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MEMORIES OF A DOMINICAN EDUCATION

The following are the personal memories of past pupils of Dominican College and Scoil Chaitríona during the 1950s.

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MEMORIES OF SCHOOL
by
Eithne Balfe (nee McEveney)
Dominican College Eccles Street

I remember when I was in 6th year we had Miss Brady for Irish. One of the books we had to read and study was Tóraideacht Diarmada agus Gráinne. Miss Brady used to call one of the class to read a passage aloud and as I was quite good at Irish, I was called quite frequently. Some of the book was - to my innocent mind - rather mushy and I suppose you could call it sexy, and I used to get very embarrassed reading it aloud. So I decided on a plan. I wore glasses from the time I was about 12 years old, so just before Irish class began, I used to take them off and if I was called on to read, I’d tell Miss Brady I’d forgotten my glasses and couldn’t read without them. I got away with it for quite a while, but all good things come to an end, and soon I had to resume reading aloud.

When I was in 2nd year, we started learning Latin. Sister Aquin was our teacher and every few weeks she used to give us a written test during class-time. In one of the early tests, I was unsure of the meaning of a word and quite openly I referred to the vocabulary at the back of the book, as did various other girls. The following morning Sister Aquin called me and said she wouldn’t mark my test as I had looked up the vocabulary. “But Sister” I said “I wasn’t the only one to do so”. Then she replied that the only person I could see was the girl beside me, so she wouldn’t mark her test either. I was very upset about that. After this conversation, I had to go down to a meeting (weekly, I think) for 1st and 2nd years with Sister Rinaldo. I was upset, she noticed the tears running down my face and called me outside to know what was wrong. I told her the whole story and said I wasn’t worried about my own test, but that my friend was being punished too. She said she’d sort it out and sent me back to class. Later she told me that my friend’s test would be marked. Before any subsequent tests, Sr Aquin collected our Latin books and stuck the vocabulary together with cell-o-tape. I’m afraid this all affected my relationship with Sister Aquin. However, later in the year, she redeemed herself in my estimation. My father suffered a heart attack and in those days the only treatment was complete bed-rest. My father was in bed at home for the best part of a year, and when Sister Aquin heard about the attack (I don’t know how) she was very concerned and solicitous and gave me books to bring home to him every week. I think he must have read every book in the library. All’s well that ends well.

Eithne Balfe (nee McEveney) - 21 February 2013

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A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF OUR TRIP TO GERMANY IN 1958
by
Ita McVey (Nic Bheatha) Bolan
Junior School & Scoil Chaitríona 1950 – 1960

I attended the Junior school and Scoil Caitriona in Eccles Street - 10 years in all. I was involved in many of the schools activities. I have a photo of the choir that sang in Germany with Miss Pigott as choir mistress. I also played camogie and went to help Miss Walsh after I left school in 1960, which was in Shandon Park. We had a wonderful choir in Scoil Caitriona directed by Mairead Ni Pigoid affectionately known as Piggy. In 1958 we were invited to sing at a youth choir festival in Dusseldorf. We travelled by land and sea and stayed overnight in a convent in Chelsea. On from there to Dover and oversea to Ostende. We visited the world fair in Brussels and the famous Attomium. We had a memorable time, stayed with local families and made many friends. The choir also broadcast many times on Radio Eireann, as it was then known.

Official programme from youth choir festival in Dusseldorf, 1958

DUBLIN CONVENT CHOIR FOR GERMAN FESTIVAL
April next will be an exciting month for 40 girls from Scoil Chaitríona, Dominican Convent Eccles Street, Dublin, for at the end of the month they will depart en masse for a five-day visit to Germany. They are members of the school choir, Cór Coláiste San Chaitríona, and they are going to Germany to sing for the honour of their country. The visit is the result of an invitation to appear at International festival organised by the Rhenish Children and Youth Choir of Dusseldorf.

Officials of the German Legation in Dublin who heard some of the performances given by Cór San Chaitríona recommended it for the festival in which choirs from all over Europe as well as from Germany itself will be taking part. Each group is to furnish a programme of six songs in its native language. The Eccles Street Choir will sing in Irish and will have a harpist to accompany some of the songs.

Specialises in Irish
Scoil Chaitríona is of course a school which specialises in Irish, and though the choir sing German, English and French music with great success, the Irish repertoire is naturally extensive.

Among the songs already chosen for the German performances are an arrangement by Proinsias Ó Ceallaigh of ‘Maidin i mBeara’,which is sung to the melody of ‘The Derry Air’ and a translation of ‘The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby’.

At a concert given recently in the College Hall, the audience, which included members of the Diplomatic Corps, was impressed by the choir’s colourful costume of skirt, blouse and short jacket adorned with a Tara Brooch. This is the costume to be worn at the Festival performances; the colours - green, blue, red and yellow - represent the main colours of the Irish scene.

