Tuesday 21 November 2023


It is 21 November, Presentation Day. Once again my thoughts spin back through the years (many, many years now 😏)!  My thoughts go back to our school days at St Patrick's Convent Schools and our days spent with Nano Nagle's Presentation Sisters, PVBMs.  To the stories of Nano and her little group who ministered to and cared for the poor. Stories of the establishment of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and how, in 1833, three brave and selfless Irish Nuns set out from their Convent in Galway.  After a stormy Atlantic Crossing they landed at St John's, Newfoundland, and there they established the very first Presentation Convent outside of Ireland.   

I imagine, like me, you remember all or most of the stories but if you would like to refresh your memory, you will find quite a few posts to  help.  Just go to that little search box on the top left side of the blog and enter either 'Nano Nagle' or 'Presentation Day'.  You will find enough to keep you reading for a little while.

Nano Nagle
Happy Presentation Day to Presentation Sisters, pupils and former pupils everywhere.  A very special Happy Presentation Day to all St Patrick's girls, wherever you may be.

Sunday 12 November 2023


November is the month of the Holy Souls, the month when we especially remember all the dear people who have graced our lives and who have now been taken home.  This picture was taken by my niece when she visited her father's grave at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery several years ago. The rainbow is  a symbol of hope and it is amazing how often we see them when we visit our loved one's resting places.  This picture is a beautiful example of such a happening and, I believe, really inspires hope.  

Sign of hope, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, Amen.

Thursday 9 November 2023


In my last post I spoke of the St John's girls who travelled from their homes in St John's to the USA to join the Sisters of St Francis at Clinton Iowa. It is estimated that about 56 young Newfoundland women joined the Franciscans from the late 1800s to the 1920s. Those brave young ladies left from all parts of Newfoundland and headed off to a country that was as far from their way of life as life on Mars would be to us today.  Seven of them were from St John's and some of them were St Patrick's girls.  I said I would post about some girls who were not from St John's or St Patrick's Convent School but who were in some way linked to St Patrick's, even in a small way.  I will try to do that now.

The first two Sisters are linked to St Patrick's simply by their nieces who were students of St Patrick's Convent Schools

Mary Cleary was born in Argentia on 28 August 1892.  Her parents were Lawrence and Theresa (Maher) Cleary. Mary had two brothers and two sisters.  She entered the Franciscans on 23 August 1915, was received on 24 May 1916 and was given the name Sr Mary Jerome. Sr Jerome made temporary vows in 1917 and Perpetual vows on 15 August 1920.  Through her long teaching career, Sr Jerome taught in Catholic Schools in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.  Sr Jerome passed away on 24 February 1959 and was laid to rest in St Mary Cemetery, Clinton Iowa.       

Ellen Frances Kearsey was born in Cape Broyle to Patrick and Mary (Brien/O'Brien) Kearsey on 10 February 1894.  Ellen also entered the Sisters of St Francis on 23 August 1915.  On 24 May 1916, Ellen was received and given the name  Sister Mary Austin.  Sr Austin took temporary vows in 1917 and Perpetual Vows on 15 August 1920.  Sr Austin served as a nurse at St Francis Hospital in Macomb, Illinois, and at St Francis Hospital in Grinnell, Iowa.  At 50 years of age, Sr Austin Kearsey passed away and was interred in St Paul Cemetery, Macomb, Illinois. 

Catharine Ann (Kitty) Keefe/O'Keefe, born in Cape Broyle on 22 July 1902, was the daughter of James and Mary (Duggan) Keefe/O'Keefe.  In 1920 Kitty boarded a ship, set sail for the USA and on the 25 September entered the Sisters of St Francis at Clinton, Iowa.  In March of the following year Kitty was received and given the name of Sr Mary Placida. Temporary vows followed on 15 August 1923 and Perpetual vows on 12 August 1926.  For more than 30 years Sr Placida taught in Catholic Schools in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri. Sr Placida was 54 years old when she passed away on 14 September 1956.  She was buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Burlington, Iowa.  Sr Placida's link with St Patrick's is through her niece, Sr M Dorothea Barnable, who was for many years a popular teacher at St Patrick's Convent School. Sr Dorothea passed away on 13 November 2007 and was buried at Presentation Cemetery, St John's.

