Wednesday, 2 January 2019


We have waved goodbye to 2018.  For some it was a year of happiness while for others I know it was a year of great sadness.  For most, it was a year of mixed ups and downs.  Whatever the year 2018 brought to you, my wish is that this new year of 2019 will bring you  good health, happiness, and peace in your heart and home.
Not far from where I live there is the wonderful little town of Caerleon.  Caerleon, the Roman Fortress of Isca,(link here) is just chock full of history.  Everywhere you turn the pretty little town's Roman roots speak to you in no uncertain terms.  We visit Caerleon often and its Roman museum is always  a treat.  As you can imagine, the museum holds many, many artifacts  that have been unearthed in and around the town.  You might think my favourite is a rather simple thing when I tell you what it is.  I will tell you anyway and I will even show you a picture of it.

Ah, "What is it?" you ask.  Well it is the actual, real and ancient footprint, embedded on a tile, of a Roman Soldier. The print of the studs in the sole of his sandal are plainly visible and I run my hand over this tile every time we visit there.  I know, I know!  Weird or what? But I just find it totally amazing that I can actually, right here and now, in 2019, touch the footprint of a man who lived in this town centuries ago.  I wonder did he accidentally walk on the tile? Or did he, as some young people today like to make footprints in  the wet cement of a new sidewalk, do it intentionally?  We will never know and nor do I know what year this fine Roman Soldier left his footprint for us to ponder on.  Whatever year it was, I hope it was a happy one for our friend as he toiled in a foreign land far from his home.  I wish all of you a happy year too.  May this new year of 2019 bring you all you desire.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Funny Nativity: Sing Like No One Is Listening!

This video has been posted on the Blog before but it is so good it deserves to be posted again.  I hope your Christmas will be filled with the kind of joy that this little girl seems to possess in abundance. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2018


If this lovely picture doesn't warm the cockles of your heart this Christmas Season, then I don't know what will.  Doreen Walsh Noseworthy sent it to us way back in September and I liked it so much I had difficulty restraining myself from posting it immediately.  I really wanted to save it for Christmas and, for once, I managed to keep myself in check.  

The little angels formed part of the annual Midnight Mass ceremony, accompanying the priest as the Baby Jesus was placed in the manger.  Doreen tells us that this particular group of angels made their appearance on Christmas Eve 1951, their Kindergarten year.  
Midnight Mass at St Patrick's Church, Christmas Eve, 1951

The angels are, left to right;
Front; Doreen Walsh, Elizabeth Flynn, Lois Morrissey
Middle; Claire Ronayne, Margaret Fleming
Back; Eileen Maher, Margaret Morrissey, Alice Prim

I love Doreen's recollections of that long ago night.  
"Alice and I walked to and from Mass that evening with my Mom.  It was the perfect Christmas Eve.  There was snow on the ground and the moon was as bright as could be.  I'm pretty sure we were anxious to get home and off to bed before Santa arrived though." 

As Doreen said, "they were very special times and life was so much simpler then".  Indeed they were, my friend!

Doreen, thank you so very much for sharing this beautiful picture and the precious memories.  I wish you and 'little angels' everywhere, a happy, peaceful, and memory making Christmas.  

Saturday, 8 December 2018


A couple of days ago I received an email and photo from Joan Reynolds Fogarty.  Joan keeps me up to date on her most amazing school friends and classmates.  This group of St Patrick's graduates must surely take the prize for longstanding friendship and loyalty to one another.  Here is Joan's email.

“Our Class had our Christmas dinner last night at Portobellos.  We had the private room upstairs which was nicely decorated for Christmas and it was lovely. The view of the harbour was magical.  The service was excellent, and we enjoyed a delicious meal.  We exchanged our usual Christmas gifts.  Patricia Connolly Leonard gifted each of us with a lovely piece of crystal in honor of the event.  This was certainly a lovely gesture, and we were very much surprised and appreciative.  Patsy set up a lovely table, decorated with lights, to display her gifts to us.  It is so nice to get together three times a year to catch up.

Joan and classmates


Brenda Casey Grouchy, Joan Reynolds Fogarty, Mary Fitzgerald, Judy Fitzgerald Squires, Catherine Corbett Stanley, Rosemary Ashley Healy, Mary Bulger Corcoran, Joan Connolly Alston, Patricia Connolly Leonard, 
Seated: Kathleen Dobbin Benson, Eleanor Sears Vatcher, Betty Fitzgerald  Pye. 

