Celebrating 150 Years in Fethard
The elegant profile of the Presentation Convent has long graced the Fethard skyline but it was the community themselves who were the focus of attention last Tuesday evening when the Presentation Sisters gathered with family, friends and members of the local community in Holy Trinity Parish Church to celebrate 150 years of service to the people of the town.
The Mass of Thanksgiving was concelebrated by Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Canon Tom Breen, P.P., Fr. Anthony MacSweeney, C.C., Fr. Gerry Horan, OSA, Fr. Martin Crean, OSA, Fr. John Meagher, OSA, and Fr. Abe Kennedy. Present also were other priests who had previously served in Fethard or who had themselves been past pupils of the Presentation schools. Sisters were there in great numbers from all over Ireland, England and from as far away as Papua New Guinea and Zambia, reflecting the far-flung reaches of the Presentation mission. The packed congregation comprised young and old, past pupils and former colleagues, locals and those who had travelled from afar, who has all come to show their appreciation for the wonderful contribution the Presentation sisters have made to life in Fethard since their arrival on Saturday April 12, 1862.
Archbishop Clifford, in his welcoming address, paid tribute to the dedication, fortitude and courage of the three nuns, Sr. Agnes Ryan, Sr. Alphonsus Holohan and Sr. de Pazzi who made the then challenging journey from Thurles by covered wagon, to found the convent in Fethard and open a school for the children of the area.
Fr. Gerry Horan, OSA, in his eloquent homily, gave a most comprehensive overview of the history of the Presentation Sisters in Fethard during the past 150 years. He related the graphic details from the annals of the order describing the seating in the two-room schoolhouse as, “borrowed planks supported by logs of wood, fitted around the room and a few borrowed forms from the parish chapel as centre seats. The school house was thatched. There were no books or slates with the exception of a few dozen which had been sent from Thurles.”
In such humble surroundings, with such scant resources, sustained by faith and the example of their foundress Nano Nagle, the three nuns opened their school on May 1, 1862 with ninety pupils present. Within a few weeks the number of children enrolled had risen to three hundred.
Over time, the sisters built the present convent, expanded into the area of secondary education, set up a laundry to provide employment, established the St. Bernard Group home, entered into second level co-education with the Patrician Brothers, oversaw the building of a new primary school in 1979 and engaged in wider community work, particularly the care of the elderly. The latter part of the 20th century saw some of the sisters actually moving out of the convent to live in local estate in order to afford a more immediate presence among the people of Fethard. Nano Nagle N.S.
amalgamated with St. Patrick’s Boys N.S. in 2010 and Sr. Winnie Kirwan’s retirement the following year marked the end of the Sister’s formal involvement in primary school education. Through all their endeavours the Sisters strove to embody the ideals of Nano Nagle and to promote the Presentation ethos.
The Thanksgiving Mass proved to be a most moving ceremony replete with symbolism as embodied by the offertory gifts: the lantern representing the flame of hope and light brought to Fethard one hundred and fifty years ago by the nuns; the annals representing the history of the order on Fethard from 1862 to the present day; the constitutions of the Presentation Congregation representing the rules and guidelines by which the Sisters live. Earlier, all the Presentation Sisters present stood to renew their vows, a powerful affirmation of their on-going commitment to their chosen path. The specially-formed choir graced the occasion with the most magnificent music, so congratulations to Ms Goldie Newport and the Parish Choir, Ms Ann Barry and the Abbey Choir, Mrs Marian Gilpin (recalled from retirement) and pupils from the Patrician Presentation Secondary School and Mrs Rita Kenny and pupils from Holy Trinity National School. Girls from Holy Trinity N.S., all of whom would have been in school with Sr. Maureen and Sr. Winnie, performed a lovely liturgical dance apparently a first in our parish church!
In conclusion, Sr. Winnie Kirwan spoke on behalf of the Presentation community, thanking everyone for their presence, reflecting on the history of the Sisters and explaining that at the end of the Mass lanterns would be presented to those who, now, very capably and competently carry on the work which Presentation Sisters have been involved in over the last 150 years: education, youth work, and care of our senior citizens. “The role of the Sisters,” she declared, “is now one of support, prayer and affirmation.” The lanterns were accepted by Mr Ernan Britton, Principal, Patrician Presentation Secondary School, Mrs Patricia Treacy, Principal, Holy Trinity National School, Mrs Marie Murphy, the Youth Centre and Mrs Geraldine McCarthy, Fethard & District Day Care Centre. Sr. Winnie also extended an invitation to all present to join the Sisters for refreshments in the Convent. The evening concluded most convivially with a vast throng of people dispersed throughout the various rooms of the convent enjoying the nun’s renowned hospitality, meeting up with old friends, sharing school day reminiscences and delighting in having the opportunity to join in the celebrations with the Presentation Sisters.
