Goldenbridge Feast-Days.

I was just thinking that feast-days in general and especially St. Patrick’s Day were far more relaxing times spent in Goldenbridge. Child inmates were able to breathe more easily than at any other time, as there were less floggings and some noticeable small treats such as two or three bulls-eye sweets. Holy days had a more positive effect on the nuns, and it seeped over on to the children.


Sisters of Mercy of the Union General Council 1953

Nuns’ religious garb were meticulously reconditioned, and their snow white starched coifs were more stiffer and whiter than snow. The pleats in the black garb was more noticeable. They also wore easily removable bainin-coloured flowing sleeves whilst in the chapel in the aftermath of Easter. There was an air of holiness all around. It rubbed off on the children.

Throughout the year, the rec that was euphemistically known as the’ wreck” became a venue for Irish dancing competitions, (Feiseanna) during St. Patrick’s weekend. It was one of the two times of the year that outsiders were allowed into the Dickensian building. The Irish dancing visitors and partakers in the competitions, with their relatives, came via a side entrance, that was somewhat separated from the most part of the institution. Children were left alone at this time, as the nuns and staff could not afford to be seen to be not nice to the children. In fact, it was at times like this that they acted strangely nice, which was sort of confusing, as the children were just not used to seeing them smiling and good-natured. I likened the freedom felt at these times to when I was with a host family called the Boyne’s, when I rambled off and felt as free as a wild bird. The same kind of freedom permeated my being and it was such a relief from the every day stress that abounded in the lives of child inmates. We always soaked up the carefree atmosphere, and went up to visitors and smiled at times. The rec was a hive of activity.

Boy and girl in Irish dance costumeMs. D. who accompanied ‘specially chosen children every Wednesday evening in the rec for Irish dancing classes, would see the results of her year’s long  activity being realised, as the ‘special’ child inmate dancers performed their steps. They were really fantastic at dancing and won many competition. They even went to the Mansion house to bigger Feisseana, so that is very telling.

Ms. D always put on an act in the rec, for the sole purpose of drawing attention to the Irish dancing teachers who were classed as the tops in Ireland. Mr. Malone and Rory O’Connor. The latter teacher had a prestigious school of dancing.

They danced on the rec stage the six and twelve hand-reel, the blackbird, solo hornpipes, jigs and reels.


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