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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 1960s.

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MY DOMINICAN JOURNEY
by
Ann Ryder Byrne
Scoil Chaitríona 1960 - 1966; Boarder 1964 - 1966

I was sent to the Dominican Sisters for my secondary education, following in the footsteps of my sister Mary, and our cousins, one of whom is Sr Dominic Joseph OP. Another cousin is Maura Wills. My sister Bernadette followed, thus continuing this family tradition. In 1960, I headed off for Scoil Chaitríona, Eccles Street, and started my adventure in secondary school - I was a day pupil, loved the bus journey each day and especially the trips into town on our way home with my pals. Primary School was never like this! Quickly a variety of subjects and opportunities arose. My love of singing in choirs with Miss Piggott and Mother Cecily was encouraged, as was my love of playing camogie - I played in Croke Park once !! and of course learning Irish - Mother Aquinas shared her love of our beautiful language with us. Drama was also part of the curriculum with Maura Cranny and Vera Gallagher, and my dad, as the electrical contractor, set up the stage lighting for the various productions with Sister Henry. My mother was very keen that her girls would be educated, and as we lived over our family business, I was sent as a boarder to do my Inter Cert in 1962 and stayed until 1966. I was heartbroken, really missed my family, my pals and my trips down town, and very soon I had to start adjusting to a new way of life - of sleeping in dormitories, eating in refectories, walking in ranks and making new friends. During my education, the ethos of the Dominican Sisters became more apparent. I learned that ‘VERITAS’ meant truth - even if it got you into trouble for telling the truth! ie losing out on trips home! The rules were indeed to be heeded! and there were consequences - thus responsibility and honesty were developed. This taught me to be upfront and to stand up for what was right. Another saying ‘Be Good and Keep Smiling’ stayed with me - Fr Kiely gave us a retreat one year and this was his saying! The experience of having an annual retreat - of stopping, being in silence and being in the ‘Here and Now’ as Sister Berenice would put it, and having a couple of days away from the daily routine was also something that helped me over the years and I have continued to do this.

I wish you all a great celebration this year for the 100th Anniversary of the Past Pupils’ Union.

Ann Ryder Byrne - 13 January 2014

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HAPPY MEMORIES OF ECCLES STREET
by
Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Malone (nee O’Brien)
Dominican College 1960 - 1965

I was the last girl in a family of seven (four girls, three boys) born in March 1948. My parents, like most families in those post war years, had to scrimp and save to make ends meet. Dad worked hard at his day job and at times took on extra work at weekends and at night to ensure that his large family was well provided for. Mum was an extraordinary homemaker - baking bread, apple tarts and cakes on a regular basis: knitting and running up dresses on the old Singer sewing machine ( these were the days before Pennys or Dunnes Stores mass produced clothing). Dad’s priority was to provide a good education for all of us children; he had been a pupil in Newbridge College which left him with a great respect for the Dominican ethos. Thus it came to pass that my brothers all boarded at Newbridge College and the girls were enrolled as day pupils in Dominican College Eccles Street for secondary level. Being the fourth O’Brien girl was an advantage and I sailed straight from fifth class in Fairview National School into 2A in 1960. Shortly afterwards we moved to a new house in Dollymount and one of my new classmates- Deirdre Carroll - lived nearby. We became firm friends and are still close and meet on a regular basis. I took to the school straight away and found the nuns / teachers helpful, (I had to catch up on Latin, French and Maths having skipped First year). Many of the girls had come up through the junior school together but were very welcoming and I quickly integrated and enjoyed the great chats and crack we would have at break and lunches times. One of our favourite topics was to go back over the Late Late show and we regularly played charades. Under Miss Hanon’s instruction I quickly caught up on Algebra and Geometry and must have had a photographic memory as I recall winning a prize for being able to repeat Theorem 29 immediately after it was demonstrated. Those of us who stayed in over lunch hour have Sr. Isnard to thank for the provision of tennis courts, volley ball and basketball pitches in the car park/yard. We played most days at lunch time and other times after class and went on to compete with the other Dominican schools in the greater Dublin area. Sr. Isnard (we had nick names for most of the teachers and Isnard was Quisey Issie due to her great interest in a wide range of matters) was our Art teacher and generously took on all this extra-curricular activity. The same dedication was shown by Miss Eileen Kane and Sr. Denise who organised French and Roman Civilisation sessions in the afternoons after class and this gave us a far reaching knowledge and interest in areas not covered by the official curriculum eg. Gothic and Romanesque Cathedral Architecture, the Roman Forum and Coliseum, Pompey and European Culture generally. This complemented the great grounding we got in languages from these two teachers and the innovative approach to history lessons taken by the legendary Miss Shaw who always sought to engage us in world affairs and make the connections between past and present. No memoir of these times would be complete without reference to Miss Brady’s Irish classes and it was in fear and trepidation that we waited for our names to be called to recite the cuntus. I well remember one day not having the particular passage word perfect and was told that I was bringing disgrace on the good names of my three sisters! Her method paid off and many of us got good honours in Irish in the state exams. We were encouraged to take part in the Gael Linn interschool debates and of course we were delighted with this opportunity to mix with students of both sexes! Fifth year in school stands out for me when Deirdre and I had the opportunity to spend a term in a Dominican Convent school in Bourges, in central France. This came about as one of the young teachers, Miss Anne McGrath, was on a sabbatical at this school and she kindly agreed, to our parents’ satisfaction, to keep an eye on the two Dollymount girls while we immersed ourselves in the French language. Before we returned home to Dublin we took the train up to Paris to meet Eileen Kane and some of our class mates where we had a magical few days exploring the sights with which we were so familiar from the photos and slides that had formed part of our French Civilisation course. We marvelled at the colours in the famous windows of the Sainte Chappelle and Notre Dame, at the mirrors, opulence and gardens in Versailles and relished our first trip in the Bateaux Mouche on the Seine. Looking back on this time I am conscious of the great privilege it was to have such generous teachers and it was the start of my great passion for travel and exploring new cultures. In my final year in Eccles Street, 1965, I studied hard for the Leaving and was keen to go to UCD where I studied Law and graduated with a BCL. I then became a solicitors apprentice and took the Law Society examinations and worked as a corporate solicitor for twenty years. I combined this career with my role as an elected member of Dublin County Council. My husband Frank was a loyal Labour Party member and introduced me to left wing politics which I found dovetailed well with the Christian principles instilled into us at school. We got a good grounding in Ethics and Social Justice from Sr. Aquin interspersed with hints on deportment and how to behave in the company of the opposite sex. My sister Anne who was in the class ahead of me remembers Sr. Aquinas advising during religion class “to be there to be helpful and to be cheerful”, and another of her down to earth bon mots “that just because a man is a good dancer does not mean he will be good with a crying child during the night!” To this day as Anne attends to her manicure she recalls Sr. Aquinas exhorting us to tend to our nails in such a fashion as to ensure that the half-moons are visible! Miss Cranny came in once a week to take elocution class and I recall well the wonderful productions of “The Hound of Heaven” and “Our Lady of Guadalupe” staged with Mother Cecily. Cast as mourners at the death bed first scene of Newman’s masterpiece we did not consider it at all incongruous as we piled on the makeup, mascara, vivid lipstick and fancy hats! We were totally focussed on looking as beautiful as possible for our short time on stage!

