Thursday, 22 December 2011


In 1977, Holy Cross Primary School Choir recorded a Long playing album.  We used to say "an L P" way back then! The Title was "Merrily We Sing".  As so many of the children went on to St Patrick's Convent School, I thought I'd post a little about it.  Until recently, I was the proud owner of a copy of this wonderful recording.  (The record has gone to a very good home, so don't feel sad!)
This is what the 1977 Long Playing Record  looked like

The record had some great songs on it, including "Jack Was Every Inch A Sailor" and, of course, "Holy Cross School Song". 

Some of the songs on the L P
The choir was a mixed one, boys and girls.  I have taken the picture of the little songbirds directly from the album so I hope it will be clear enough.  If you or someone you know is in this picture, please let me know.

The gorgeous little songbirds.  Where are they now?
I will try to publish the names of the children in the picture but, hopefully, someone out there will be able to supply me with a name or two.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


I like this song, "Sixteen for Awhile" by Celtic Connection & I think that the line "Life was simple, but it sure was good, somehow" really does apply to our school days(or should I say school daze?). ENJOY!

I just want to point out that I got  this  video from youtube and I am not responsible for spelling, etc.  JUST SO YOU KNOW!

Monday, 21 November 2011


Nano Nagle, Foundress of the
Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Well, friends, as you will all be aware, today, 21st November, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or as we knew it, PRESENTATION DAY.  I guess we all have our memories of past Presentation Days at St Patrick's but perhaps what we remember most is that we always got a holiday on Presentation Day!  After all, we were children and children LOVE a holiday from school!  However, now that we are older and wiser (well older anyway) we are certain to have a more mature attitude to Presentation Day.  Aren't we?   Let's get serious now.

We owe a lot to Nano Nagle and her Presentation Sisters.  I know that I feel nothing but respect, gratitude and love for the Presentations who educated me.  That in itself makes them deserving of heaven!  As a little tribute to all  Presentation Sisters, I post this lovely little story of one Nun's kindness.  The story comes from Karen (Nelson) Brown.

Once upon a time at St Patrick’s, and probably at other Catholic Schools, too, the First Friday of every month saw us all at Mass and Communion.  After Mass we scrambled home for breakfast then got back to school as soon as possible.

Karen Nelson came to St Patrick’s in Grade Four and her teacher was Mother John.  Many of us will remember Mother John.  Karen lived on Kenmount Road and, at that distance, going home for breakfast definitely was not an option!  What was she to do then?  Remember Ronayne’s Store at the top of Hutchings Street?  So does Karen!  Karen said, “Mother John did not feel the chocolate milk and cinnamon bun that I would get for 25¢ at Ronayne’s Store the top of Hutchings Street was an adequate breakfast.”

I guess it wasn’t, but was there a better alternative?  Mother John thought there was!  Karen continued her story; “She would insist that I came into the convent for my breakfast on the First Fridays of the month.  I totally remember those breakfasts.  I’d be alone in one of the sitting rooms near the front door and dine on eggs, toast, jam and a whole pot of hot chocolate.  All served to me on a big tray by Mother John herself – mmmm!”

That was a truly kind and generous act and I am thinking that Nano Nagle herself must have been proud of Mother John.  I am also thinking that Karen must have hated it when her year in Mother John’s Class was over!

Thank you Karen for sharing this lovely story.  A very Happy Presentation Day to Presentation Sisters and St Patrick's Girls everywhere.  

Um, Karen, did you say eggs, toast, jam and hot chocolate?  Every First Friday for the whole year?  Wow!  Wish I had lived at a distance!

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Back in May, I did a post called "WHO IS THIS VERY TALENTED SISTER?".  Well, I thought you might like to know that I have had a delightful e-mail from Christine (Barry) Chipman.  Christine said that she attended St Patrick's from Kindergarten to Grade 9 and was happy to see "The picture of the School and the windows of my old grade 9 class, far left - top floor - Mrs Byrd's Class!" 
Like me, Christine has fond memories of her years at St Patrick's;
"I have wonderful memories of the teachers, staff and students - most of whom were always in my class."

Christine finishes with "Thank you for reviving some special memories for me and please continue! Oh, and would the Guess Who This Sister Is be Sister Brendan?"
Well, of course Christine, you are absolutely right.  It is Sr Brendan!  We could fill a whole post with Sr Brendan's achievements and maybe one day we will do just that.  For now though, I will just say that Sr Brendan Lynch PBVM was a renowned music teacher and for many years the girls of St Patrick's had the benefit of her  talents.  Sr Brendan was inducted into the Kiwanis Music Festival Hall of Honour in 2003.  (More on that in a future post.)

