Sr. Francis de Sales (Mary Kathleen McAndrew)

Foxford Moy River
Liz McCabe / CC BY-SA 2.0
Drogheda Co. Louth Map 1649
Gardiner, Samuel Rawson and F.S. Weller (illustrator), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Killiney Beach South Dublin
William Murphy, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Sotheby's London
Sothebys1744, CC BY-SA 4.
Coolagagh, Foxford Co Mayo

Superior / Author

This extraordinary Foxford woman’s motto was that ‘our life on earth should not be wasted.’

Mary Kathleen McAndrew was born on 3rd June 1918, daughter of James Joseph & Nora in Foxford. Her brothers were Michael Patrick & James Joseph (John F. Sheerin).

Daughter of James Joseph McAndrew & Nora (nee Barnicle); Mary Kathleen was born at her homeplace Coolagagh, Foxford on 3rd June 1918. (Laffey)


Mary Kathleen McAndrew received her early education in Foxford.  She attended St. Louis Secondary School in Kiltimagh.  She won a place at Carysfort College in Dublin where she studied teacher training. (Laffey)


She enjoyed music and art.  She purchased a violin in Dublin that cost her a month’s salary!  Years later she sold the rare instrument at Sotheby’s in London. (Laffey)


When Mary Kathleen McAndrew qualified as a national teacher her first post was to Drogheda. (Laffey)


Mary Kathleen McAndrew entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. (Laffey James)  Unfortunately, she contacted tuberculosis during her time there.  She followed doctor’s instructions so recovered completely.  She returned to Cluny to fulfil her expectations to become a religious sister. (Laffey)


During 1946, she was professed and received the name Sr. Francis de Sales (according to Laffey-an appropriate name for a women who would spend her life with practical assistance & spiritual hope to disadvantaged society).

Novice Mistress

Her first appointment as Sr. Francis was as mistress; a role she performed admirably at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny congregation. (Laffey)


Sr. Francis was transferred to the new Cluny foundation in south Dublin during 1956 as a teacher in the order’s national school.  Her extraordinary assistance to her students was a publication of a small grammar book to those who struggled with Irish language. (Laffey)


During 1967 she was appointed to the position of Superior of Mount Sackville convent.  Under her leadership an infirmary, a study-hall and classrooms were constructed.  She employed member of the Traveller Community within the convent and encouraged their children to attend for education.  Sr. Francis taught part-time at St. Patrick’s Institution for young offenders. (Laffey)


Sr. Francis spent a year sabbatical following her Mount Sackville period in Maynooth. (Laffey)

Cluny N. S.

Sr. Francis returned to Killiney Cluny Convent, where she was engaged in practical pastoral work.  She taught Religious Knowledge in various vocational Dublin schools.  During 1984, Sr. Francis managed the National School in Cluny, where she trained the school orchestra.  To facilitate her writing she mastered the computer! (Laffey)


Besides the book of grammar Sr. Francis published a missionary periodical The World Over.  She penned articles to various magazines. (Laffey)

Ill Health

Unfortunately Sr. Francis suffered a heart attack that slowed her down momentarily.  That later was followed by cancer with minor strokes.  (Laffey)


When she retired to Mount Sackville following her teaching career, Sr. Francis visited the sick  regularly.  She attended religious sisters who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease until her own health deteriorated.  She was then confined to Mount Sackville nursing home. (Laffey)


Sr. Francis de Sales’s demise occurred on 22nd April 22 2009 when she was aged ninety years in Dublin City (John F. Sheerin). She was surrounded by the Cluny community at Mount Sackville.  She is interred in Mount Sackville cemetery Dublin. (Laffey James)


Laffey,James,  Labourers in the Vineyard  The Religious of Foxford and its Hinterland (2012) pp 108-110.

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