On this the year of 150th Anniversary of the Presentation Sisters in Fethard, I would like to share and say thank you especially for some lovely memories of my happiest year at school, 1960 in 3rd Class with Sr Philomena, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday last, August 20.
Thank you Sr Philomena for the Nature Table which was always decorated and changed with every season of the year. You taught us the names of the flowers, the birds, the trees, the animals and the insects. You walked us around the Convent Garden showing us and naming all the growing vegetables. We smelled the roses and sang hymns and prayed with you at the Grotto. You fascinated us as you described the structure of the Monkey Puzzle tree, still standing and now so big!
Thank you especially for the gift of music - for the tambourines, the triangles the drums and the castanets and for our very own class ‘orchestra’. You played out the melodies with us on your violin or on the little harmonium! You taught us to listen and you taught us to sing. You taught to us our very own local songs, ‘Slievenamon’ and ‘She Lived Beside the Anner’.
Thank you for the elocution lessons - teaching us how to speak and pronounce our words properly like Rhubarb, Forget-Me-Nots, Daffodils and Tulips! We were your Angel’s Verse Speaking Choir! You were very proud when we scored 96% when examined by Miss Burke from the Leinster School of Music and Drama. I still have the card to prove it!
Thank you for teaching us etiquette like sitting correctly with good posture with our hands cupped on our laps, and never looking sideways when the classroom door was opened or knocked on!
Yes, amazingly, all this was achieved during the course of the school year. There was even time left to cover the curriculum of Irish, English, Sums and Catechism!
Later on, Sr Philomena, you continued to encourage me as I studied music. You gave me my first opportunity to do piano accompaniment with some of your own violin pupils.
On this the year of your 100th birthday and on the 150th anniversary of the Presentation Sisters in Fethard, I salute and thank you Sr Philomena, from the bottom of my heart. It is more than 50 years since I sat in your classroom, but I still enjoy every day many of the special gifts first nurtured in that room
With every good wish and blessing.