Christine, thank you for your e-mail and your comments. I have added a more recent photo of Sr Brendan and I will certainly do my best to continue reviving memories with this blog.  However, I could do with a bit of help, so come on all you St Patrick's girls out there - how about sharing some of your memories and photos.  You can e-mail me at

J. Leslie Collis - 2002 Hall of Honor Inductee.

Friday, 11 November 2011


In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Armistice was signed, officially ending WWI.  Thousands of young Newfoundlanders made the supreme sacrifice as members of the Newfoundland Regiment or of other Allied forces.  

Many young men who died were members of St Patrick’s Parish.   It was thought that the parish should pay tribute to them in some way.  So it was, in 1921, that the new St Patrick’s Convent School on Deanery Avenue was erected as a Memorial to the men of the parish who died in WWI.
St Patrick's Convent School, Deanery Avenue, erected as a Memorial to the
young men of the Parish who fell in WWI

One of the young men who died in WWI was Private Patrick Holden.  Private Holden was just 19 years old when he died on 29th January 1916.  Private Holden died of wounds received at Gallipoli.  The Newfoundland Regiment has the distinction of being the only North American unit to fight at Gallipoli. I don’t know for certain but it is very likely that Patrick Holden was one of the young men from St Patrick’s Parish.  I base this conclusion on the fact that he was the son of Joseph and Mary Alice Holden of Southside so he lived in proximity to St Patrick’s.  And, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out he was a Catholic because the inscription on his gravestone includes the prayer, “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on his soul”.  This young man, like many of his comrades, is buried far from home, in the Addolorata Cemetery, Malta.  Several years ago, while on a visit to Malta, we had the great privilege of placing a small Newfoundland flag on Private Holden’s grave and offering a silent prayer for him.  Perhaps some of you might know more about Private Holden than I do.  I would be very happy indeed to hear from you.  You can email me on  

Private Patrick Holden's grave, Addolorata Cemetery, Malta
Those of us who went to the school on Deanery Avenue will remember the plaque on the right hand side of the front door.  Perhaps, because we were children, we didn’t grasp the significance or the poignancy of the dedication.  In memory of those young men, I am posting a photo of the plaque. I am certain the words will have a deeper meaning for us now than they did all those years ago. A quiet prayer for the Newfoundlanders who died in the “war to end all wars” would be fitting too.  Let’s also remember those who have given their lives in the wars and conflicts that have followed since 1918.

The Plaque from the School on Deanery Avenue
For those of you who would like to learn more about the actions of Newfoundlanders in the First World War, a recent book, “The Greatest Gallantry”, tells the amazing true story of ten men who, for eleven hours, withstood hundreds of Germans and held the French village of Monchy-le-Preux.  Nine of the men were from the Newfoundland Regiment and one was from the Essex Regiment.   

A thrilling true story of courage & devotion to duty
Although the author is my nephew, I promise you that I am not motivated by nepotism. “The Greatest Gallantry” is a thrilling story and just another reason to be proud of being a Newfoundlander!


Thursday, 10 November 2011


Well Friends, I have been out of action for a little while because my computer decided it wanted a holiday.  It simply died on me!  However, it has finally been fixed and I am back in action again.  I have some catching up to do so I am starting with an e-mail I received from Karen (Nelson) Brown.  Karen has given me permission to post her e-mail with her e-mail address. If you remember Karen, she would love to hear from you. 

Karen is also very interested in any reunions that might take place.  If you are aware of any forthcoming reunions please let her know.  Actually, if anybody knows of any St Patrick's reunions, please let me know and I will post details on this blog for all to see.

Here is Karen's e-mail.


I just happened to come across the SPC blog and noticed that there have been class reunions.  I am surprised that I have never received any information regarding class reunions as I was a student at SPC from grades four through eight (late fifties/early sixties) and my parents lived at the same address where I grew up until my father's death in 1990.  Perhaps I could get some future class reunion information.

Thank you,

Karen (nee Nelson) Brown"

Tuesday, 4 October 2011



It has been a long time since I posted on this site.  I thought of giving up the blog because, to be honest, I have used up all my own pictures, etc and, unfortunately, I haven't been sent anything. 

However, I recently received an encouraging e-mail from Janice McGrath.  Janice has given me her permission to post the e-mail and I hope that it will engourage some more of you to get in touch also.  Some of you might know Janice & like to get in touch with her.  

Anyway, search out your old drawers & cupboards & see if you can't come up with something for the blog.  

Here is Janice's e-mail.

"Well hello

 I have just seen the blog! I have been away in Toronto since 1971.

I went to school here at St-Patrick's and really enjoyed looking back, would have loved to see more pics if I could.

My name is Janice Marie Theresa McGrath I lived at 441 Southside.  Was born march 18 1956.

 I loved this school my fav teacher was Sister Theresa, she was such a sweet nun, kind and gentle.  She always took the time to speak to me, what a great impression she made, still to this day!!

Thanks for letting me write


Thanks again Janice.  I hope to hear from you again soon.