As Sr. Winnie also said in her speech the future is an unknown quantity which the Sisters face with a mixture of uncertainty and trust. We all share that uncertainty but it would seem an appropriate moment to trust that the future will go well for the current Fethard Presentation Community: Sr. Philomena Croke, Sr. Annunciata Cleary, Sr. Celsus Ryan, Sr. Clement Wall, Sr. Juliana Purcell, Sr. Maureen Power, Sr. Maria Fletcher, Sr. Eilis Bergin, Sr. Betty Cagney and Sr. Winnie Kirwan. Comhgairdeachas agus Rath De oraibh go leir.
Guided tour of the Croke Library
On the weekend when there was a country-wide baffled bemusement about the fact that Father Darcy had come to the attention of the Vatican for it must be presumed, all the wrong reasons, the Fethard Historical Society was given a guided tour of the Croke Library at St Patrick's College, Thurles, by the Diocesan Archivist, Father Christy O'Dwyer. And what an uplifting experience it proved to be on many levels; to be guided by the patient and learned Father O'Dwyer through the history of St Patrick's itself, to look and see some of the beautiful books that are contained within the library and also to see some of the many interesting religious artefacts that are held there.
The portrait of Archbishop Croke stands at one end of the splendid library, he himself seems to have been such an important historical figure, a great man of the Church, a lover and collector of books and is there a GAA pitch somewhere in Dublin called after him? Other important historical families also came to our attention like the Butlers, the Everards and Laffans, all who have a strong connection to the history of this general area town.
If the library has important doctrinal readings, it has a great section devoted to Ireland and to its history and if these are of interest to scholars and their research, there was no less interest for us, in seeing local diaries kept by a priest during the famine years. We were baffled and bemused ourselves that we did not know such a beautiful space devoted to books and to learning exists so near to us and that great care has been taken to preserve it for future generations. Thanks again to Father Christy O’Dwyer and also to the librarian Ailish Larkin.
'Strictly Come Dancing'
Fethard Ballroom will hold ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on Monday, May 21, for local children aged 6-13 to display their skill on the Dance Floor. Featuring award-winning displays from Marina Mullins and Pat Casey. All proceeds in aid of Fethard & District Day Care Centre.
The show starts at 7.30pm. Doors open 7pm. Admission €5 in advance or €7 on the door. Tickets available from The Day Care Centre, Holy Trinity National School and from Marina at O'Sullivan's Pharmacy.
Ireland call for Jack
Congratulations and best wishes to Jack Connolly, Clonmel Boxing Club, who will represent Ireland, in an International Boxing event against Scotland, which will be held at the Rochestown Park Hotel, in Cork, on Saturday night, May 12.
Jack will fight the 60kg Scottish Champion, John Doherty, in what will be a hard test for both countries. Jack who is part of the high performance unit in Dublin for the past three weeks, will be well prepared by the senior Irish coaches. He is looking forward to the contest, and is no stranger to International competitions, having beat the Welsh champion last year.
Happy Heart Weekend
The students of Patrician Presentation Secondary School will be helping out for this year’s ‘Happy Heart Weekend’, May 10-12, and are asking you to please give generously to this cause. The ‘Happy Heart’ weekend proceeds will go to the Irish Heart Foundation, national charity fighting stroke and heart disease, funded up to 90 per cent by public and corporate donations.
Dance in aid of Hospice
A dance in aid of South Tipperary Hospice will take place on Saturday, May 12, in Fethard Ballroom. Social and Competitive Dancing with music supplied by Sam O'Doherty. Admission is €10 and doors open at 8.30pm All proceeds in aid of South Tipperary Hospice. Please support this worthy cause.
The late Seamie Dineen
The remains (ashes) of the late Seamie Dineen, formerly from Kerry Street, Fethard, who died on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Claremont, California, USA, will return to Fethard on Saturday next, May 12, for a funeral service at 10am in Holy Trinity Parish Church, followed by interment at Calvary Cemetery.
First Holy Communion
On Saturday, May 12, twenty-three children from the parish will receive the sacrament of First Holy Communion in Holy Trinity Parish Church, Fethard. Mass will begin at 11am and all are invited to come along and share this special day in our community.
