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



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