SOLD Hammer price: €2900, Estimate: €3000-5000
G. Canavari, 1859
“Portrait of Mrs. Mary Power Lalor (nee Ryan) of Long Orchard, Co. Tipperary, seated in a black lace dress with pearl and diamond necklace”, O.O.C., 130cms x 105cms (51″ x 41″) oval, signed and dated 1859, in original carved giltwood frame. (1)
The sitter was born Mary Francis Ryan, daughter of George Ryan of Inch, Co. Tipperary, and Catherine Whyte of Loughbrickland, near Belfast. In 1858 Mary was presented at the Drawing Room in Dublin, the Earl of Carlisle being Viceroy at the time, and in October of that year at the age of eighteen, she married Captain Edmund Power Lawlor of Long Orchard.
Mary was presented to the Papal Court in 1859, during which time spent in Rome she was greatly admired for ‘her unusual beauty and a singular fascination of manner.’ She visited some artist studios by special invitation and ‘her portrait now at Long Orchard, was painted at this time by ‘Canavari.’
After the death of her husband 1873, and her little girl Helen, in 1874 of meningitis, Mary devoted her life to charitable works and in 1880 published an appeal in the leading newspapers on behalf of the starving children following the latest famine in 1879. The New York Herald donated the huge sum of £10,000 which enabled her to feed over 52,000 children throughout the country. Mary took full charge of the fund and clothed children of all denominations, saving many from certain death.
In 1886 Mrs. Power Lalor established the Distressed Ladies Fund’ to assist poor Irish Ladies suffering through the non-payment of rent and land depression in Ireland. The Fund established in Dublin as well to care for the many poor old Ladies living in garrets and cellars, and in 1887 a home was opened in Rutland Square to house the poor and destitute elderly ladies of Dublin. The house subsequently became known as the Power Lalor Home, Queen Victoria was patroness, and Princess Louise became President of the Central Committee, as the Fund extended to England.
In 1912 Mary took up the reins in Ireland of the International Catholic Girls Protection Society and opened the Bureau and Home for Catholic Girls in Dublin, 1912.
Mrs. Power Lalor died on the 26th March 1913, and buried next to her husband in Templetuohy.