Accompanied by their director and conductor, Miaréad Pigóid, the girls will travel by sea and land to Dusseldorf, the headquarters of the Festival, where the first concert takes place. After that comes a tour of three other German cities. Accommodation throughout the five-day trip will be provided by the Festival Authorities.
Extract from Newspaper Article 1958

Ita McVey (Nic Bheatha) Bolan – 27 November 2013

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GREETINGS ON THE CENTENARY
by
Joan McEvoy (nee McEvoy)
Dominican College Eccles Street Class of 1960

I received the archive request from Muriel O’Shea, and find it very interesting, the celebration to mark the Centenary of the foundation of the Past Pupils’ Union. When I left Eccles Street in 1960 having completed the Leaving Certificate, I travelled by sea to Capetown, South Africa, to visit my uncle and spent time there, hence I missed out on follow up with past pupils. I remember being a member of the Legion of Mary and meeting in Eccles Street, but this was not attached to the Past Pupils’ Union. When I got married, I visited the nuns in Eccles Street. I am now living in Co Limerick.

Joan McEvoy (nee McEvoy) - 11 October 2012

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REFLECTING ON MY SCHOOLDAYS
by
Mary J O’Mahony
Scoil Chaitríona 1949 - 1953; Commercial College 1954

I started my education at an all-Irish school. It was a very good school, but very large classes meant that discipline was excessively strict. For Secondary education I moved to Scoil Chaitríona in Eccles Street. The transition from Primary to Secondary was quite amazing. All new students were warmly welcomed and accompanied to our respective classes, with approximately 15 students to each class, so we got to know each other very quickly. As each subject was taught it became obvious that we were not in school just to pass exams - we were also being taught how to absorb information about life and living. Now, I hasten to say that at the time I did not realise this fact! but little nuggets of gold were intertwined with many subjects. When I had left school altogether I discovered that this was achieved by teachers who really loved their subjects, and, I believe, their students too.

Certain subjects more than others were ideal for demonstrating this fact. History and Geography became exciting through maps, globes and stories of Kings and Queens and Battles, taking us to places we had never heard of before. It seems now as if history and geography were presented to us in technicolour. Biology gave us basic knowledge on how the body works and with a wonderful teacher Sr Aquinas OP we learnt the early basics of Science. The first time we were introduced to a bunsen burner, which was ready for action by the striking of a match, we held our breaths fearing that the entire school would be blown up! The other subject I loved throughout my school days was Domestic Science - cookery and needlecraft taught by a lovely stylish teacher Eithne Morrissey (nee Brennan), and the results of taking that subject have stood to me all my life. Scoil Chaitríona had a reputation for debating in Irish - Dispoireact as Gaeleige, and Sr CajEten tutored two students each year for the Annual Competition sponsored by the Department of Education. Maeve O'Neill and I were entered in our final years 1952/53. Our opponents included Coláiste Mhuire (very hot favourites), O'Connells CBS and at least 3 more boys' schools. Maeve and I were the only two competing from a girls' school. Believe it or not, Scoil Chaitríona won the event outright for the two years! Sr CajEten OP was very happy, despite the fact that her vows prevented her from attending the Finals - very very strict rules.

We were instilled with a healthy competitive sports spirit and played Camogie against Dominican College and some of the other Dominican Schools. We trained in Shandon Park and played matches in the Phoenix Park. On match days our loyal supporters cheered us on making these events as exciting as any All Ireland Final in Croke Park! I was very proud to be Captain of our Scoil Team for our final two years.

Whilst still in Commercial College, I was invited to join the Past Pupils' Union to help in a temporary capacity with the secretarial side of the work for about 3 months. I agreed, but 5 years later I was still voluntary secretary! I must admit I got good experience and worked with some great women on the executive committee - Peggy Fant, Peggy Bridgeman, Kathleen Taaffe, Máire O'Morain and Betty Crowe, who did tremendous work with St Dominic's Club. The girls blossomed with her gentle encouragement, and she has some hilarious stories about the birth of St Dominic's Carol Singers and also the setting up of a Drill Class under an army sergeant's tutelage.

The Past Pupils' Union organised an Annual Dress Dance, usually held after Christmas in the Gresham Hotel. The Country was, yet again, in recession and it became virtually impossible to sell tickets. It was suggested that perhaps one of the other Dominican Unions would join with us. We approached Dún Laoghaire and they were delighted to help. We had a great night and following on that event the Combined Dominican Union was born, including the all male Past Pupils' Union in Newbridge.

On leaving school, we took different roads in life. Some joined the Dominican Order to work on the Missions or at home. Some continued their studies at University in Medicine, Nursing, or Teaching, and others took jobs in Insurance, Banks and Civil Service. On leaving Commercial College there was a tradition of subscribing to the Missions the first week's pay in your first real job - this gesture was optional, which I feel was good for body and soul, and was followed by most girls.

On my own road through life initially I was employed by an Insurance Company for about 8 years, where I got sound experience on business matters ie Fire, Motor and Accident Claims plus Accounts. There I was introduced to some of the problems of the Disabled, and I decided I would like to work with them to find out how they lived and the difficulties they faced. I took up a job with the National Rehabilitation Board (NRB) and after some very fruitful years there I joined the staff of the Mental Health Association of Ireland (MHAI). I loved the work as it took me all over the country, setting up local Mental Health Associations. A very close relationship was formed with the Northern Ireland Association of Mental Health (NIAMH) and we had combined Mental Health Weeks every 3 years. After several years I was promoted to the newly created post of CEO - a position I held until retirement after 30 years service.

