She was born in Bantry, her father was Patrick Desmond a lawyer and her mother Esther Jagoe. On her mother’s side she may have been a grandchild of John Jagoe, Fish Merchant and later Inspector, his wife was O’Connor. His mother was one of the Young fishing family in Bantry probably since at least 1600.   Through them he probably owned the store where the present Maritime  Hotel in Bantry s built.His father’s line were from Dunmanway.

He was writing to the Chief Secretary in Dublin Castle in 1825 supporting non denominational education. His son John a barrister and possible an uncle of Anna Maria was fighting for evicted tenants in Bantry in 1843.

Her uncle John Jago BL may have emigrated to Australia in the 1850s.  Her sister emigrtaed and married in Australia

From the Australian dictionary of National Biography:

Anna Maria Desmond (1839-1921), best known as Mother Benigna, nun and teacher, was born on 6 December 1839 at Bantry, County Cork, Ireland, daughter of Patrick Desmond, lawyer, and his Irish wife Esther, née Jagoe. Educated at home in singing, instrumental music, dancing and languages, she helped in the relief of the poor, admired her father’s fight against injustice and acquired the Christian vision which governed her life. In 1862 her application to enter the Convent of Mercy of Cappoquin was granted and she was given the name of Sister Francis Xavier. She took her final vows on 26 November 1865.

In 1871 Mother Vincent Whitty returned to Ireland seeking recruits and Sister Francis Xavier volunteered. As there was a nun of the same name aboard the Silver Eagle on which she travelled to Australia, she took the new name Sister Benigna. She landed in Brisbane on 24 May 1872.

Helping to establish a convent at Rockhampton in 1873, next year she returned to Brisbane where she taught music and carried out charitable work until 1878. When the Sisters of St Joseph were recalled from his area, Father W. M. Walsh of Townsville invited the Sisters of Mercy to provide religious education. They arrived on 13 November 1878 and prepared to reopen St Joseph’s School for the 1879 school year. Sister Benigna took charge of the community in January.