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Our Story

Alexandra College students and alumnae have a long history of extending a helping hand to women in our community.

A turn of the century black and white portrait photo of a woman.
1897 - The Founding of the Guild

The Alexandra College Guild was founded in 1897. It marked the beginning of an era of involvement in the life of the city of Dublin by the women of Alexandra College. The aims of the Guild were 'to form a bond of union among past and present students; to keep past students in touch with the College ... to encourage the undertaking by them of useful work ... and to interest them in, and inform them about, women's work.' 

A turn of the century photograph of 25 women wearing the fashions of upper class ladies in the 1900s.
1897 - Founding of the Alexandra Guild Tenement Co.

At the inaugural meeting of the Alexandra Guild, it was suggested that the Guild should invest in one or more tenement houses, repair and let them out in good order. A company was formed called the Alexandra Guild Tenement Co. Its share capital was £1,000, divided into 200 shares of £5 each. It is interesting to note that at the time of its formation, this was the only public company in the UK or Ireland managed entirely by women.

A 1900s photograph of 10 children between the ages of approx 2 and 12 on the front stoop of a Georgian house.
1898 - The Children's Playroom

The Alexandra Guild set up playrooms for children, open on two days a week for two hours, from October to April. Guild members and students of Alexandra College attended the children. The playrooms were used by between 40 and 50 children, especially on cold or wet afternoons. At Christmas, each child received a present of a toy, and during the summer months there were excursions to the country or to the sea.

A turn of the century black and white photograph of 14 women dressed in upper class fashions of the 1900s.
1901 - The Founding of the Social Service Union

The Guild founded the Social Service Union in March 1901, and it provided bursaries or old age pensions for 'ladies of gentle birth and education, who, either from age or ill-health are unable to support themselves'. So many women were so poorly paid for their work that they found it almost impossible to make any adequate provision for their old age.

A black and white photograph of the historical site of Alexandra College in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.
1902 - Founding of the Women's Employment Bureau

It was noted at a Guild Conference in 1902, that there was a very urgent need for an employment bureau in Ireland, as a girl seeking employment had 'no means of discovering for which kind of work there is most demand, or for which she is best suited'. Within a month, an inaugural meeting of the Irish Central Bureau for the Employment of Women, was held in Jellicoe Hall, Alexandra College.

A historical black and white photo of Castlewood house in Rathmines, a Georgian house in 1913.
1913 - The Founding of the Alexandra Hostel

A hostel for working girls was opened by the Guild in 1913. Castlewood House, in Rathmines, was purchased for the sum of £650 in June 1912. The girls helped to wash up after dinner, made their own beds, but were otherwise free agents. The Hostel was run on non-denomination bases and the only strict rule was that the girls must be in bed by 10:30 pm each night!

a photograph of ladies sitting around a table as they sew garments around 1915.
1915 - Founding of the War Club

The Alex Guild opened a War Club in 1915 in a house in D'Olier Street to provide recreation and a meeting place for the women whose husbands, brothers, or sons were away at the war. Classes were held in cookery, drill, sewing, music and health care while entertainments were provided by the Guild ladies. Cookery classes proved to be the most popular.

A black and white photograph of the historical site of Alexandra College Guild House in Rathmines, Dublin..
1954 - Founding of the Alex Guild House

The Bursaries Fund received a donation of £5,000 to purchase a house. No. 30 Leinster Road West, Rathmines was obtained. The house was open to ladies of all denominations who needed help and wanted to retain their independence. The aim was to create a homely atmosphere and one of freedom and personal concern. The one rule was that the ladies were asked not to smoke in bed!

The sun rises over two brick school buildings, with a tree in the foreground, autumn leaves on the ground, and bikes outside.
Today - The Alex Women's Charity

Today, the Charity still works with women in the community and around the country to help them maintain the dignity of independent living. All of our committee members and the students of Alexandra College give freely of their time and work hard to raise funds through events held throughout the year. Without these events and funds donated the charity would cease to exist.

Meet the Committee

The Alex Women's Charity (formally Alex Guild Bursaries) is run by Alumni and operates on a purely voluntary basis. The committee give freely of their time to organise fundraising events and pay visits to the women we support. All of the money we raise through fundraising events goes directly to helping women in need.

From L-R: Anne McGoldrick (neé Coolin, joined 2022), Clodagh Lenehan (neé Conroy, joined 2013, Chair), Alison O'Donnell (neé Lund, joined 2022), Priscilla Kirwan Browne (neé Watson, joined 2013, Hon Sec), Eva Lloyd (Lloyd, joined 2021), Anne Marie Hyland (neé Savage, joined 2018, Vice Chair), Lisa O'Donnell (neé Martin, joined 2021), Aisling O'Kelly (O'Kelly, joined 2013), Tara McGuigan (neé Hynes, joined 2022, Treasurer), Asta Mullen (neé Lund, joined 2019).

Circular red text %22Alex Women's Charity%22 with two red crosses on sides, centre text %22AWC 1901%22 three abstract red figures



RCN: 1721/20002503

A black and white photo of a group of ladies in mostly white dresses, most looking away from camera.