Monday, 30 May 2011


O K, ladies, how do you feel about a little game?  There are no prizes though. 

I have to be honest and admit that I am just a tad disappointed with the lack of input and comments from all of you.  I know from the counter, etc, that you are certainly looking in.  I am extremely pleased about that but I really need your input, comments, pictures, stories, etc.  So, perhaps some of you would be interested in this little guessing game. 

If you know who this very talented Sister is, just leave her name in the comments section below this post.  If you prefer, you can e-mail the answer to me at  I am positive that hundreds of you know this Sister so come on now, don't let me down.  Please!


Wednesday, 25 May 2011



Carol Brothers sent this video to me. Carol wonders if it is Sr Columba’s Budgie. I couldn’t say because I never made the acquaintance of Sr Columba’s famous feathered friend. (How’s that for a neat bit of alliteration?)

Since neither Carol nor I know if it’s Sr Columba’s budgie or not, we hope some other St Patrick's Girl can enlighten us. Maybe our good friend, Marie O’Brien, can tell us. As Marie used to buy food for the Budgie, she is probably very well qualified to identify it. Anyway, Marie, if this is the Bird in question, could you please tell me what exactly you fed it and where can I get some? If it is fit for human consumption I could sure use some of it myself!

Thanks Carol and I hope we’ll hear from Marie soon!


Monday, 23 May 2011


"The twenty-fourth of May
is the Queen's Birthday.
If we don't get a holiday,
we'll all run away!"

That little ditty was an oft repeated one when I was in school.  Perhaps no one chants it anymore.  Even in my time at school it was out of date because the "Queen" referred to was not Queen Elizabeth II but her great-great-grandmother, the illustrious Queen Victoria.  However, it was part of our repertoire of silly rhymes and we trotted it out every year around this time.  This was probably the most welcome verse because when it made its yearly appearance we knew that we wouldn't have to "run away" because we would definitely get that 24th holiday.

St Patrick's girls enjoyed their long twenty-fourth weekends as much as every other Newfoundlander.  These two photographs are proof positive of that! 
(To enlarge the photos, double click on them.) 

A Twenty-Fourth Weekend at Seal Cove
This is a group of St Patrick's Girls enjoying a 24th weekend at Judy Comerford's parents' summer house in Seal Cove.  Judy Comerford, Betty Simms and Doreen Walsh are perched on the rail.  Valerie McGrath is sitting on the chair in front of them and Alice Prim is peeping out around Valerie.  The other silly folks on the ground are Myra Walsh, Bernadette Grouchy, Elizabeth Meaney, Beth Anne McAllister and Diane Hawley.  The photographer was Barbara Sharpe.  Myra was the only girl who wasn't a bona fide St Patrick's Girl, having gone to Mercy Convent.  Myra was Doreen's cousin, Bernadette's bosom buddy, and the good friend of us all, so her credentials were more than good!

The eleven jived the night away and before going to bed in the early hours of the morning, all eleven knelt down and said the Rosary.  How amazing is that!  The next morning the ground was white with snow.  By mid-morning the hot sun was beaming down and had frightened the snow away.  It was warm enough for the merry band to sit outside and eat lunch as the sun continued to smile down on them.  There are a few other stories from that weekend but they are best left for another time - or maybe just best left!

A Twenty-Fourth Weekend at Lawrence Pond

Another 24th May weekend and the girls are still together, this time at Lawrence Pond.  Mr & Mrs Simms, Betty's parents, have kindly and trustingly, allowed them the use of their summer house at Lawrence Pond.  This group consisted of eight or nine girls but only four were brave enough (should I say foolish enough?) to take the boat out on the pond.  The intrepid sailors are Elizabeth Meaney, Betty Simms, Beth Anne McAllister and Barbara Sharpe.    That weekend generated a few stories too but suffice it to say that "a good time was had by all".

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since those carefree weekends.  They have left us all with many golden memories.   Today, as we celebrate another 24th weekend, savour the memories but make new ones too.  Wherever you spend it, have a great Twenty-Fourth of May weekend! 

Monday, 9 May 2011




Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Mother DeSales, enjoying a sing-along, Christmas 1965
Margaret Walsh was born in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, on 12th February 1866. In 1882, when she was just sixteen years old, this courageous young girl left kith and kin and sailed across the Atlantic. Arriving in St John’s, Newfoundland in July, she entered the Presentation Order. After a period of formation and training, Sr Mary DeSales, as she was now known, taught at Presentation Convent until 1895.

In 1895 Sr DeSales was transferred to St Patrick’s Convent, Riverhead. At St Patrick’s, Sr DeSales quickly won the minds and hearts of the young West Enders. Back in the 1960s, one of her former pupils was still recounting the story of Sister's leave taking of St Patrick’s Convent in 1912. According to this fervent admirer, it was a sad day indeed when the school girls heard that Sr DeSales was leaving them. Tears flowed in profusion as their beloved teacher left to take up her new appointment at Torbay.