May Procession this Sunday
The annual May Procession will take place on Sunday next, May 13, at 7pm leaving from the Parish Church and finishing at the Augustinian Abbey. We ask all our parishioners to make a special effort to come along and participate in this procession in honour of Our Lady.
GAA Lotto Results
The GAA Sports Lotto Results for draw that took place on May 1 are as follows. The numbers drawn were: 9, 12, 22 and 32. There was no jackpot winner and one ‘Match Three’ winner who received €150: Siobhan Meagher, Baptistgrange, Fethard. The €50 Lucky Dip winner was Dick Fitzgerald, St. Patrick’s Place, Fethard.
Thanks to all promoters, supporters and to AIB Fethard who kindly sponsored printing of tickets. Next week’s jackpot is €3,200 and the draw will take place in The Castle Inn on May 8.
The death has occurred on Saturday, May 5, of Mr Arthur Daly, St. Patrick's Place, Fethard. Our sincere sympathy to his wife Ann and their children, Marie, Liam, Majella, Roger, Arthur (junior) and Pamela. Interment took place at Calvary Cemetery.
Fethard and Killusty Community Games
Good news for the GAA Teams. Both the under 10 football and the under 11 hurling teams are now through to the second round of the Community Games championships. The under 10 football team will now play Cahir and the hurling team are due to play Cashel Rosegreen. Both of these games must be completed before May 11.
The under 12 girls football team had a very good game against a more experienced side from Clerihan. All girls gave a fine performance, many of whom are very young and new to the game, they all played their heart out and are a credit to their manager, Micheál Spillane and his team who must be complimented on the amount of time and energy they put in training and looking after the children.
It was wonderful to see so many parents at this match which took place in Clerihan Park. Team members are: Sally Butler, Lucy Spillane, Laura Kiely, Alison Connolly, Rachel Prout, Katie Flynn, Caoimhe O’Meara, Laura Cummins, Katie Ryan, Leah Coen, Shannon Thompson, Noelle O’Meara, Laura O’Donnell, Carrie Davey, Ciara Connolly, Nell Spillane. Many of the ‘Mums’ on the field are also former community games competitors who won medals at National Finals in the late 80s on the volleyball team. One of their team mates, Eleanor Sheehan Roche was also busy on the pitch at the under 10 football game between Kilsheelan and Clerihan on Thursday as her son, Cian, is a member of the victorious Kilsheelan team who are now due to play Ardfinnan in round 2. Thanks to Kieran Butler for his assistance with the photographs.
Swimming County Final will take place in Clonmel Pool on Saturday next (girls) and Sunday (boys). Doors open at 2pm on both days. Competitors from Fethard Killusty area are: Zoë and Caroline Stokes, Ballybough; Cathal Ryan, Killusty; David and Thomas Morgan, Grangebeg. Best of luck to them all. Entries are now closed.
Area Athletics will take place on Wednesday, May 16, in the GAA Park at 6pm sharp. Entry fee of €2 per child will be taken from 5.30pm. The GAA have very kindly allowed us to use the side of their pitch but it must be vacated by 7pm for GAA training so it is very important to be on time otherwise one could miss their race. Events are for boys and girls Under 8, 60m and 80m; Under 10, 100m and 200m; Under 12, 100m and 600m; Under 14, 100m and 800m; Under 16,100m and 1500m.
If anyone would like to enter the boys long puck under 12 or the girls long puck under 14, they may submit their names and we will arrange a competition for them.
All competitors must live in the parish and be under the age specified on July 31, 2012. We hope to run a ‘Tots Race’ for under 6 and under 4. We would like to thank the GAA for their assistance in hosting this event.
Fethard & Killusty Community Lotto
The numbers drawn on May 2 were: 2, 4, 14 and 28. We had no Jackpot winner and no ‘Match Three’ winner so the following drawn tickets received €50 each: Simon Delahunty, Market Hill, Fethard; Eileen Connolly, Garrinch, Fethard; and Johanna Bradshaw, Drumdeel, Fethard.
The three following ‘Lucky Dip’ winners also won €50 each: Liam O'Connor, Knockelly Road, Fethard; The Smyths, The Well, Fethard; and Bridget Ryan, Loughcopple, Fethard.
The next Lotto draw will take place on May 9, and you can also purchase your lotto ticket online at www.fethard.com. Buy seven weekly tickets and get one free! Check on the Fethard website for lots of special offers. Next week’s Jackpot is €9,800 and the Jackpot sellers prize is €980. All proceeds go towards community work in Fethard.