The True Story That Inspired Showtime’s New Series “The Woman in the Wall”

Woman in the wall

January 22, 2024

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email:

Delve into the chilling shadows of Ireland’s past with “The Woman in the Wall,” a gripping new true story-inspired psychological thriller out now on Showtime. This haunting eight-episode series is helmed by acclaimed director Carl Tibbetts and stars Ruth Wilson. It promises a tapestry of secrets, grief, and the echoes of long-forgotten crimes.

The story:

Lorna Brady wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house with no idea who the dead woman is. She doubts herself because she has long suffered from extreme bouts of sleepwalking. This seemingly isolated event becomes the catalyst for a cascade of revelations. It unearths a chain of tragedies and long-buried truths rooted in the city’s dark historical underbelly. At the heart of the mystery lies the character’s involvement with the institution of the Magdalene Laundries, notorious Irish facilities where “fallen women” were subjected to unimaginable hardships and abuse.

Wilson embodies Lorna Brady, a woman inextricably linked to the laundry’s legacy. Haunted by personal demons and a past shrouded in silence, Lorna navigates the labyrinthine alleys of Dublin’s past and present. She confronts not only the city’s ghosts but also the demons that have imprisoned her own spirit.

A gripping tale:

Firstly, “The Woman in the Wall” transcends the confines of a conventional crime thriller. It is a poignant exploration of trauma, societal injustice, and the enduring power of secrets. The series delves into the harrowing history of the Magdalene Laundries with unwavering honesty. It sheds light on a once-hidden chapter of Irish history and its enduring impact on generations of women.

Beyond an intense story, the series promises a cinematic experience to captivate viewers. Tibbetts’ masterful direction creates a world steeped in atmospheric tension, where cobbled streets whisper forgotten stories and shadows conceal unspoken truths.

The horrific true story:

Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries were institutions that held a dark mirror to society’s treatment of women deemed “fallen.” From the 18th to the late 20th centuries, Catholic orders often ran these nominally charitable asylums. They became a place of confinement for an estimated 30,000 women. Their lives were shrouded in secrecy and hardship until a chilling discovery in 1993 shattered the silence.

The term “fallen women” included those who had been seduced, those who were caught in affairs, prostitutes, and women just rumored to be unvirtuous. Of course, their commitment to these facilities didn’t actually require any proof. Those who entered the laundries and were with child had their babies ripped away at birth. The babies were adopted out in secrecy, regardless of whether the mothers wanted the child or not. Many mothers are still trying to locate their children to this day.

The women were required to work grueling, extremely physical hours in extremely terrible conditions. They worked on little sleep or food. And were often subject to horrific beatings for the most minor of infractions. These horrible institutions operated until 1996 when the final one closed.

A terrible discovery:

In 1993, the unearthing of the unmarked graves of 155 women on the grounds of one laundry ignited a media firestorm, bringing the Magdalene Laundries’ grim reality to light. The nation then grappled with its past, culminating in a formal state apology in 2013. While over $32 million has been paid out to over 800 survivors, the institutions themselves – the same religious orders who once oversaw the laundries – have remained silent, refusing to contribute financially or even apologizing for the torturous treatment of the women.

The story of the Magdalene Laundries transcends mere historical records; it’s a poignant reminder of societal injustice and the enduring quest for redemption. As the echoes of the past reverberate in Ireland’s modern landscape, the fight for recognition and redress continues, ensuring that women’s stories are never forgotten.

Watch it now:

“The Woman in the Wall” is a powerful exploration of the human spirit’s resilience in the face of darkness. It’s a call for remembrance, a testament to the courage of those who dared to speak out against injustice, and a poignant reminder that even in the deepest shadows, truth has a way of finding its light. Tune in now to Showtime to begin your descent into the captivating world of “The Woman in the Wall.”

Want to know more about the dark history of the Magdalene laundries? There is a great documentary titled The Forgotten Maggies you should check out. The film captures the interviews of several laundry survivors who reveal their horrifying experiences.

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