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Dear America Wiki
This article is about an Irish mill girl. For other uses, see Mary.

"I look out the mill windows and wonder just how far Ireland is from where I am. It seems 'twas only yesterday Ma said I would be going to America. Now it feels like so very long ago, beyond my memory's reach. Like 'twasn't even me."
—Mary Driscoll[4]

Mary Driscoll (September 12, 1832 — 1849) was the younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Driscoll. She had an older sister named Kate. In 1847, she left Skibbereen, Ireland and immigrated to America. She settled in Lowell, Massachusetts, where her aunt Nora Kinsella lived. Mary soon began working at a mill.


Early life[]

She was born on September 12, 1832[1] to Mr. and Mrs. Driscoll. Mary had a sister Kate, who was three years older. In 1841, her aunt Nora Kinsella immigrated to America when Mary was eight. Her sister followed two years later. Around the same time, the Great Famine hit her hometown Skibbereen, Ireland.

Journey to America[]

In April 1847, Mary received her ticket for her passage to America from Nora. She departed from Cork three weeks later. On board the ship, Mary was looked after by Mr. and Mrs. O'Donnell, who were looking forward to seeing their daughter Alice again. Both passed away before reaching America. She also befriended Sean Riordan on board the ship. Upon arriving, she stayed with Sean's uncle Patrick Quinn. He helped Mary find Alice and later sent her to a convent.

Kate brought Mary to Lowell, Massachusetts and helped her get a job at the mill. Mary stayed with Nora at her home in the Acre, an Irish neighborhood. She began her job a few days later. Another worker, Annie Clark trained her. Annie was impressed by Mary's progress and later talked to their overseer about making her a "spinner." The girls gradually became good friends, meeting on Sundays for walks. Annie also invited Mary to her boardinghouse, where she met Laura Austin and Ruth Shattuck.

Mary was paid only once a month and saved the money to bring her mother and father to America. However, her hopes were dashed when she received a letter that informed her of her parents' deaths. The following month, Mr. Quinn wrote to her about Sean's troubles. Sean was helping Alice reach safety when rioting started near her convent. He returned to help others and was wrongly charged with accessory of murder. Mary then left Lowell and used her money to bail out Sean.

Later life[]

After helping Sean, Mary and Mr. Quinn placed Alice at Perkins Institute for the Blind where "she was well cared for." Mary died two years later in 1849 during a cholera epidemic. She was only seventeen.

Personality and traits[]

Mary was noted as being quiet and patient. Her aunt even nicknamed her "Quiet One" when she was a young girl. She was the opposite of her sister, who was loud and self-absorbed. Mary was a practical and hardworking person. Her chief concern was money since she wished to bring her parents over from Ireland. Mary could speak Irish and English.

Family tree[]

The Driscoll Family Tree
Nora Kinsella
Mrs. Driscoll
(d. 1847)
Mr. Driscoll
(d. 1847)
Dennis Kelly
Kate Driscoll
(b. 1829)
Mary Driscoll
Two children


  • Though not explicitly stated Nora is most likely Mrs. Driscoll's sister.

Behind the scenes[]


Laura Bertram as Mary



See also[]

Dear America characters
Main characters

Remember "Mem" Whipple | Deliverance Trembley | Lozette Moreau | Catharine Logan | Prudence Emerson
Abigail Stewart | Lucinda Lawrence | María Rosalia de Milagros | Hattie Campbell | Mary Driscoll
Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder | Susanna Fairchild | Clotee Henley | Amelia Martin | Emma Simpson
Sarah Nita | Phillis "Patsy" Frederick | Libby West | Priscilla "Pringle" Rose | Mary "Polly" Rodgers
Nannie Little Rose | Angeline Reddy | Sarah Jane Price | Teresa Viscardi | Anetka Kaminska
Zipporah Feldman | Minette "Minnie" Bonner | Angela Denoto | Margaret Ann Brady | Kathleen Bowen
Simone Spencer | Lydia Pierce | Nell "Nellie Lee" Love | Bess Brennan | Minerva "Minnie" Swift | Grace Edwards
Julie Weiss | Madeline Beck | Amber Billows | Piper Davis | Dawn "Dawnie Rae" Johnson | Molly Flaherty

Supporting characters

Antoinetta Viscardi | Leon Nasevich | Daniel Pierce | Erma Jean Love | Patrick Flaherty

Lists of characters by book

A Journey to the New World | I Walk in Dread | Look to the Hills | Standing in the Light
Love Thy Neighbor | The Winter of Red Snow | Cannons at Dawn | A Line in the Sand
Valley of the Moon | Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | All the Stars in the Sky
Seeds of Hope | A Picture of Freedom | A Light in the Storm | When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly | The Great Railroad Race
Down the Rabbit Hole | Land of the Buffalo Bones | My Heart Is on the Ground | Behind the Masks
My Face to the Wind | West to a Land of Plenty | A Coal Miner's Bride | Dreams in the Golden Country
A City Tossed and Broken | Hear My Sorrow | Voyage on the Great Titanic | A Time for Courage
When Christmas Comes Again | Like the Willow Tree | Color Me Dark | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Christmas After All | Survival in the Storm | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
My Secret War | Early Sunday Morning | The Fences Between Us | With the Might of Angels
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?