NUI Galway

NUIG QuadrangleMary Josephine Donovan (1887-1966) was born in Fairhill, Galway. She was educated at the Dominican convent, Taylor’s Hill and graduated with honours BA (1908) and MA (1909) from Queen’s College, Galway (later UCG and now NUI, Galway). She became an assistant to the professor of History, English Literature and Mental Science. In 1914, she was appointed first professor of the new department of History and remained in that role until 1957. She was also elected to the Governing Body of the university.


Mary Donovan was prominent in suffrage politics, acting as librarian to the Connnacht Women’s Franchise League and advocating equal pay and equality in the workplace. She married Jeremiah O’Sullivan from Birdhill, Co Limerick, in 1915. Donovan-O’Sullivan proposed a role for women in war recruitment and, in January 1916, was elected president of the local Ladies’ Recruiting Committee. Mary Donovan-O’Sullivan retained a lifelong interest in women’s equality, social history and Galway archaeological and historical studies.