There were twelve of us present last night, with a few unable to attend. The following classmates have passed away since we started getting together in the 90s:  Joan Pridham Janes, Carmel Madden O'Mara, Irene Viscount McCrate, Betty Antle Coffin, Bonnie Beck Byrne, Emily Bishop Monahan, Maureen Byrne Coughlin.  Very sad.  A few of the other regulars were not able to attend last night. 

Our next get-together is mid May.”

Once again, Joan, I am in your debt. Thanks for all the help you give me.  It is a delight to hear about you and your classmates.  You certainly are an outstanding group. A very MERRY CHRISTMAS to each of you.  Long may your friendships flourish.   

Monday, 26 November 2018


As we have seen from previous posts, former St Patrick's Convent School pupils have many talents.  In this post we are proud to highlight the talents of another schoolmate, author, Mary Johnson Godsland. 

Mary Johnson was born in St John’s and she and her sister, Kay Johnson Parsons, both attended St Patrick’s Convent Schools.  Mary graduated from St Patrick’s in 1960 then went on to Holy Heart of Mary High School.  Mary received a B A (Ed) from Memorial University and spent many years in the teaching profession.  Mary married Peter Godsland and they have two daughters and four lovely grandchildren.

Now retired, Mary has turned her hand to writing.  As a Mom with young children, Mary’s storytelling talents were well honed at bedtime.  Her first published book, “AIRPORT RUNAWAYS”, for ages approximately four to eight years, is now available. This delightful  book would make an ideal gift for the special little ones on your Christmas Gift list.
Mary's delightful book
Mary has taken her book to Holy Family School in Chapel Arm.  There she and the children gathered in the library and Mary read her story for them.  It went over well and the children loved it.  Mary has more school visits coming up. 
Looks like a fun read.  Get your copy now from the suppliers listed below.

For those of you in St John’s, you can pick up your copy at ELAINE'S BOOKS, 208 Duckworth St.  Or, if you wish, you can order "Airport Runaways" direct from the publishers, Friesenpress, at  
We are all familiar with AMAZON  and they too carry Mary’s charming book, “AIRPORT RUNAWAYS”

When you present your little ones with this lovely book, you'll be proud to tell them that the nice lady who wrote it went to your school!  

Mary, with four grandchildren, we are pretty certain you have another book in you.  We look forward to its publication and thank you for sharing this one with us. We really are proud of you!

Wednesday, 21 November 2018


It began in a cottage in Cove Lane, Cork. Here, on Christmas Eve 1775, Nano Nagle founded the Sisters of Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (After Nano’s death,  the name was changed to the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)  Nano was joined by three companions; Mary Hoey, Elizabeth Burke and Mary Ann Collins.  On 29th June 1776, they received the habit and Nano took the name of Sr Mary of St John of God.  
Nano spent her time ministering to the poor of the City.  She taught in her schools by day and went out at night to visit and comfort the sick and suffering in their hovels.  Because of her night-time visits, she became known as ‘the Lady with the Lantern’.  The Lantern is now one of the symbols of the Presentation Sisters worldwide.
Nano Nagle instructing the children

Worn out by long days and nights of ministry, Nano collapsed in Cross Street on her way home from one of her schools. She died on Monday, 26th April 1784. She was 65 years old.   In 1994 Pope John Paul II declared Nano Nagle Servant of God’, the first of four steps to canonisation.  The next step came in 2013 when Pope Francis bestowed the title ‘Venerable’ on Nano Nagle.
In 1769 Nano wrote to a friend “If I could be of service in saving souls in any part of the globe I would be willing to do all in my power”.   True to the vision of their foundress, Nano’s Presentations spread throughout Ireland and, indeed, to all parts of the globe.  In 1833, thanks to Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, the very first Presentation Convent outside Ireland was established here in St John’s, Newfoundland.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, painted
by a Presentation Sister, Cathedral Square
Today, 21st November is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or as we called it, “Presentation Day”.  As former pupils of St Patrick’s Convent Schools, let’s take a minute to remember Venerable Nano Nagle and all who have followed in her footsteps over the years.  

