Mulally, Teresa (1728–1803), educationist, businesswoman, and philanthropist, was born in October 1728, in Pill Lane, near Chancery Street, Dublin, the only child of Daniel and Elizabeth Mulally. While she was young, her father, a provisions dealer, retired from his business and moved his family to nearby Phrapper Lane. Little is known of her early years. Her interest in philanthropy may have stemmed from her mother, who assisted the poor during the severe winters of 1740 and 1741. In the later 1740s she moved to Chester, where she lived for four years with an elderly relative, who died leaving her a legacy of £70. This made it possible for her to set up a millinery business in Dublin, and gains from the state lottery allowed her to invest further in the operation. Though she proved herself a capable businesswoman, she lost interest in her work after the deaths of her parents in 1762; having decided to devote her life to the poor, she retired on an annual income of £30.
Conscious of the need to provide education for poor girls in her local parish of St Michan's, Mulally abandoned thoughts of entering a convent, and aided by the Jesuits, Father James Philip Mulcaile (1727–1801), assistant priest at St Michan's, whom she met in 1763, and Father John Austin (qv), who ran a nearby school for boys, she opened her own charity school in 1766 in a rented three-storey house in Mary's Lane. In an effort to secure subscriptions from neighbouring catholics she and Mulcaile published An address to the charitable of St Michan's parish in June of that year, in which they outlined their plans for the school. While religious instruction dominated the curriculum, practical skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic, knitting, needlework, and mantua and glove making were also provided. Despite the possibility of prosecution under penal legislation she and her assistants, Anne Corballis (d. 1793) and Judith Clinch, provided instruction for up to one hundred girls. Their operation expanded in 1771, when Mulally established a boarding school and orphanage nearby. Among the school's most generous supporters were wealthy catholics such as Lady Bellew and Elizabeth Coppinger.
The exact date on which she and Nano Nagle (qv) became acquainted is uncertain; however, after corresponding for at least two years, they first met in Cork in September 1778. As her health was becoming increasingly frail, Mulally was anxious to see the school taken over by Nagle's Presentation sisters, and with this in mind she began to look for recruits for the order in the hope of setting up a community in Dublin. These efforts continued after Nagle's death in April 1784, and culminated in the purchase in August 1787 of a disused glassworks in George's Hill near the school, which, with the help of two substantial bequests and a gift of £1000, she had rebuilt and made ready as a convent by August 1789. Construction also began on a chapel (1792), which was completed in 1801. However, it was not until April 1794 that two novices, intended for the Dublin house, were professed at Cork and took over the running of the new convent. In 1796 they received a further two nuns, one of whom was Judith Clinch. Mulally never joined the order, and spent the remainder of her life living at the orphan house beside the convent, from where she looked after the finances of the school. She did not always agree with the Presentation sisters’ methods, particularly when she felt that their religious exercises conflicted with the efficient running of the school. She died (leaving the bulk of her estate to the school) at the orphan house on 9 February 1803, and was buried in the vault of the convent chapel.