Leading a busy life after school I did not return often to Eccles Street but remember how sad I felt when the decision was made to demolish the old buildings, especially the concert hall, where apart from our dramas and concerts I had first seen classics like “The Secret Garden”. I still recall the lovely parlours, the peaceful Nuns’ garden where we would amble silently during the annual retreats, and the magnificent stain glass windows in the chapel. Alas gone forever. I did however keep in touch with my teachers from time to time and invited Sisters Isnard and Germaine to tea in my office in the Dublin County Council on O’Connell St when I was Chairman of the Council in 1985. Later as MEP for Dublin I was delighted when Sr. Henry took up an invitation to join a group visit to the European Parliament in Brussels, where despite her advancing years she gamely joined in all activities educational and social. I retired when I was sixty and have spent the years since then as a full time student again: I took a BA in Theology, Spirituality and Pastoral Studies in the Milltown Institute and now fully appreciate the depth of the education we got from the Dominican sisters. I discovered that we had already touched on much of the important theological questions and spiritual traditions in the course of our schooling. For the past two years as I studied in the Mater Dei Institute for an MA in Poetry Studies again I had cause to be grateful for the grounding we got at school in the classics and in poetry and literature generally. I suppose the best compliment I can offer to my educators is that they left me wanting more.

Greetings and thanks to all my teachers and classmates.

Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Malone (nee O’Brien) - 17 February 2014

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CELEBRATING 125 YEARS OF DOMINICAN EDUCATION - DOMINICAN COLLEGE ECCLES STREET AND GRIFFITH AVENUE 1883 - 2008
By
Carmel O’Connor (nee Higgins)
Junior School & Dominican College Eccles Street 1952-1964

Presidents speech delivered at the Gala Dinner in the Great Hall, Clontarf Castle, bringing to a close the 125th year Celebrations and commencing the 25th year Anniversary of the opening of Dominican College on Griffith Avenue

Principal, Claire Butler, Mary Ann Halton, Board of Management, Prioress Mary Harmey and Sisters of the Community, Teachers, Parents, Past Pupils and Friends of Dominican College. I am very honored to be asked, as president of the past pupils’ union, to say a few words about the past pupils union this evening at this very special 125 years celebration gala dinner.

As you know, Dominican College opened its doors on 10th January 1883, and has grown, developed, and thrived ever since.  It was set up for the education of women at a time when it was not considered to be of any benefit to educate women.  So it is not surprising that in 1914 as soon as there were a few past pupils, they formed a union, and the first thing they would do is pass on the benefits of their education, to other women who had to leave school early, by setting up a Night School.

The past pupils of the time needed to raise funds for their very varied social work, but reading through the minute books, I realise that fundraising was also to be very enjoyable, just as we ourselves are enjoying this wonderful evening, here in Clontarf Castle. Referring  to the 1920-1921 Season they record:

“A Cinderella Dance was held at the Royal Hibernian Hotel”

I can only assume that a Cinderella dance finished at midnight. Later, an All Night Dance was held. The next gathering was at a Whist Drive, given in the Astoria Tea Rooms, Dawson Street. As recorded in the minutes, these functions were all very remunerative. However, it was reported that

“The financial result of the Céilí was not commensurate with the endeavours of the enthusiastic committee”

In 1926, the past pupils continued to pass on the benefits of their education, by setting up St Dominic’s Club for Girl Street Traders. The girls came every evening, for a warm meal, fun and games, classes, crafts, dancing, music & drama, cookery, and dare I say it, the rosary. This was prior to TV, remember. The girls had somewhere safe to go every evening. They had a sense of belonging, and they loved it. In later years, the Old folks Club came into being, also a great success. The past pupils gave their time freely to these girls and old folks, and reaped the benefits themselves. By working hard, side by side, to achieve something worthwhile, they strengthened their own friendships, formed when they themselves were in Dominican College. That feeling of belonging, being part of a group, is very relevant today. The annual mass for past pupils, and the golf society founded in 1930 are still part of union activities. Perhaps the younger past pupils will revive the All Night Dance, which at the present time has evolved into our very popular annual Lunch.

