She was born in Dun Laoghaire on 22 March 1848. She was the daughter of Benjamin Purser and Ann Mallet. They came to Dungarvan in the 1840's and lived firstly in Strand side South, Abbeyside, which is now the home of the Parish Priest. Later they moved to a house called 'The Hermitage' in Abbeyside. Sarah lived here for about 25 years. Her father was involved in brewing and flour milling while in Dungarvan. At the age of 13 Sarah was sent to school in Switzerland for two years. She left Dungarvan in the summer of 1873 to make her living as a painter and settled in Dublin. There she trained in the Metropolitan School of Art and later went to the Academie Julian in Paris and also to Italy. She became a highly successful portrait painter and an important figure in the Irish art world at the turn of the century.
In 1903 she founded An Tur Gloine, the first Irish stained glass studio. She was instrumental in drawing the attention of the art world to the works of John Yeats and Nathaniel Hone. She persuaded W.T. Cosgrave to give Charlemont House in Dublin as a modern Art Gallery and also to house the Hugh lane collection.
Author: Willie Fraher