In the early 1990s a European Award was created for women working in the Mental Health field. In 1996, I was entered as Ireland's Woman of the Year. This was a huge honour, not just for me, but for the MHAI and the 105 local Associations all around the country - without them we would not have had a strong association - and an honour also for the staff at Head Quarters who were so dedicated. I didn't win the European Award Final, but enjoyed a great trip to Madrid.

I can't forget the wonderful gift of friendship found in the school - two special girls I met there - we have remained close friends for over 60 years. Ita Keane (nee MacMahon) and I sat together for 5 years in Primary School and we continued together throughout our years in Scoil Chaitríona. Imelda Crowe (nee O'Beirne) and I first met while playing camogie in the Phoenix Park. Imelda, who went to school in Dominican College, has been a wonderful friend right through my life and is always there when I need a hand. In gathering together these reflections on my days in Eccles Street I can see how my early education really did prepare me for what was ahead. My sincere appreciation goes to the Dominicans Sisters in Eccles Street - past and present.

Mary J O’Mahony - 1st April 2014

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THREE BOARDERS TALKING OF DOMINICAN COLLEGE IN THE 1950’s
by
Collette Kilty (nee Nic Giolla Eoin)
Some comments heard at the PPU Summer Luncheon 2013

The ladies talked about Sr Cornelius who would see you in the parlour after class, if you misbehaved. She would make you sing a song and then send you on your way.

Sr De Sailles (??) was known as Daisy Cow when in a good humour and The Bull when not.

The ladies also mentioned Sr Rinaldo, the boarders would go to her if they had any problems (i.e. did not do the homework, broke up with the boyfriend etc). She would be very sympathetic and console them and guide them on the right path. She worried endlessly about them.

They reminisced about Bery McCormack, who had a 16 inch waist, and they all sounded very jealous of her.

If the Boarder’s wanted a day off school they would put blotting paper in their shoes, this would cause them to faint and Sr. James the matron would then let them stay in bed for the day. The boarders felt that Sr. James was extra careful with them as her sister worked in the Corporation as a Health Inspector.

Sr Aquin was a strict disciplinarian especially when she was doing her rounds at night. If she heard the boarders talking she would take them out of bed and make them do sums, even in the middle of the night. One evening two boarders were caught talking and were brought to the concert hall to do the sums. One was in the main hall and the other behind the curtain. Sr. Aquin seemed to forget that they could chat away between the curtains while they did their sums; which they did much to her annoyance.

While she could be a hard task master, Sr Aquin had a kind heart, at that time if a person failed Latin, they failed the whole Matric exam for entry to College. Sr. Aquin was known to take people aside to help them with their Latin to assist them get into college.

The ladies talked about M Lynskey who climbed out of the window to talk to her boyfriend and about some boarders who escaped out of the windows to go to the pictures. They came back and were cold, so decided to have Bovril to heat up. Unfortunately, Sr Isnard (quizzy issy) was on her rounds and could smell the Bovril and went around the rooms trying to find out who was eating food late at night and where they got it from.

There was good interaction between the boarders and day pupils. Letters from boarders’ boyfriends would be sent to the day pupils’ home address. When a boarder received a letter they read it and then flushed it down the toilet so that the nuns never saw it.

They reminisced about a lovely nun called Sr. Luke who apparently was loved by all and talked about how times have changed when taking up a vocation.

Some sayings from teachers from the 1950’s to the 1970’s

Maura Cranny   (Elocution teacher)
You look in your lucky bag, You don’t luck in your looky bag”

Sr. Manus
“I don’t expect you to keep all the rules, but if you break them I expect you to take responsibility for your actions”
(After accepting your punishment for your actions, she was known for putting chocolates under your pillow)

Miss Mac Partlin (Gym teacher)
“I will not boil my cabbages twice”
(In other words I will only tell you something once)

Sr Nora: to a pupil who had exotic nail varnish on at a time that nail varnish was not allowed
“Jacinta, your nails just send me”

The ladies parting words were:
“The Dominicans had great discipline and we were all expected to behave. This is missing from life today. Life is great, I’m eternally grateful to the Dominicans for all they did for me. Keep up the good work.”

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MY DOMINICAN EXPERIENCE
by
Collette Mhic Giolla Eoin
Scoil Chaitríona Eccles Street 1940 – 1951, Commercial College 1952 - 1953

I was enrolled in Scoil Chaitríona in the 1940’s.  My mother brought me down to Clery’s for my uniform: a black nap coat, a navy gabardine, a navy dress with detachable white collar, mother of pearl buttons and an oval mother of pearl buckle, a white science coat, a blazer, house shoes, black laced shoes for outdoors, camogie boots, a gymslip for games, black and silver tie for blouse, a navy beret with Dominican Badge of which I was very proud, tennis racket, camogie stick and portmanteau for art. I felt marvellous. When we got to Scoil I got my list of books, and was told two young ladies would look after me and show me around. They were Mary Duffy and Claire Keaveney. They gave me the full tour and showed me the pigeon holes for our outdoor shoes, the Science room, St. Joseph’s Hall etc. They were great. I thought they were lovely. Then they showed me the list of subjects to be learned. Whoa!!!! Will I ever learn: Irish, English, French, Latin, Art, Music, Maths, History, Geography Science and Home Economics. Extras included Camogie, Tennis and Swimming in Glasnevin. Treasa Kennedy taught me how to do the back stroke. My favourite stroke ever since. Thank you Treasa.

