Young, Mary Ursula (1783–1830), Ursuline nun and writer, was born 9 October 1783 at Dublin, the eldest child of Charles Young (qv), merchant, and his wife Margaret Young (née Hervey). They were a devout family: four of Mary's brothers became priests, most notable of whom was Henry Young (qv), and all three sisters followed her into religious orders; one died as a novice in a religious house; Johanna became an Ursuline; and Catherine became abbess of the Poor Clares at Harold's Cross, Dublin.
Mary was educated as a boarder at the Ursuline convent on Douglas Street, Cork, before entering the order on 27 July 1803, a decision which apparently surprised her family because of her delicate health. She received the habit on 26 October 1803 and was professed on 7 November 1805, taking the religious name Mary Ursula. She worked in the monastery as a teacher and musician, playing the organ and supervising the choir. She spent the first fifteen years of her religious life at Cork, journeying to Thurles in 1818 with Mother Mary Charles Moloney for a two-year sojourn. She was appointed mistress of novices at Cork in 1823. In 1825 she moved with the order when it was transferred to Blackrock, Dublin.
Keenly aware of the inadequacy of available textbooks, she wrote three manuals on Irish history: A sketch of Irish history compiled by way of questions and answers for the use of schools (1815), A history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from the earliest times to the treaty of Amiens (2 vols, 1815), and Questions on the history of the United Kingdoms [sic] of Great Britain and Ireland (1815). These books were thought unusual for their candid account of the Tudor conquest of Ireland and the repression of Irish catholicism, and intensely antagonised the official authorities. William Magee (qv), the protestant dean of Cork, denounced A sketch of Irish history as ‘a monstrous book’ which was ‘injurious to the young mind’ (O'Rahilly, 77), and the Ursuline order subsequently suppressed its use to avoid censure.
In addition to these controversial works, Young pursued other literary projects: she translated and printed the Ursuline constitutions and the novice's directory, and in 1824 arranged for the publication of the Ursuline manual, compiled by Mother Mary Borgia McCarthy. She died 24 July 1830.