After time for chatting, Sister Noreen Cullen led a prayer and this was followed by an opportunity to explore the convent and take a guided tour. This opportunity is often relished as, when children, the past pupils would have seen the convent as somewhat of a mystery – being kept largely in the separate school buildings. Many enjoyed seeing the heritage material and archives on display, especially the old photographs.
Of this time to explore, Sr. Noreen writes: "As part of the tour of the Convent I took the group to the step cloister. They were very excited, as this was an area that they were rarely allowed to enter without restrictions during their school years. I told them they could run or skip there as they wished. Unfortunately like myself not too many of them were able to do either! As I stood at the top of the step cloister I became aware that there were three groups of people talking at the same time as they reminisced excitedly together and I knew I was no longer needed to lead the tour so I withdrew quietly and left them to it."
Following a wonderful lunch in the original convent refectory, we viewed a short film entitled ‘Being a Sister of Mercy’ made from archival images and film. This was particularly relevant for the group, containing as it did many references to, and images of, the Sisters of Mercy in schools. After a closing discussion and prayer, I believe all left with a smile, happy to have spent a day at St Mary’s with people who share many similar childhood memories. Hopefully we can keep this tradition alive.
Archivist, Union of the Sisters of Mercy GB