Presentation Presence in Listowel
To mark Catholic Schools Week, Sr. Éilís sent me a brief synopsis of the work of the Presentation Sisters in Listowel down through the years.
CATHOLIC SCHOOL WEEK
As we celebrate our tradition of
Presentation Catholic education in Listowel, we take inspiration from the lives
of the Four Presentation Sisters who began catholic education in Listowel in
1844. On the 7th of May 1844,
Sr. Mary Augustine Stack- a native of Listowel and three sisters from Milltown,
Sr. Mary Teresa Kelly, Sr. Mary Francis McCarthy and Sr. Mary Francis Brennan
founded a convent and school in Listowel.
During the Famine of 1845-48, the
sisters had to close their school. They opened soup kitchens to feed the
starving people. It resulted in the deaths of many families and of some of the
young sisters. Sharing their meagre resources with the poor, over the course of
twelve months, the sisters supplied 31,000 breakfasts to the starving children.
The Convent Annuals read of the Sisters baking bread to feed so many,
eventually being reduced to rye and black bread. The Sisters also initiated
groups to make garments for the women and shirts for the men in the workhouse
closeby – so that people could earn wages.
A significant event in the life of
the early Listowel Presentation community was the ‘Battle of the Cross’ in
1857. The Sisters were ordered to take
down the Cross from the gable end of their school by the Education Board. In
spite of dire threats, the sisters refused to do so, and defied the Board.
Eventually the Board yielded.
In 2007 the sisters closed their
convent, after 163 years of service in Listowel. The tradition of Presentation
Catholic education is still alive in Listowel.
Our school is now under the trusteeship of CEIST which is committed to
continuing the great tradition of Presentation Catholic education in Listowel
into the future.
outside Trinity College, Dublin, 1900 (source; photos of old Dublin)
Bridget Sheehan of Ballyduff
I mentioned before here the great Ballyduff Facebook page that is about to be taken down. Here is one of the last entries on Anyone from Ballyduff out there
In it Tim Sheehan pays tribute to his late mother whom he never knew.
February 1 is the Feast of Saint
Bridget. My Mom Bridget nee Sullivan Sheehan after making the most courageous
decision that one can make in this life entered into the wonderful realm of
Peace and Serenity. She is the reason that I can experience all the wonderful
gifts that comprise my life today.
In 1952, she is pregnant with me, joyous and
full of anticipation at the prospect of bringing the child she is carrying into
the world. A few months into the pregnancy she is diagnosed with terminal
breast cancer. The doctors of that era offer her a choice. There is a drug that
will possibly help with the advancing cancer but if she opts to take this drug
it will take the life of the child she is carrying.
She chose my life over her
own. She refused to take the medications and thus I was born. She passed when I
was 11 months old. I have no tangible memory of, her touch, her smile, her joy,
however I do have the gift of a love that transcends any definition.
past 60 years I have been the recipient of the greatest love possible, a love
that is immeasurable in its purity and nature, the love of a Mother. When I
return home to the small cemetery where she is buried and I kneel in front of
her gravestone I reflect on these words from the Irish ballad, Danny Boy.
But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me;
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!
Thank You Mom for loving me so much that you gave the
ultimate gift; my life.
I feel you in my heart every day,
Is breá liom tú anois agus i gcónaí. Go raibh maith agat as
do mhisneach agus mo shaol.
Tim Sheehan on his mother, Bridget Sullivan of Ardoughter, Ballyduff
Then and Now
John Corridan (front row, 4th from right, next to the late Roly Chute), brother of the late Dr. Robert Corridan is hale and hearty at 95 and living in Cork.