Mary Cahalan

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Mary Cahalan

Mary A. Cahalan (born February 1856 in Bourbon County, Kentucky; died April 8, 1906) was a teacher and principal of Powell School from 1885 to 1906.

Cahalan was one of seven children born to Michael and Catherine Cahalan, both natives of Ireland. During the Civil War the family lived in Columbus, Georgia, and young Mary was trained at St Joseph's Convent there. She and her family moved to the new city of Birmingham in 1872, residing at the Relay House until their three-story home, the first brick residence in the city, was completed at 4th Avenue and 21st Street. It was there that the first Mass was conducted in the young city, and Father William McDonough resided with them and helped to care for the sick during the 1873 cholera epidemic.

Mary became the first teacher hired for the Free School in 1874.

As a fund-raiser for the school, Mary performed with the Birmingham Thespian Corps at Sublett Hall in 1875.

She was appointed principal of the Free School in 1885, and held the job until her death.

Cahalan was an active member of the Alabama Educational Association and presented numerous papers in regional and national conferences. She was the first president of the St Paul's Biblical and Literary Society, founded in 1894.

Cahalan died in 1906 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. A memorial statue of Cahalan was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti and placed in Capitol Park.


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