I’m a “Dub”, the youngest of six – three brothers and two sisters. As I came after the three boys I think there was relief when the next was a girl! My two sisters by now teenagers cherished their little sister. I remember even going on dates with them. What the boy friends thought I’m not too sure but I enjoyed the “date”!
My schooling was first with the Sisters of Mercy (Drimnagh) and later with the Holy Faith Sisters (The Coombe). Irish dancing was a big part of my childhood. Having been “spotted” by the famous Lily Comerford in the school class I was invited to join her school of dancing which was then in Parnell Square. Not much more than four at the time I took it all in my stride. Soon there was much more than the usual class. Her dancers were always in demand and we regularly danced in the Olympia, The Gresham Hotel and for TV. With the money we were paid for some of these venues we saved for our annual trip to the Continent to attend a Folk Dance Festival. From the age of twelve a group of anything up to twenty (boys and girls) would go to France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. It was a magical time for us. Sometimes we stayed with local families or in a hotel but the best time of all was when we were in a boarding school with the teams from all over Europe. Making friends was the highlight . Anyone with a smattering of French or German was in great demand. Besides the dancing Lily Comerford had an impact on my spiritual development. Deeply religious herself she made sure we attended mass. And if possible when in France we made the trip to Lourdes. When in Paris besides seeing the usual sights she made sure we went to the Rue de Bac – place of St Catherine Laboure. As a teenager I was impressed.
My teenage years were pretty typical – though I practised my faith, my belief was suspended for about three years. In sixth year I recommitted and since then have not wavered. Strange to say I visualised myself as eventually being a nun! I visited a Carmelite Monastery in Dublin and would have entered if they accepted me. Being sixteen they advised I wait a while. As this did not agree with my plans I entered with the active Sisters I was in school with – the Holy Faith Sisters. Then teaching was their main work. I was happy with my seven companions so happy that I continually avoided the persistent call to the contemplative life. Eventually when twenty two I spoke to superiors and spiritual director. This time I visited New Ross Carmel and fell in love with it immediately. They agreed to accept me but this time I had to wait and finish my teacher training course. The Lord had the last word.
…to be continued