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María VinyalsMaría Vinyals and her mother, Agustina Ferrés, in the gardens of the Marqués de Mos' castle
Photos Museum of Pontevedra

 

The stones of the majestic Soutomaior Castle witnessed the childhood of María Vinyals (1875-1940), an educated woman who acted ahead of her time, a strong supporter of granting access to education to those young people who did not have this opportunity at a time when they enjoyed very few rights.

She was born and grew up in the historic fortress which lies in the valley of the Verdugo River, and after her first marriage, she became the marchioness of Ayerbe. In her life, she struck up a friendship with other renowned women of the time, as Emilia Pardo Bazán or Carmen de Burgos. She was an inveterate traveller, but despite having visited many places in the world, she would never forget her origins and she declared she was in love with her homeland. In fact, she would write about its beauty, and about the castle and the great deeds which took place there.

There in the sea, in Carboeiro and Rande

 The points can be seen; great power

Evoked by their ruined fortresses

Which emerged victorious in heroic deeds

Against the English invader

(translation of the poem Ante el castillo de Sotomayor)

 

María Vinyals was a committed women's rights activist. She founded The Ibero-American Centre of Popular Women's Culture, which carried out an intense educational work. The fact of belonging to a noble family while being a forerunner of feminism and a member of the Socialist Party cost her the nickname of Red marchioness. In recognition of her advocacy of women's rights, her School for Equality, in the Soutomaior Castle, has been named after her by the Deputación de Pontevedra.

María VinyalsSome members of the Riestra family talking and having a good time with their friends in one of the living rooms of their house in A Caeira (Poio). In the image, María Vinyals and her husband, the Marqués de Ayerbe, are in the company of Francisco, Teresa and Raimundo Riestra, Rosario Federico and the Marquesa de Riestra
María VinyalsThe Marqués de la Vega de Armijo, sitting on a bench in the garden of the Soutomaior Castle, with the Marqués de Ayerbe (the second on the left) and his wife, María Vinyals (the first on the right). Next to the Marquesa de Ayerbe stands the person who is, presumably, the doctor Lluria. The woman sitting on the left of the Marqués de la Vega de Armijo is Agustina Ferrés, María Vinyals' mother. The child is Antonio Jordán de Urríes Vinyals, the son of the Marqués and the Marquesa de Ayerbe

She was a polyglot (she could speak five languages), she excelled in fields as history, painting and literature and she wrote articles for Galician newspapers and others as El Imparcial, Blanco y Negro or El Fígaro. In addition, she is the author of El Castillo del Marqués de Mos en Sotomayor. Apuntes históricos, a thorough work about the fortress where she used to play as a child. Another remarkable aspect of her life is the effort she made to turn this defensive building into a space for creative exchange, as well as to provide it with a natural and cultural protection.

Her writings on the beauty of the province and her social commitment make María Vinyals the perfect representative of the destination Rías Baixas. Several decades later, her work and legacy are still alive.

María VinyalsMaría Vinyals, Marquesa de Ayerbe, with another woman and a man, on the balcony of the castle which belongs to the Marqués de Mos, in Soutomaior