Monday 19 February 2018

'The nuns told us we should have nothing to do with boys'

Dr Annie Doona
Dr Annie Doona

John Costello

She gave her teachers a hard time and found school very strict.

But little did Dr Annie Doona, President of the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT), realise her schooling provided the perfect platform for a career in education. And, thankfully, saved her from a career as a lawyer or politician... phew.

So, what is the worst thing a teacher ever said to you?

The head teacher once told me I was a rebel and would be shot.

Crikey! That was a tad harsh.

I got into trouble in school because I was always questioning things. The nuns did not like that.

Where did you go to school?

I did my primary in Belfast and secondary school in St Joseph's Convent in Hartlepool.

Why the old switcheroo?

I had an Irish Catholic mother and an English protestant father. She was from Laois but they met in England and moved to Belfast due to work. I went to a Catholic school in a Protestant area, which was difficult. So eventually the family decided to move back to England.

What was school like across the Irish Sea?

I ended up going to an all-girl convent school. It was academically great but it was very strict. They told us we should have nothing to do with boys and definitely not protestant boys. As Catholics, they put us on a pedestal.

Are there any teachers you recall making a big impression?

The first was David Taylor Gooby, who taught us sociology. The other was Mrs Joseph, a Jamaican lady who taught us English. They both encouraged us to think, ask questions and to explore things.

They obviously made a big impression.

When I am asked about my leadership style it is about asking questions and that all came from my time in school. While the nuns were strict they did educate us to believe we could do and be anything we wanted.

And if you were not doing what you are doing today, what else could you have turned your hand to?

I would probably have been a lawyer or a politician.

For real?!

I know! I would have been thinking what am I getting myself into! Who likes politicians or lawyers?

Maybe their mothers, but I wouldn't count on it! Only joking... honest.

The IADT's National Film School has just launched its new €7.5m TV and film studios. For more information visit

Irish Independent

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