We all know times have changed, and so the Girls Club and the Old Folks are no longer active.  Looking back, we are very proud of the past pupils of Dominican College. But it is not the Dominican way to just live in the past. We would not have had the 800 years of Dominican Women if they all looked only to the past.  Yes, we are proud of our past. Yes, we are challenged by the changes in society today, but it is to the future that Dominicans look, to be ready to adapt to those changes. Continuing education is important. It does not stop when you leave school. I smile when I remember the school parents committee organised a fundraising Race Night some years ago, and we were going to support it, but I had never been to the races, nor had any idea how to go about placing a bet, and it was Sr Henry who educated me in those matters.

Looking back to my own time in school, I left school in 1964 (in the middle of the last century), it is the many extra-curricular activities that I remember most. Group activities, all working together, -  again that sense of belonging. Sport was a big part of extra-curricular activities, and I am pleased to see that it is still a big part of Dominican College, although I myself was not any good at sport at all. What do I remember: Music appreciation with Miss Clandillon, She would talk first and then play classical music, and we just had to listen. And we did listen, the record I remember most is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I was also in the school orchestra. The examiner came in every year. We had set pieces to play, which we had rehearsed and were quite confident, but then the examiner would produce some sight-reading for the orchestra, where no-one had seen this music before. We could all feel the tension mount, and then the huge smile of relief on Miss Feely’s face when we would get through the most difficult part - the bar rest. It did not matter what wrong notes we played, but utter silence when it came to the bar rest was required. If anyone was playing during the bar rest, it meant you were not keeping time, and when in a group, when playing in an orchestra, keeping time was the most important thing.

We were all in the school choir, again that sense of belonging, nobody was left out, whether we could sing well or not. If you were considered to be a so-called non-singer, you just mimed the words. The choir was a big part of our schooling. Sr Cecily has left me with a great love of Gregorian Chant, and to this day I love to hear it sung. I am so pleased to see that things do not change just for the sake of change, and that Sport, Music and Drama are still an important part of life in Dominican College Griffith Avenue. When we attend functions of present students, it reminds me of our own production, The Dream of Gerontius, and brings back memories of the fun we had working together. I am sure many friendships have been made with the recent excellent productions of Strictly Ballroom, and the wonderful musical - Honk. It was such a delight to hear the music at the mass for Past Pupils at the start of these wonderful 125 years celebrations, both the instrumental and the voice, were really uplifting, and I congratulate all involved in taking part and in organising it.

We as past pupils are so pleased to get such a warm welcome from the present students when we attend the school functions. It is lovely to see that the school is continuing in the same traditions, and yet looking forward confidently to the future. Present day students of Dominican College to me appear happy, cheerful, and well adjusted individuals, self confident in a quiet way, genuine, happy, young girls, looking forward to their future lives, all ahead of them.

I congratulate all the staff and the parents who together work so hard to educate these young women, and give them what is the best start in life - a good balanced all round education, treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Carmel O’Connor (nee Higgins) – 9 January 2009

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A BRIEF TALK GIVEN AT PPU ANNUAL LUNCH
By
Deirdre Carroll Cunniff
Junior School & Domincan College Class of 1965

My memories of school, right back in Junior school, are very positive - not, I hope, rose tinted. I loved, for instance, going back to school in September after the long summer - getting new copy-books, getting my bag ready, getting my lunch box ready. We stayed in at lunch. Sometimes we wandered down to Dorset Street where there was a lovely cake shop. I can still imagine the taste of those fresh cream buns and doughnuts. However, I recall vividly, Miss Burbidge, the Maths teacher, warning us not to eat on the street - it was something ladies did not do. I recall seeing a dead person for the first time, laid out in Berkeley Street Church - one of the girls playing camogie up in the school pitch in Phibsborough sadly died while playing. Such memories stay with you.

I recall the many stories and anecdotes told to us by Miss Shaw , our History teacher, and by the nuns, about famous people who lived on Eccles Street - for instance W B Yeats, the famous singer Margaret Burke Sheridan, trained by the famous singing teacher Mother Clement OP, and about the Civil War. I recall particularly the physical aspects of the various old buildings - the magnificent concert hall where Mother Cecily OP developed our singing skills and knowledge of music, and where dramas and concerts took place with regularity. The stairs leading up to the Concert Hall were always highly polished with much brass in evidence. We regularly sang in the beautiful little chapel - Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris were frequently sung.

Sr Aquin preached the great benefits of games such as Volleyball, Netball and later Basketball for the physical development of us young females, and the school excelled in these games, often winning inter-school competitions. When we were in fifth year, Miss Kane, our excellent French teacher, helped us organise a French Exhibition in the school, on all things cultural, historical and gastronomical. This type of venture was atypical at the time (the early 60s), as were trips to France for educational purposes, undertaken by some of us.

What did we gain from our time in Eccles Street? It could be said that we received the best of what would be called a ‘good old-style broad education’, based on solid values (recall the motto ‘Veritas’) but in no way narrow in focus. We were generally prepared for many of the challenges of the turbulent decades which followed - although nobody quite saw the enormity of the changes which were beginning to take place while we were still in school. It was in many senses a broad liberal education. We read Ovid classics in Latin class. We learned about Karl Marx and Communism. We were allowed to read widely and question issues and philosophies. We were allowed to be confident and questioning in our approach.

For many, the sale of the school subsequently was a watershed. Our special memories of the school no longer had a physical location on which to roost. The ghosts of the past now have to wander about in the somewhat soul-less space of a modern car park. Looking forward, can we hope that some of that rich experience of education can survive? If history is a lesson, the answer is hopefully, yes. We record our appreciation of the school and salute it for what it has given us and for having left such an imprint. Who would we be, if we hadn’t gone to school there? It is certain we would have been different.

