"A throughly researched, highly entertaining, and ultimately moving one-woman show."
— The Boston Phoenix of Sharon Kennedy's Kate O'Connell

Mary Margaret O'Connell:
Lowell Mill Girl
An historical re-enactment, designed especially for children,
of the life of a mill girl
working in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1847

Dovetails with the 4th-5th grade curriculum.
Sharon performs this 90-minute show at more than 50 schools every year.


Mary Margaret began working in the mills when she was 15 years old, and she speaks directly to children about how her parents immigrated from Ireland and settled in “The Acre” — the Irish section of Lowell. She describes the details of her life in Lowell: the pigs she chases through the streets; the little house her father built using an empty flour barrel for a chimney; the childhood sicknesses she survives; the spelling lessons in the basement of St. Patrick’s Church; and her mother’s work washing floors in the big Yankee houses “across the bridge”.

Sharon Kennedy, who portrays Mary Margaret, is well-known as a storyteller for children, but this is her first historical piece written especially for 4th- through 8th-graders. It was written in response to many requests over the years for a historical piece suitable for elementary school children, and has been performed for over 400 schools, museums, libraries, bookstores, and historical organizations. Amazingly, adults have fallen in love with Mary Margaret, too. She now performs for ages 8 to 108.

Presented in costume by Sharon Kennedy, mill girl Mary Margaret tells many stories:

• her parents’ immigration from County Cork, Ireland
• her father’s job digging the canals
• the little house her father built, with a flour barrel for a chimney
• her mother’s work washing floors in the big Yankee houses
• the childhood sicknesses she endures and survives
• her own toil as a weaver in the mills
• her school years at St. Patrick’s Church
• the day-to-day life of the Irish in “The Acre” section of Lowell.

Praise for Mary Margaret O’Connell: Lowell Mill Girl

“The star of Peabody’s first Women’s History Month celebrations in March, 1992, was Sharon Kennedy’s ‘Mary Margaret’. Audiences young and old were moved and mesmerized — they experienced 19th-century Irish-American life. Thank you, Sharon.”
— Sudi Smoller, co-founder, Cultural Clearinghouse, representing 10 Peabody schools’ efforts to promote cultural arts and women’s history

“Tremendous performance. Great acting. Historically on target. Brings an awareness to all of the difficulties faced by new people in our country. As a Irish-American, it brought back many memories of the stories my grandparents told me about their difficulties in a new land.”
— Jim Coady, Principal, Morse School, Cambridge

“Thank you for Mary Margaret’s visit to the bookstore last Sunday. It was an exceptional performance.”
— Robert E. Mitchell, Jr., Longfellow’s Bookstore, Sudbury

“A thoroughly enjoyable performance. The kids were enthralled. I think they were disappointed to find out at the end that you were not really Mary Margaret O’Connell.”
— Mary Jane Williams, The Boston Tea Party Company

“‘Mary Margaret O’Connell’ brings history to life. The show is equally educational and entertaining. It was well received by both students and faculty. A brilliant performance!”
— Alan Jaffe, Principal, La Liberte Jr. High, Raynham, Massachusetts

Mary Margaret is the daughter of Kate O’Connell, the title character
in a critically-acclaimed show for adults by Sharon,
originally commissioned by the Lowell Heritage State Park

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