Visit the birthplace of New Orleans’ Mother Margaret

'The Angel of the Delta', 'The Bread Lady of New Orleans', 'Mother of Orphans', and 'Mother Margaret' are just some of the affectionate names given to a remarkable woman, Margaret Gaffney, who hailed from Tully in the South Leitrim parish of Carrigallen, just five kilometres east of Arvagh, Co. Cavan.

Margaret, who emigrated to the USA in the early 19th century, was a remarkable woman who, despite losing her parents at an early age, being widowed and losing her only child at age 23, and never learning to read or write, became a successful bakery owner and renowned philanthropist.

Having been moved by the plight of the orphan children of the city, Margaret, who was known then as Margaret Haughery, opened a series of orphanages throughout New Orleans in the 1850s and 1860s, while also supplying other charitable institutions with bread from her bakery.

When Margaret took gravely ill in 1881, Pope Pius IX sent his personal blessing and a crucifix to her bedside. She died on 9th February 1882 and her funeral was among the largest seen in the city, with the Governor and Mayor among the pall-bearers.

A statue erected in Margaret’s honour just off New Orleans’ Prytania Street holds the distinction of being the first publicly erected statue of a woman in the United States, and the first monument to an American female philanthropist.

In 2008, The Margaret of New Orleans Community Association was established to create a memorial cottage to commemorate Margaret Haughery's (nee Gaffney) birthplace and to raise public awareness of her life and work. The organisation continues to follow in her footsteps by raising funds for local charities working with partners in the U.S. to have Margaret beatified.

Margaret’s Cottage is open to the public during the months of July and August on Saturdays and Sundays between the hours of 2pm and 5pm.

Other dates and times can be arranged by emailing info@margaretsbirthplace.com or calling 049 433 9770/9897. See www.margaretsbirthplace.com for more.

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