For quite a number of years the efficient secretary in St Patrick's Parish Office was Mrs Mary (Mills) Collins. Mary ran a tight ship, kept things running smoothly and was always helpful. Mary provides the St Patrick's link with our next Franciscan.

Born in Renews on 21 March 1902, Agnes J Hayes was the daughter of Thomas and Mary (White) Hayes.  Agnes had three brothers and one sister.  She attended Star of the Sea School in Renews. At 18 years of age Agnes entered the Sisters of St Francis on 25 September 1920.  Received on 29 March 1921, Agnes was given the name Sr Mary Imelda.  She professed temporary vows on 15 August 1923 and Perpetual vows on 12 August 1926.  Sr Imelda spent 58 years in active ministry in parishes and hospitals in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri. On 17 June 2005, Sr Imelda Hayes passed away at the great age of 103 years old. She rests in St Irenaeus Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa.

Alice Finlay, daughter of John and Mary (Maher) Finlay, was born on 18 November, 1887 in Trepassey on the beautiful Southern Shore.  Alice had three brothers and five sisters. In 1916 Alice left her parents and siblings to travel to the USA.  On 25 August young Alice entered the Franciscan Sisters.  The following year she was received and given the name Sr Mary Evangelist. Sr Evangelist professed temporary vows on 15 August 1919 and Perpetual vows on 15 August 1922.  Her Religious life was spent in the dietary departments of hospitals and schools operated by the Sisters of St Francis in Iowa, Illinois and California.  Sr Evangelist Finlay passed away on 9 May 1971 and was laid to rest in St Mary Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa.  Sr Evangelist's connection to St Patrick's?  Read on.

Resting Place of Sr Evangelist in St Mary Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa
Annie Finlay, born in March 1885, was the sister of Sr Mary Evangelist Finlay.  I doubt if there are many of us around now who remember the quiet little lady who spent most of her adult life with the Sisters at St Patrick's Convent as a live-in domestic.  Well that lady was Annie Finlay.  For many years Annie was an integral part of St Patrick's Convent family.  Annie was well loved by the Sisters and when she passed away in 1953, she was interred in the little cemetery at St Patrick's Convent to rest among her friends, the Sisters she had loved and served in life. 

Annie Finlay's Resting Place in St Patrick's Convent Cemetery
For more about Annie, follow this link https://stpatricksconventschool.blogspot.com/2019/05/annie-finlay_12.html

I have enjoyed putting together this post and the previous one and I really hope you enjoyed reading them.  The credit (or blame) goes to my dear friend Alice who asked me a question about my Franciscan Aunt.  That's what inspired me to post about this tiny piece of Newfoundland history. I would be delighted if anyone can add anything to the posts because there may be other Sisters I missed or you might even be able to add (or correct) details.  Perhaps you might be related to someone mentioned in these posts.  It would be wonderful to hear from you and you can contact me  at mcallistersmith@gmail.com.  

Tuesday 7 November 2023


This post was inspired by my dear friend, Alice.  She asked me a question about my Aunt, who was one of the St Patrick's Franciscans.  Here I am with a little information about the Newfoundland Franciscans. 

In years gone by, many young women left their homes in Newfoundland and travelled to other parts of the world to join Religious Orders. Quite a significant number of them went to the United States. From the late 1800s to the late 1920s, 56 Newfoundlanders joined the Franciscan Sisters at Clinton, Iowa.   These valiant ladies came from all parts of the Island, including St John's.  Several of the St John's girls had attended St Patrick's Convent School.  I have been trying to find out about these Sisters and I have managed, with the help of the Franciscan's web page, to find some details which I think would be interesting to share with you here.

My search has turned up seven St John's Sisters.  They are Sisters Mary Gabriella Murphy, Mary Madeline Power, Mary Rosina English, Mary Wilhelmina Callahan, Mary Helena Penney, Mary DeBorgia McAllister and Stella Marie Penney.

On 23 August 1915, three St John's girls, Belle Murphy, Bridget Mary Power, and Mary Marcelis English, entered the Franciscans at Clinton.  

