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Lady Coghlan (Lena Donnelly) 1875 – 1936, Philanthropist

Lady Coghlan (Lena Donnelly) 1875 – 1936, Philanthropist

Lena Donnelly was a student at Loreto Mary’s Mount from 1888-1893, as were her sisters, two of whom, Theresa (Mother Claude) and Leila (M. Agatha) entered the Loreto order. Her parents were Denis Cornelius Joseph Donnelly and Ellen Agatha Cummings. Denis Donnelly had come to Australia during the Gold Rush and made a small fortune. By the time of Lena’s birth, he was a landowner in New South Wales and a Member of Parliament.

Helen Donnelly married Timothy Coghlan KCMG, ISO, in 1897. He was a senior public servant and Chief Statistician for New South Wales, pioneering the modern census and involved in Federation. In 1905 the Coghlans moved to London, Timothy taking up the post of Agent General for New South Wales. Helen entertained London high society.

During the First World War, Lady Coghlan became actively involved in relief work for Serbia, which had been invaded in 1915. After the war, she organized a relief train to be sent with medical supplies from England, raising funds from the wealthy families of London and engaged the help of Herbert Hoover (US President in 1929).

(Reference: ‘Rail Aid to Serbia” by Tim Coghlan)