'...but we took to the strange surroundings of a French boarding school with gusto'

Audio Player

File: http://www.lifehistoriesarchive.com/Files/MDS16.pdf

Dublin Core


'...but we took to the strange surroundings of a French boarding school with gusto'


Mary remembers her summer spent at a French boarding school with her classmates.


Mary Dynan


Trinity College Dublin




This item is protected by original copyright

Access Rights

This content may be downloaded and used (with attribution) for research, teaching or private study. It may not be used for commercial purposes without permission.


Mary Dynan

Is Part Of

Adolescence and Early Adulthood


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Cours Bautain, France

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


There were about twenty of us - excited St. Louis girls meeting at the ferry on the first leg of our journey to spend a month in France. We even had to get new blue blazers with Kilkeel crest to match the others. We had not yet acquired the jaunty little American hats - all the way from a St. Louis school in California which were to become our trademark and a way of distinguishing us in a crowd. There were a couple of sisters with us but the one who was to be the leader and accompany us on all our trips was Sr. David, the Monaghan girls were already greatly taken by her and we Kilkeel people were quick to fall under her spell too. The sisters in France welcomed us with open arms. We were a new phenomenon to them - and maybe something of a life saver - but we took to the strange surroundings of a French boarding school with gusto. They looked different from our nuns - their habit was daintier. The convent looked shabby - it was not really so long after the war during which they had suffered a lot. They were really facing extinction which is one of the reasons that the amalgamation between them - the founding branch of the St. Louis congregation - and what was really their daughter foundation in Ireland - was taking place. My aunt Sr. Emilian was one of the three Irish sisters who were sent to effect this amalgamation so I was looking forward to seeing her again too. Our month flew. Twice a week we went into Paris on the train from Danmartin, walking along the road to the station singing as we went. We explored the city and marvelled at all the sights - and smells - of Paris. We enjoyed the packed lunches the nuns had provided for us - in whatever beautiful park was handy. The sun always seems to have been shining. We negotiated the Metro - no small fear with such a crowd. We also went further afield to Versailles, Fontainebleau - and even Deauville. I myself went with Sr. Mercedes to Lisieux with the thwarted intention of meeting Soeur Celine, sister of the Little Flower, and a group of us went to Lourdes - enjoying the long train journey from Paris, all the pilgrimage activities, the difference of a small family French hotel away from the more touristy pilgrimage hotels in Lourdes, journeying to Pont d'Espagne. In a small bus, we sang 'Tamuid are bus ins na high Pyrenees' to the accompaniment of Sr. David's squeeze box. I remember fantastic thunderstorms flashing round the basilica as we sheltered there after the candlelight procession. On the days when we were not gallivanting, we had French lessons in the morning. I had not done French in school since Form one, but I enjoyed it. Soeur Marie Josephe was a very good teacher. In the afternoons and evenings, we went walking around the village, gave concerts to the nuns - I remember my party piece! I did a great mime of 'She had a dark and roving eye and her hair hung down in ringlets' which was a current Guy Mitchell hit - the French nuns were amazed! Soeur Helene the lovely little nun who looked after us in the big white dormitory with the wooden shutters wanted an encore before we went to bed. But the highlight of our days was the after class and before lunch (usually of the most luscious tomato vinaigrette, lovely French bread and big bowls of coffee} was our visit to the pisine over at the College de St Louis (the French Eton, to which the convent had been a sort of companion school for the sisters of the boys there). It was an entire novelty for us - a school with a pool! We had a lifeguard who doubled as a swimming coach. The attached certificate attests to my prowess with a length of 50 metres. It is an important souvenir of my month in France and the only sporting certificate I ever acquired!




Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


This item has no location info associated with it.

Social Bookmarking