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Abigail McMahon Glynn

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AbigailMcMahonGlynn 200First President of Catholic Women's League South Australia, Abigail Dynon was born in Melbourne in 1867 and grew up in a wealthy family. She travelled extensively—her husband said "she had been round Europe several times and spoke French to the Pope for half an hour "—but she was said to be "gentle, devout and unspoiled by wealth and travel".

Patrick McMahon Glynn had met her once, some years earlier, but it was in 1897, while he was helping to draft the Federal Constitution (he is credited with the inclusion of the reference to Almighty God) that he took time to write her a letter proposing marriage. She accepted on a Wednesday, he travelled to Melbourne on Thursday night, they were married on the following Saturday and he was back at work in Sydney on Monday!

Eventually they made their home in Adelaide, but as an MP and Federal Minister he spent much time in Melbourne so that she must have been largely responsible for bringing up their six surviving children.

When she became foundation President of CWL in 1914, her children were still quite young so she was carrying heavy domestic and social responsibilities. Nevertheless she held office for 13 years, as well as engaging in many other charitable activities including Presidency of St Vincent de Paul Society.

On visits to England, where she was presented at Court, she made contact with the English CWL and brought back authorization to use their badge.

When she died in 1930, her colleagues praised "her tactful and gentle manner" and her charity—"no one ever heard her say an unkind word about anyone"—but, looking back, it is her energy, her generosity and her courage that inspire us.

This article is by Tess Donnellan and appeared in the icon CWLA Newsletter, Issue 1, 2006.   Her main sources were:
Gerald O'Collins, Patrick McMahon Glynn: A Founder of Australian Federation, Melbourne university Press, 1965.
Gerald O'Collins Ed., Patrick McMahon Glynn, Letters to his Family (1874 - 1927), Polding Press, 1974
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