Belle Murphy was born to Matthew and Alice(O'Neill) Murphy on 16 February 1896.  At 19 years of age, Belle entered the Clinton Franciscans on 23 August 1915.  Belle was received on 24 May 1916 and was given the name Sr Mary Gabriella.  The following year, 30 August 1917, Sr Gabriella professed temporary vows.  Sadly, 23 year old Sr Gabriella Murphy passed away on 14 March 1919.  She is buried in Mount St Clare Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa.

Bridget Mary Power, born on 20 February 1897, was the daughter of James and Bridget (Commerford) Power.  At five days old, Bridget was Baptized at St Patrick's Church.  Bridget later attended St Patrick's Convent School. On 23 August 1915, Bridget was one of three Newfoundland girls who entered the Franciscans at Clinton and was received on 24 May 1916.  Bridget was given the name Sr Mary Madeline. On 30 August 1917, Sr Madeline took temporary vows and, on 15 August 1920, she took Perpetual vows. On 29 June 1947, Sr Madeline Power passed away and was laid to rest at St Paul Cemetery, Macomb, Illinois..  She was 57 years old. 

Mary Marcelis English, the daughter of Thomas and Mary Margaret (Hennessey) was born in St John's on 21 August 1899.  She was only 16 years old when she arrived in the USA and presented herself to the Franciscans on 23 August 1915.  On 24 May 1916 she was received and given the name Sr Mary Rosina.  She went on to take Temporary vows on 30 August 1917 and Perpetual vows on 15 August 1920.  On 19 May 1922, Sr Rosina English passed away, three months before her 23 Birthday.  Sr Rosina rests in Mount St Clare Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa.  It is not certain, but it is believed that Mary Marcelis English attended St Patrick's Convent School.

Ellen Elizabeth (Nellie) Callahan was born in St John's on 14 January 1885.  Her parents were Nicholas and Margaret (Dwyer) Callahan.  Nellie was baptized on 19 January at St Patrick's Church.  She lived at 167 New Gower St, attended St Patrick's Convent, and before going to the USA, Nellie worked as a seamstress.  On 25 August 1916, when she was 21 years old, Nellie entered the Franciscan Congregation at Clinton, Iowa. On 25 March 1917 she was received and given the name Sr Mary Wilhelmina. Sr Wilhelmina professed temporary vows in 1917 and Perpetual vows on 15 August 1919.  She trained as a nurse and served in Franciscan Hospitals in Iowa and Illinois.  Sr Wilhelmina Callahan passed away on 25 January 1965 and is buried in St Paul Cemetery, Macomb, Illinois.

Margaret Mary Penney was born to John Joseph and Ellen (Sullivan) Penney on 1 March 1901.  Margaret had seven brothers and three sisters.  Margaret was educated at St Patrick's Convent School.  When she was only 15 years old Margaret set off for Iowa. Along with Nellie Callahan, she entered the Franciscans on 25 August 1916 and was received on 25 March 1917.  Margaret received the name of Sr Mary Helena. Temporary vows were professed on 15 August 1919 and Perpetual vows on 15 August 1922. As a teacher, Sr Helena worked for 50 years in various Franciscan Schools, mainly in Iowa and Illinois. On 12 march 1991, 90 year old Sr Helena Penney passed away.  She rests in St Irenaeus Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa.

Bridget (Bride) McAllister was born on 23 December 1901 to William and Ellen (Keels) McAllister. Bride had one brother and one sister.  They were Baptized at St Patrick's Church and Bride and her sister, Mary, were educated by the Presentation Sisters at St Patrick's Convent School. Bride worked at various jobs in St John's before deciding to join the Franciscans in Iowa. In August 1922, Sr M Evangelist, a Newfoundland Franciscan returning from holiday at home, accompanied Bride to Clinton.  On the 5 of August Bride entered the Clinton Franciscans.  The following year, on 6 March 1923, Bride was received and given the name Sr Mary DeBorgia.  Temporary vows followed on 15 August 1925 and Perpetual vows on 12 August 1928.  Sr DeBorgia served as a teacher in schools operated by the Sisters of St Francis and, in later life, assisted in caring for the elderly at Mount Alverno in Clinton and worked in the office at St Francis Hospital in Grinnell. Sr DeBorgia was 93 years old when she passed away on 3 January 1994.  She rests  with her Franciscan family in St Irenaeus Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa. 

