Hedge School
Order Page
Blogs & Links
About Us

History Page

    Mary O. Daly, a common name, because all the Irish families in the world, for several hundreds of years, have named their daughters, and sometimes their sons, after our Lady. When she was in a Catholic high school, she once took a math class with 12 students, five of whom were named Mary. Although the name is less common now, it is a fashion not likely to die while Jesus lives. 

     Among the innumerable host of Mary Dalys, there is one writer of enviable competence and considerable fame who has a poor reputation among orthodox Catholics. It was suggested that Mary alter her own name so as not to be confused with her, so she added her middle initial. She is Mary O. Daly

     She was loathe to leave the to the other Mary Daly the first claim to a name that represents both the Emerald Isle and the Queen of Angels.  With your help, she hoped to redeem it. 

    She lived in South Dakota where she raised five children, meantime sending a few little ones on, and where she sought to undertake her own small part towards cultural renewal, first by writing books about sentence diagrams so people can think more clearly, and then by writing the science texts she always wanted while teaching her own children. There are also math and history materials and among others. She also printed some of the writings of her immediate family, on poetry and science both.

    One more piece of background she felt was relevant to her science materials, which some people find controversial. She was out of the Church for a period of time, and although she did not discount the role of plain sinfulness in that episode, she maintained that some part of it was related to the incoherence of the common presentation of the relationship between faith and science. After her return to the Church, she resolved that nobody in her circle of influence would suffer that particular temptation.

     She saw that as a seminal part of her mission, and not only her, but one that family connections made particularly salient because those connections have provided her with an unusual collection of insights that are not generally available together, although each one is in the public domain. 

     Mary's writing was orthodox, both in her own estimation and that of the local diocesan censor. Many of her publications carry the Nihil Ostat and Imprimatur of the Bishop of Eastern South Dakota.

     Mary passed away November 21, 2020 of cancer. She renewed her blog in her last days as she traveled a short road with the cancer and said goodbye to so many who were dear to her.  Her blog was Meg on Fire. Eternal rest grant unto Mary, O Lord, and may her soul rest in peace.

​Return to top of the page

Mary's thoughts on Patriarchy:

    Patriarchy is the first major step, historically, in the liberation of women. A woman always knows she is the mother of her child, and at the moment of birth, so does everyone else. Men can always say, "Who, me?" leaving the woman with the task of caring for the child in every way. It is when a man says, "This one's mine; I'm going to see that he's okay," that a woman gets the support she needs and can have a full and rich life. 
    It can happen that patriarchy goes astray and becomes mere chauvinism, leaving the woman under the doormat, but as a first step, it is liberating, and we ditch it at our peril. 

    I also have a strong opinion about women in the sacred precincts.

    Again, a major step in women's liberation was accomplished when temple prostitution was rejected by a major world religion, and the cunning idea that sex, particularly sex outside family, is actually a "religious" experience was flatly rejected. 
    Many women now seek to "enter the temple precincts" as ordained ministers. Part of the reason for this is that women do have religious leadership charisms which are not well able to function in a culture of divorce and Protestantism. The founding of religious orders and the depth of the family or intellectual vocation may be rendered all but impossible in these cultural vacuums, so that the only visible road for women's religious leadership is the men's. 
    But the great Catholic women of our own and other times in history seem to keep busy without ordination. Catholicism offers women certain opportunities that are hard to come by elsewhere. 
    There is a solution for those who live "elsewhere": cross the Tiber. 

Return to top of the page
BiographyPatriarchy OpinionWhat else ?

Email [email protected]        Phone 805.421.8303
Hedge School
History Page
AncestryA GaliliestDr J A O'KeefeHedgeschool Cross

View shopping cart

She made good granola and good bread. She greatly enjoyed housekeeping for about 2 hours a week, as she would say, "not enough to earn me any titles". Like other homeschool mothers, she did many other things, draw, learn languages, knit.

She loved to have people visit if they were traveling across the country on the interstate near her home.  And she traveled a fair amount herself -- one summer from California to New Hampshire.

She loved a bonfire.

She liked Chesterton. She loved Tolkein and believed he was the greatest writer since Shakespeare,who she believed to be a "wonderful dissident Catholic writer of the late 16th and early 17th century". She delighted in Hopkins; you know that if you have her diagramming book.

For many years, she taught once a week in the homeschool educational cooperative sponsered by St. Margaret's Fellowship. Her teaching and writing came together the one helping her to develop the other.  Her geology, chemistry, and astronomy books, history and psychology, all began this way.

She called herself a Galileist.

Martha Tulane O’Keefe, the third child of Swedish immigrants in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, married John Aloysius O’Keefe, the astronomer whom she met while he was studying at Yerkes Observatory nearby. Of the nine children they raised, Mary Daly was the fourth. 
Here is some information about her father’s work.

He was sometimes known (in Mary's childhood) as pear-shaped O’Keefe — not because of his stomach but for his discovery of the earth's slight pear shape: 
Linked here

Although her mother's immigrant family was repeatedly cheated out of everything they had earned, and was therefore always poor, she went to college partly through the kindness of Mary Frost. Every year Mrs. Frost went to the local high school and asked for the name of the smartest person in the class who would not be going to college for want of money. Then she’d collect enough funds with her friends to give that student a start. That is how Martha O'Keefe mother started her college education.

Mary's father's father was a medical doctor in Boston, a specialist in allergies, and a friend of the Kennedy family.  Politically, Mary never exactly identified with the Republican party, but she opposed abortion, defended the family, defended private property as essential to defending the family, and she loved her country, so wherever that lead was where she went. 

The hand-carved cross you see on the upper left of the heading banner is a picture of the cross that was given to Mary's grandmother as a gift of thanks from the inmates in the prison where she worked on the parole board. The prisoners wanted something to do and she asked them what they would like to do. They wanted to carve crosses. She saw that they got tools and materials. This is one of those crosses.

Another branch of the family also has interesting family background interacting with prisoners. Mary's great, great grandfather and his wife-to-be were on board a ship going from England to Australia, she as a passenger to visit her married sister, and he as the ship's captain.  En route they were becalmed and fresh water ran short. Very terrible things could happen in these circumstances. Mary's great, great grandmother observed the justice and care the Captain extended to all his passengers, including prisoners also en route to Australia. She admired him, and he fell in love ...

Click here for a full page view of the cross in another window. 

Return to top of the page
Patriarchy opinion
What Else about Mary
The Hedge School Cross
Dr J A O'Keefe
​Mary Daly?   Should you be reading her stuff?
What is a Hedge School?
For many years, for a few hundred years, the Irish who were faithful to Catholicism were forbidden to receive an education, in literature, in history, in math, and certainly in catechism. Nevertheless, they remained an educated people, thanks to traveling teachers, probably sometimes priests, who taught all subjects behind hedges, in caves, or in other hidden places. These were actually called Hedge Schools, and they were very successful. 
    In our own time, school is legal for everyone, but what a school! Home education is the rightful inheritor of the Hedge School tradition. We will be educated!