I was shocked to learn we had to go to school on Saturday. The morning for lessons and the afternoon for games. I absolutely loved the school and all the teachers. I sat beside Margaret Mc Cluskey, my best friend. We stayed friends all through school and sat beside one another in every class. We had fabulous nuns who looked after us very well. Sr Aquinas, Sr Cajetan, Sr Benen, Sr Lorcan and Mother Pius, and Máthair Treasa. Miss O’Loughlin was my first English teacher. I was laughing in her class and she gave me “lines” to do. A whole page of them. I wrote out the words as neatly as I could and handed them in the next day. I got a shock when she said ‘these are incorrect’!!!  What had I done? I had forgotten to put a dot over the letter j.   I did not know there was a dot on the letter “J”.  So the lot had to be done again. We became good friends after that, no more lines. I behaved. I was always a bit giddy, and saw the funny side of everything.

Miss O’Neill for Art was amazing. We did all sorts of sewing, knitting, painting, oil painting on cushions, smocking on dresses, you name it she could do it. She also did leather work with us. I made a fantastic leather handbag for a friend. It hurt my hand trying to punch holes in the leather and design the name on the front. I still have the punch I used in school. We even did some toys for the Missions.

We used to stay in after school to have a chat with “our” nuns. If we were good we were allowed out into the nuns garden and could sit there and chat. One day while sitting there with Sr Aquinas the Mater Hospital started to burn material in their incinerator and spewed out black smuts all over Sr Aquinas in her lovely white habit . I was appalled, but she took it in her stride explaining you just had to shake the smuts down and they fall off leaving no stain. This was a relief.

Back to school now where we had lovely Miss Mairead Piggott for music, a genius who had us for choir. She could make us sing like linnets. We even got chosen to sing in the Pro-Cathedral for Archbishop Mc Quaid. We thought this was great, getting out of school. We were sent to Feiseanna in the Father Mathew Hall and the Mansion House, another great escape. Some of us were lucky to get prizes or be ‘recommended’ which pleased the nuns. We were presented with “Certificates” all done out with lovely Celtic Designs and signed.

Another great escape was “Camogie”. Our team was fantastic and refused to be beaten, Eccles Street Grit. We travelled to Sion Hill and Muckross Park to compete against them. They were more into Hockey than Camogie, but we loved going as we always got lovely teas in their convents. We made great friends there. I still keep in touch with some of them. To get our match fixtures, some of us from Scoil and some from Dominican College were chosen to attend the meetings with other schools and went together to these meetings with Miss Walsh. I am still friends with many people from these gatherings: May Kavanagh, from Dominican College, Therese Birthistle, from Muckross, Áine Regan from Holy Faith (R.I.P.) and another Collette from Sion Hill. These meetings were after school. Camogie was played all through the winter in Shandon Park, and tennis in the summer. I was showing my grand children my tennis racket and they were amazed it had proper cat-gut strings. Nothing but the best for Scoil, ha, ha.

We also had the best white coats for our Science Lab which came in handy one day when my friend Sheila broke her leg. Sheila was sitting in the sun with legs stretched out and when she went to get up her leg just cracked. She ended up in the Mater Hospital. She was in a ward looking out onto Eccles Street, and could see us going by. The “good” among us decided she needed a little TLC, so we bought some sweets and magazines and decided she should have them. How to get them into her was a problem as no children were allowed in the Matter.

White Coats to the rescue. Mary being the tallest was chosen to do the task. She donned the white coat and a stethoscope from our science room, we piled her long hair up into a bun, and off she went. She crept into the front of the hospital and into the ward - no bother. Four of us stayed standing outside waiting to give her the billy if we saw anybody coming. She was chatting away and did not look out at us when to our horror we saw Creeping Jesus arriving.

Now Creeping Jesus was a nun who kept a very strict regime in the hospital. Everywhere was spotless, no MRSA in those days. She knew no doctor was on duty so investigated. Lo and behold, poor Mary was hauled out and both she and team were brought before Sr Aquinas. We stood there with heads bowed, totally ashamed, and Sr.Aquinas said, in Irish of course, ‘An gceapann sibh go raibh se sin macánta?  Ni ceapann. We had to promise never to do the like again. Sr Aquinas explained that children carry germs and could spread them all around the hospital. She told me later, when I left school, that she could hardly keep from laughing. She always let you have your say if in trouble, which I was in 6th year.

