Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Ferguson, Mary Catherine

1517260Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Ferguson, Mary Catherine1912David James O'Donoghue

FERGUSON, MARY CATHERINE, Lady (1823–1905), biographer, born at Stillorgan, co. Dublin, in 1823, was eldest daughter of Robert Rundell Guinness by his wife Mary Anne Seymour. She was educated partly at home and partly at Woodside, Cheshire. Keenly interested from an early age in Irish art and archæology, she made the acquaintance of (Sir) Samuel Ferguson [q. v.], and through him of George Petrie [q. v.], William Reeves [q. v.], and other workers in the same field. On 16 Aug. 1848 she married Ferguson, and thenceforth shared in his archaeological and literary labours, and helped him to entertain in their house at 20 North Great George Street, Dublin, numerous native and foreign guests of like interests. In 1868 she published her popular book 'The Story of the Irish before the Conquest' (2nd edit. 1890), which is still in circulation. After her husband's death in 1886 she chiefly occupied herself in writing 'Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day,' which appeared in 1896 (Edinburgh and London, 2 vols.), and pleasantly if discursively described the circle of which her husband was the centre. Her 'Life of William Reeves, D.D., Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore,' followed in 1893. Lady Ferguson also prepared for posthumous publication her husT3and's 'Ogham Inscriptions in Ireland, Wales and Scotland' (Edinburgh, 1887), 'The Hibernian Nights' Entertainments' (Dublin, 1887; three series), and popular editions of the 'Lays of the Western Gael' (Dublin, 1887; 3rd edit. 1897), 'Confession of St. Patrick' (1888), 'Congal' (Dublin, 1893), and 'Lays of the Red Branch' (1897). She died at her husband's house in Dublin on 5 March 1905, and was buried in her husband's grave at Donegore, co. Antrim. She had no children.

[Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day, 1896; Life of Willlam Reeves, D.D., 1893; Daily Express, Dublin, 7 March 1905; Who's Who, 1905; personal knowledge.]

D. J. O'D.