Deirdre Carroll Cunniff - 24 June 2003

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SCHOOL MEMORIES AND REFLECTIONS
By
Finola O’Dowd
Dominican College Eccles Street 1954-1966

Living on a farm in Clondalkin which was over a mile to the nearest village, travelling to school meant a lift with my father to Newlands Cross, and two buses thereafter, arriving in Eccles Street just in time as the bell was ringing. Because of the distance I started school at the age of six, always accompanied by my sister Emer, who was five years ahead of me. My earliest memories of school consisted of wearing the little grey smock uniform and having my fair hair parted and tied with a big bow. I remember being fascinated by one of my school friends as she had her ears pierced, this to me was so very cool at the time. On one occasion my best friend Sheila came to school with me as there was a fancy dress competition on. I dressed up as Little Bo Peep, her family were well to-do so she hired a costume for the day, which to me was incredible.

As my birthday is in May my parents allowed me to have a party to which my best friends from school came. I am sure their fathers’, who so kindly brought them out to the farm and collected them later, thought we lived in the middle of nowhere - perhaps indeed we did. As I was the youngest of my family my school friends were very important to me, in fact they represented my entire social life with the exception of my first cousins Rosario, Martina and Angela Dowd, who were also educated in Eccles Street, and lived in the Village of Clondalkin.

In third Class we had a Geography book with fascinating photos of families from all over the world and the native animals that shared their lives. This book impressed me greatly and I can contribute my love and fascination of penguins back to this time. As my mother Ita was also educated in Eccles Street she knew some of the staff and nuns well and on trips to town would call to the school, have a chat with teachers, and then treated me to cream cakes and fizzy drink in Bewley’s in Westmoreland Street before getting the bus home. Also on Fridays my sister and her school friends took me to a little cafe at the end of Dorset Street at lunch time where we also indulged ourselves with sweet delicious pastries.

I came into my own when I reach Secondary School and was always very happy there. I had a great interest in sport and played Net and Volley Ball and was on the Volley Ball Team in Fifth and Sixth year and travelled with my friends to play other Dominican Schools in the greater Dublin area on Saturday afternoons. I also played tennis in School which I enjoyed immensely.

In my early teens my father bought me a pig so I could earn some pocket money. It was my entire responsibility to look after him, I called him Joe and he was kept in a stable in the farm yard. I took my responsibility seriously and Joe was fed every morning before I left for school. All was going very well until one morning whilst at choir practice with my class friends in the Concert Hall to my horror I discovered the shoes I used in the stable were on my feet, I nearly died with embarrassment as they were covered with muck, I could not wait to get home that evening.

One of the biggest upheavals for me was one year when I returned to school after the summer and discovered I had been separated from my friends and placed in another class. This to me seemed the end of my world but turned out to be two of the happiest years in many ways as we were in a very big room and at lunch time we learnt to dance Rock and Roll at the back of the class. One of the girl’s parents owned a hotel in Skerries and lots of the girls from the class were allowed to go to a disco held on Sunday afternoons, naturally I was green with envy as it was out of the question for me because of the distance.

My mother’s sister Finola Clandillon taught music in Eccles Street. I did not inherit my family’s musical talents but aunty Finola showed great patience with her niece and it was a great time for both of us to catch up on family news during my weekly music lessons. Unfortunately my beloved mother Ita died at the end of my fifth year in school and it should be acknowledged that I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Mary Prenderville and her parents for their constant help and support given to during this very difficult time.

When I married in 1971 a lifelong friend from school, Olivia O’Dwyer, was my Bridesmaid. In the past decade I have linked back to the Dominicans through Eccles Street’s Golf Society and also through the Combined Dominican Golf Society.

Finola O’Dowd - 21 February 2014

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MUSINGS FROM THE GIRL IN THE GREEN UNIFORM
By
Sr Maris Stella OP (Kathleen McKeown)
Dominican College Eccles Street 1959 -1964

When we, the class of ’64, left school in Eccles Street, little did I realise that our 50th anniversary would coincide with the centenary of the foundation of the Past Pupils Union. In response to a request to share memories, I venture to write a few paragraphs.

Having arrived in 2nd year from England (mid November 1959), I wore the green uniform of my previous school for a short time. I felt welcome from the first day, apart from a comment made by two girls from another class, who thought I had strayed in from the Protestant school next door (whose pupils wore a green uniform)! The fact that some of the girls in the class had been friends since Junior school did not prevent them from accepting me into the ‘circle of friends’.

The historic old building, consisting of several houses, held a special charm with several unexpected ‘twists and turns’ but sliding along the green corridor was a thrilling experience especially if one managed to do so without meeting an adult!

Never having learned Irish, another girl and myself were taught together by Sr Canice for the first year. I was just getting used to the Irish script, which I liked, when it was replaced by the modern script in use today. I remember when we learned the word for jet, ‘Scairdeitleán’, as a very noisy one flew overhead – not too many in those days!

Shared memories of school years, also include our Gaeltacht experiences of 3rd year and 5th year. In Trabolgan Irish College as it then was, we 3rd years thought we were witnessing the end of the world one evening when the sky lit up in a most unusual way. We prayed hard that night! The next day we learned that a nearby oil refinery was the cause of our unsettling hours. On leaving school, I joined the Dominicans (over time I was surprised to discover the number of Dominican Sisters who were past pupils of some of the Eccles Street schools). After novitiate, followed by College (UCD) I taught in Dominican schools in Ireland for fourteen years: Belfast, Galway and Sion Hill, Dublin. Each experience was different and enriching, partly due to the different education systems in North and South. Teaching in Belfast during the Troubles, was challenging. Memories include protests, banging of bin lids, explosions and shootings, attendance at funerals, peace marches, and so much more. For many girls, attendance at school, once they were on the premises, provided some sense of normality and relative security, most days.