Thursday, 15 November 2018


Before we close the book on the centenary of the Armistice, there is one more story I think worth telling.  It is worth the telling because, believe it or not, there is a link between one of the chief negotiators of the Armistice, Marshall Ferdinand Foch, and one of our Presentation Sisters.    In the closing months of WWI, Foch became Supreme Commander of Allied Forces.  The Armistice was signed by Germany and the Allies at 5 am on 11 November 1918, in the forest of Compi├Ęgne, France. It was to come into effect at 11 am on that day. The terms of the Armistice were largely written by Marshall Foch. To trace that little link we must go back to 1854.
The signing of the Armistice.  
Marshall Foch is second right (cane and briefcase)
Fr Thomas Waldron was a relative of Sr M Clare Waldron, first Superior of St Patrick’s Convent.   Fr Waldron died of cholera in 1854 and in his will he left a large parcel of land on Lemarchant Road to the Presentation Convent in St John’s. He also left them “two cows belonging to me at Kings Cove”.  Eventually, the Sisters sold a piece of the land to the Honourable E M Jackman who built for himself an imposing house on his newly acquired land.  He named it ‘The White House’. (It is on the corner of Lemarchant Rd and St Clare Avenue, opposite the top of Patrick St.)  
"The White House"
John and Margaret English lived on Water Street.  They had a daughter named Mary Theresa and she had a good friend, Miss Summers, who often visited her at home. Miss Summers and a border at the house, John Funichon, fell in love.  In 1888 Mary Theresa entered the Presentation Convent and was given the name of Sr Mary Clare. For many years Sr M Clare desired to open a hostel for young women from outside St John’s who were working in the City.  To this end Sr Clare patiently set about raising funds through sales of handiwork, school concerts, etc. Donations were also forthcoming from her friends.      
During the Gold Rush John Funichon had gone to the Klondike where he struck it rich.  He returned to St John’s to marry Miss Summers and the newlyweds visited their dear friend, Sr Clare, at Presentation Convent.  Mr Funichon presented Sr Clare with the gift of a rosary made up of forty gold nuggets.  Sr Clare, realising its potential as a giant step to achieving her cherished goal, was overjoyed with this gift.  When John H Reddin, Supreme Master of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, was in St John’s Sr Clare asked him to find a buyer for the rosary, which she was willing to sell for $100.   The following year the Supreme Knight, James A Flaherty came to St John’s.  He visited Sr Clare and told her that the Knights of Columbus wished to purchase her golden rosary to give as a gift to Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee.  Sr Clare must have been ecstatic when Mr Flaherty presented her with a cheque, not for $100 but for the enormous sum of $1,000.  With this and the money she had raised from her other fund raising efforts, Sr Clare was now able to take concrete steps towards fulfilling her dream.  She began by purchasing another piece of land adjoining the Waldron Farm and the White House. Then her plans were thwarted.  
Archbishop Howley summoned Sr Clare to a private meeting in the Convent parlour. Did His Grace order Sr Clare  to turn over her dearly held project to the Sisters of Mercy?   Who knows? In any case, it was a dejected Sister Clare who returned to her room and told her secretary to “Send it all to the Mercy Order”.  The baffled secretary was told that it was the Archbishop’s wish so she must obey.
The Bishop added to the hard earned money of Sr M Clare, purchased ‘The White House’ from E M Jackman, and had it renovated.  On 29th September 1913 it was opened as a home for working girls. The Mercy Sisters, ever gracious, named the home ‘St Clare’s’ in honour of Sr Mary Clare English who had conceived the idea and worked so untiringly to make it a reality.   
Archbishop Howley died in October 1914 and his successor was Edward Patrick Roche.  Archbishop Roche was convinced that St John’s should have a Catholic Hospital and that St Clare’s Home was the ideal site.  Several Sisters of  Mercy were sent away to train for this new undertaking.  On 21st May 1922, in a ceremony attended by the Mercy and Presentation Sisters, Archbishop Roche dedicated the building as St Clare’s Mercy Hospital. Over the years, St Clare’s Hospital has grown and it and the Sisters of Mercy have served Newfoundland admirably.
Sadly, Sr Mary Clare English never knew of the honour the kindly Sisters of Mercy had bestowed on her because she died shortly after her history changing meeting with Archbishop Howley.  Sr Clare passed away on 11 July 1912 at the age of 46 years.  
What of Sr Clare’s golden rosary?  In October 1911, the Knights of Columbus presented the rosary of gold nuggets to James Cardinal Gibbons in honour of his fifty years of priesthood. 
Golden Rosary presented to Cardinal Gibbons

Cardinal Gibbons died, aged 87, at Baltimore on 24th March 1921. 
In November 1921 Marshall Ferdinand Foch toured the United States.  The tour was at the invitation of the Knights of Columbus. On 6th November the Knights held a banquet for the distinguished visitor. Honorary membership of the Knights of Columbus was conferred on their guest and, as a token of their esteem, he was given a very special gift. The rosary of gold nuggets, originally owned by Sr Mary Clare English PBVM, was presented to Marshall Foch by Supreme Knight James A Flaherty. 

Sr M Clare's Golden Rosary goes to Marshall Foch

What would Sr Clare have thought of it all?  Her rosary had indeed moved among distinguished personages and travelled far. Where is Sr Clare’s Golden Rosary now?  

