Margaret Aylward, 1810-1889
Margaret Aylward was a wealthy Waterford woman who devoted her considerable talents to improving the lot of poor families in Dublin during the second half of the 19th century. Following several failed attempts at religious life, she worked as a lay woman, directing the first Dublin branch of the Ladies of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, visiting and relieving the sick poor in their homes. Extensive field experience brought her into direct and very public conflict with English-backed evangelical missionaries. Her relentless exposure of the proselytism rampant in the city slums led to considerable notoriety and a highly controversial prison sentence of six months. She pioneered a sophisticated 'family rearing' system of care for destitute children, known as St. Brigid's orphanage, which was to provide the model of outdoor care adopted by the Irish workhouses. Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Faith, her story - now back in print - is one of great courage, and it is a passionate commitment to faith and justice in her time.
Publication Date: 5/19/1999