Susan McDonnell

Tag Score: ‘engage with strata’

Tag Place: Ballysadare, County Sligo, Ireland

Places completed: St John’s Community Hospital Sligo (Currently a nursing home, site of a ‘County Home’ from 1922-1970 , and a Workhouse 1840-1922). Globe House Sligo (current Direct Provision Centre for asylum-seekers, previously a convent on a site also housing an Industrial School for Girls)

Stories have bubbled to the surface in recent years, in Ireland as elsewhere, of past experiences of residential systems of state care and protection. Survivors’ accounts of neglect, disempowerment and abuse in Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalen Laundries, County Homes, Mental Hospitals and Industrial Schools have been invited, listened to, contested, denied and archived. I am interested in entangled histories of care and control, and the ways in which past narratives resonate in the present. In particular, I am struck by the role of place in this. My first walk took me between two places that have been sites of various residential institutions since the mid 19th century to the present: Globe House and St John’s Community Hospital. For three further walks, I spent time in the grounds of St John’s Hospital, where my mother-in-law, Kathleen, worked as a nurse in the 1960s, when it was the County Home. The photos and short film clip produced reflect on the layered histories in this place. They attempt to engage with these strata and propose a reimagining of ‘care’.