The most enriching years of my teaching career, due to the cultural experiences, were those spent in New Orleans. Teaching African American children and coming to know their families, I realised how much we had in common, such as our history of ‘persecution’ by those who tried to deprive us of our culture and self-determination. The value of a good education was appreciated, and in particular, the contribution made by Irish Sisters who did not have the ‘baggage’ of the American white majority, pre civil-rights era. Lack of space prevents me from describing all that I would like to say. However, for anyone who wishes to learn more, details about our Dominican ministry is described in, New Orleans and All That Jazz, published in 2006, just after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Past Pupils Union
For a number of years after we left school, the Past Pupils Union did not really feature in our lives, for some of us at least, but we gradually appreciated the opportunities for re-connection, afforded through the Union, as certain anniversaries of our leaving school were remembered. As a result of those events we continued to meet informally on other occasions, especially when those who lived ‘away’ returned to Dublin for visits. Appreciation and gratitude are extended to the past pupils who generously gave and/or continue to give of their time as members of the committees of the Union, which plays a key role in enabling and providing opportunities for school friends to continue to meet as well as supporting past pupils when needs arise.

Friends for over 50 years
Even though we have taken different paths in life, whenever we did meet intermittently, we just seemed to ‘pick up’ from where we had left off, even if a number of years had elapsed. Grateful for the education we received, and having met past pupils of other schools, where the regime seemed more rigid, we appreciated even more the Dominican spirit and ethos. There was a common sense approach to life, nothing ‘starchy’ or ‘uppity’. Looking back over 50 years I am grateful to the Sisters and lay teachers for the education and values taught, for the sturdy foundation for life, in the pleasant atmosphere we experienced in Dominican College, Eccles St. and for the friendships which have continued for over 50 years. Ad multos annos.

Kathleen McKeown (Sr. Maris Stella OP) - 24 February 2014

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MY SECONDARY SCHOOL
By
Patricia O’Reilly Smith
Dominican College 1967-1970; Classes 2H1, 2H2 & 2H3

I started Secondary School in Dominican College Eccles Street when I was eleven years of age (1967), in 2H1 in first class. I was the eldest child from a family of five children, was very shy, very insecure and did not have any self-confidence. Since primary school I had a fear of exams and of failure. In the three years I was in Eccles Street, I loved Domestic Science and Art, my favourite subjects. Sister Nora taught Domestic Science and Sister Germaine did the Art. They were both lovely nuns, always very helpful and kind, and they would always make you feel good about yourself, even if you had made a mistake or did not get it right first time. Sister Nora taught me cookery, knitting and sewing. In Art, I loved painting with water colours, and Sister Germaine helped me so much with this. She knew it was my favourite subject. I always looked forward to my Art classes. When my painting was finished I would help my friends with theirs, or enjoy painting their pictures for them, not thinking that anybody knew.

I can still remember my History and Geography, and I liked Maths. But I got lost in Algebra. In my mock exams for the Junior Cert I got very good results in most subjects, but I was afraid that I would fail the real exams, so I decided to leave school when I was fourteen. I got a job as a sales assistant. I will always remember Sister Germaine coming to me and asking me not to leave. She said: “Patricia, there are so many things that you can do through Art.” She told me that I was very good and that she knew that I always did my friends paintings as well as my own, as the style was all the same. My secret was out. I remember laughing afterwards. Later on I was sorry I left school so young, but my love of Art and artistic flair never left me. I worked in shops for years and was always very good at window dressing, winning competitions against the big stores. I did a City and Guilds qualification in upholstery and spent some time working in antique restoration and upholstering. To this day I still enjoy painting with water colours and acrylics, interior design, and house painting and decorating. Other things I got into were curtain and dress making, knitting and crochet, and dress designing. I love crafts and help out with Art and Craft days, where children make things from paper and material for the likes of Halloween outfits. On the domestic Science side of things, I still love cookery and baking, and having dinner parties. I passed this on to my three children and even my three grandchildren, who all come to me for help with their Art and cooking. My son, Sean, is in New York and loves baking his brown bread and baking cakes for all his friends. So it just goes to show that both Sister Nora and Sister Germaine were right. I would like to thank them both from the bottom of my heart for making me believe in myself and giving me the confidence to make all those hidden talents come out and letting me follow my dreams.

My Precious Memories
The old school building with the beautiful architecture. Those high ceilings with their fancy coving and those wonderful ceiling roses. Freshly painted bright coloured walls. The amazing winding staircase with beautifully carved wooden spindles, painted white, with dark mahogany wooden banisters and handrails and stairs. Polished dark mahogany wooden floors, always shining. Tall windows with white painted Georgian shutters looking out onto a street where my granny and granddad once lived and where my father was born in the year 1928. Out the back there was the most beautiful rose garden where we would be brought on special occasions. The perfume from those pretty roses with an array of colour, white, peach, yellow, pink and red, will always stay with me. Our music room with polished mahogany presses at the back, and our trips to the theatre and the orchestra. I will always remember Romeo and Juliet and the Nutcracker suite. And our school hall, where we would have our drama classes. It would also be used for fundraising events. The annual Sale of Work where we would sell cakes, rice crispie buns, Queen cakes and Butterfly cakes, clothes and ornaments, and ‘bring and buy’ books. I will always remember the Big Wheel and buying tickets for the raffle. They spun the wheel and when it stopped I looked at my ticket and could not believe my luck when I won. I got my prize, a navy blue leather case with holy pictures and lots of medals inside. I still have it to this day, 47 years later. The first prize I ever won.

