independent

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Loreto ladies step back in time on Mary Ward Day

Shona MacKenzie and Megan Foster from the Peace and Justice Group with Mary O’Rourke
Shona MacKenzie and Megan Foster from the Peace and Justice Group with Mary O’Rourke
Aline Abautret, Deirdre Buttanshaw, Lyndsey Phelan, Sheila Traynor and Moira Maloney
Mary O’Rourke with the teachers who dressed in the style of 1918 to celebrate women’s suffrage
Students from the Peace and Justice Group, who were dressed in 1918 costume to celebrate women’s suffrage, with former minister Mary O’Rourke

Mary Fogarty

Students in Loreto Secondary School were transported back in time on Mary Ward Day (Wednesday, January 24) as the school marked the centenary of women winning the right to vote.

As part of the celebrations in memory of the Loreto founder, the school community travelled back to 1918 and the day legislation was passed giving women the vote.

Students were greeted by teachers wearing appropriate costumes and were taught lessons from the 1918 syllabus, including deportment and Latin. They also learned about the careers open to women at the start of the 20th century, watched newsreels from 1918 and visited an exhibit on 100 years of women in history in the Concert Hall of the school.

Suffragettes (members of the Peace and Justice group in the school) patrolled the corridors encouraging students to support votes for women and radio broadcasts kept students up to date on the passing of the act in parliament, with much jubilation when the vote passed.

The school also welcomed former minister and past pupil Mary O'Rourke, who shared her insights into political life and the importance of everyone using their voice through voting and becoming involved in the democratic process. She shared some secrets from her boarding days at Loreto, which sadly were not revealed to this newspaper!

Mrs O'Rourke encouraged the students to be kind to one another in a world of negativity. She spoke of how the most important lessons to be learnt in life is being able to talk, being able to defend yourself and being able to make an argument.

Mrs O'Rourke also met with the Peace and Justice group, which took the opportunity to tell her about the wonderful work being done in Loreto, Rumbek, South Sudan, where another ex-student Sister Orla Treacy is principal.

The day was planned by the students of the Peace and Justice Group, which is headed by teacher Ms Quigley and school chaplain Sr Phil, and they managed to keep many of the activities a secret from the rest of the student body.

The group highlighted the plight of the women who fought for the right to vote and how important it is for women to exercise that vote. The history of women and the vote was displayed in an exhibition in one of the school's halls.

'Mary Ward Day is always one of the highlights in the Loreto calendar,' said sixth year student Megan Foster. 'The Peace and Justice group have set the bar extremely high for Mary Ward Day 2019. The day was full of learning, reflection and fun. As a member of the Peace and Justice Group for the past six years, it was a bittersweet moment removing my Votes For Women sash.

'I think it's safe to say that the values of Mary Ward are fuelling the fires in the hearts of our student body,' she said.

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