The previous 6th years had warned us that Miss Cotter, our Irish teacher, never gave a pass to any pupil in the Easter exams. We did our exam and when Miss Cotter was giving out the results she gave me a pass. I got a fit of the giggles. I was instantly turfed out of class and told to take that superior grin off my face never to return. Outside, I was standing terrified, how was I going to tell my mother what happened? Anyway Sr Aquinas was coming up the stairs and saw me standing outside class and asked why??? I explained and said I was sorry. She took my cause in hand and had a word with Miss Cotter, so I was let back in on condition I made a complete apology in front of class, duly done. Problem solved.

Once more in trouble. I was late one morning so skipped in Dominican College door and up the stairs. I was flying down the corridor when Miss Fitzpatrick, or ‘Giolla’ as we called her, appeared out of the teachers’ room carrying all her notes, etc. Being totally unable to stop, I bumped into her and sent her flying all along the corridor, up to Commercial College, books, notes, cape all flying in all directions. I did not know whether to run and hide or own up, so “Veritas” struck and I picked her up, collected her notes etc., and said sorry. She said I should be. And off she went.

Now this happened to be the day we changed class from 5th to 6th and we never knew what teachers we had until they arrived. Who should walk in the door but ‘Giolla’ herself, Miss Fitzpatrick. She was beautiful, lovely yellow hair, tall slim and very elegant. My heart sank, now I am for it, I thought. She never said a word to anybody. I was off the hook. She became my friend for life.

I decided to be good!!!! So for my efforts I was allowed to become a Child of Mary. So Maire, Sheila and myself were all given our lovely blue cloaks, veil, medal and prayers to say. Saints no doubt.

On to the leaving certificate. Of course we all worked like trojans to get it, but I got into trouble again. The boarders kicked up a fuss because day pupils could study all hours while they had to stop when lights went out. So a delegation was sent to Sr Aquin to explain their plight. She allowed them some slack. We countered with “we had to travel while they were sitting pretty studying.”

We studied during free classes like nobody’s business. One day we had a free class and I was sitting next the door when a knock came and I being lazy just said “Tar Isteach”. Sr Aquin with a face like thunder appeared looking for Rita, a boarder. They went out but when Rita returned she got hold of me by the ear and dragged me down to Sr Aquin’s Office to apologise to her. ‘For what’, said I????
We knocked on the door and duly entered.  Rita left me there and ran. I had to apologise to Sr Aquin for not getting up to open the door. Head down, best face, I said I was sorry. She said it was not what I said but the way I said it. ‘Tar isteach’ indeed.  Back you go to class. Never out of trouble.

In spite of all of this I managed to do well. I always did my homework so I was delegated to buy a statue of the Blessed Virgin for our Legion Praesidea, which Sr Aquinas had started.  I travelled to Camden Street to a little shop which only sold religious statues. Choosing one that I thought had a lovely face, I brought it over to Fr. Flood to have it blessed. Then back to school. Sr Aquinas looked at it and said send it back. Why??? It had no apple in the snake’s mouth at the feet of the Virgin. I was nearly in tears, saying I had it blessed. She took pity on me and kept the statue.

We had three day silent retreats. These were to relieve pressure when exams were coming up. It was a great time, not a sound in the school, all peaceful and nice. Walks in the gardens and into the little Oratory of the Sacred Heart to tell him our woes.

We did lots of exams. Sr Aquinas thought we should do as many as possible to take the strain off the Leaving Certificate. We did the Civil Service Exam and the Insurance Exam etc., then when we came to our Leaving Cert, it was just another exam. We all did very well. Thanks of course to our teachers who put in lots of extra hours tutoring us. I left school in 1951 after the Leaving Cert and taught Irish for a year in St Mary’s Dominican School in Dún Laoghire.

The following year I went on to Commercial College in Eccles Street. I spent a year there learning Pitman shorthand, typing and business studies. Sr Ligouri and Sr Ottoran taught us, plus some lay teachers. We learned touch typing. There was a cover over the letters on the Continental typewriters so we had to learn where the keys were without looking. When we mastered this it was brilliant, as we could type a mile a minute. We learned how to copy material on the ‘Gestetner’. This was a rather big clumsy machine. You had to do the typing on vellum paper without mistakes because you could not delete your typing. If you made a mistake you had to put a sort of tippex on the word but this came out blurred and spoiled your work. You could type over this tippex but it was not successful. Only those of us who were good typists were allowed to go near the gestetner as it was plastered with black ink like tar, plus the vellum was very expensive. We studied a lot of office work and business studies and general management.

Another thing we learned a lot was Pitman shorthand, which in to-days words is something like speed writing. We did exams for this a few times during the year. This was greatly appreciated by employers, as they could dictate several letters in a row and then the typist could type them out nicely.

Sr Ligouri always insisted we wear our best clothes and look presentable, and of course be punctual. This was to train us for employment. Companies used to contact her looking for girls who could work for them. She would choose those she felt most suitable for interview. It was a great College for all types of commercial work.

Some of my memories.  

Collette Mhic Giolla Eoin

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SOME MEMORIES OF DOMINICAN COLLEGE IN THE FIFTIES
by
Sr M Chanel O’Reilly OP
Dominican College Eccles Street

Looking back, many images and feelings return. I mention just a few. The feeling that Dominican College was a home from home giving us a great a sense of freedom. We were the first girls to have the ‘new uniform’- a heather tunic and cardigan - so different to other schools. Teachers changing class every forty minutes, great variety compared to Primary School.