Stella Mary Penney was born in St John's on 30 April 1907. Her parents were John Joseph and Ellen (Sullivan) Penney.  Stella Mary had seven brothers and three sisters.  Her sister Margaret (Sr M Helena) had preceded her to the Franciscans in 1916.  Stella entered the Franciscans on 8 August 1924, was received on 16 April 1925, and given the name Sr Mary  Chrysostom.  Temporary vows followed in 1927 an on 16 April, Sr Chrysostom professed Perpetual vows. The changes wrought by Vatican 2 permitted the Sisters to return to their Baptismal names if they wished. Sister Chrysostom took advantage of this name change (who could blame her?) and became known as Sr Stella Marie. Sr Stella Marie spent her long career as a music teacher.  For over 45 years she  taught voice, piano, organ and band in many Franciscan Schools. On 3 March 1992, Sr Stella Marie Penney passed away and was laid to rest in St Irenaeus Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa. 

There is more to add but I am afraid you will stop reading if the post is too long.  So, I will leave it there for now but will add the rest tomorrow or the next day.  I hope you will read it all because, you never know, you just might find a relative of yours among those valiant girls and young women.  

Saturday 21 October 2023


November is bearing down upon us once again. The church traditionally keeps November as the month when we particularly remember
 those who have gone before us. It is  the month of the Holy Souls.  


On the right hand side of the page you will see a list of departed pupils and teachers of ST PATRICK'S CONVENT  SCHOOLS. Over the years I have tried to add the names of our departed family and school friends to this list. Naturally, I do not know everyone so it is to be expected that some names will be missing.  This is where I depend on you to help me.  There are several faithful supporters of this Blog who usually inform me of any St Patrick's Convent family who pass away and I am extremely grateful to them.  Now, I am asking all of you to give me a hand this November. Just scroll down the column at the right and if you know of any St Patrick's student or teacher who is not on our list, please email their detail to me at mcallistersmith@gmail.com so that we can all remember them in our November prayers.  It doesn't matter how long ago or how recently they died. We want to remember all of our St Patrick's Convent people.  So please let me know of anyone I have left out.  Just send me the name, maiden and married, and if you know it, the date of their death.

Thank you for your help.  May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Saturday 1 July 2023


The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of WWI and one of the bloodiest in human history. It began on 1st July 1916 and dragged on for almost five months, ending when Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig called off the offensive in November. Over the 141 day battle, casualties were more than one million with over 300,000 deaths. The British had advanced a paltry five miles!

Marker at Beaumont Hamel

No Canadian infantry units participated in the attack on 1st July.  (Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949!) The 1st Newfoundland Regiment, attached to a British division, was there.  On that morning the Newfoundland Regiment was cut down by German machine-gun fire as it attacked over open ground. Pte Cameron of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers witnessed the battle.  He wrote, “On came the Newfoundlanders, a great body of men, but the fire intensified and they were wiped out in front of my eyes.”

Plaque in the Museum at Ypres

After the Battle of 1st July, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces, Sir Douglas Haig, wrote to the Newfoundland Government “I should like you to let my fellow citizens of the Empire in the oldest overseas portion of the British Realm know how well their lads have done, both Non-Commissioned Officers and Men, and how proud I, as their Corps Commander, am to have had such a Battalion under my command, and to be a comrade in arms of each and all of them.  Newfoundlanders, I salute you!  You are Better than the Best"

In the Museum at Ypres
In the 1920s the Newfoundland Government bought the ground over which the Newfoundland Regiment fought. 

Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont Hamel, France

The first Memorial Day ceremony took place in downtown St John’s one year after the battle. For many years 1st July was an official day of Remembrance in Newfoundland but now Memorial Day is very largely overshadowed by the celebration of Canada Day (more’s the pity!).

War Memorial, St John's
Get yourselves off to Bowring Park today (INVITATION OR NO INVITATION!) and sing it LOUD and sing it PROUD!


They won us the right to sing it!

Saturday 24 June 2023



Window at Ryan Premises, Bonavista 
Have a look at the Coat of Arms at the top of this window and the other, early picture. The Arms were officially granted by Royal Warrant of King Charles I on 1 January 1637. Following the original grant of arms, its existence was forgotten until the 1920s when they were rediscovered after inquiries by the Imperial War Graves Commission.

