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Narcisa Emília O’Leary was born close to 1770 in Cork. Orphaned, she was taken by her aunt Isabel to Lisbon. On January 31, 1790, she married the bachelor José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, born in Vila de Santos, Brazil. The couple had daughters: Carlota Emília and Gabriela Frederica.

José Bonifácio, with a scholarship from Portugal, travelled for 10 years accumulating scientific knowledge in several European countries. Narcisa Emília accompanied him on some trips, and in letters she lamented the absence of her husband, calling him “my dear Andrada”.

Narcisa Emília, Gabriela Frederica (married), her single daughter, and Narcisa Cândida (her husband’s child out of wedlock, well accepted by his wife) came to Santos. At the Outeirinhos, they lived happily. In soirees, Narcisa sang with a beautiful alto voice, to the sound of a guitar. She was pretty, dark-skinned, and wore her hair tied back, with pearl jewellery. She liked music, reading, writing and singing.

The family moved to Rio de Janeiro where José Bonifácio, appointed Minister, articulated the Independence process. Narcisa shone in high society. Maria Graham wrote: “his wife is of Irish descent, an O’Leary, lady of the greatest amiability and kindness”. José Bonifácio declared that he had “an amiable and virtuous companion”, he compared her to “a fresh morning rose”, but that she did not have “robust nerves”. When Jose Bonifacio was imprisoned for political reasons, Narcisa brought him a bed and clothes.

Exiled to Bordeaux, France, they lived on loans. Narcisa took care of the home and Narcisinha. After almost six years, they were able to return to Brazil.

Aboard the “Fênix”, two days before arriving in Rio, Narcisa died suddenly, at almost 60 years old. The Patriarch organised the burial in the Convento do Carmo, on 27 August 1829. The marriage lasted 39 years.

Narcisa Emília O’Leary de Andrada e Silva tolerated her husband’s betrayals, preserving the harmony of the home. A cultured Irishwoman, she followed the turbulent life of “my dear Andrada”.

A woman of value!