Staff from Loreto Convent School Gibraltar visited Loreto Nuns in Ireland this Summer. It was our third day in Dublin, the day we had set aside to visit Loreto Nuns. We entered into the taxi armed with Loreto teddies, prints of our school, some of our year books and two boxes of cakes.
The taxi driver drove towards the coast and into the picturesque village of Dalkey. A few stops to ask the locals to point us in the right direction, we finally made it to Loreto Abbey. The view that greeted us was breathtaking! The historical building, designed by Teresa Ball, (foundress of the Irish Branch of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM)), stood right on the coast, a stunning location with fresh sea air and a view of the tiny Dalkey Island.
It was here that we had tea and cakes with the lovely Sr Stella and Sr Imelda. The table was laid ready for tea and freshly baked cakes reminded us of how the nuns in Gibraltar always greeted their guests; we instantly felt at home. We exchanged year books and updated each other on events in our schools. The nuns asked after teachers and past pupils, they remembered so many people and were so excited to talk about them all. We were then treated to a tour of the grounds, their chapel, around the outside of the abbey for more views of the sea and finally to their new sports hall! This was of particular interest to us seeing as our new sports hall was getting its finishing touches.
After a couple of hours we said our goodbyes and began our journey to the next stop, Rathfarnham.
It was here where we met up with Sr Mercy, Sr Miriam and Sr Angela. We were greeted in true Loreto Nun fashion with even more tea and cakes! Sr Angela provided the entertainment in the form of her own photos from her time in Gibraltar which featured past and present teachers both as teachers and as pupils. We spent another couple of hours updating each other and as with our previous visit the nuns asked after so many teachers and pupils! We then had a tour of their grounds before we left, including their chapel and their cemetery where we recognised some names.
Sr Imelda, (who is 92, full of life, looks exactly the same as when she left and seriously misses boquerones and gambas pil pil), told us that every Tuesday she says a special prayer asking for something exciting to happen, she said that on that week her prayers had been answered and that our visit was the best thing ever!
We too had been excited to see them. What we underestimated was how excited we would feel after. To be received with such love and fondness, to share such special memories, we were elated! We went back to our hotel on a high and decided we definitely had to make a repeat visit some time soon! We went as colleagues, as friends, but when we left we were reminded that we are more than that. We are part of a family, the Loreto Family.
Written by Claire Francis.