My Precious Memories - The Big Wheel Prize

The little shop downstairs at the back of the building that sold crisps, sweets and minerals, it would open at around lunch time, when the O’Reilly girls would serve. O’Reillys was my local newsagents shop in Whitehall and the girls were Mr O’Reilly’s daughters. They also attended Dominican College. I remember the metal stairway which ran down at the back of the school. It was a fire-escape. The school yard where we practised our sports, which I loved too but was not very good at. We played tennis, basketball, volleyball and camogie. We played camogie for the school league. A girl in our class, Claire Gunn, was very good at playing. We won the league that year. Well, we got to the final and the other team did not turn up so we got a walkover. It was played in St. Vincent’s Grounds. For that we received a box of black magic chocolates. We were delighted that day. I also learned how to swim. The swimming pool was at St. Vincent’s, at the top of Whitworth Road, in Glasnevin. Like our school, this was another beautiful building that was also demolished. I feel sad now that our beautiful school building no longer exists. All that wonderful architecture that can never be replaced, now gone, and all that are left for me are the precious and great memories of a bygone era and a wonderful place.

Patricia O’Reilly Smith - 3 February 2014

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A FANCY DRESS PARTY
By
Mary Smith
Dominican College Eccles Street

I remember the Past Pupils’ Union held a Children’s Fancy Dress Party every year in the Gresham Hotel, up until 1960. I enclose an advertisement for the fancy dress party in the Irish Independent 19 October 1940, where the cost of the fancy dress party including tea was 2/6 (two shillings and six pence). Spectators were charged 1/6 (one and 6) and tea was extra. Prizes were awarded to Girls or Boys for Best Party Frock, Best Advertising Costume, Prettiest Costume, Most Original Costume, Best National Costume, Best Couple, Best Paper Costume, and there were also special prizes for Spectators and for Tiny Tots. A sale of work ‘handkerchief stall’ was held at the same time, and the proceeds were for St Dominic’s Club. The children really enjoyed the occasion, which concluded with a present from Santa, but unfortunately, the Fancy Dress Parties were not a financial success. Due to the cost of staging it every year, it was decided instead to have a New Year’s Children’s Party in the C.I.E. Club on January 6 1962. This was thoroughly enjoyed by the children, their Mammies, Aunties and Grannies.

Irish Independent advertisment for a Fancy Dress Party, 1940

Every year the Past Pupils’ Union also held a Sale of Work in the Mansion House with various stalls, wheel of fortune and a catering stall which provided hot lunches, soups and desserts. Sums of between £500 and £700 were raised each year during the 1950s and up to 1968. This money was used to pay off the debt on St Dominic’s Club, and to help in the cost of running it. I was not involved in organising any of these, but I remember having lunch in the Mansion House at the Sale of Work.

Mary Smith - 25 February 2014

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A SHORT STORY
by
Eimear Wilder (Nic Giolla Eoin)

I can't remember if it was second or third year but it is something that has stayed with me up till now, and at this stage I am nearly 48 years old.

We had just had Maths class and although I am not sure what we had done, I know that no one in the class actually understood what we had been taught. Now there were a few of us in the class who were really good at Maths but none of us got it. We were sitting there talking about it when the next teacher came into the room, Sister James, (Jessy James as she was called by the students) who was our religion teacher. She sat down at the desk and look around at all the confused faces. She could see that something was bothering us and asked what was wrong. We explained that it was to do with Maths and that she could not help as she was only a religion teacher! She got up from the chair, which at her age was not easy for her and went to the black-board. She started writing formulas (or whatever it was, I just can't remember) on the board. She went on to explain the whole thing to us and by the end of the hour everyone, even the non-maths students,understood. What I learned on that day was, never underestimate anyone. You can learn from young or old everyday. Don't judge someone from how they look or how they have been introduced to you, they could surprise you.

I will never forget Sister (Jessy) James!!

Eimear Wilder

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A BRIEF TALK GIVEN AT PPU AUUNAL LUNCH  
by
Deirdre Carroll Cunniff
Junior School, Domincan College, Class of 1969

My memories of school, right back in Junior school, are very positive - not, I hope, rose tinted. I loved, for instance, going back to school in September after the long summer - getting new copy-books, getting my bag ready, getting my lunch box ready.

We stayed in at lunch. Sometimes we wandered down to Dorset Street where there was a lovely cake shop. I can still imagine the taste of those fresh cream buns and doughnuts.
However, I recall vividly, Miss Burbidge, the Maths teacher, warning us not to eat on the street - it was something ladies did not do.

I recall seeing a dead person for the first time, laid out in Berkeley Street Church - one of the girls playing camogie up in the school pitch in Phibsborough sadly died while playing. Such memories stay with you.

I recall the many stories and anecdotes told to us by Miss Shaw, our History teacher, and by the nuns, about famous people who lived on Eccles Street - for instance W B Yeats, the famous singer Margaret Burke Sheridan, trained by the famous singing teacher Mother Clement OP, and about the Civil War.

I recall particularly the physical aspects of the various old buildings - the magnificent concert hall where Mother Cecily OP developed our singing skills and knowledge of music, and where dramas and concerts took place with regularity. The stairs leading up to the Concert Hall were always highly polished with much brass in evidence. We regularly sang in the beautiful little chapel - Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris were frequently sung.

Sr Aquin preached the great benefits of games such as Volleyball, Netball and later Basketball for the physical development of us young females, and the school excelled in these games, often winning inter-school competitions.