Sunday, 11 November 2018


One hundred years ago today the guns fell silent.  The "war to end all wars", the war that had begun in August 1914, the war that would be "over by Christmas" finally dragged to it close at 11 am (Paris time) on 11th November 1918.  "The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month".  The bloody, brutal slaughter had left destruction in Europe and grief, loss and heartache around the world.  When war came, the Dominion of Newfoundland responded quickly and unstintingly.  Tragically, Newfoundland would never recover from its losses.

The Newfoundlanders' fight began at a training ground set up at Pleasantville.
Site of Training Ground 
For so many of those heroic Newfoundlanders it ended in cold, foreign soil, far from home.  Lieutenant General Sir Douglas Haig named them "BETTER THAN THE BEST"!    










Let us remember them today, 11/11/2018.  Tell the children so that they too will remember.  


Saturday, 10 November 2018


On Armistice Day 2017, John and I had the privilege of being in Ypres, Belgium and being among the crowds thronging the Menin Gate for the Remembrance  Ceremony.  They had come from all over the world to pay their respects to the fallen.  Later we visited the Museum and it is from a display there that I have drawn the name of this post.
A display in the  museum at Ypres, Belgium
It was indeed a multicultural war so tonight I will post about some who were not Newfoundlanders.

The first is a member of the British Aristocracy and the brother of Charles Stewart Rolls of Rolls-Royce fame.  Major Lord John M Rolls, 2nd Baron Llangattock, died at Boulogne in 1916 as a result of wounds received at the Battle of the Somme.  His grave is in Boulogne but, along with others from the parish, he is commemorated on this memorial in the churchyard of St Cadoc's Church, at a little place called Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, Wales.
Major Lord John M Rolls is remembered here
Baron Llangattock had no connection to Newfoundland or to St Patrick's but the next two people do have a connection - me!
Sgt J G Smith, painted while still a Corporal
Sgt John G Smith was my father-in-law.  A Londoner, he served in WWII in the Rifle Brigade.  My Welsh mother-in-law was a nurse and while he was away fighting Rommel in the desert, she was nursing the sick and wounded in London.  She told some harrowing tales of the Blitz. She didn't see her husband for five years but he did survive the war and eventually came home safe and sound.  He brought back two portraits which an Italian prisoner of war had painted for him from 2 snapshots.  We still have the portraits and I would dearly love to trace the family of the Italian prisoner of war.
Lorraine (Finlan) Smith
The following picture was taken after the ceremony at the Menin Gate.  It shows just some of the wreaths that were laid by people from so many different countries.
Just some of the many wreaths laid by
 people from all over the world

I decided to include this last photo just in case we forget that German mothers lost sons too.   
"Unknown German Warrior"


Friday, 9 November 2018


This year being the centenary of the closing of WWI, all thoughts are focused  on that awful war.  It is absolutely right that we should remember it in a special way but let's not forget those who fought bravely in wars and conflicts that followed the "war to end all wars".

A scant 21 years passed before the world was in turmoil again.  One of our St Patrick's graduates, Mary Johnson Godsland, has sent us a photo of her handsome father and his very touching story. 
George Francis Johnson, 1917-1948

"George Francis Johnson

George was the son of George Johnson Sr. and Mary (Kieley) Johnson who lived on Patrick's St. in St. John's, NL.  George married Esther (Hefferan) Johnson and there were 4 children, James Robert, John Francis, Mary Georgina (Mary Godsland) and Kathleen Marie (Kay Parsons). They resided on Water St. W. in St. John's.
Volunteer for WWII
In 1939 a Second World War had begun. Britain and France declared war on Germany after Hitler refused to abort his invasion of Poland.

The cry for volunteers echoed across our Island home. My Dad, like so many more, enlisted. The torch was passed and they would, "Take up the quarrel with the foe." They were driven by a desire to fight for freedom in spite of the dangers and the casualties of the last War. Indeed, it was a dangerous adventure. But they were willing to make that sacrifice for freedom.

The recruits paraded proudly but apprehensively along the streets when they left. Loved ones called kind words, prayed and watched anxiously as they marched away to the beat of the C.L.B. drums.

Unfortunately there was some medical condition with my Dad in the early days of the War. He had to return home. He was broken-hearted with the decision but knew it was the right one. We never got to ask him about the War because he passed away when we were very young.

It was after his return that he married our devoted Mom. He worked with the C.N. Railway.  But his illness worsened over time. Eventually he was hospitalized. In 1948 he passed away at the Merchant Navy Hospital.

