On this day in 1818, Irish Opera singer Catherine Hayes was born in Limerick. Hayes had a house cleaning position at Lord Limerick’s house. There Dr. Knox, Bishop of Limerick for the Church of Ireland, overheard her singing. He launched her career and arranged her education. She went on to study in Paris and Milan for five years. Hayes made her debut at the Italian Opera in Marseilles in May of 1845. She became one of the most sought after opera singers in Europe. She returned to Ireland during the Great Famine and gave a performance of Bellini’s “La sonnambula” in Limerick at the Theater Royal. Catherine Hayes also gained much success after touring America. She was the great great aunt to Irish American actress and singer Helen Hayes.