In 1919, after a period as superior in Torbay, Mother DeSales was welcomed back to St Patrick’s. Alas, in 1925, the popular Sister left St Patrick’s to return to the Mother House at Cathedral Square. The pupils of Presentation Convent School then became the beneficiaries of her teaching and musical gifts.

In 1931, Mother DeSales was elected Superior General of the Congregation. She brought all her talents and boundless enthusiasm to this post. Never losing her love of the children, Mother visited all the Presentation Schools in the Province as often as possible. After a very successful term of six years, the little Nun from Kerry was re-elected for another six year term. So it was that Mother De Sales guided and directed the Presentation Sisters in Newfoundland for twelve successful years, from 1931 – 1943.

At the end of her second term as Superior General, Mother DeSales was 77 years of age. She remained at the Mother House where she was active in the life of the community and taught music until she was in her 90s.

February 1966 was an exciting month for the Presentation Sisters in Newfoundland. The whole Congregation was preparing to celebrate the 100th Birthday of Mother DeSales on 12th February. The days preceding and following 12th February, and the day itself, were days of great celebration. Concerts, visitors, birthday cakes, flowers, congratulations and, to be sure, much joy, abounded. Mother DeSales, petite and dignified, took it all in her stride.

It is the sea kissed coast of Newfoundland which welcomes every new year to North America and so it was there  that Canada’s Centennial Year began.   As the last seconds of 1966 ticked away and the first shades of 1967 crept over the continent, 101 year old Mother DeSales was atop Signal Hill, St John’s.  With television cameras and the press in attendance, Mother DeSales and Premier Joseph R Smallwood lit the first Centennial Flame that would soon spread across the country as 1967 was born.

Just weeks after her 102nd birthday, the long and fruitful life of Mother De Sales drew to a close. On 1st March 1968, Mother Mary DeSales Walsh, former teacher at St Patrick’s Convent School and twice Superior General of the Presentation Sisters in Newfoundland, died peacefully at Presentation Mother House. Following Mass of Requiem, this prayerful, cultured and gracious lady was laid to rest in the Sisters’ Cemetery, Cathedral Square.

Sunday, 24 April 2011



I received this video from Betty Simms and it is so beautiful, I wanted to share it with  you.  


Sunday, 17 April 2011


Today, Palm Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week so I thought it an appropriate time to post this picture. I think it will be familiar to any of you who visited St Patrick’s Convent in the 1950s or 1960s. That is when I saw it on my visits to the Convent. As a young child it was a source of great fascination as the eyes seemed to look right at you and follow you. There are two very interesting stories behind this piece of religious art. One is the story of the ‘Cristo de Limpias’ but, though of great interest, it is not the story I wish to tell here. The other story and the one I will tell is that of the donor of this ‘Cristo de Limpias’.

Donated to the Children of Mary, St Patrick's,
by Mary McCarthy Gomez Cueto
(Click on the picture to enlarge it)
 The inscription on the base of the statue informs us that it was presented to the Children of Mary, St Patrick’s, by Mary McCarthy Gomez Cueto. Who was Mary McCarthy Gomez Cueto? I suspect some of you have heard of this lady. For those of you who haven’t, here is the story of another St Patrick’s alumna.

Mary Conception McCarthy was born in St John’s on 27th April 1900. She was the daughter of Thomas and Ann McCarthy. Her uncle, Professor P J McCarthy, was a well known St John’s musician who accompanied the silent films at the Nickel Theatre. The family was well off as Thomas McCarthy was the proprietor of a successful grocery business located at 439 Water Street.

On the corner of Leslie Street and McKay Street, in the west end of St John’s, is a very large old house, set back a little from the road.  As late as the 1970s, and possibly even now, this house was commonly referred to as “McCarthy’s”. This had been the home of several of Mary’s uncles, including Professor Patrick McCarthy. Mary lived with her parents and sister, Rose, at 23 Patrick Street. Later the family lived on Waterford Bridge Road. Mary was educated at St Patrick’s Convent School and at Littledale.

Young Mary McCarthy was as talented as she was beautiful and she took part in many theatrical productions in St John’s. She studied piano and voice under her uncle, Professor McCarthy, and then under the noted Professor Charles Hutton. Mary possessed exceptional musical gifts and she eventually went on to the Boston Conservatory of Music to further her studies.

