'We owe her a profound debt of gratitude' - Sister Margaret Mac Curtain dies age 91

'We owe her a profound debt of gratitude' - Sister Margaret Mac Curtain dies age 91

Writer, historian, educator and human rights advocate, Sister Margaret Mac Curtain. 

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Dominican Sister Margaret Mac Curtain, who died this morning aged 91.

In a statement, President Higgins said: “I am among the many, in so many parts of Irish society, who will have heard with great sadness of the death of Sr Margaret Mac Curtain, Dominican sister, historian, educator, human rights advocate, feminist and writer.

"There were so many aspects of Irish life, past and present, to which she made a unique and valuable contribution.

President Higgins said Sr Mac Curtain was "dedicated to her religious vocation" and "displayed her tremendous talent in so many areas."

He said that Sr Margaret would be remembered not only for her academic achievements but also for her "tireless campaigning for social justice."

We owe her a profound debt of gratitude for her advocacy on the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and for the rights of children with special educational needs, and indeed for her academic work in which she highlighted the oft-neglected role of women in Irish history.

The President said she "not only great determination and energy to all her work" but also "great humour, compassion, and humanity."

President Higgins and wife have expressed their deepest condolences to all those whose lives were touched by Sister Margaret. 

Margaret Mac Curtain, a native of County Cork, studied at UCC prior to joining the Dominican Order in 1950. 

She earned a Ph.D. in history in 1964, before taking a position as a history lecturer at University College, Dublin (UCD) where she worked until she retired in 1994.

Sr Margaret campaigned for various causes throughout her life and career including the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, domestic violence, and apartheid. 

From 1997 to 2002, she chaired the National Archives Advisory Council. 

She was also a longstanding member of the editorial board of Field Day IV and V, a group that highlighted the literary contribution of Irish women writers and poets. 

RTÉ broadcaster Cathal Mac Coille and staff at UCD have also been paying tribute to Sr Margaret this morning. 

Mr Mac Coille, a former student of Sr Margaret, said he "always looked up to" her. 

He said: "Lectured by her at UCD, read her books, looked up to her, interviewed her on radio, and listened to her great honest intelligence any chance I got.

"And above all liked her, as anyone did who had the privilege of knowing Margaret Mac Curtain. RIP.

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