Cootehill Honour’s Their Famous Novelist

Sep 27, 2023 | Arts

Blue Plaque for Famed Cavan Novelist Mary Anne Sadlier
21 Sep 2023
Acclaimed nineteenth century Cavan writer Mary Anne Sadlier has been honoured with the unveiling of a blue plaque in her honour by the Ulster History Circle.

The blue plaque was unveiled on Thursday, 21st September at Cootehill Library, just yards from where her family home and birthplace once stood at Market Street, Cootehill.

A voice for the Irish Diaspora in North America, Sadlier authored approximately 60 novels including ‘New Lights or, Life in Galway’ written in 1851, in which she became one of the first writers to address the story of the Irish Famine.

Mary Anne was born Mary Anne Madden, and her early education was provided by a Cootehill-based Presbyterian Minister and his wife. She emigrated to Canada at age 24, at first settling in Montreal before settling down in New York following her marriage to James Sadlier.

Such was her status as the voice of Irish emigrants in the United States and Canada, she has been described as the ‘literary queen of Ireland’s diaspora’.

Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr Philip Brady said, “It is fitting that Mary Anne Sadlier is commemorated for her immense literary achievements. She was hugely successful as an author, publishing 60 novels, some of which were reprinted as many as sixteen times. It is unfortunate that more is not known of this great writer in her native county, but I hope this plaque, fittingly located in her hometown’s library, will help educate future generations about the great Irish novelist born in their midst”.

The Ulster History Circle is a voluntary, not for profit organisation that places commemorative plaques in public places, in towns and villages all over Ulster, in honour of men and women who have contributed to the Province’s history.

Notable Cavan people who have been honoured with blue plaques previously include Francis Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Scott Hawthorne.

Chris Spurr, Chairman, Ulster History Circle said, “Mary Anne Sadlier left Cootehill for North America, first to become a writer, then a leading businesswoman in an age when this was exceptional for a woman. Her writings can be considered an inspiration for Irish nationalism amongst the burgeoning emigrant community in America. The Ulster History Circle is pleased to commemorate this significant novelist, editor, publisher, and businesswoman with a blue plaque in her hometown, and the Circle is particularly grateful to Cavan County Council for their financial support, and to Cavan County Council Library Service for their valued assistance”.

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