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Patricia Burke Brogan joined the noviciate of the Mercy Sisters at the convent of St Vincent, Newtownsmith, Galway at the end of the 1950s. It was before the reforms of Vatican II had relaxed rule of the heavy medieval habit, the shorn hair, and a constant reminder ‘to keep custody of the eyes’. What was called ‘discipline’, which was nothing less than outrageous bullying, was meted out on the novices by some of the older nuns, in a cutting and wounding way. The nuns were hard on each other.