When we were in fifth year, Miss Kane, our excellent French teacher, helped us organise a French Exhibition in the school, on all things cultural, historical and gastronomical.
This type of venture was atypical at the time (the early 60s), as were trips to France for educational purposes, undertaken by some of us.

What did we gain from our time in Eccles Street? It could be said that we received the best of what would be called a ‘good old-style broad education’, based on solid values (recall the motto ‘Veritas’) but in no way narrow in focus. We were generally prepared for many of the challenges of the turbulent decades which followed - although nobody quite saw the enormity of the changes which were beginning to take place while we were still in school.

It was in many senses a broad liberal education. We read Ovid classics in Latin class. We learned about Karl Marx and Communism. We were allowed to read widely and question issues and philosophies. We were allowed to be confident and questioning in our approach.

For many, the sale of the school subsequently was a watershed. Our special memories of the school no longer had a physical location on which to roost. The ghosts of the past now have to wander about in the somewhat soul-less space of a modern car park.

Looking forward, can we hope that some of that rich experience of education can survive? If history is a lesson, the answer is hopefully, yes.

We record our appreciation of the school and salute it for what it has given us and for having left such an imprint. Who would we be, if we hadn’t gone to school there? It is certain we would have been different.

Deirdre Carroll Cunniff  - 24 June 2003

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MEMORIES
by
Frances Hoban-O’Brien

Junior school, Dominican College Eccles Street & Commercial College, 1953 - 1965

Coming from a family of Mam, Dad and five girls - all sisters attending Dominican College Eccles Street - you might ask why we were sent to Dominican College? You might also ask why we travelled right across Dublin City from Rialto, Dublin 8, to Eccles Street Dublin 7 (about 45 minutes by bus)? Speaking of the bus journey, our house on Herberton Road was in close proximity to the No. 19 terminus, so it was very handy we didn’t have to change busses. The No. 19 left us at Nelson Street and Dominican College was about a five minute walk from there! Am sure this influenced Mam and Dad’s decision. But why the Dominicans in the first instance? Mam and Dad truly loved the Dominican Order. Mam’s older brother, Father Martin Hughes, was a Dominican Father who died at 35 years of age working on the missions in Trinidad. We were told he died of malaria, but on reading the Dominican Tertiary Bulletin 1944 (copy enclosed) Father Martin apparently died of typhoid. Both Mam and Dads’ respective families lived in the City Centre, so both families attended their local church, St Saviours, in Dominick Street which was run by the Dominican Fathers. Dad’s father was a member of the Third Order. Just to give an insight into what exactly The Third Order is: it is for lay people to help them become more spiritual. They have meetings in Dominick St church where they wear the habit and attend Mass and receive communion. They say a miniature version of the priest or nun’s Office at home every day and when they die they can choose to be buried in the habit.

Mam was a member of the Sodality. When we were old enough as children our parents took us to the 6.30am Mass every Christmas morning - that is how much they loved the Dominicans. As the youngest, one of the great benefits of having sisters at the same school was that on my first day in ’Low Babies’ I apparently cried a lot and my sister, Pauline, had to sit with me all day at class to pacify me! When I look back at Junior School, it seems to me that was the basis for what was to come. it seemed to be all about doing your homework, studying, obeying rules and regulations, etc!

For me Senior School was much more exciting and, because of maturity, friendships and bonds deepened. I think my real character started to form from First year onwards. Suddenly in the teenage years life took off in all sorts of directions. Challenges were enormous, both from a student perspective and also from a young lady’s perspective!  There was enormous demand on me to pass the Intermediate and Leaving Certificates, which thankfully I did, after a genuinely huge effort.

Some of my fondest memories of school-day activities were when we were taken on trips to the films Mise Eire and Saoirse, an archaeology trip to Newgrange Co Meath, as well as a visit to a tiny theatre in Dublin - I am almost certain it was called ‘The Lantern” to see Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For the play I was sitting in the front row which was almost on top of the stage,as the theatre was so small! I remember one of the actors who lay on the stage (supposed to be dead) kept winking up at me. Of course I became giggly as did my companions sitting next to me! As far as I can remember, all these ‘fun’ treats came in 5th year when we didn’t have to sit an exam!

Another item that comes to mind which is quite amusing. It was Christmastime and a Mass for the Sick was going out over the airwaves - I am sure Radio Eireann as it was then! The Mass was in Gardiner Street church and a handful of female students from Dominican College and a handful of male students from Belvedere College were invited to be the congregation - in all there were about twelve in total and I was lucky to have been chosen. We were all instructed to kneel at the altar rails.I think we attended three morning is a row. After the Mass each day a few of us girls used to go to Cafolla’s in O’Connell Street and some of the Belvedere lads would follow us in.  Anyhow, one of the chaps fancied me and invited me out on a date. He was ‘my first love’ and his three sisters actually attended Dominican College as well. They say you always remember where you met your first love - how could I forget the altar rails!

Thinking back to my education at Dominican College, I honestly feel I was well equipped leaving school, as education-wise there was a good balance between studies, sport and culture, the latter in my case was love of music. Dominican Commercial College gave me business acumen which stood to me later in my professional life.

When I think of studies, I immediately think languages and in particular the french language. My french teacher in the years prior to my leaving school (1965) was Eileen Kane. She certainly gave of her time and effort to instill in us, her students, a great love of the language as well as a love of France as a country and I remember she held slide shows, etc, after school hours, which gave us a tremendous insight into the culture of the country. I certainly left school with a great love of french which I have carried throughout my life. On and off since leaving school, I have attended the Alliance Francaise (French Institute in kildare Street Dublin). I am currently in an advance conversation class, which I enjoy. It challenges me and I look forward to attending each week. I have made several trips to Paris in France, which just happens to be my favourite European city. It is always helpful to speak the native tongue of the country you are visiting. I am convinced, had I not had such a great foundation at Dominican College, I might never have continued the interest! Thank you Miss Kane!

