Butler, Mary Magdalen (Matilda Martha) (1795–1856), Dominican sister and founder of Sion Hill Dominican convent, Dublin, was born Matilda Martha Butler in Dublin. She entered the Dominican order and was the first sister to be professed in their new convent in Cabra on 28 December 1819, taking the name Mary Magdalen. The sisters’ apostolate was the education of the poor, and they opened St Catherine's Poor (or Free) School in Cabra in 1820. To finance the school, the sisters took in fee-paying boarders, and formally established a boarding school in 1835. Butler served as the prioress of the Cabra convent 1820–23 and 1830–36. In 1832, soon after the order had successfully petitioned to change its jurisdiction from the Irish Dominican provincial to the local ordinary, Archbishop Daniel Murray (qv), Butler further petitioned to have the recitation of the Divine Office commuted, claiming that it was too time-consuming and off-putting for potential recruits. This request was granted. On 24 October 1839 Butler (as superior) and two other sisters founded a convent at Mount Street in Dublin where they established a day school for upper-class girls. As Butler had held the office of mistress of novices in Cabra, the few novices there followed her to the new convent, which caused some strain between the two convents. The Mount Street convent eventually moved to its permanent location at Sion Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, in 1840. While in Sion Hill, Butler appeared to regret the earlier relaxations made in Cabra regarding jurisdiction and recitation of office, and reverted to the more rigid discipline of the earlier era. She eventually left Sion Hill in 1846 for the contemplative Dominican convent in Drogheda (est. 1722). She remained there until her death after a protracted illness in 1856.
Annals of the Dominican convent of St Mary's, Cabra, 1647–1912 (1912); [Dominican Sisters, Sion Hill, Blackrock] Veritas Centenary Record 1836–1936 (c.1936); [Dominican Sisters, Cabra] Weavings (1988); James Kelly and Dáire Keogh (ed.), History of the catholic diocese of Dublin (1996), 276–7