One night at an opera in Boston Mary was introduced to a wealthy Spanish businessman, Pedro Gomez Cueto. Pedro, who was considerably older than Mary, was smitten. The feeling was mutual and Pedro made the journey to St John’s to ask Thomas McCarthy for the hand of his daughter in marriage. Thomas was either reluctant or prudent, or perhaps both, because he asked the couple to wait a year. He told the couple that if after a year they still wished to marry he would give them his blessing. For a year the two carried on a long distance romance as Mary, to please her father, remained in St John’s where she taught music. As in all good love stories, the end of the year saw the couple as much in love as ever and still wishing to marry. Thomas agreed and Mary and Pedro were married. A 1922 edition of the St John’s 'Daily News' informed the populace that on 21st May 1922, Miss Mary McCarthy and Pedro Gomez Cueto were married at New York.

Eventually Pedro’s business interests dictated that the couple live in Cuba and Mary soon made herself at home on another island in another sea. The young bride immersed herself in the life of her new country. I say “new country” because Newfoundland was then a country, not a province as it is today. Among her many activities, Mary helped found the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, she and a priest founded an orphanage for boys and she was the organist at her church in Havana where she also directed and sang in the choir. Mary still made frequent trips to St John’s, visiting with family and friends and sometimes performing on the St John’s stage.

Mary McCarthy’s life in Cuba was happy and busy until 1954 when her beloved Pedro died. Pedro had amassed a considerable fortune and he left his widow a sum of about four million dollars. Mary, who never remarried, remained in Cuba running Pedro’s business. Then in 1959 Fidel Castro came to power and the business was nationalized and all Mary’s assets, save her home, Villa Mary, were confiscated and she was granted a monthly pension of about $10. To make matters worse, in 1962 the United States imposed a trade embargo against Cuba. The fortune that Pedro had left Mary was in an American bank, the First National Bank in Boston. The embargo meant that Pedro’s widow was unable to access the money that was rightfully hers. Mary refused to leave her adopted home because Cuba and its people had become very dear to her. Besides, Pedro was buried in Cuba and Mary was determined that she would one day rest beside him. The United States refused to release her assets so the wealthy widow was forced to live the rest of her life in poverty. Mary supplemented her meagre pension by teaching singing, piano and English. I like the thought that Mary taught English. It makes me happy to think that somewhere in the world there are Cubans speaking English with a St John’s accent! Those who interviewed Mary in her last years all said that she spoke “St John’s English but Castilian Spanish” and that she “retained her St John’s accent to the end of her days”. Good for you, Mary! (Sorry for that little aside but it pleases me no end that Mary never forgot her roots.)

Even in old age, Mary remained feisty and outspoken. She fiercely disliked Communism and she was not afraid to voice her disgust when the grounds of the orphanage she had founded became part of a Soviet nuclear installation. Nor was she reticent in her criticism of the Americans’ seizure of her property.

In 2002, Mary suffered a broken hip and thereafter she was confined to a wheelchair. Increasing age brought increasing health problems and in 2007 the Canadian Government intervened, strongly stating that Mary needed money to meet her medical bills. Washington finally condescended to allow her about $96.00 a month from her own money! In all her difficulties, this steadfast lady drew strength from her Catholic faith. Deeply religious to the end, Mary recited her rosary several times a day in front of a statue of Our Lady.

On Friday, 3rd April 2009, just weeks short of her 109th birthday, Mary McCarthy Gomez Cueto died. Her final wish was granted when she was interred with her much-loved Pedro in Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón in Havana, Cuba. All over the world television reports and newspaper obituaries told the story of the extraordinary life of this St Patrick’s girl.

That is the story of the donor of the ‘Cristo de Limpias’ which used to have a place of honour in the visitors’ parlour at St Patrick’s Convent. I wonder if the statue is still there or if, like many other religious objects and devotions, it was swept away in the raging tide that followed Vatican II? Does anyone know?

Thursday, 14 April 2011


As readers of this blog are aware, anyone with a connection to St Patrick’s is invited (nay, begged!) to send us stories, anecdotes, pictures, or anything to do with school days at St Patrick’s. Well, anything that won’t get us sued!

These two delightful little anecdotes are from Elizabeth Noseworthy née Meaney.

This story will have meaning for those of you who went to school before the Nuns got rid of their old, all enveloping habits, and Elizabeth’s younger brother, Doug, is really the star of the story.

Elizabeth was in Grade Four and her teacher was Mother John. Remember Mother John? She of the no ankle socks in summer and no slacks in winter! One day Elizabeth’s mother came to school to see Mother John and Doug, who is seven years younger than Elizabeth, was with her. Now Mother John, though a little eccentric, was a kindly soul and she always had something in her pocket as a reward for a good child or a right answer. But do you remember Nuns’ pockets in those days? What pockets they were!

The nun’s hand would disappear into a slit in the side of her habit and down, down, down she would reach before finally emerging triumphantly with the object of her search. Well, this particular day, little Doug was to be the recipient of Mother John’s munificence. Doug’s eyes widened in wonder as Mother John’s arm was swallowed up by her ‘pocket’. Then, to his amazement, the Nun straightened up and held out to Doug a plump and lovely orange! As you can imagine, the child was delighted as well as fascinated. Elizabeth didn’t say what Doug’s lasting memory of the occasion was but she and her mother never forgot Doug’s comment as they made their way home. In almost awestruck tones the little boy said, “Mother John gave me an orange, out of her stocking!”

