She was a farmer's daughter from North Devon. She and her husband lived near Ilfracombe. They then moved to Kilchester. Some 18 to 20 years before the events in the book, they moved to Broadhinny. Mrs McGinty's husband had a job in the drapery department of Hodges in Kilchester but had died seven years before. For some time, the McGinty's took in lodgers to supplement their income. At first this had been summer visitors but after the death of Mr McGinty, Abigail only had James Bentley as a regular lodger. She also worked as a charwoman for several families in Broadhinny, including the Upwards, the Wetherbys (on Wednesday), the Rendells (Tuesdays) and the Carpenters (on Friday). She also worked in Long Meadows on Mondays and Thursdays, where she said there was lots of work to be done.
Mrs McGinty knitted, polished brass and scrubbed doors. She liked cats, but did not like dogs, and she also liked children despite not being particularly fond of them. She attended Church on Sunday, but didn't take part in any Church activities. Once, she stopped working for a painter because she discovered he was not officially married to his wife. Mrs McGinty didn't read books, but she enjoyed reading the Sunday papers such as The Sunday Companion and the News of the World. She was interested about film stars and what they did. She was not interested in politics, but voted Conservative as her husband had always done it. She didn't spend much on clothes, because her employers used to gift her some.
The character of Mrs McGinty appears in the ITV 2008 TV film adaptation but only in flashback and the actress who played the part is not credited.
Similarly, the character also appeared in the France Televisions 2015 adaptation Mademoiselle Mac Ginty est morte. Here she is renamed Huguette Mac Ginty and is unmarried. She lived in an apartment in Lille and did cleaning chores for three other units in the block. She is only seen at the beginning after having been killed and the actress is not credited. At the end of the show, it is revealed that she made a will leaving her money (apparently quite a large sum) to Robert Vasseur, her tenant, who is the James Bentley parallel in the story.