Born in Castlebar in 1889, the youngest of five surviving children of local postmaster John Burke Sheridan and his wife Ellen Cooley, Margaret came to be regarded as one of the greatest sopranos of all time. She captivated audiences in the leading opera houses of Europe, notably Milan’s La Scale, Rome’s Teatro Reale, Naples’ San Carlo and London’s Covent Garden.
Margaret was orphaned at the age of 11 and sent to boarding school in the Dominican Convent in Eccles Street, Dublin. She later attended the Royal Academy of Music in London and studied under Martini and Emma Corelli in Rome.
In 1918, she made her operatic debut as Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme at La Constanzia in Rome. The following year, she made her Covent Garden debut as Cio-Cio-San, the lead role in Madame Butterfly. Puccini first heard Margaret sing in Milan in 1919, when she was again performing the lead role in his Madame Butterfly. He subsequently coached her for the lead in his Manon Lescaut, perhaps her most famous part. Burke Sheridan continued to charm audiences for many years with outstanding performances in operas by Puccini, Mascagni and Respighi, among others.
When she died in Dublin in 1958, Sean T. O’Kelly, President of Ireland, recalled that when he "first met the girl from Mayo who was to become, and for many years to remain, one of Italy’s most admired, most beloved prima donnas…she was young and full of gaiety and charm, sparkling, radiant and devoted to her act".