Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CUSACK, Mary Frances, philanthropist, known as the Nun of Kenmare, born near Dublin, Ireland, 6 May 1830. She spent most of her early life in England, and began to write when very young. She entered an Anglican religious sisterhood, soon afterward became a Roman Catholic, and, returning to Ireland, joined at Newry, in 1859, a community of Franciscan nuns, known as the Irish Poor Clares, engaged in teaching poor girls. Two years later she established a convent of the Sisters at Kenmare, one of the most destitute parts of Ireland, and in 1884, in a personal interview with Pope Leo XIII., obtained permission to leave the Poor Clares and found a new order, the Sisters of Peace, intended for the establishment and care of homes for friendless girls, where domestic service would be taught and moral habits be inculcated. She opened the first house of the new order at Nottingham, England, and in 1885 a similar house in Jersey City, New Jersey, the first foundation of the Sisters of Peace in the United States. Her active efforts for the relief of the wretched peasants of Kenmare brought her into controversy with the Marquis of Lansdoune, the Earl of Kenmare, and some others of the greater landlords of that region, and with a section of the Catholics of England; but she seems to have enjoyed from the beginning the sympathy of most of the leading Catholics, lay and clerical, of her own country. She was in the United States in 1886. She has published more than fifty works, chief among which are a "Student's History of Ireland" ; "Woman's Work in Modern Society"; lives of Daniel O'Connell, St. Patrick, St. Columba, and St. Bridget; "The Pilgrim's Way to Heaven" ; " Jesus and Jerusalem" ; and "The Book of the Blessed Ones."
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