We Were Happy There

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We Were Happy There

Edited by Ita Daly

Publication Date: March 2014

ISBN: 978-1-907535-39-0

Category: Education and History

Type: Paperback

Price: €16.99

When the Sisters of St Louis established a secondary school in Rathmines in 1913, local clergy regarded them as dangerously ‘progressive’ but in reality they were catering for the daughters of the aspiring Catholic middle classes, offering a range of academic subjects, music and art, with an emphasis on ‘deportment’ and accomplishment in ‘all the duties of woman’s sphere’.

The winds of change blew, free secondary education arrived in 1967 and the St Louis High School that celebrates its centenary is a lively and varied educational community that has deep roots in Rathmines while reflecting the diversity of Irish society in the 21st century.

We Were Happy There includes contributions from some of those who spent their youth in its classrooms and corridors. Mary Black sang there; Mary Finan couldn’t sing but managed a speaking part in a musical; Angela Bourke sat for years of Latin in front of Miss Ingram; Ita Daly joined a Marxist-Leninist party while a teacher there (the principal took it in her stride). Many contributors write of choirs, orchestras and musicals; Gráinne Gormley of her feeling of ‘rightness’ when she began to conduct her class choir; Anne Enright of the ‘sweetness and power’ of single-sex education; and Iseult Deane, still a St Louis student, of participating in the writing of ‘Chapter 100’ in the history of the school.

We Were Happy There is an affectionate but perceptive portrait of an Irish girls’ school in a century of change.

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