Lisdoonvarna - Diamond Jubilee

All roads led to Lisdoonvarna on Saturday night October 3rd 2009, not for the King or Queen of the Burren competition which was in full swing in the Hydro, but for a past pupils reunion. The school is celebrating its diamond anniversary having opened as a secondary school in September 1949.

Pioneering Sisters of Mercy left the comfort of their convent in Ennistymon, bought a guest house, Tivoli House, in Lisdoonvarna, with the blessing of Bishop Browne, and set up school. Twenty girls enrolled in the first year class of 1949 and a staggering 500 past pupils turned up at their alma mater to say thank you, to celebrate and acknowledge the tremendous work of mercy by the many Sisters who graced their convent Tivoli House over the years.

The students came in their throngs and strolled around the school looking for their class photograph on the wall and commenting on the improved facilities now available to the present cohort of students. Principal John O’Loughlin is said to be eager to get his hands on the year group photographs which are absent and which he would love to see gracing the walls of Mary Immaculate. So if you have some old class or group photographs contact John at the school.

Having walked the school, visited the convent and said a prayer in the former convent chapel now the Ciúntráth the past pupils picked up a copy of the Diamond Jubilee Booklet which Sr. Margaret Mary signed. This booklet is available from the school and would make a lovely Christmas present and keepsake memory of time spent in Mary Immaculate. The past pupils, teachers and many Sisters of Mercy filled the parish church to capacity for a mass full of symbolism and thanksgiving.

John O’Loughlin and Sr. Bride McNamara (Sr. Sacred Heart) carried two lighting candles up the aisle of a darkened church and then proceeded to light two flames draped in the Clare colours at the top of the altar by way of symbolising the bringing of the light of education to Lisdoonvarna many years ago and the nurturing of this light into the future. John then gave a little bit of recent history when he outlined the change in trusteeship and invited Sr. Elizabeth Manning, Provincial of the Mercy congregation and Ms. Anne Kelleher, CEO of CEIST to light a candle signifying the handing over of trusteeship from Mercy to CEIST.

The school choir prepared by Sr. Gertrude Brosnan and Dympna O’Donohue with soloists Ronan Fahy (present student) and Peter O’Donohue (past pupil) added to the sense of reverence and thanksgiving.
After mass Sr. Elizabeth Manning together with Sr. Margaret Mary Jordan, Sisters of Mercy Lisdoonvarna, Anne Kelleher and John Stack of John Stack Builders unveiled the school name over the main door of the former convent.

Off to the Falls Hotel where past pupils enjoyed a jubilee dinner, cut the jubilee cake baked by Ann Doherty, past pupil, from the Spa Hotel Lisdoonvarna, and danced the night away till the dawning of the day.

The organising committee of Diarmuid Drennean MC, John Kenny, Marie Danagher Swain, Ann Gardiner Harrington, Mary Dunleavy O’Donoghue, Kathleen Connolly Gibbons, Brendan Cusack, John Sims, Sr. Margaret Mary and John O’Loughlin expressed their delight at the success of the night and plan to have another in 15 years time. Sr. Maura Crowe, Chairperson of the Board of Management saluted all the Sisters and Staff who because of their love for the people, have by their dedication, their personal sacrifices and their solid belief in the value of education, faithfully kept the vision alive, providing this centre of excellence in education, which is known as Mary Immaculate Secondary School.

She paid a special tribute to the present teaching staff, secretarial staff and maintenance personnel.
She went onto say “the vision of our founders would not have taken root if the people of Lisdoonvarna had not responded with enthusiasm, generosity and appreciation. Lisdoonvarna loves its own School. Over the past years I have experienced that generosity and appreciation when we had fundraising socials for the school and also I have seen valuable contribution made by the Parents’ Association on so many occasions. This testifies to the goodwill that can be harnessed in support of Mary Immaculate”.

“I experience at first hand a sincere sharing of expertise on the B.O.M. The members give a lot of their time for the good of the school; they make a huge commitment but they are all glad to do it for the sake of the school. We are very grateful to all our members, past and present”.

Sr. Maura Crowe mentioned the recent Whole School Evaluation. “The school report was excellent and I would like to congratulate the Staff and students but, also you, parents, whose sons and daughters made such an outstanding contribution to this success”.

Sr. Maura referred to the quality of leadership in Mary Immaculate over the years. She went on to say “Mary Immaculate has been blessed with great leaders and teachers over the years. I won’t name them. You know who they are and what they have done.

In our own day we have a committed, inspiration and gifted leader in the person of a former student, Mr. John O’Loughlin. He is ably assisted by a talented, dynamic and dedicated Deputy Principal – Mrs. Dympna O’Donohue, who is married to a former student!”

Pictures from the Celebrations

Official unveiling of plaque with name of school.

Standing: Anne Kelleher (CEO CEIST), John O’Loughlin (Principal), Sr. Maura Crowe (Chairperson BOM), Teresa Callinan Griffey, Dolly Flaherty Jordan, Kathleen Connolly Gibbons, Mary Maher Cunningham, Bernadette Moriarty McCarthy, Helen Linnane Fedeli, John Stack (Builder) Sr. de Lourdes Fahy, Sr. Elizabeth Manning (Provincial Leader Mercy Congregation)

Sitting: Sr. Aloysius Blewitt, Sr. Gertrude Brosnan, Sr. Brigid Blewitt, Sr. Breda Freeeley, Sr. Margaret Mary Jordan, Sr. Bride McNamara


Six students from the class of 1949 with founding Sisters of Mercy

Standing: Teresa Callinan Griffey, Dolly Flaherty Jordan, Kathleen Connolly Gibbons, Mary Maher Cunningham, Bernadette Moriarty McCarthy and Helen Linnane Fedeli.

Seated: Sr. Margaret Mary Jordan and Sr. Bride McNamara (Founding Sisters).



Mercy Sisters Lisdoonvarna say farewell to their convent, Tivoli House.

Pictured (LtorR) Sr. Aloysius Blewitt, Sr. Úna Daly, Sr. Margaret Mary Jordan, Sr. Breda Freeley





Pictured on left are the class of 1965.










Diamond Jubilee Speeches

Principal's Diamond Jubilee Speech

Words of Welcome by the Principal at the Diamond Jubilee Mass