from him in the next few months as he prepares to launch the project. The beautiful voice you hear in John’s song is by a 19 year-old German singer called Jördis Tielsch, who also plays the violin. Jürgen Zimmer is on the piano and recorded the track, while John himself also does backing vocals.