The original grant was recertified by the Garter King of Arms on 18 February1925.

Finally, on 1 January 1928 they were readopted by the Government of Newfoundland.

The Latin motto, "Quaerite Prime Regnum Dei", St Matthew, chapter 6 verse 33, translates to "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God".


Monday 12 June 2023


This post has only the most tenuous link to St Patrick's and, to be perfectly honest, I didn't even know there was a link until I had already begun to look into this church's history. This post is really due to a comment made by my friend Edwena on my Facebook page.  Edwena's comment peeked my interest and I went scurrying off to find out about a church that I have visited so many times since my childhood but knew so little about.  Well I found some facts that I can only describe as delicious.  Not a word I have used before in respect of information but it seems apt for some of the things I have learned about this  lovely church and town.

Bay Bulls circa 1995
Bay Bulls is one of the oldest communities in Newfoundland.  Its first appearance on a map was on Thomas Hood's map in 1592. The name Bay Bulls seems to be a bit of an enigma with several derivations being suggested.  Bishop Howley attributes the name to Jersey Fishermen who called it Bay Boulle.

In those days, the European powers were all trying to expand their territories in the New World. (It wasn't really "new".  It was there all the time but they just didn't know about it.😏).  France and England were among the greediest of the lot and many wars ensued.  Today the wars between France and England continue - on the Football pitch! 

For several hundred years, Bay Bulls suffered perhaps more than its share of attacks and invasions.  Governor David Kirke fortified the harbour in 1638. Not to be outdone by their French and English neighbours, the Dutch, under De Ruyter, raided Bay Bulls in 1655. During the Nine Years War (1688-1697) Bay Bulls was attacked twice. In 1696, the Governor of Placentia, then in French hands, attacked the settlement from the sea. In 1697 d'Iberville marched overland from Placentia and attacked Bay Bulls. That must have been quite a hike.  It took nine days!

On St John's Day, 24 June 1762, Admiral deTernay landed 700 men at Bay Bulls.  They then marched on St John's.  In 1796, the French attempted to storm St John's.  Finding St John's too well defended, the French turned instead to Bay Bulls, which they attacked and burned.  This 1796 invasion was the last on Bay Bulls. 

The early residents of Bay Bulls must have been brave and resilient because, despite it all, they persevered. They, and their descendants, have made their community the beautiful and important place that it is today.

If you are like me, you have often seen the Catholic Church in Bay Bulls. Also, if you are like me, you know a few scraps of information about this church and its extraordinary gateposts.  However, you don't know as much as you should know.  Well, I have been doing some digging (not literally) and I have found some wonderful facts about the Church of Sts Peter and Paul.

Vicar Apostolic James O'Donel, later Bishop O'Donel, built the first church in Bay Bulls sometime before 1796. Later that year the church was destroyed by the French but it was rebuilt that same year. In 1831 Dean Patrick Cleary erected a church on the present site.  Then in 1890, the lovely church we see today was erected by Dean Nicholas Roche on the site of the 1831 church. 

Sts Peter and Paul Church is interesting  inside and out.  The inside architecture is unique.  While it has been updated to comply with the changes brought about by Vatican II, it still retains some pre-Council features.  In 1931 the parish installed a Casavant Organ. John O'Brien, Chairperson of the Finance Committee, tells me that the Church's Bell Tower contains nine bells, one huge bell and eight smaller chime bells. 

Interior view of Parish Church, circa 1995
The crucifix at the back of the church has its own special tale to tell.  I came across its picture while scrolling through the parish Facebook page and I am, to say the least, just blown away by its story. (That's another first for me. I have never, ever used that expression before!) This crucifix dates back to at least 1796 and it was in the chapel built by James O'Donel. When the French invaded Bay Bulls in 1796, they burned the church.  Some quick thinking person saved the crucifix by taking it to the woods to keep it safe from the marauding French.

Crucifix secreted in the woods in 1796

The crucifix has been on this site for almost 200 years. Having previously been in the 1831 church, the crucifix was  transferred to the present church when it opened in 1890.  It was lovingly placed at the back of the church where it remains, still cared for and treasured.

Now to those wonderful and unusual gateposts!  Their story begins with Fr Patrick O'Brien who was Parish Priest from 1924 to 1940.  

