Survivors of the Magdalene laundries expect a full state apology next week after a three-hour meeting with Enda Kenny.
Tears were shed as six women told the Taoiseach and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore their personal stories about how they were incarcerated in the Catholic workhouses.
Maureen Sullivan said the pair were compassionate, but were also warned survivors cannot heal until they get a full apology.
"He (Kenny) was very sympathetic," said the 60-year-old from Carlow.
"The saddest part about it was that we had to go over our stories again so that was quite tearful. But he said it was important that he could put a face to the stories that are in the report and that meant something to us.
"He said 'I believe you' and now, at the end of the day, all we ask for is two words - 'I'm sorry'," she added.
Survivor Marina Gambold said the meeting with the Taoiseach was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"He was very nice and very kind and we all cried a tear," said the 77-year-old.
Mr Kenny had been accused of a "cop-out" following the publication of the Magdalene inquiry, which showed a quarter of the 10,000-plus women detained in the slave-like regime were sent by state authorities.
The Taoiseach said he was sorry for the stigma attached to the women, but stopped short of issuing a full apology on behalf of the state and appealed for time to consider the report in full.
Really sorry 2 hear of the death of Albert Reynolds. Solidarity 2 Kathleen & all their family. Albert acted on North when it mattered. RIP.— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) August 21, 2014
I liked Albert Reynolds. The Joint Downing Street Declaration was one of the defining moments in British/Irish history.— Simon Fraser (@TheSimonFraser) August 21, 2014