Two hundred years ago (on October 27 1815 ) the first Presentation Sisters came to Galway and founded the first Catholic schools for girls in the city. They moved in to Kirwan’s Lane, then to Eyre Square for three years, before settling into a vacant house in the suburbs, which has been known as the Presentation Convent ever since.
A report in the Connaught Journal for March 22 1830 stated: “In these schools there are 500 female children educated and instructed in many branches of industry. Twenty of the most indigent and unprotected are lodged and supported in the establishment, and, at an age fit to be put out to trade are provided for - 100 of the extern school are fed every day and 150 are clothed.”
As the sisters were educating and also feeding the students they founded the Breakfast Institute which provided substantial meals for hundreds of the city’s poor then and in the difficult years ahead. The school developed into an important relief centre during the Great Famine.
After the country achieved independence in 1922, a new emphasis was placed on the Irish language and Irish culture in education and the Sisters entered into this movement with enthusiasm. The numbers of students began to grow so they built an additional school in Shantalla, Scoil Bhríde, which opened in 1955. In 1963 the original secondary school was demolished to make way for a new building, and on June 25 1965 they opened another new national school, Scoil Croí Íosa, on Newcastle Road.
To celebrate this notable bicentenary, a group are organising a series of celebrations, pageants, exhibitions, etc, on March 27, 28, and 29 as well as other events later in the year. They are appealing to any past pupils who might have old photographs, news clippings, documents, or stories about their time in school to bring them to Sister Helen Hyland in the school or to email them to [email protected]. The material will be cared for and returned.
Our photograph shows the students of 1957/58. They are, front row: Anne Flaherty, Petra Ruane, Mary Hession, Catherine Deacy, Mary Rose Morahan, Mary Gavin, Mary Connell, Josie Riddell, Columba Faulkner, Yvonne Mulry, and Olive Scally.
Second row: Sheila Gill, Mary McLoughlin, Ann Kelly, Maureen Coleavy, Norea Rea, Evelyn Kenny, Eileen Lynskey, Betty Maguire, Angela O’Connell, Olive Staunton, Anne Faherty, Imelda Walsh, Ina Byrne, and Pat Hoey.
Third row: Anita Broderick, Celine Gilhooley, Betty Lally, Esther Anderson, H Bradley, B O’Donnell, Betty Coe, Sheila Scanlon, Kathleen Fahy, Eithne Mitchell, Maura O’Halloran, Marie Reidy, Vera Walsh, Nellie McDermott, K Tomkins, and Dell McDonald.
Fourth row: Emily Jackson, Maura McMenamen, Ronnie Brannelly, Margaret O’Brien, Sheila Stewart, Maura McDonagh, Brenda Keane, Ann Kavanagh, Angela Haverty, Mary S Keane, A Molloy, Angela Liston, Kitty Carpenter, Ann Garvey, Marie Glynn, and Rose Faherty.
Fifth row: M McComiskey, Helena Brannelly, Rosemary Healy, Margaret Burke, Maura Keane, Teresa McComiskey, Olivia Donoghue, Pat Walsh, Dorothy Fox, Maura Cooke, Heather Flanagan, M Scanlon, Mary Flaherty, Mary Keane, Loyola Faulkner, and Carmel Molloy.
Sixth row: Clodagh Staunton, Gertie Hunt, Marie Philbin, Maureen Keane, Mary McDermott, Claire Hunt, Maureen Walsh, Maria Barrett, Maura Clarke, Hilary Martin, Bernie McAnespie, Mary Gill, Kathleen Rhatigan, and Evelyn Walsh.