Patrick O'Brien was born at Bay Bulls in November 1859.  He was educated at his local parish schools and at St Bonaventure's College, St John's. He qualified as a teacher and spent about six years teaching in various places in Newfoundland.  In 1886 O'Brien began preparation for the priesthood and, on 24 June 1890, he was ordained a priest in All Hallows College Chapel, Dublin, Ireland.  He returned to Newfoundland shortly after. In 1924 Fr O'Brien was appointed Parish Priest of Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bay Bulls.

Unique gateposts of the Catholic Church at Bay Bulls

Fr O'Brien decided to utilize four old cannons which were left over from the turbulent days of French/English hostilities.  He had them upended and used as gateposts at the entrance to the church grounds.  Two of the cannons, the smaller ones, were French, the larger ones  English. The larger cannons bear the cypher of King George III of England who reigned from 1760-1820.  

Sir Michael Patrick Cashin, businessman, politician and, briefly, Prime Minister of Newfoundland, was the local M H A. He was a Southern Shore Man, born and bred. Salvaging material from shipwrecks, of which there were plenty in the waters off Newfoundland, was the responsibility of Government officials, know as Wreck Commissioners.  At one time in his career, Cashin held just such a position. He actually earned the sobriquet of "King of the Wrecks". The Wreck Commissioners had agreements with local fishermen to save the cargoes and the spoils were split among the fishermen, owners and underwriters and, of course, the Wreck Commissioner. 

Bay Bulls and the Church as seen from the water,
circa 1995

A ship sailing from France to Quebec was wrecked off the Southern Shore. Four statues were salvaged from the ship.  The statues depicted were Saints Patrick, Peter, Paul and Therese.  Wreck Commissioner Cashin gifted the statues to Fr O'Brien. Fr O'Brien had the retrieved statues installed atop the cannon gateposts.  And there they sit to this very day!  Now, I ask you, are these facts delicious or not?

This should enable you to identify the four canonized saints of Bay Bulls on your next visit. As you stand facing the church, the Saint at the top of the first cannon is St Patrick holding the shamrock.  Moving on to the next and larger cannon, we have St Peter holding the keys. St Paul gazes out from the top of the next cannon. He is holding the sword.  Finally, St Therese of Lisieux is ensconced, very appropriately, on the French cannon.

The Canonized Saints, and visitors
Like so many of our other Parish Churches, Sts Peter and Paul came under threat from the debacle that lost so many of our beloved churches.  The people of Bay Bulls showed they had inherited the same resilience and determination as their forebears. They worked hard together and, fortunately, they were able to save their beloved Parish Church. Follow the work of the Parish of Sts Peter and Paul at https://www.facebook.com/PeterPaulParish/.

I know this post is longish but I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed discovering those great facts.  I send my thanks to my good friend, Edwena, for the impetus that got me going on this and to John O'Brien who supplied me with so much information about his parish church. 

Oh, I almost forgot - that link to our St Patrick's?  At one time young Fr Patrick O'Brien was a curate at St Patrick's!  I did tell you it was a tenuous link 😀.

Friday 17 March 2023


In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp stand where it shines for everyone in the house."


Just as the city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden, neither can a church built on a hilltop be hidden.  For one hundred and forty-one years, through good times and bad, St Patrick's Church stood sentinel on Patrick Street.  Through that one hundred and forty-one years, St Patrick's let its light shine for everyone in the West End.  Sadly, St Patrick's Parish is no more.

What about its light though?  Does it still shine?  Of course it does!  It shines in the heart of every one of us who loved St Patrick's. We will carry its light in our memories and in our hearts wherever we are and as long as we live. 
On this, our first St Patrick's Day bereft of our beloved Church, we give thanks for all the good and faithful Pastors and parishioners of St Patrick's Parish.  May God bless them all and may St Patrick's light continue to shine through them.


Thursday 22 December 2022


I have had some lovely photos from Joan Fogarty.  Joan has been one of the most supportive followers of St Patrick's School Blog and once again, I thank you, Joan.  Joan and her school friends have remained friends since Kindergarten and regularly meet up several times a year. Is this a record friendship? 

On 4th December, Joan hosted an afternoon tea for the 'girls' and she has kindly shared these photos with us. 