Elizabeth’s other story is from Grade Six and some of those who were in her class that year may well remember it because it caused a fit of girlish giggling that did not meet with the approval of our teacher, Sr Mary Immaculata.

Now, all you classmates of Elizabeth’s just cast your minds back to Grade Six and the usual procedure at noon. At twelve, we all stood for the Angelus, and then knelt for the Rosary. This was followed by various Litanies. Finally, we went home for lunch, or as we called it then, dinner.

Now that you have the picture, we are all kneeling and escape is drawing closer as forty plus girls whiz through the response, “prayferus”, “prayferus”. Of course, as we kneel there we all have our hands reverently joined in front of our chests. Between the thumbs of her joined hands, Elizabeth is unconsciously twiddling a button on her uniform as Sr Immaculata works her way through the Litany of Loretto. Sr Immaculata, who was probably omniscient, sees this and somewhere between “Seat of Wisdom” and “Refuge of Sinners” she shouts “Elizabeth Meaney”. To this she receives a fervent response of “prayferus”!  Needless to say, this is followed by a fit of giggling which only subsides when Sister fixes one of her best glares on us.

Thanks for these two little anecdotes, Elizabeth. It was great to hear from you and I hope your reminiscences will encourage others to share theirs with us too.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


St Patrick's girls just love getting together and enjoying the company of old friends.  A grand reunion, for all St Patrick's Girls, was held in 1987.  This reunion was a big success and several of the alumni who attended were well into their 80s. 

This particular photo is of some of the class of 1960 with Miss Howard, their Grade Three teacher.  There must be lots of photos of the 1987 reunion around.  If you attended that reunion and have a class photo or any individual photos, we would love for you to share them with us.  You can e-mail them to me at

Class of 1960 at 1987 Reunion
(Click on the photo to enlarge it)

1)  Alice Hennessey, Bernice Rose, Geraldine Hearn, Doreen Walsh, Eileen Maher, Betty Simms, Bernadette Grouchy, Barbara Sharpe

2)  Marie Kennedy, Judy Comerford, Miss Howard, Mary Kennedy, Alice Prim, Mary Neville, Sheila Bulger, Patsy Whiffen, Elizabeth Meaney

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Mrs Pennell's Grade 5 Class, 1979
(Click on the picture to enlarge it)
1) K Beer, L Taylor, K Hender, Z Hearn, B Churchill, B Sloan, J Worthman, D Burke, Mrs A Pennell

2) K Walsh, V King, S Tucker, M Maher, K Reardon, D McDonald, P McAllister, R Kerrivan, A Kavanagh, P Doyle

3) K Bishop, B Flynn, C Broderick, K Barrett, M Hammond, T Pretty, W Dicks, P Brown, K Walsh

4) J Dunn, C Dinn, M White, S King, K Dray, A Power, M Tucker 

Monday, 4 April 2011


I am grateful to Frank McAllister for reminding me about the fundraising which took place in the early 1950s in aid of the “new school”. You will notice that submissions for this blog are invited from former teachers, ex-pupils or ANYONE with a St Patrick’s connection. Frank isn’t a former teacher or an ex-pupil of St Patrick’s but he certainly has connections! His mother, aunts, sisters, (including me), nieces and lovely wife are all St Patrick’s girls!  So, Frank is right in there!


I hope other brothers, husbands, etc, will also get in touch. If you were involved in raising money for the “new school”, PLEASE tell us what you did and let us all enjoy the memories.

Here is Frank’s story.
“The newest addition to St. Patrick's Convent School in St. John's was completed in 1953. Prior to that the old school was adjoining and bordered on Deanery Avenue and Convent Square.

In building the new school most of the students took it upon themselves to help by raising money with many kinds of projects. Some girls put on skits and did many different kinds of theatrical things such as plays, concerts etc.

My sister, Doreen, a student at St. Patrick's, had one of these projects at our house. She made all kinds of treats, i.e., fudge, cookies, etc, and invited all her friends . We played bingo and cards. I won two bars of green pine tar soap playing bingo! This was the first thing I had ever won.

My Aunt May, who was an ex-pupil of St Patrick’s and a wonderful singer, sang the well loved "Molly Bawn". It seems that whenever there was a get-together, poor Aunt May would always be called upon to sing.

All the money raised from the sale of sweets and from the bingo and cards went towards the erection of the school.”

We will hear more of Frank’s memories of St Patrick’s soon. Thanks Frank.

