Sr. Margaret Maccurtain, O.P.
Ireland is known as a land of legends, poetry, beauty and resolute spirit. Ireland is also known to many as the home of Sr. Margaret MacCurtain, a remarkable woman with a most determined spirit. To many in her homeland and throughout the world, she is known as a champion of justice for all, especially for women and children.
Sr. MacCurtain recently retired as a Lecturer from the Irish History Department of University College Dublin, 1964-94. During those years she was also Professor at the School of Irish Studies, Dublin, 1972-89. A member of the Academic Council of the Irish School of Ecumenics, for many years she served on the Catholic Communications Council set up by the Catholic hierarchy after Vatican Two. She was a board member of the National Rehabilitation Institute and as the founder principal helped establish the Senior College Ballyfermont for public education in the city of Dublin. A Dominican Sister, she was the prioress of Sion Hill convent and currently chairs the Board of Governors of St. Catherine's Home Economics College in Sion Hill. She held the Burns Chair of Irish Studies in Boston College, 1992-93, and more recently was the Baldwin Scholar in the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (Baltimore). Her research into the history of Irish women won her the award of the Eire Society of Boston Gold Medal in 1993. Sr. MacCurtain is an internationally recognized and honored scholar, educator, writer, innovator, and feminist activist; put it all together and she is the complete Humanist.
Sr. MacCurtain is devoted to Human Rights. Here are a few examples of her commitment and contributions to women and children: * She campaigned for many years for the abolition of corporal punishment in schools at a time when it was tolerated, even approved, in schools.* She is an advocate and activist for children with special needs to have the opportunity to live in small communities where their unique requirements can be met. (As a polio patient when she was a child she knows personally of the problems of large and inhumane places.) * She publicly speaks out against domestic violence to women and on behalf of birth control when these issues are often ridiculed and regarded as religiously unacceptable. * She was a Patron for the Right to Remarry Campaign when civil divorce was against the Irish Constitution. (Sr. MacCurtain's side narrowly won, but won, indeed.) * She founded the first community college in a disadvantaged area in Ireland, and it is still thriving as a distinguished and respected school.* Founding member of the Irish Association for Research in Women's History and Women's Education and Research Centre. * She was an outspoken fighter for over twenty-five years against Apartheid and gave impassioned speeches on human rights. * In the 1980's she was a member of the Irish delegation at the World Peace Conferences annual meetings.
We are grateful to UCSD Professor Marianne McDonald, Member of the Royal Irish Academy, President of Women's International Center's Advisory Council, for sponsoring and bringing our Irish sister to San Diego.
With pride and humility WIC presents the Living Legacy Award for 1997 to a true and rare humanitarian whose legacy spans the globe, Sr. Margaret MacCurtain.
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