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IRISH WOMEN FROM MASSACHUSETTS


March is Irish Heritage Month and also Women’s History Month in Massachusetts.  In honor of both,
here is a selection of 15 Irish women from the 17th century to the 20th century who have had an impact here in the Bay State.

For more about Irish heritage in Massachusetts, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com.

Enjoy!


Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Ann "Goody" Glover
(1640s – 1688)

images/women/annie glover witch salemIn 1688, Irish immigrant Ann “Goody” Glover was the last woman hanged as a witch in Boston, MA,
part of a frenzied witch mania that overtook 17th century Puritans. At her trial, Glover spoke in Gaelic, prompting Rev. Cotton Mather to call her ‘obstinate in idolatry.’ She was hung from public gallows near Boston Common. In 1988, Boston City Council proclaimed November 16 as ‘Goody Glover Day.’  A plaque remembering Glover is in the foyer of Our Lady of Victories Eucharistic Shrine, 27 Isabella Street in Boston’s South End. Click here for additional information.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Mary Farrel
(1725)

Little is known about Mary Farrel, apart from a New England Courant advertisement on January 29,
1725, describing her as a ‘runaway Irish servant maid’ with a reward for her return. When she absconded on a cold winter night, Farrel was wearingonly ‘a black Griffet Gown, an old grey Petticoat, and a pair of Ticken Shoes with red heels.’Thousands of Irish boys and girls came to America in the 1700s as indentured servants.  Some of them came voluntarily, while others were kidnapped by marauding British soldiers as cheap labor in the colonies.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Marguerite Foley
(1820-1877)

Margaret Foley-CleopatraBorn in Dorset, VT, Margaret worked in the textile mills in Lowell, while pursuing her interest in poetry
and art, specializing in carving cameos.  In Boston she created cameos of opera star Jenny Lind, poet Henry Longfellow and Senator Charles Sumner and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe.  In 1861 Foley moved to Rome, Italy and mastered the intricate art of medallions. Her work, including an acclaimed portrait of Cleopatra, were featured at the Philadelphia Centennial Expo in 1876. Her work is on display at the Smithsonian Harvard art museums.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Mary McGrath Blake
(1840-1907)

Mary McGrath Blake Born in Dungarvin, Waterford, Mary McGrath’s family emigrated to Quincy, MA in 1849, where she studied music and languages.  In her teens she published poetry in the Boston Pilot and later in Boston Transcript and Boston Journal. Her published books included collections of poetry, children’s books and travelogues about Mexico, California and Europe. Mary wrote commemorative poems about Wendall Phillips and the Sisters of Charity, and forceful poems in which she challenged anti-Irish sentiment in Boston, ‘Who cast a slur on Irish worth, a stain on Irish fame?’



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Fanny Parnell
(1848-1882)

Fanny ParnellKnown as the Patriot Poet, Fanny Parnell was born in Avondale, Wicklow to a famous Irish family
with strong Boston connections.  Her grandfather Admiral Charles Stewart was commander of the USS Constitution and her brother was Home Rule leader Charles Stewart Parnell. Fanny’s sister Anna founded the Ladies Land League and Fanny became its American spokeswoman.  Fanny’s poetry appeared in the Boston Pilot in Boston, which issued a collection of her work entitled Land League Songs.  She died at age 34 and is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Sarah Orne Jewett
(1849-1909)

Sarah Orne JewettBorn in Berwick, ME, Sarah Orne Jewett was not Irish at all. But after visiting Ireland in 1882, she
began writing short stories and essays in Scribners and Cosmopolitan magazines about Irish immigrants coming to New England.  She captured the tragedy of poor Irish immigrants but also their boundless optimism, which helped to shape New England for generations to come.  In her popular story ‘A Captive Irish Maid,’ Jewett describes a cheerful Irish girl who came to America to make her fortune so she could save the farm back home.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney
(1852-1918)

Katharine O’Keefee O’MahoneyKatharine moved with her family from County Kilkenny to Massachusetts when she was 10 years old, living in Methuen and then settling in Lawrence.  She was a teacher at Lawrence High School, where one of her students was the poet Robert Frost.  Later she made her living lecturing and writing books, among them Famous Irish Women (1907), a fascinating history of Irish women from Pagan Ireland to Ireland’s Literary Revival.  She was president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and St. Clare League of Catholic Women, a group that helped orphans.


Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Katharine Conway
(1853 – 1927)

Katharine ConwayBorn in Rochester, NY to Irish parents, Conway was a noted poet and journalist working in Western
New York.  She became co-editor of the Boston Pilot under John Boyle O’Reilly and then became the first woman editor of the paper in 1904. She became prominent in Boston, serving on the Mass Prison Commission board and as a trustee for the Boston Public Library.  She was an officer in the New England Women’s Press Association, and a Professor of Journalism at Notre Dame University, which also awarded her the prestigious Laetare Medal.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Louise Imogen Guiney
(1861-1920)

Louise Imogen GuineyLouise Guiney was born in Roxbury, the daughter of an Irish immigrant, General Patrick Guiney,
who was a war hero in the American Civil War.  In fact, she traveled as a child with her mother to Virginia, where theMassachusetts Irish Ninth Regiment was stationed. She began publishing poems in the Boston Pilot under the initials P.O.L. with references to Latin, Greek and Medieval poetry, and readers assumed she was ‘a bright Harvard boy.’  She published a number of books, including Songs at the Start, Goose-Quill Papers and The White Sail. Her final work was entitled Happy Endings.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Mary Kenny O'Sullivan
(1864-1943)

Mary Kenny O'SullivanNationally acclaimed union organizer Mary Kenny was born in Missouri to Irish immigrants. She
worked in Chicago and New York as an organizer before moving to Boston’s South End in 1893. She organized rubber makers, shoe makers and garment workers, shops where women were paid poorly and suffered bad working conditions. When her husband John O’Sullivan died, she continued her work, creating the National Women’s Trade Union League and taking part in the Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, MA.  The Massachusetts State House has a plaque entitled Hear Us, honoring Kenny and five other women. Click here for additional information.


Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Annie Sullivan
(1866-1936)

Annie SullivanThe daughter of impoverished Irish immigrants, Annie Sullivan became world-famous for teaching Helen Keller to read and write.  Born nearly-blind in Feeding Hills, MA, Annie and her crippled brother lived at the Tewksbury Almshouse before Annie attended the Perkins School for the Blind in South Boston.  Upon graduation Annie was sent to Tuscumbia, AL to teach the blind six-year-old Keller.  Helen’s epiphany came when Annie taught her that everything had a name and could be spelled out. Their lives together were made into a movie called The Miracle Worker. Click here for additional information.


Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Mary Boyle O'Reilly
(1873-1939)

Mary Boyle O'ReillyBorn in Charlestown, Mary was a social activist and writer whose passion was protecting children
and women. She established the Guild of St. Elizabeth, a children’s home in Boston’s South End, and was active in the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union.  She was a fearless journalist who once disguised herself as a mill worker to expose child labor abuses. She became a foreign correspondent and during WWI, entered Belgium disguised as a peasant to get to the front lines.  She lectured extensively on Ireland and on her beloved father, John Boyle O’Reilly. Click here for more information.



Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Margaret Foley
(1875-1957)

Margaret FoleyBorn in Dorchester to a working-class family, Margaret grew up in Roxbury and attended Girls High School.  She worked in a hat factory to pay for singing lessons and eventually began organizing women workers.  She had a ‘daring personality and a voice like a trumpet,’ and wasn’t afraid to confront male politicians in public settings, relishing her nickname, the Grand Heckler.  When the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, granting women voting rights, Foley went on the lecture circuit and later worked as Deputy Commissioner of the Child Welfare Division in Boston.


Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Rose Kennedy Fitzgerald
(1890-1995)

Rose Kennedy FitzgeraldRose Fitzgerald was born in Boston’s North End, the daughter of famous politician John ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine Hannon. She was raised in Dorchester and attended college in New York and The Netherlands. Considered the matriarch of America’s best-known political families, she and her husband Joseph P. Kennedy raised nine children in Brookline and Hyannis, including President John F. Kennedy, Senator and Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy. Her daughters included Jean Kennedy Smith, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics. Click here for additional information.


Annie Glover | Mary Farrel | Marguerite Foley | Mary McGrath Blake | Fanny Parnell
Sarah Orne Jewett | Katharine O’Keefee O’Mahoney | Katharine Conway | Louise Imogen Guiney | Mary Kenny O’Sullivan
Annie Sullivan | Mary Boyle O’Reilly | Margaret Foley | Rose K Fitzgerald | Christa Corrigan McAuliffe


Christa Corrigan McAuliffe
(1948-1986)

Christa Corrigan McAuliffeBorn in Boston, Sharon Christa Corrigan was the eldest of five children of Grace and Edward
Corrigan.  She grew up in Framingham, married her high school sweetheart Steve McAuliffe, and began her career teaching. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the first citizen in space would be a teacher, and McAuliffe was selected out of 11,000 applicants and began rigorous training. On 1/28/1986 the Challenger launched but exploded after take-off, killing everyone on board.  Today the McAuliffe Center at Framingham State carries on the spirit of Christa by teaching students to dream big.



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