Fortieth Annual Report of St. Brigid's Orphanage (1896)

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Fortieth Annual Report of St. Brigid's Orphanage (1896)




Sisters of the Holy Faith; St. Brigid's Orphanage


Fortieth Annual Report of St. Brigid’s Orphanage (1896). It is submitted by the Sisters of the Holy Faith. The report opens with a historical overview of Margaret Aylward's arrival in Dublin and how she established a branch of the Ladies’ Association of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul for Relief to the Sick Poor. It also features her establishment of St. Brigid’s Orphanage and the Sisters of the Holy Faith Congregation. Aylward’s opinion that ‘corrupt Proselytism was pushed among the very poor Catholic families’ is stated, as are her concerns that poor Catholic children were admitted to Protestant institutions. Some notation is given to the names of females involved in the Ladies’ Association of Charity. The activities of Mrs. Scully, who secretly gathered information on Protestant institutions, is recognised. Particular warning is provided by Aylward and Scully as to who was attending Protestant day schools. This is accomplished by detailing ‘names and addresses of the children as they were leaving school’. It discusses why Saint Brigid was adopted as the saintly appellation for the orphanage. It notes how Aylward was initially refused permission to set up the orphanage by the Archbishop, Dr. Paul Cullen and his initial reticence but subsequent approval. The report mentions Ada Allingham, Aylward’s long-time assistant and her consequential involvement with the Ladies’ Association of Charity, St. Brigid’s Orphanage, and the Sisters of the Holy Faith. It details the rationale for developing a boarding-out (foster care) system in Ireland and mechanism used in providing payment for nurses (foster parents). The reasons for Margaret Aylward’s imprisonment in 1860 and the support she received from Dr Cullen, is specified. The report details many of the benefactors of the orphanage, naming prominent clergymen, and professionals. It notes that ‘during the early years Margaret Aylward made many excursions for the purpose of collecting funds, to various districts in Ireland and to France. Her success was trifling, if estimated by the amounts of cash received, but it was remarkable that those who promised subscriptions to the amount of one pound’.
It mentions the support of Archbishop Kirby, and Archbishop Cullen for their efforts in attaining indulgences from Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII for people who supported and donated to St. Brigid’s Orphanage and the Sisters of the Holy Faith. A reprint of the letter to Miss Aylward from Tobias Kirby (Archbishop of Ephesus) in the Irish College (Rome) dated 02 November 1889, is displayed.
The report praises the continued work of Miss Aylward, despite her ill-health. It suggests that the decline of the Ladies’ of Charity was due to death or illness of benefactors. Therefore, there was a need to establish a religious order in order to manage the affairs of the orphanage and schools. The report details the origins of the Sisters of the Holy Faith.
The report details the number of orphans; reunification of orphans with parents; orphan adoptions; orphan apprenticeships; the schooling of orphans; and the rearing of orphans. It notes that admissions were for children at most danger of losing their Catholic Faith. Examples of orphan circumstances are depicted. Protocols for religious instruction and education in general is detailed. The benefits of the boarding-out (foster care) system is discussed; and premiums paid to nurses (foster parents) is noted. Acknowledgement of the guild associations and Mr. Steiner for their work in collecting donations, is observed.
The report then discusses the death of Rev. Father John Gowan in January 1897. It notes he had been working on the annual report prior to his death. It provides a Eulogy, with a report on his funeral and burial at Holy Faith Cemetery in Glasnevin. It offers an overview of Fr Gowan’s involvement, with St. Brigid’s Orphanage and the Holy Faith schools, and notes that Fr Gowan was ‘practically the founder of the Sisterhood of the Faith’.
The report discusses the work of the Holy Faith schools and that they were not in receipt of state aid. It notes its mission as the withdrawal of ‘children of the poor from proselytizing day-schools, where their faith was undermined’; and ‘to impart to the poor children a thoroughly Catholic education free from Government control, and subject in all things to the Pastors of the Church’. It provides statistics on attendance and of children who completed First Communion, and Confirmation. It notes the appointment of Rev. John Maher, of St. Peter’s Church in Phibsboro, as the new director of ‘St. Brigid’s Works.’
A list of benefactors and donations to St. Brigid’s Orphanage and Holy Faith Schools is listed (including clergymen and guild associations). In the appendix is a letter of solicitation for support, donations, and subscriptions. Also, in the appendix is a description of assistance of the Sisters of the Holy Faith to the Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen Of Charity, in Little Strand Street; and an extract of a pamphlet published by his Lordship the Bishop of Southwark and kindly presented to St. Brigid’s Orphanage, titled ‘Practical Direction and Suggestions as to Appointed Testamentary Guardian.’ A final appendix provides an account of the life and work of Fr Gowan written by Francis MacEnerney.


St. Brigid's Orphanage
46 Eccles Street, Dublin, Ireland
Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland
Orphan statistics
Boarding-out system
Nurses (foster parents)
Holy Faith schools
Sisters of the Holy Faith
Protestant institutions
Cullen, Paul (1803-1878)
Kirby, Tobias (1804-1895)
Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)
Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903)
Gowan, John (1817-1897)
Glasnevin Convent
Relief to the Sick Poor
Ladies’ Association of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Charity
Aylward, Margaret (1810-1889)


Reports 1896-1901 (HFA/O/ES/F/33/SBO-AR-1896-1901)


William Powell (22 Parliament Street, Dublin)








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Text Item Type Metadata

Ref Code


Existence and location of originals

Sisters of the Holy Faith Congregational Archives, Aylward House, Holy Faith Convent, Glasnevin, Dublin 11

Extent and medium

1 report, 87 pages




Sisters of the Holy Faith; St. Brigid's Orphanage, “Fortieth Annual Report of St. Brigid's Orphanage (1896),” Holy Faith Sisters Digital Archive, accessed September 28, 2022,

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