The sisters in the Irish Province have been holding a series of remembrance services in all the places where the sisters used to live and where many of our sisters are buried in local graveyards. In this article they report on the visits to Ballaghaderreen and Bray.
On Saturday 13th October 2018 it poured with rain all day long. On Sunday 14th the sun shone brightly as a group of 30 Sisters of Charity boarded a bright yellow bus to travel to Ballaghadereen for our Remembrance Celebration in the graveyard. The journey was pleasant and the brief stop in Longford for coffee and scones was much appreciated.
We arrived in Ballaghadereen just in time for the 12 noon Mass in St. Nathy’s Cathedral. The Parish Priest, Fr. Joseph Gavigan, welcomed us warmly and he recalled at length the contribution that the Sisters had made in the town for over 94 years. After the Mass the people greeted us and some ‘reunions’ occurred with past pupils – who are now of a venerable age themselves!
After the Mass we boarded our yellow bus – no mistaking it! – and headed for the graveyard which is some few miles outside the town. Our service there was similar to our other Remembrance Services but each one is also different in terms of the atmosphere and memories associated with our history in a particular place. There are 19 Sisters buried in the graveyard. The first was Sr. Mary Maud Donnelly who died on 27th February 1889 and the last was Sr. Joseph Malachy Kelly who died on 28th March 1970. Sr. Mary Maud died at the age of 32 and was the youngest to be buried there. The eldest was Sr. Mary Nazianzen Seary who died at the age of 90. We read the names and blessed and incensed the graves. Across the road is the grave of the children who died when they were with us as residents in the Industrial School. Flowers were also placed there and the grave was blessed and incensed.
On the way to the restaurant for a late lunch we diverted up the town to see what remains of the old Convent. A number of Sisters had lived and ministered there and all of us were sad to see the way the Convent Chapel had fallen into ruin. Nothing remained of the Convent, schools, institution which had been sold and replaced with a modern housing estate.
We thank God for the sisters who lived and ministered there and left Ballaghadereen with a sense of thanksgiving and sadness for what had been and was now gone.
On Sunday, 18th November 2018, we travelled the short distance from Dublin to Bray (which is in Co. Wicklow) to remember our Sisters buried in the graveyard attached to the small Church of St. Peter. Contact had been made with the Sister who is now looking after the Church as Mass is only celebrated there on Sundays. Thanks to her – and to two very helpful volunteers – the Church was opened for us to visit and the Parish Centre was opened to provide us with welcome refreshment after our little Service. There is a beautiful plaque on the wall of the church acknowledging the contribution we made in Bray and the surrounding area over the 115 years of our presence there.
There are 28 Sisters buried in our plot in the graveyard. The first was Sr. Mary Teresa Molumby who died at the age of 49 on 6th September 1920 and the last was Sr. Mary Patricia Collier who died at the age of 67 on 19th April 1989. The eldest was Sr. Mary Paul Harold-Barry who died at the age of 94. The graveyard in Bray is a very peaceful place and it helped that the day was bright and calm. The service followed our usual format and afterwards we enjoyed tea and chat in the Centre.
Our next Remembrance Service will probably be in Clonmel!