I was very lucky to have attended at Dominican College when sports like netball, volleyball and basketball emerged. The late Sr Isnard at that time really encouraged my participation in sport. I have so many happy memories of those of us who had a leaning towards sport, playing volleyball and basketball during our lunch hours. Netball had preceded basketball, but there was no comparison. Undoubtedly basketball was the game of the future and I loved it. Friends like Phil Coady (now Mitchell) and Carol Prendiville (now Gilbert) come to mind. We had a great team, played competitively before and after leaving school, and I have such fond memories of travelling to places like Killarney, etc, with the team! Again, I carried my interest in basketball with me when I went to the USA, where I spent eight years and worked at the Boeing Company (airplanes) where I also played on a Company team, so again the interest travelled with me.

As I got older and my actual basketball playing days came to an end, I took up golf and here I have to mention a certain school friend, Ada Kelly. Ada and I were in the same class during our educational life at Dominican College and we both attended Dominican Commercial College, so we were 13 years together in all! It was Ada who coaxed me to participate in one of the DCPPU’s activities ie the Golf Society’s Annual Outing. I played for the first time in the 2005 outing at Castlewarden and a wonderful thing happened - I won the competition taking home the Cup, which was first presented in 1934! What a thrill for me making my winning speech with Sister Maurice and Sister Victor present, the then President of the Union, Carmel O’Connor present, as well as members of the Executive Committee of the Union, and I couldn’t help but think how proud my parents would have been to see my name engraved on the Dominican College Golf Society esteemed Cup. An added bonus for me was, the following year 2006, I played in the outing again, which was held in Malahide (my friend Ada Kelly was Lady Captain that year) and low and behold I won the Cup for a second time, so my name is engraved on the Cup twice!

I was approached to be Lady Captain of DCPPU’s 79th Annual Golf Society Outing which I hosted in my own golf club, Castle, in Rathfarnham on 12th May 2008. We had 32 players on the day. The players enjoyed the great facilities of the club and the very challenging course which was looking particularly well. The weather was also superb which was a great benefit. 43 past pupils, including the Union President Carmel O’Connor and members of the Committee, attended the Dinner and Prizegiving and it was a truly memorable evening. Bernadette Maguire was the winner of the Perpetual Cup and my Lady Captain’s Prize. I was honoured to be invited to perform the Lady Captain’s duties and hope the Golf society will continue to go forever!

The Union activities gives on the opportunity to catch up with old school friends and reminisce about good times. The annual Golf Society outing enables this as does the Annual Luncheon, also organised by the Union. I have enjoyed attending the luncheon over the years and meeting up with school friends like Deirdre Carroll, Bernie O’Brien, Marie Kenny, Rita Haslam, Joan Delahunty and Ada Kelly. It is always such a great occasion!

Music was encouraged at home and I was very lucky to have a wonderful piano teacher at Dominican College, Kathleen O’Byrne! I took piano as a subject for both Intermediate and Leaving Certificates, which I enjoyed. My music teacher was invited to take a position at The College of Music Chatham Row in Dublin, and she invited some of her students to move with her - I was one of the lucky ones, although it meant going into town in the evenings for my piano classes, etc. The late Mother Cecily also held a special place in my heart and I adored choir. I remember feeling under great pressure to perform well when we had choir exams. I always wanted to please Mother Cecily!

I have certainly taken my love of music into my adult life and attend the National Concert Hall in Dublin often. I also love going to musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Cats, West Side Story etc - again, my love of music was nurtured at Dominican College and I just couldn’t imagine my life without it.

Before completing my contribution to the Archive, I thought it fitting that as a family of five sisters who all attended Dominican College, I would request my sisters give a short comment on their personal thoughts/feelings on their time in Dominican College, which I would like to share with you as follows:

Deirdre Hoban (now Stack, resident in Dublin)
‘The influence of the Dominican Sisters and of my schooldays at Dominican College, Eccles Street, have remained with me all of my life. I have continued my studies in music and languages and have expanded into areas like psychology and art. I still have good friends from my schooldays. My one regrets is that the old school building is no longer there to show my children.’

Marie Hoban (now Fan Elk, resident in USA)
I am grateful for the depth of my education at Dominican College which served me as I worked my way through Seattle University, Washington, to obtain my teaching degree.

Pauline Hoban (now Whelan, resident in Co Kildare)
I am forever grateful to my parents for sending myself and four sisters (known as ‘The Hoban Tribe’) to Eccles Street because I loved going there and it gave me the best foundation for life that I could have got.

Kathleen Hoban (now Kay Farrell, resident in USA)
Living in the US, working in elementary schools, I noticed that twins are separated here. Pauline and I were lucky. Even though we sat next to each other, we had different friends in class. During winter, my fingers always went numb and that was the only time I was allowed to run in the hallways to get the circulation going! I was then able to hold my pencil and continue with my work. What I remember most about dominican College Eccles Street was my first Confession and first communion. The Chapel visits always inspired me. I also have very fond memories of Sister Germaine, Sister Cornelia, Sister Isnard and Sister James.  Mam wanted us educated by the Dominicans and even though we lived in Rialto, it was well worth the ride.

To finish and from my own point of view I would like to quote Saint Catherine of Sienna:

‘If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire’.

I hope I am living up to what I was taught in Dominican college and that in turn I can pass on my values, etc, to whoever I come in contact with throughout my lifetime,

Frances Hoban-O’Brien

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