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Fiction featuring Care Experience

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Small Things Like These

Claire Keegan


In her novella, Small Things Like These (2021), Claire Keegan tells something about the now infamous Magdalene Laundries.
Set in 1985 in a small Irish town, local coal merchant, Bill Furlong, is busy organising deliveries in the period leading up to Christmas.
Bill Furlong doesn’t want to believe the negative stories he’s heard about the local Laundry. But one day he delivers coal there and is confronted by the scene of unkempt girls and young women scrubbing a floor. One asks for help: she wants Furlong to take her to the river so she can drown herself.
Also confronting Furlong is the knowledge that his mother could have been one of those girls, yet she was kept in employment by Mrs Wilson after her baby was born, and 12 year old Bill Furlong stayed on with Mrs Wilson when his mother died.
Small Things Like These won the Orwell Prize in 2021 and was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.

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