Alice Ingham 1830 - 1890: a poem by Sister Maureen Maguire, FMSJ

Posted on: 06 September 2021

Author:Sister Joan Kerley


On 8 September 1883 our Congregation was officially founded. This poem, Alice Ingham 1830-1890, by Sister Maureen Maguire, FMSJ gives a light-hearted account of our Foundress and the early community. It is written in a Lancashire Dialect and read by Mr. John Welsh. 

Alice Ingham 1830-1890

There was a young lassie in Rochdale
who lived upon Yorkshire Street.
They’d a shop that sold bonnets for ladies
and cakes that were scrumptious to eat.

By name she was called Alice Ingham
She worked in the shop and the mill
She saved up her pennies and ha'pennies
the little ones tummies to fill.

She got on her knees to the good Lord,
before she lay down on her bed.
‘Cos that were the best way of praying
she prayed from her heart, not her head.

When God took her Mam it was awful
Our Alice was ever so sad
But she soon got a new Mum, a neighbour,
who came and got wed to her Dad.

As Alice grew older and wiser.
she felt called to help in the church.
She did all the washing and cleaning
so the priest wasn't left in the lurch

There were lots of poor people in Rochdale,
who didn't have money for Mass
She gave threepenny bits for collection,
so helpful was our little lass.

She did lots of work in the parish,
she prayed and was good to the poor
When some women came asking to join her,
she felt God was asking much more.

She had some good friends who advised her,
Miss Taylor and Father Gomair.
They told our wee lass to be faithful
and not to give in to despair.

The Bishop of Salford called Herbert
dropped in fer a natter one-day.
He was starting a college in London
and he wasn't a man to delay.

But he did keep the ladies all waiting,
They nearly lost hope of a call
When he'd tested and tried their credentials
they were ready for the off, one and all.

They were hoping to go to the missions
but were put in the laundry instead,
They did a good job in the kitchens
and made sure the lads were well fed.

Mill Hill sent some men to the missions
but they needed a feminine touch.
So they put all their names in a basket
and said to God, "Thanks very much.

The girls on the missions were grateful.
they could now learn to read and to write.
The women got help with their babies,
the clinics a wonderful sight.

In Salford the children were rescued;
the orphans were given a home,
The FMSJ's got a nickname;
Rescue Sisters was how they were known.

Our Alice had done what God asked her:
the Sisters were wearing nun's togs.,
The Missions, Mill Hill, and the Rescue,
Up and running when she popped her clogs.