The Middle Parlour was unique - a place of study with the Principal sitting at the top of the beautiful long table and a place of chatter and friendship making when she had to leave us on our own. The high stairs down to St Hyacinth’s Hall, with pictures of past school drama performances along the wall. St Hyacinth’s itself where we did Drill in navy gym slips, so different to the Gym classes of today. Coming back each September and walking around the corridors to find the room to which the class was assigned. We got our timetables for each subject from the teacher and had to put it together ourselves - unlike the computerised pre - printed and individual timetables that computers make possible today.

The annual retreat - a time for prayer, silence and spiritual reading and attending the Salve Procession in the beautiful Chapel. Going up to Shandon Park for camogie and tennis and buying lemonade in the shop at the gate after matches. Ms Shaw and her wonderful classes where she brought history to life, most especially the timelimes she gave us to construct and her wonderful presentation of the Renaissance with an introduction to the great artists of that time - we even had to go down to Gills to buy copies of their beautiful paintings. Sr Alvaro and her great organisation of classes, enlivened with her rendition of some of the speeches from our Shakepearean play - as good as Agnew MacMaster who played in the nearby Gate Theatre. Ms Burbridge who taught us Trigonomometry after school on Saturday. The beautiful Concert Hall where we did Choir under Sr Cecily’s expert musical direction. Especially notable were the annual Choir Exams when she conducted the whole school, assembled in the Hall, as the Diocesan Examiner listened to every note and spoke to us afterwards of the place in the liturgy of the pieces we had sung.

Eighteen Hall lead to the stairs over which the Rosary window presided - our introduction to the Rosary as a Dominican devotion. Mocks were conducted in class time. Free days for St Thomas and Mother Prioress feastday - time which was much appreciated. Boarders talked of ‘midnight feasts’ and day pupils cajoled into buying drinks and eats for them. They were happy times without the stress of the Points System. The atmosphere in the college was one of support, good teaching opening the minds of the students to the wider canvas of life, Religion was well taught and ‘caught’ also, responsibility was expected and rules were basic and few. Thus we grew up.

S.M.Chanel O ’Reilly OP - 28 March 2014

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MEMORIES OF ECCLES STREET
by
Sr Maurice O’Donoghue OP
Dominican College Boarder

I have many happy memories of my time in Eccles Street as a boarder. One of the first things that enters my head is the feeling that each one of us was an individual and was treated as such. Individual interests were encouraged, be it music, art, reading or sport.

Holy Rosary Sunday was a very special day. It began with Solemn High Mass. In the afternoon the ‘old girls’ took their seats comfortably in the Concert Hall and sat back to enjoy the ‘new girls’ efforts to entertain us.

St Patrick’s Day was another highlight. For weeks beforehand we had Miss Commerford to teach us Irish dancing. We learned many set dances - the four-hand reel, the eight-hand reel and many others. That evening we entertained the nuns who sat around the Concert Hall and watched us perform.

My time in Eccles Street was a happy one.

Sr Maurice O’Donoghue OP - 5 March 2013

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MEMORIES OF DOMINICAN COLLEGE
by
Teriona Rogan
Dominican College Eccles Street 1950 -1958

My earliest awareness/memory of Dominican College was as an 8-year old standing at a window in the Evelyn Nursing Home, straight opposite Dominican College, staring in amazement at what seemed like hundreds of girls all in black streaming out of the school, dead crows. My mother had given birth to my fifth sibling and Auntie Kay had brought us in to see her that day. Noting my interest at the window she said: that is where you will be going to school and added of course it is not the same school as it was in my day and how often we have all heard that and even said it ourselves. What a lot I had to learn.

Kathleen Taaffe was a unique person, she was at school with some of my Aunts and also lived close by, so I knew her very well. A remark of hers has stayed with me all my life. The Committee of St Dominic’s Club had, under pressure, agreed to introduce mixed Socials to the Club in the late ‘60s and as Hon Secretary I had to get permission from the Executive Committee, a very formidable body of people who would be aghast at the mere idea, and I knew I was in for a bad time. I was a bag of nerves on the bus to Eccles Street that night with Kathleen Taaffe and eventually she wormed out of me what was wrong. Her reply at the top of her voice so everybody could hear was  -  a Dominican gel afraid to speak in public?.  That remark has stayed with me all my life and many a time when dreading some public function I would say to myself   ‘I am a Dominican Gel’  and the nerves would settle.

St Dominic’s Club was run by the Past Pupils Union for children in the Hardwicke St area. What a time that was - the children had absolutely no inhibitions. Rosary time was their time to be at their worst, how best could they frustrate the helpers - bubblegum popping/giggling/nudging/etc, etc. But then I remember family rosary time was also the giggle time in our own homes. Some of those who were helping whilst I was there were - Peggy Fant, Betty Crowe, Joan Lee, Maureen Bergin, Aileen Reid, Finnuala Corcoran, Joan McNally, my sister Pauline, and many , many more.

