By E. Owens Blackburne

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Died a.d. 1461

THE best woman of her time in Ireland.” So says O'Cleary, in the Annals of the Four Masters, when mentioning Margaret O'Carroll. She was the daughter of O'Carroll, and married, early in the 15th century, Calvach O'Conor, chief of Offally. She is commonly called “Margaret O'Carroll of Offally,” having retained her maiden name after her marriage, a not uncommon custom with our ancestresses; indeed, in many country parts of Ireland, the custom is prevalent to this day. She must have been a woman of remarkable spirit and capacity; and when to these were united the virtue, benevolence, and piety which all chroniclers agree in ascribing to her, it is no wonder that they felt a pride in recording her good deeds. “She was the one woman that made most of preparing highways, and erecting bridges, churches, and mass-books, and of all manner of things profitable to serve God and her soul.” So wrote McFirbis, the last antiquary of Lecan, who was contemporary with Margaret O'Carroll, and from whose MSS. all authentic information concerning her must necessarily be gleaned.

But the two leading events of her life seem to have been her famous pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James of Compostello, in Spain, and “the two invitations of Margaret O'Carroll.” Of these events we will speak in the succession in which they have been here named.

In the year of our Lord 1445, there seems to have been a great religious revival in Ireland.

Illustrious Irishwomen Volume 2

E. Owens Blackburne

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