Lynch, Clementine (Mary Scholastica) (1754–99), fifth abbess of the Ypres Benedictine convent, was born 16 June 1754 (place and parentage unknown). She entered the abbey school of the Benedictine nuns in Ypres, Flanders (then in the Austrian Netherlands) on 9 July 1764. She was admitted to the order as a postulant on 29 September 1770, and was professed 21 March 1772, taking the religious name ‘Mary Scholastica’. On 17 October 1783 she was elected the fifth abbess of the Ypres convent. The Benedictine nuns had first arrived in Ypres from Ghent in 1665. In 1682 the abbey acquired its Irish affiliation when nuns from Dublin transferred to Ypres. These sisters were known as ‘the Irish dames of Ypres’ as a reflection of the convent's Ship St. origin and the continued predominance of Irish members. On 13 January 1793 the convent was invaded by French revolutionary forces. Devastation was averted due to the intercession of an Irish general, possibly James O'Moran (qv), who persuaded the commander in Ypres to withdraw the troops from the convent and pay for the damages incurred by the forced occupation. Although O'Moran advised the nuns to quit the convent and return to secular life, they remained and survived subsequent sieges of the town and France's annexation of the province in October 1794. However, the strain of living under a French occupation that was hostile to religious societies led to the rapid deterioration of Lynch's health. She died 22 June 1799 and was buried in the convent churchyard in Ypres.
Clementine's younger sister, Brigid (Mary Bernard) Lynch , (1757–1830), succeeded her as abbess of the Ypres convent. Brigid was born 31 May 1757 (place unknown) and entered the abbey school at the same time as her sister. She became a postulant on 7 June 1772 but, because of the existing political turmoil, was not professed until 1 June 1782. She took the religious name ‘Mary Bernard’. When her sister died, she was elected the sixth abbess of the convent on 29 June 1799. Her thirty-one-year reign as abbess was relatively uneventful, despite an early averted threat of eviction in 1799 as a result of action taken by a Jacobin neighbour who disliked their presence in Ypres. Fortunately, the government changed before the appointed eviction date, and they were allowed to remain in the abbey. Mother Abbess Mary Bernard's tenure thus spanned the end of the revolutionary government, Napoleonic rule, and Dutch rule in Belgium. She died 21 August 1830, four days before Belgium asserted its independence. She was also buried in the convent churchyard.
The Ypres convent, which survived the ravages wrought in the aftermath of the French revolution and the annexation of Belgium, came to an end when the city became a crucial point in the war on the western front in October 1914. The Irish dames of Ypres retreated to Ireland, where remnants of their possessions and archives are held in the Benedictine convent at Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway, including portraits of both sisters, previously on display in Ypres (although Mary Scholastica's portrait was in reality of another, married sister, due to her reluctance to sit for a portrait, and is now kept separate from the other abbesses’ portraits).