Biography Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Biography Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Catherine McAuley 17781778

Catherine McAuley 1778

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Place of migration
Stayed in Ireland

Catherine McAuley was born in Dublin in 1778 to parents James and Elinor. 

Her father died when she was a young child, leaving Elinor to raise Catherine and her two siblings. When Cathering was 20, her mother also passed away. From this point Catherine lived in a number of different households, including that of her uncle Owen.

Catherine later settled in Coolock house where she worked as a household manager and companion to the lady of the house, a Mrs Callaghan. The Callaghans were a Protestant/Quaker couple. During her time at Coolock, she began to nurse the sick people in the locality. She also nursed both Mr and Mrs Callaghan through the illnesses that ultimately led to their deaths. When they died, the Callaghans left Coolock house to Catherine who continued to live there until she relocated permanently to Dublin some years later. She used the money from the Coolock Estate to fund her charitable endeavors, the best known of which was the construction of a house in Baggot Street where to poor could seek relief. She was particularly concerned with aiding abused servant women who were often turned away by other charitable houses. 

Her Dublin building opened in 1827. It was called The House of Mercy. The focus of the House of Mercy was the education of orphans and the poor. Four years later, Catherine took her religious vows and became a nun. She and two other nuns established The Sisters of Mercy of which Catherine was the Mother Superior until her death in 1841. 

Catherine McAuley's legacy is tied into the Irish education system and the spread of her religious house. Sisters of Mercy can now be found all over the world, with Convent of Mercy schools located all over Ireland. The focus of the Sisters of Mercy is the care of the sick, poor, and educationally disadvantaged. 

She is immortalised in the form of a statue on Baggot Street in Dublin and until the introduction of the Euro she featured on the Irish five punt note. 

Additional Information
Date of Birth 29th Sep 1778
Date of Death 11th Nov 1841
Father (First Name/s and Surname) James William McGawley /McAuley 1723-1783
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Elinor Conway 1753-1798
Occupation Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy


  • I was fortunate to attend Catherine McAuley Catholic High School from January 1955 to graduation in 1958. The school was founded in 1948 in Brooklyn, New York. The educators who taught there were first-rate, knowledgeable and dedicated. As a result, all graduates were given the best education available and students were well-prepared for the next journey in life whether it was a career in business, science, education or any other field. I still treasure the educational foundation the Sisters of Mercy provided to all of us. Barbara Cooke-Doherty


    Thursday 10th September 2020 02:08AM

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