Christmas Afternoon Tea

The Faithful Friends

I am happy to say that Joan has also given names.

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

Thank you, Joan. I am sorry it has taken so long for me to get this posted. The jury is still out on the problem being the computer or the computer operator!

May it be a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year for you lovely ladies.

Monday 21 November 2022


As this is Presentation Day, I thought I would re-post this very first post I did on the school Blog.  



Honora Nagle (known as Nano) was born in 1718 in Ballygriffin, near Mallow, County Cork. She was descended from a Norman Baron who founded an Irish Augustinian priory. Her father, Garret, was a wealthy landowner. Her mother, Ann, was from a prominent Tipperary family and a relative of the famous parliamentarian, Edmund Burke. In Ireland at that time, Penal Laws, designed to keep Catholics poor, uneducated, and oppressed, made it unlawful to open a Catholic School or to travel abroad for an education. Despite the Penal Laws, the Nagles had managed to keep most of their wealth and, through family connections, were able to send, discretely, Nano and her sister Ann to Paris. Here they received a thorough Catholic education. They also enjoyed the gaiety of life in Parisian Society! Early one morning Nano and Ann were in a cab, returning from a Ball in that great city. They came upon a group of poor people huddled outside a church door, waiting to attend early Mass before going to their work. Nano compared her own privileged lifestyle to these poor people. The scene so disturbed her that she decided to do something to help the poor.

In 1746, Garret Nagle died and Nano and Ann returned to Ireland to live with their mother in Dublin, where there was widespread poverty. One day Nano was looking for a piece of valuable Parisian silk, which Ann told her she had sold and given the money to the poor. Nano was profoundly touched by this and years later, said that it was this that had decided her vocation. She returned to Paris with the intention of consecrating her life to God in a cloistered order where she could pray for the poor. However, her very perceptive Jesuit Confessor advised her to return to Ireland and work for the poor and deprived in her homeland.

She went back to Cork and lived with her brother, Joseph. In Cork, she rented a mud cabin in Cove Lane and, in secret, set up her first school for the poor. Her aim was to provide these poorest of the poor with a sound religious education as well as an all round education that would help them to make their way in life. Nano had received a substantial inheritance from her Uncle Joseph and she used this to finance her charitable work. When her money ran out, she became a beggar for her beloved poor. Her charitable work did not stop at providing schools for the poor. She went out to them in the hovels and alleyways of Cork bringing them as much help and succour as she could. After her long days in the schoolroom, night would often overtake her as, with her lantern, she made her way home through the dark.

To give her schools more permanency, Nano brought some Irish Ursulines from France to teach in Cork. For various reasons, this was not a success and, though Nano never lost her love for the Ursulines and continued to help them financially, she began to think of setting up her own congregation of religious sisters. This congregation came into being on 24th December 1775. Nano’s preferred title was ‘The Sisters of Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’. After Nano’s death, and with Papal approval, the name was changed to the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (P B V M), by which they are still known today. Although Nano and her little group received the religious habit on 24th June 1776, it was not until 1800 that the Sisters first wore religious dress in public. Nano, the congregation’s first superior, chose the name of Sister Saint John of God but, under prevailing Penal Laws, she was known officially as Miss Nagle.

The Latin words on the Nagle Coat of Arms roughly translated as ‘Deeds Not Words’ and Nano certainly lived by this motto! As well as long hours in prayer, Nano engaged in every work that would alleviate the misery of the poor. However, regarding the work, she told her Sisters “We must prefer the schools to all others”. So it was that Nano Nagle blazed the trail and inspired great educators such as Edmund Ignatius Rice and Catherine McAuley who followed in her footsteps. In 1782, a Relief Bill allowed Catholics, for the first time since 1695, to open their own schools. Of course, this had conditions but it did go some way to realizing Nano’s dream when her secret schools could at last operate openly.

In 1769, Nano had written to a friend, “If I could be of any service in saving souls in any part of the globe, I would willingly do all in my power”. True to her missionary vision, the Presentation Sisters, beginning in 1833, spread to every continent. Nano Nagle died, aged 65, on 26th April 1784. Today, all over the world, her spiritual daughters, the Presentation Sisters, continue the work of their holy foundress. Nor is she forgotten in her native Ireland! In 2005, an Irish newspaper poll voted Nano Nagle the greatest Irish woman of all time. In 2002, in a similar poll, she had been voted greatest Irish person of all time.