He will always be my hero. I have a War hat, pictures, a treasured book and stories from loved ones. This picture hung in our kitchen all during my childhood. Every July we visited his grave site at Mount Carmel Cemetery with our Mom. We still do that but now it's for two."
The plaque 


Mary, thank you for this very personal story.  It is sad but you wrote it beautifully and we are so grateful to you for sharing it with us.  May your dear parents rest in peace.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Fighting Vaughan Brothers

The story of the Vaughan brothers is one that I know well because it was told and retold in our house when I was growing up. My mother's childhood friend was Pauline Vaughan, only sister of the Vaughan brothers, and the memory of such sadness in a family she knew well stayed with my mother throughout her life. The Vaughan brothers were also parishioners of St Patrick's and Fr Kevin Molloy, their nephew, is Pauline's son. I will say no more because this video, with the help of Brenda Mooney, Pauline's daughter, says it all. Please take the time to watch this video. 

The book "peace by piece" deserves a mention too. I received a copy of it as a Birthday present in September.  If you don't have a copy, you should do your best to get one because "peace by piece" is a beautiful and unusual way of remembering the heroism of Newfoundland families in WWI.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018


I trust I am not overdoing it with the military posts here?  This is the third such post.  (As my late mother-in-law would probably say "over egging the pudding"!)  Every 11th November we remember those who gave their lives in the pursuit of justice and freedom.  Some of us have personal reflections but mostly we remember them collectively.  As this year is the centenary of the official ending of WWI, in the days leading up to Armistice Day I want to tell a little of their personal stories so that we can see them as they were - ordinary people who did extraordinary deeds!  

Michael John Blyde was the son of John and Mary Blyde of 47 Fleming Street, St John's.  He enlisted at St John's on 5th September 1914, Regimental Number 280, one of the illustrious First Five Hundred.  His Attestation Papers tell us that this blue eyed single man was a  "Shoe Cutter"  earning $12 per week.  On 4th October Pte M J Blyde embarked St John's aboard the SS Florizel.

It was about a year before the Newfoundland Regiment was deployed.  In August 1915 word came that they were going to Suvla Bay in the Gallipoli Peninsula.  There they would join the 88th Brigade of the 29th Division of the British Army. Private Blyde was with his Regiment when they disembarked Alexandria on 1st September 1915.  Two weeks later they embarked for Gallipoli.  

280, Pte Michael John Blyde
Gallipoli was a Hell Hole with shells bursting all around. The first Newfoundland casualty came on 22nd September when 21 year old Pte Hugh McWirter was killed by a Turkish shell.  Pte Blyde would not be far behind his comrade. On 26 September 1915, 19 year old Pte Michael John Blyde was killed in action at Suvla, Gallipoli.  He rests there with seven other fallen Newfoundlanders in Hill 10 Cemetery.
Hill 10 Cemetery

Resting place of Pte Michael John Blyde

I am very grateful to my nephew for the use of his photos of Hill 10 Cemetery and Pte Blyde's grave.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Andrew Shaw was born in Little Heart’s Ease on 30th September 1893.  He was the second son of Thomas and Margaret (Walsh) Shaw. On 12th May 1916 Andrew enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment at St John’s.  Private Andrew Shaw, Regimental Number 2740, embarked aboard the  S S Sicilian on 19th July to England and then to a training base at Ayr, Scotland.  On 14th October 1916, Private Shaw embarked Southampton to join his regiment in France.
Pte Andrew Shaw, Regimental Number 2740
August 1917 saw Shaw fighting in Belgium.  On 13th of that month, at the Battle of Langemarck,  he received a serious wound to his right leg.  
After months of recuperation in England and Scotland, Pte Shaw rejoined his battalion at the Front on 6th February 1918.  On 12th  April 1918 he was reported missing in action.  In May it was learned that Pte Shaw had been wounded and was now in enemy hands as a Prisoner of War at Soltau. Soltau, built in 1914, was the largest of Germany’s P O W camps.  In September, after months of suffering, Pte Shaw was released and repatriated to hospital in England.
At long last, Pte Shaw was on his way home! On 22nd May 1919, he embarked for St John’s aboard the S S Corsican, arriving in St John's on 1st June.  He was issued discharge certificate number 2908 on 10th July 1919.  Pte Andrew Shaw had served for approximately three years and two months.  He carried the results of his wounds for the rest of his life.
In 1921, on 15th June, Andrew Shaw married Mary Stanford of St John’s. Andrew and Mary lived in the west end and were faithful members of St Patrick’s Parish.  They raised a large family and their daughters, Angela, Mary, Imelda and Isabel, all attended St Patrick’s Convent Schools.
After a long life well lived, Andrew Shaw passed away in St John’s on 10th April 1976. He rests in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, St John’s.