Jubilee Day Reflections – Ciara Brown (Past Pupil 1980)
On Sunday September 27th the Teresian School in Dublin marked its 50th anniversary. The day joins the ranks of most memorable occasions in the School’s history. Months in the planning, the style and ‘feel’ of the day very much reflected Teresian spirit and embodied the warm, family character of the School itself.
The day was as much an opportunity for class reunions as anything else. Some groups met up earlier in the day (the Class of 1980, for instance, met for brunch in Donnybrook before Mass, as some of their Mums did too, though separately!).
Officially the day began with Mass at 2pm in the Church of The Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, which has seen so many Teresian occasions. The church was full of past pupils, many with families in tow, past parents, past staff and current members of the School. Several people remarked how much the celebration reminded them of Communions, Confirmations and other school Masses past. The choir did full justice to a lovely selection of hymns and, in an unusual touch, the very pertinent Prayers of the Faithful followed the lines and messages of the Our Father. Gifts brought to the altar embodied key aspects of School life as Mgr. Lorcan O’Brien paid tribute to the presence of the school in the parish and the neighbourhood and to the hard work of the pioneering Teresian women in building a successful, happy school. The congregation were in full voice for a rousing rendition of Dios Te Salve Maria to finish. It took ages getting out of the church, with so many stopping to greet old friends en route.
Arriving at the school itself, hung with banners, we found a huge party in full swing. Caroline Coyle (nee Sherry past pupil) and her team had created a beautifully decorated marquee with food stations and trays of drinks going round. The most amazing cake (by Barbara McKenzie) stood in the middle of it all, triumphantly decked out in the school colours and the motto Joy, Fortitude and Love. The din would have done justice to a rugby crowd! Everywhere were little knots of excited past pupils finding long-lost classmates or parents of same, not seen for many years? There were hoots of laughter, endless selfies and whoops of joy. Teachers like Anne Marie Alvarez were fallen upon by those who hadn’t seen her in a while. Mr McGarry (widower of Mrs McGarry, former teacher) was proudly wheeled around by Ines and delighted to be taking part. Past parents also enjoyed catching up and reminiscing with their peers.
Outside, a jazz quartet valiantly played on – they were lovely, but I’m afraid no-one had a minute to pay them much attention. The whole school was thrown open for the day and people milled around the Hall, examining the wall-mounted photo montage of the five decades and trying to identify themselves or friends. More whoops of laughter and derision at the awful hairstyles and wistful glances at the much younger and fresher faces on display. Others explored the ‘new’ third floor and science labs – hitherto unseen by some. Still others made a beeline instead for the Little House, amazed to realise how small in reality were classrooms that had once seemed huge. Coat hooks unchanged in years were fondled as memories flooded back and stories told and retold
Back in the marquee, there were speeches. Anthony Carty, Rosaleen Doherty, (Principals of the Senior and Junior schools), Ines Neira, (former Principal and Manager) Ellen Mullins (Past Pupil), Conor Killeen (parent and brother of past pupils) all spoke well of their memories and of what the school has come to represent to so many. But the show was stolen by 100 year old Maire Godfrey! Past parent and past grandparent too! She spoke on behalf of all those first parents who decided to send their girls to this new and unknown setup called The Teresian School. She was very funny and very warm. She spoke of wondering whether to transfer her daughter after a year or so to some more established school – but, recognising how absolutely happy and settled Lisa was, decided to leave her there. And rated it as one of her best decisions as a mum ever.
As the speeches progressed, out of politeness (Teresian girls are well-trained in manners!), the noise levels fell. Somewhat! But everyone was impatient to get back to the chats and reminiscences. ‘Oh my goodness, is THAT so-and-so?’ ‘Did you hear Marie Louise has flown in from Milan especially for this day and has to go back now?’ ‘Those blazers look lovely in the photos – they should bring them back’ (overheard from a current parent!). Natuca was racing around handing out commemorative pens, current students were overrun with people queueing to pay for the soon-to-be-published commemorative book.
And everywhere one heard the comment: ‘Suzanne would have loved this day’….’Suzanne would have been in her element here’…’God, you’d miss Suzanne, wouldn’t you?’……. As in life, she was everywhere – at the Mass and in the marquee. She was remembered, of course, in the prayers, as indeed were all the other staff and pupils who have gone before us. But Suzanne’s huge spirit was at the heart of everything. She would have been proud. A great day and a great celebration of 50 years of Teresian-ness! Solidarity in Donnybrook!!