A farewell and thank you to the Sisters of St Clare

COMPLETE CONVENT PIC 2 (2)By Caitriona O’Neill

I was a pupil in the convent school Kenmare in the 1960s and like the countless number of girls and young boys (who attended up to 1st class) received my primary education from the Poor Clare sisters. The impact of these women was far reaching guiding many to better lives through education. Since 1861 generations of our forebears benefitted from the high educational standards and solid moral values that the nuns imparted.
The names of nuns trip off our tongue, Sr Patrick, Sr. Joseph, Sr. Bridget, Sr Clare, Sr de Sales, Sr Brendan, Sr Cecelia, Sr Philomena, Sr. Malachy, Sr Francis, Sr Consilio, Sr Concepta, Sr Carmella, Sr Catherine,Sr Assumpta, I could go on and on.These names bring us down memory lane as we once again revisit places and scenes from our childhood,
May processions, First Communion breakfasts, Centenary celebrations, the Lace room,the rosary walk, the old Convent school…..the list is endless.
The school building was imposing and architecturally beautiful and made as much an impression on pupils as did teachers and classes. The rooms were full of light with high ceilings and leaded window panes, floors were wooden some covered with linoleum and much of the furniture was unchanged since the 1860s. – long desks with inkwells and iron ends that could seat up to six and be converted to seats with a wooden back, blackboards, pointers, harmoniums, dolls houses, wall clocks and hour glasses – paraphernalia that would not be out of place in Hogworths school for wizardry. Many will recall that long narrow path which led to the arched double door entrance to the school. The junior classes were taught on the ground floor and pupils progressed upstairs for the senior classes. Sounds still resonate in memory, music and song, chanting and chatter, bells ringing and games in the school yard. Also, there were the smells, polished floors, Clifford’s fresh buns and of course the cocoa room.
Over the years we experienced successes and failures, order and chaos, forged firm friendships and sometimes made enemies. This was ‘growing up’ and always in the narrative were the nuns; most of whom we loved. They guided and looked out for us all.
Now after over 160 years we bid farewell to the nuns. We remember the forty-three sisters who are buried in the nun’s graveyard as well as those who are buried in Newry but also served here. Their good deeds go before them, and we thank them for their service. May the Lord reward them for their life in religion and their dedication to the people of Kenmare. Their legacy will live on!

On Sunday May 21st 12 o’clock Mass in Holy Cross Church Kenmare will be celebrated to mark the historic milestone of the departure of the nuns ( sisters of St Clare) who have been in Kenmare since 1861. All are welcome