Who remembers the Red Corridor and the beautiful stained harry Clarke glass window which has survived and nowadays hangs framed in the Hall in Dominican College Griffith Avenue. I play bridge in this Hall and many is the night instead of concentrating on my cards I find myself gazing at the window and back in the 50s sliding up/down - how was the window never broken? Also, the back stairs with the photographs of other past pupils who did us so proud on stage/sports/exams.

My first introduction to serious music was at age 12. We had Girl Guides in Eccles St then. The Past Pupils Dramatic Society were rehearsing The Bohemian Girl and needed an audience for a dress rehearsal and we Girl Guides were asked to swell the audience of nuns and boarders. Not all the nuns approved of the Girl Guides and we were frequently referred to as ‘nazi’ but we had our uses eg when celebrities were visiting and we formed a Guard of Honour or as on this occasion.I only have to hear ‘I dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls’ and am back in that magical night.

I loved Eccles Street and appreciate how privileged and honoured we were to have spent so many happy years through the 50s in those old buildings/every nook and cranny breathing atmosphere - if walls could talk what stories they could have told, and of course there was always fun and laughter. The nuns were your friends.

Teriona Rogan

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FIRST COMMUNION DAY
by
Aileen Bunyan
Dominican College Eccles Street, Class of 55/56

Aileen Bunyan making her First Holy Communion in 1945

Note the weird and wonderful headdresses in the First Communion photograph. Coupons were still required so material had to be bought and made into long dresses by dressmakers or mothers! Some bags were actually glittery evening bags. Veils were possibly recycled wedding veils. We all look very solemn. I wonder how many of us realised that war in Europe was almost over. A few years later, some little German refugees joined our class. Only then did we hear about the horrors of war - first hand.

German refugees making their First Holy Communion in 1951

Aileen Bunyan - 2 January 2014

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A FEW WORDS OF APPRECIATION OF SR MARGARET McCLUSKEY
delivered by 
Sr Maura Keeley OP

Diamond Jubilee Dinner Sion Hill 12 June 2013

The first thing to say about Sr Margaret McCluskey is that she is a true-blue Dub through and through. Margaret was born in the capital city and was brought up in the South Circular Road area. One of seven daughters, born to Molly and Dannny McCluskey, she and four of her sisters, Betty, Mary, Joan and Kay,are happily able to celebrate with her Today. Her parents and two other sisters Anne and Pauline have predeceased her. May they all rest in peace. They are surely joining in today’s celebrations from heaven.

Having finished her primary education Margaret attended Scoil Chaitríona Eccles Street for her secondary education. On leaving school, her next step was to enter the novitiate in Kerdiffstown from 1951 - 1954. Teacher training in Carysfort followed. During those years, Margaret was assigned to Eccles St and her teaching ministry began in Ballyfermot, where she spent well over thirty years. In more recent times Margaret was assigned to various convents - Portstewart, Sion Hill, Sutton and then she returned to Sion Hill when Sutton convent closed.

Undoubtedly, her years in Ballyfermot proved Margaret an excellent teacher. Not only did she teach from Monday to Friday but her Saturday morning were given over to teaching cookery in the primary school. The number of pupils was so great, not every pupil could have cookery lessons at the regular time. Margaret catered for some of these by giving of her own time on saturdays. Extra cookery classes was not the only contribution which Margaret made to enrich her pupils education: In her own school days she was an enthusiastic Girl Guide indeed I understand that all the McCluskey girls were ardent Guides. It is not surprising then that Margaret introduced Guiding to the school, forming a Company from among the pupils. As far as I remember, I think she named it St Thomas Aquinas Company. Buíon Thomáis Acuíneas.  She herself looked after this company for many years and also encouraged and coached basket ball teams in out-of-school hours.

Margaret loved to give the children she taught some experiences which they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy - to the Phoenix Park, for nature walks, to identify the trees and plants, to watch the deer from a safe distance, gathering blackberries in season and rounding off the outing with a simple picnic. With time she became more adventurous and brought her class on the bus, into town, on to another bus at the quays and out to Pormarnock for fun on the beach with more picnic fare supplied. There was the famous occasion when the children discovered that there were donkey rides on the beach. I think the owner of the donkey gave the children free rides, I think they were free anyway. You can imagine the joy that gave them. However - there was an unexpected consequence to this: one pupil was missing from school next day. Where was she? Was she lost or kidnapped? Not at all Her companions assured Sr Margaret that this particular young lady had a donkey of her own and she had persuaded her father that instead of going to school, he would bring herself and the donkey to Portmarnock from Ballyfermot. The elven year old then set up her own rival donkey-ride business. I don’t think the rivalry lasted too long once Margaret heard the story. They were the days before Health and safety!

Basket-ball was mentioned. Well margaret’s love of sport in general goes way beyond basket-ball. Her knowledge of the finer points of all GAA sports, rugby, soccer, and cricket surpasses that of commentators like Micháel Ó Muircheartaigh, Johnny Giles or George Hook. She is I think a keen follower of Man United, but I’m not sure about the team name - she certainly enjoys watching the Leagues, the Championships, the national and international matches at weekends or whenever they are played.

