Public asked to lay flowers on on the graves of Magdalene women today

At least 1,663 women are buried in cemeteries in Ireland, many in unmarked graves.

The Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) is calling on the public today to visit Magdalene graves and "lay a flower to honour the women who lived and died behind convent walls."

To mark the sixth annual Flowers for Magdalene commemoration, a number of events are taking place across Ireland today to honour the thousands of women who died in Magdalene Laundries.

JFMR have stated that at least 1,663 former Magdalene women buried in cemeteries in Ireland, many of whom are in unmarked graves.

In a statement the JFMR group said that:

“This year’s Flowers for Magdalenes events hold particular significance as new property developments are planned on three former Magdalene Laundry sites at Donnybrook, Sean McDermott Street and Sunday’s Well.”

Claire McGettrick of the Justice for Magdalene's group says we should never forget what the Magdalene women went through, and that the laying of the flowers on their graves shows that "for one day, at least, they are given some dignity and respect."

Today's memorial events are expected to have added significance following Friday's revelation that a "significant amount" of human remains were discovered in a former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.

The age-at-death of the remains is believed to be between 35 foetal weeks and 2-3 years.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said on Friday: "This is very sad and disturbing news. It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains over the years.

"Honour their memory"

"Today is about remembering and respecting the dignity of the children who lived their short lives in this Home. We will honour their memory and make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately."

In 2013, Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a formal state apology to women who had been sent to the Magdalenes laundries, describing the institutions as “the nation’s shame”.

“I, as Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, the Government and our citizens deeply regret and apologise unreservedly to all those women for the hurt that was done to them, and for any stigma they suffered, as a result of the time they spent in a Magdalene laundry.

JFMR wants a memorial for the women to be established, as recommended in the Magdalene Commission Report.

"No memorial should ever act as a means to draw a line under an issue – particularly one which remains contested – but we recognise that for some survivors, a gesture which honours their lives will mean a great deal."

Details of today's memorial events, which will be held in Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Wexford and Waterford can be found here.