Friday, 1 April 2011


Are any of you St Patrick’s girls into philately?  If you are, these first day of issue stamps will be of interest to you. The two stamps were issued in Ireland in 1975 to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Presentation Sisters in 1775. Nano Nagle could not have imagined that she would be so honoured hundreds of years after she began her work among Ireland’s poor.

Stamps Honouring Nano Nagle
(Click on picture to enlarge it)

Sunday, 27 March 2011


I know, I know!  This isn't strictly St Patrick's Convent School!  But it is HOLY CROSS.  Remember Holy Cross?  Who among us didn't have their eye on some "cute Holy Cross boy"?  Were you one of the girls who spent Sunday afternoons sitting on our school wall watching the Holy Cross Cadets practise in their school yard?  Did you, with a vigorous nodding of the head and an innocent face solemnly assure your teacher, "Yes Sister, it's my brother" as you dashed off to Buckmasters Field to watch the Holy Cross Cadets strut their stuff at the Annual Army Cadet Inspection?  Did you ever lose your voice cheering on our Holy Cross Crusaders at a Basketball, Soccer or Hockey Game?  Enough said!

Holy Cross Sports Day, 1959
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This picture was taken on 6th June 1959 at the first Holy Cross Sports Day held at the recently acquired Brother Egan Field on Leslie St.    Most of you will recognise Msgr D O'Keeffe, Msgr R McD Murphy, Fr Leo Shea, Archbishop P J Skinner and Br L Angel.  Msgr Murphy  was our long serving Parish Priest and the well loved Fr Shea was also serving at St Patrick's at that time.  Brother Angel was Principal of Holy Cross.  (It's a shame that our handsome P P was snapped adjusting his glasses.)

I hope this picture brings back some happy memories for you.  It did for me!

Friday, 25 March 2011


This great photo was sent to me by Shelly McAllister who rifled her 1979 Year Book for pictures for me.  Thank you very much Shelly.  It is greatly appreciated! 

There must be lots of you out there with Year Books, pictures, etc, so please don't be shy.  Why not e-mail them to me at 

Mrs Meaney's Grade 7 Class, 1979
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Front Row: A M Howlett, S McAllister, D Johnson, B Conway, S Billard, D Allison, B Hearn, G Brewer, Mrs A Meaney

Row 2: A Godsell, M Brennan, C Crotty, T Brewer, K Carey, K Collins, S Evans, G Mallard

Row 3: L Gallagher, K Cullen, P Harding, M Carville, A M Hurley, R Pretty, K Coady, M Hayes

Row 4:  B Osmond, S Hayes, S Dalton, J Browne, E Donnelly, D Dalton, L Lyver, F Mathioudaki

Thursday, 24 March 2011


“Ah! Must –Designer Infinite! –
Ah! Must Thou char the wood
ere Thou canst limn with it?"
(The Hound of Heaven,
by Francis Thompson)

After their arrival in St John’s in 1833, the Presentation Sisters immediately and wholeheartedly began their work among the poor Irish Catholics of the port.

The “Designer Infinite” did indeed “char the wood” for, despite the solicitous care of Bishop Fleming, the Sisters’ early years in St John’s were beset with difficulties. Nevertheless, their efforts on behalf of the people were blessed and the girls of the town flocked to their school.

The four founding Sisters, Sr Bernard Kirwan, Sr Magdalen O’Shaughnessy, Sr Xaverius Lynch and Sr Xavier Maloney, were joined in 1843 by two Postulants from Ireland. That year, on the Feast of the Assumption, Bishop Fleming received Catherine Phelan (Sr M Ignatius Aloysius) and Amelia Shanley (Sr M Antonio Magdalen) into the Presentation Congregation in St John’s. In his excellent book, “Fire Upon the Earth”, Brother J B Darcy tells us that a lay Sister was also received that day but, unfortunately, he does not give her name.

It was becoming increasingly difficult for just six Sisters to cope with the more than 1,000 pupils who daily came to the school. Accordingly, the good Bishop once again appealed to the Galway Presentation Convent for more Sisters. In 1846, having received the consent of Bishop O’Donnell of Galway, Sr M Josephine French and Sr M DeSales Lovelock accompanied Bishop Fleming to their new home in St John’s. True to the spirit of Nano Nagle, and in the full knowledge of the tragic fire that had just reduced St John’s to a pile of blackened rubble, these selfless and courageous ladies generously volunteered to forsake their home, family and friends.

Gradually the Presentation Community grew as the Sisters were joined by recruits from Ireland and Newfoundland and the Sisters began to establish new Convents in the Colony. Their first new House was opened in Harbour Grace in July 1851. By 1855 there were five Presentation Convents in Newfoundland.
The Old St Patrick's Convent
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On 10th January 1856, four Presentation Sisters came from the Community at Cathedral Square to establish a Convent at Riverhead, in the West End of St John’s. Sr M Clare Waldron was appointed Superior. The next day, Fr Kieran Walsh celebrated Mass in the Convent Chapel. This house was cold and damp so in March 1880 the Foundation Stone was laid for a new building to better serve the needs of the Sisters and their charges. On the Feast of Corpus Christi 1882, Bishop Thomas Joseph Power solemnly blessed the new St Patrick’s Convent and celebrated the first Mass in its Chapel.