Monday 24 October 2022


"We have loved them in life; let us not abandon them until we have conducted them, by our prayers, into the house of the Lord." (St Ambrose)

Queen of Angels, pray for them

It will soon be November, the month which the Church dedicates to the Holy Souls. If you are a regular reader of this Blog, you will know that, in the right-hand column, we remember our departed St Patrick's friends and relatives.  Of course, I don't know everybody, so I depend on you to help me with this.  Therefore, as November approaches, I ask you to have another look at the names on the list.  If you know of any St Patrick's person, teacher or pupil, who has been omitted, please let me know so that we can remember them too.  Just send names, maiden and married, and the date of death if you know it, to mcallistersmith@gmail.com.  I will add them to the list so that we can, in this small gesture, love and honor our departed school friends and teachers. 

Sunday 16 October 2022


If ever there is an award for the school with the most loyal and the most fun-loving graduates, I think St Patrick's Convent Schools will definitely be top contender!  Christine Rossiter Butler and Teri Healey Evans have sent me news of their annual schoolfriends' get together. On 14 October 2022, the group met again for some reminiscing, fun, and laughter.

Teri said:  "Today I had the pleasure of getting together with some of my St. Patrick's Girls School classmates.  Unfortunately, some couldn't attend and there are some who we couldn't reach or sadly had passed away. Here is our grade 3 class and today's photo. 4 of the ladies surprised us by wearing a replica of our School uniform! Lol. So nice every year to get together and reminisce and have a few (well a lot) of laughs!  St. Patrick's Girls are the best!"  

Christine and Teri have also sent some great pictures.  Here are the photos and Christine has kindly given us names.

Christine and Terri with their Grade 3 Class, 1967/68
(Teacher is Mrs Coady)

14 October 2022

Back: Ann Norris Lastiwaka, Judy Kavanagh Morgan, Debbie Barron Anderson, Donna Simmonds Brown, Ann O'Driscoll, Joanne Green Gillespie, Janice Fagan, Christine Rossiter Butler
Middle: Cathy Handrigan Vincent, Teri Healey Evans
Front: Mary Harris Squires, Donna Constantine Walsh, Charlene Whelan Pike, Karen Mugford Fitzgerald, Ellen Stone Wright
 Ellen, Karen, Charlene, Donna (Any knees showing?)
Terri imparted a bit of typical 'Convent School' wisdom.  She said that the uniformed ladies knelt down to demonstrate how the Sisters would measure the length of the uniforms.  If, when kneeling, the hem didn't touch the floor, then the uniform was judged to be too short! 😲 

At the get together, they all laughed a lot over that bit of nostalgia, but I don't suppose anyone laughed much when the Nuns were actually doing the measuring! 

Did you notice the little touch that added authenticity to the uniforms and to what it was like to go to St Patrick's Convent Schools?  That blue ribbon and medal pinned to each uniform?  That was the norm every May.  A blue ribbon and medal in honour of Our Lady in the month of May and a red ribbon and medal or Sacred Heart Badge in honour of the Sacred Heart in the month of June.  Well done for thinking of the ribbons ladies.  It was a beautiful touch!

And another bit of authenticity is the 'Presentation Clutch'! The girls in uniform all have their hands clasped just as we did when we were in school. (Have a scroll through this site and you will see the same thing in all the old school pictures.)  In my days at St Patrick's, we referred to this hand clasping as the 'Presentation Clutch'.  It's so nice that you remembered. 

In Christine's email, she said that she looks forward to this gathering every year and that she hopes to continue for a long time!  Oh, Christine, I am with you on that and hope to be posting your contributions for many years to come. As Teri said, "ST PATRICK'S GIRLS ARE THE BEST!"

👉👉A little P S.  I just heard a whisper that the uniforms were made by Donna Constantine Walsh.  Excellent job, Donna.

Saturday 24 September 2022


This is just a thought but were you wanting to close some Churches anyway? Did you see this abuse scandal as a good way of getting rid of some Parishes and letting the blame fall, not on the so called "Shepherds", but on the disgusting priests and Brothers who have caused so much pain and distress to so many? Just wondering?