Hail Marys And Miniskirts



For every thousand Irish men who came to work on Britain's building sites in the 1950s and 60s, over a thousand women came too. They arrived to find an economic boom - and the swinging sixties just around the corner.

While the majority simply wanted jobs, others sought a personal freedom not possible at home. But there was also a dark underside to this surge in emigration - those who fled Ireland because they were pregnant outside of marriage or were refugees from religious institutions, including the notorious Magdalene laundries.

From their encounters with new fashions and the social and sexual freedoms of English cities, to the issues some face in old age, they tell their stories to Orla Barry with a verve that's unique to elderly Irish women.

And, as you would expect, there's singing and music along the way.

Producer: Sushma Puri

A Tigereye production for BBC Radio 4.