When Sr Margaret came to Sion Hill she discovered that she could do some voluntary work with the Daughters of Charity in Temple Hill. There was a group of women there who were disadvantaged in one way or another and Margaret set up a knitting class for them. This work was much appreciated by the women themselves and also by the Daughters of Charity, so much so that Margaret continued the work for 17 years and that included the years she lived in Sutton. She came over on the Dart from Sutton to Blackrock to continue her work in Temple Hill.

At the risk of embarrassing Margaret I will sum up soom of her great qualities: She is a true dominican, with a love of the liturgy and of spreading the Good News of the Gospel in a variety of ways all her life. She is deicated to whatever work she takes on. She will never leave a job unfinished; she willingly takes on the extra bit that has been forgotten; she is a retiring sort of person but she is interested in the community’s welfare and keeps abreast of current affairs.

Sr Maura Keeley - 12 June 2013

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MY MEMORIES OF THE PPU
by
Collette Mhic Giolla Eoin
Scoil Chaitríona Eccles Street & Commercial College, 1940

When the Past Pupils had their AGM in the school we students used to be allowed to make sandwiches and arrange the teas for them. In 6th year I was at the AGM having spent all the day before doing said sandwiches with Sr Aquinas. We then covered them with damp white linen cloths to keep them fresh for the following days tea. St Patrick’s Hall and the Concert Hall used to be packed. I attended the AGM and was thrilled to be sitting there listening to all the great things they did. I was mesmerised by Nuala Sullivan who was President of the Union at the time, dressed in a gorgeous white suit, (costume as we used to call it). She looked glorious. I thought I would love to join that union with her. At the time it cost three pounds and six pence to join, to help towards the building of St Dominic’s Club in Hardwicke Street, plus you had to be recommended by a sponsor. All duly done and I joined.

We had a great time there in St Dominic’s club. At one stage we were showing the girls and older ladies of Hardwicke Street how to do typing on an old continental typewriter. You had to hit the keys very hard to get them to print. The old ladies from the flats loved to complain about the rheumatism in their fingers - usually with colourful language. Some of the girls got jobs in local offices though. We also taught cooking in the kitchen and gym in the hall. They used to call us ‘Sister’ which we thought was hilarious. Anyway we had great fun.

We used to teach drama and many a good play was presented. The ladies were fabulous singers and had great old Dublin songs. I was sorry I did not tape them as most of them are lost now. Like the one on “Hows your poor auld feet”. It was great fun. A lady sang this with gusto, it went something like, ‘when she went down to Moore Street she would meet the Dealers, and the first thing she would say was Hows your poor auld feet”. I loved it. Any of you who saw our plays will remember it.

Mondays were for Bingo and I used to call out the numbers for them, and Maura Wills would make the tea. It was a set menu: barm brack, sandwiches and tea. They loved this. They paid a halfpenny for the games and if somebody did not put in their halfpenny there would be war. The winner got all the halfpennies, and went home happy.

The Christmas parties were fantastic.  Mrs May Walsh used to make up lots of parcels to give to the ladies on the way home. We went out of our way to give them a very good meal, with cake, pudding etc., then the songs and stories would start.

We had outings to Bettystown.  A bus would collect members in Hardwicke Street and we would all travel together to the sea-side. We walked the beach but some swam, like committee member Eva Gogarty (nee Stavely). She was a brilliant swimmer, she swam all year round. She used to try to teach the ladies, any of them that would get into the water, to swim.

The St Dominic’s Club Hardwicke St girls made a rug for the Lord Mayor, and presented it to him in the Mansion House. Some became lovely knitters and crochet workers. In all it was a very busy time. My thanks to all those who came along and helped make it a vibrant venture.
 
Alas we had to close the club when our members dwindled and we could not get helpers. Maura Wills husband, Tommy, who used to fix everything, broken locks, windows or doors, etc, sadly passed away. R.I.P. We sorely missed him. Maura and I were the last two to do an event, the last Bingo in the Club and then we shut the door for good. End of an Era.

We are both still members of the Past Pupils’ Union.  I was Hon. Secretary for a good number of years, and am at present the Hon Treasurer. I became a representative of the Union to the Catholic Women’s Federation, and the World Day of Prayer Committee. I married and had five children four daughters who attended Eccles Street and one son. They were amazed to see my wedding photo in the “Bride of the year” section of the Lanthorn, as my eldest Collette’s photo is now in “Bride of the year” in the Lanthorn. History repeating itself.

As well as being in the Past Pupils’ Union, I joined the Parent’s Committee and did some fundraising for Sr Henry. We had Fashion shows and past pupil May Guiney (of Clerys) was very generous providing clothes and Models for the show. We had an All Priest Show which went down a treat and we made a good profit for the school from that. We had bingo nights, whist and beetle drives and anything we could think of like “horse racing” nights. These were great fun. Pauline Daly ran a raffle for a car with great success. Sr Isnard was great at selling tickets. She knew everybody and coaxed them to buy tickets. We used to have wheels of fortune and she would call out the numbers, great excitement in the hall.

All the nuns helped with everything. They are a fantastic group, never let you down. They are still as generous and helpful as ever.

Some of my memories.

Collette Mhic Giolla Eoin

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