On 8th September 2016, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in Holy Cross Church, Tramore, to mark the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the foundation of the Sisters of Charity Convent and Primary School in Tramore, Co. Waterford.
He was joined by former Bishop Emeritus, William Lee and 12 con-celebrants, including Mons. Nicholas O’Mahoney P.P. Mons. John Shine, parish clergy and visiting priests, all of whom had been and continue to be associated with the school and the convent. Guests included Sr. Mary Christian, Congregational Leader & Sr. Phyllis Behan, Provincial Leader, with members of their respective teams, Sisters of Charity, Christian Brothers, co-workers, staff, parents, Board of Management members, former staff, friends and parishioners.
Staff and pupils from the Primary School provided the music and singing for the Mass. The words of the opening and final hymn reminded us why we were celebrating, ’The Charity of Christ urges us on, urges us onwards, day by day.’ Symbols representing the school and the mission of the Sisters of Charity were brought forward in the Entrance procession. Pat O’Mahoney, Principal read the First Reading, Claire Musgrave, former teacher sang ‘Eagles Wings’ for the Responsorial Psalm and Sr. Mairѐad read the Second Reading. The children read the Prayers of the Faithful and brought forward the offertory gifts. During Communion, Claire sang ‘There is a Place’ and the children sang ‘We are the Greatest’, A Mhuire Mháthair and My Shepherd is the Lord accompanied by liturgical movement. The final hymn was accompanied by drumming performed by the children, as well as guitar and keyboard. The floral arrangements were most beautiful and were a fitting adornment in the church. An eye catching banner with pictures of the Convent and the school as well as sayings of Mary Aikenhead was prominent at the steps of the altar. It was accompanied by a banner with pictures of Venerable Mary Aikenhead and a mosaic of the RSC crest, created by one of the teachers.
After Mass, all joined together for refreshments in the Majestic Hotel, Tramore. Stories were shared, memories recalled as the past and the present became one joyous moment. Speeches were delivered by Sr. Mary Christian, Pat O’Mahoney, Principal and Grace O’Sullivan, past pupil/parent and now Senator. An amazing cake was made and decorated by two of the teachers. It was enjoyed by all! Local media covered the occasion as well as the school photographer. A beautiful bouquet of flowers was presented to the oldest living past pupil, Chrissie Mulcahy, who is approaching 97 years of age and still living in Tramore! It was such a joyful occasion and a fitting remembrance of all the Sisters of Charity who worked in Tramore in the past. Prior to the celebrations, the Convent grounds were beautifully and colourfully decorated with plants and hanging baskets, a generous gift from our talented gardeners.
The celebrations also included an Historical Photographic Exhibition, in the school hall. We are indebted to local archivist/historian, Andy Taylor, for supplying old photographs with names and dates. These were a source of great joy and nostalgia! The exhibition was open to the public and was attended by many local people, parents and past pupils. It brought back great memories to all who attended the school and to all who were associated with the Convent.
Pictured above with Sr. Mary Christian are Pat O'Mahoney (Principal), Mairead Veale, cake maker and Marie Dineen, cake decorator, both teachers at the Primary school.
In 1866, a local man, William Carroll, provided funding for a Convent and school to be built in Tramore. Both buildings were aptly called ‘Star of the Sea’ and are still located on the original sites. The Convent was occupied by the Sisters of Charity in June 1866 and the school opened in September 1866. The Christian Brothers followed in 1867 and with a generous donation from the same man, William Carroll, they opened a school with an adjacent monastery.
At that time in 1866, Ireland was emerging from the Famine having suffered great sorrows and mass emigration. Then, in the years that followed, Ireland moved towards establishing independence with the Easter Rising, the Civil War to finally gaining independence and establishing a modern State. Two centuries of dramatic history!
During these years, the Sisters responded to the needs at the time by visiting the people in their homes, tending to the sick and dying, setting up Sodalities and Pioneer groups, providing needlework and cookery classes for children & adults. Fundraising events were organised to cover expenses and to help those in need. For example: a notice in the records tells us that on Easter Monday 1882 ‘a chest of tea’ was to be raffled at the Assembly Rooms, Tramore, for the benefit of the sick and poor relieved by the Sisters of Charity.’
The school thrived with the children enjoying a varied and wholesome education: the records for the time tell us that ‘the children were intelligent and most anxious for their own improvement.’ As well as learning the regular school subjects, many wonderful musicals and operettas were staged in the hall.
In working with many dedicated colleagues and supporters, much of this work continues today, in the parish of Tramore and Carbally: for example, solace is offered to the bereaved and those in need, the lonely, the sick and the housebound are visited in their homes, in hospitals & nursing homes, refugees and asylum seekers are supported with advice, RCIA is provided for those who wish to receive the Sacraments and many attend various prayer groups and courses, as well as teaching in the Primary School. For all of this, we give glory to God.
Glór na Mara
The school is now called Glór na Mara, following the amalgamation of Star of the Sea with Edmund Rice Primary School in 2000. Enthused by the courage and inspiration of Venerable Mary Aikenhead and Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, the school caters for the needs of the children of Tramore, offering them an holistic education, in a truly modern, compassionate and Christian context. Pupils from many nationalities attend the school.
As we mark this moment of history in the beautiful town of Tramore, it is indeed a time to give thanks to God for His faithfulness over the years. It is a time to remember all who have helped and continue to support the work of the Sisters of Charity in Tramore. We also look forward in trust in the knowledge that He who began this good work will continue to guide us into the future.
It is a great blessing that this time of celebration and remembrance takes place during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, initiated by Pope Francis. Mercy is that wellspring of joy, serenity and peace offered to each person by God, through Jesus, His Son.
Sr. Catherine Maguire RSC Star of the Sea, Tramore, Co. Waterford
Photos by permission of Joe Evans, Waterford News and Star and photographer Will Cusack.