In the beginning, the Sisters taught both boys and girls in their school. However, St Patrick’s eventually became an all girls’ school. The enrolment increased steadily and, 65 years after the Sisters opened their first school, a new school was opened. In 1921 a new St Patrick’s Convent School, erected as a Memorial to the men of the Parish who died in WWI, opened on Deanery Avenue.

By the 1950s, it was realized that the current buildings were unable to adequately meet increasing educational needs. On 2nd October 1953, His Grace Most Reverend Patrick James Skinner blessed the cornerstone of the new St Patrick’s School on Patrick St. On 4th January 1954 Archbishop Skinner celebrated Mass on the main corridor of the new school and blessed the building.

Sadly, St Patrick’s Convent School is no more. In 1999 St Patrick’s closed its doors for the last time. The building is now a private school. Fortunately, the Presentation Sisters remain a presence in St Patrick’s Parish and the oft renovated and improved Convent which was opened in 1882 is still their home.


Monday, 21 March 2011



 This lovely little gem comes from Marie O’Brien. I think this story is priceless and I am sure that those of you who shared a classroom with Sr Columba’s Budgie will love it too. Marie wrote:

“I lived on George St. and I was in Sr. Columba's Class. I don't have any pictures but I do have a lot of memories of the Sisters, including a budgie bird that Sr. Columba had in her class room and I used to have to buy the feed for it. I can't remember the Principal's name at the time and I am sure it will come to me, but Sr Columba would hide the receipts plus the feed whenever she came into the room. So funny! I always made sure I had receipts for anything I bought her.


I also remember buying her black stockings from the Arcade. Those were the days! I was probably the poorest kid in the class and I never could figure out why she trusted me. lol.

I also have to add that Sr. Columba wanted me to take her name for my Confirmation and I did. My Mom just about had a fit and of course she wouldn't change it because she didn't want to offend her, but I am thinking she was also scared of the nuns back then, just like we were. This is the first time I have ever told anyone my Confirmation name. I wonder if anyone else reading this has the same name.


Marie Burkhart (O’Brien)”

Marie later remembered that the Principal was Mother DeSales.

Marie, I too was given my Confirmation name by Sr Columba. However, I was a lot luckier than you were! Sr Columba gave me the name of Marie. That is a nice name so my Mom and I were both quite happy with that. I don’t know of anyone else with the name of Columba but they used to say that if you were Confirmed in Mother John’s class, she made everyone take either Mary or John! I don’t know if that is true or not but, knowing Mother John, it certainly has the ring of truth to it!

Thanks for getting in touch with these wonderful little anecdotes Marie. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Anyone with photographs, stories, etc, to contribute can e-mail me at

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Doreen Walsh e-mailed this to me.  It is a great photo of Sr Columba's Grade Five Class.  I think a lot of people will love this one.  Thank you Doreen, this is great.    I hope I will soon receive similiar e-mails from more of you ladies out there.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture and please leave your comments in the comments section and tick a rating too if you like. 

"Hi Beth Anne,

Here is the photo I was telling you about with the list of names below:

Sr Columba's Grade 5 Class, 1956/57
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Row 1: Elaine Morris, Bridie Vavasour, ??, Geraldine Hearn, Ann Whelan, Alana Graham, Rita Hickey

Row 2: Elizabeth Healey, Mary Lambert, Dianne Richards, Bernadette Grouchy, Lorraine Reese, Sheila Glynn, Marie O'Brien, Patsy Noseworthy, Valerie McGrath, Alice Hennessey, Margie Morrissey,Bernadette Hearn, Maureen Sullivan

Row 3: Bernadette Yetman, Doreen Walsh, Brenda Tracey, Maureen Walsh, Marlene Morris, Bernice Noftall, Bernice Rose, Carol Sceviour, Patsy Walsh, Doreen Hynes, Linda Callahan, Dolores Connolly

Row 4: Frances Mealey, Peggy Butler, Norma Williams, Patsy King, Mary Johnson, Jeannie Albert, Carol Anne Carew, Sheila Carew, Joan Hynes, Eileen Maher, Sister Columba

Row 5: Yvonne Street, Dorothy Levine, Joan Picco, Mary Clark, Sandra Boggan, Barbara Walsh

Hope you enjoy this little stroll down memory lane. This would have been taken during the 1956-57 school year. Please feel free to add this to your blog. I'm sure there would be a few people out there who would like to see this.

Look forward to hearing from you soon. Cheers for now.


Doreen did a great job remembering all but one name.  Can anyone supply the missing name?