Marita with two of the school’s Gardening Club
This year the country side is all a bloom with white and pale pink hawthorn blossom. It is everywhere in the fields and hedges and roadsides, the fairy tree in all its glory giving a truly magnificent snowy display. I have never seen the like of it as I traveled to Waterford to visit The Ursuline Primary School. I got a warm welcome there and the students and teacher Catherine Tuomey showed me a small hawthorn tree they had planted there over ten years ago to remind them all of reading ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’.
The tree has grown and was just starting to blossom when to my surprise the school placed a plaque there in honour of my visit. The Ursuline School is one of the oldest schools in Waterford with amazing pupils, and even has a busy gardening club!
May is a lucky month because The Irish Public Library Borrowing figures have just come out.No surprise to discover that children’s books top the list and are borrowed more than any other books from the libraries across Ireland.
Top 20 Books Borrowed in Irish Public Libraries 2018:
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney
3. The BFG by Roald Dahl
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney
7. Awful Auntie by David Walliams
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
9. Wonder by RJ Palacio
10. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
11. Ratburger by David Walliams
12. Matilda by Roald Dahl
13. The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams
14. Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
15. Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl
16. Demon Dentist by David Walliams
17. Diary of a Wimpy: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
18. Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams
19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
20. Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna
Delighted to see there at number 20 is ‘ Under the Hawthorn Tree‘ – the only Irish book by an Irish author! As I say hawthorns are everywhere…. Marita and some great readers from The Ursuline Primary School, Waterford
Mary McGlynn , Marita and Irene Doody Ann O Dwyer and Marita
There was great excitement and fun in the stunning Atrium in Mount Anville School at the launch of ‘A Home from Home,’ a book about the wonderful Sophie Barat Residence
The book celebrates 25 years of this very special residence which was the brain child of Irene Doody of Mount Anville’s Past Pupils Union. Irene saw there was need for secure accommodation that would provide independent living for past pupils of Ireland’s Sacred Heart schools who for various reasons found they were priced out of the Dublin property market or returned from living abroad, or simply wanted to live within a small caring community following changes in their lives.
With the blessing of Sister Deirdre Doyle, Mount Anville, generously donated a perfect site, which was part of the school’s old farm. Irene and her amazing committee which included Ann O Dwyer, Rosemary Wilson, Barbara Duffy set to work to design the perfect scheme of low rise bungalows with a central building which would house a dining room and library and a large sitting/ meeting room . The scheme was a unique initiative and once they got planning permission they went about the huge task of raising funds to build it.
Past pupil President Mary Robinson opened The Sophie Barat Residence twenty five years ago.
I was very honoured and delighted to be able to help Irene and the Committee bring this book together to show the work and dedication and care that has gone into not only opening The Sophie Bart Residence but in continuing to run it so successfully .
Sophie Barat with its sunny bright bungalows and pretty plant filled landscaped garden and spaces is a joy to visit. It was lovely also to get to meet some of its residents.
Designer Helen Cody did the honours, launching ‘A Home from Home’ in front of a large crowd, many delighted to meet up and reminisce about their own happy school days .
Muriel McAuley and Marita Helen, Marita , Perdita and Eve
Marita , Niamh O’Sullivan and Christine Kinealy
It is hard to believe that it is over a year since Quinnipiac University’s ‘ Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’ in Connecticut kindly agreed to let a large part of its magnificent Great Hunger Art Collection travel to Ireland.
The ‘Coming Home’ Exhibition opened in March 2018 Dublin Castle to great acclaim as the public flocked to see this rich and varied art and sculpture collection, which both reflected on and reminded us on Ireland’s Great Famine.
During the summer the exhibition moved to The West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen, which was one of the worst affected parts during the famine, and in early 2019 the exhibition transferred to Culturlann Ui Chanain in Derry.
I was very privileged to take part in a few events and talks organised around the exhibition which had a rich and varied programme of drama, film, academic seminars, talks, art and workshops.
At the Legacy Dinner held at 25 Fitzwilliam Place Vice President of Quinnipiac University, Lynn Bushnell told us of us the University’s delight that the exhibition had drawn over 120,000 visitors and had generated such an interest among all ages.
The ‘Coming Home’ Art collection has now returned to its home at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum home in Quinnipiac.
‘The shame is that Ireland hasn’t created its own Great Hunger Art Collection to remember and reflect on Ireland’s Great Famine. We have the artists and all we need is the vision to find a proper space to house such an important collection of art works.’