Famous Mount Anville alumni return to celebrate 160 years
Conference on education addressed by past pupil Catherine Day, European Commission secretary general
Mount Anville past pupil, actor Alison Doody, with Jessica Carroll (5) and Ellie Enright (3), pupils of Mount Anville Montessori Junior School, at the launch of Hearts + Minds, an exhibition at Mount Anville House marking 160 years of Sacred Heart education in Ireland. Photograph: Shane O’Neill/Fennells
It was a special day for the Mount Anville schools in south Dublin yesterday.
The prestigious Montessori, primary and secondary schools were celebrating 160 years to the day since nuns of the Society of the Sacred Heart opened their doors to educate Dublin’s young women.
The schools – whose past pupils include former president Mary Robinson, US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and the fictional character Sorcha O’Carroll-Kelly – celebrated with the opening of a permanent exhibition, Hearts + Minds, which details in pictures and text the order’s contribution to women’s education in Ireland.
The anniversary celebrations also included a conference on “Leading Sacred Heart Education into the 21st Century”, at which 75 delegates represented Sacred Heart societies in 11 countries.
In keeping with the day that was in it, the conference was addressed by the secretary general of the European Commission, Catherine Day, a past pupil of the school.
Another past pupil, TV presenter Sybil Mulcahy, lent her services as MC for the conference, while the list of past pupils present also included actor Alison Doody, TV presenter Lisa Cannon, social entrepreneurs Caroline Casey of Kanchi and Anne Maguire of Fundraising Ireland, hockey player Emma Gray and Myra Garrett, managing partner with William Fry Solicitors.
The school prides itself on an education underpinned by the five goals of the Sacred Heart: faith, character, intellect, community and social awareness, aspects of which were illustrated by photographs and text in the exhibition.
The exhibition details how the Sacred Heart opened its first school in Ireland in 1842 in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and its next school in Armagh in 1851.
In 1853 the order established the “Dublin” school in Glasnevin. The Dublin enterprise transferred to Mount Anville in 1865.
In 2007 the Sacred Heart nuns handed over the running of the schools to a trust, designed to preserve the educational ethos.
But the Society of the Sacred Heart trains its daughters well: if Catherine Day was surprised to learn the school had originated on Dublin’s northside she did not raise so much as an eyebrow.
“That is the where the telephone used to be,” she said, breaking off a discussion about how pleased the EU was with Ireland’s bailout, and indicating what appeared to be a small cupboard in a passageway.
“That is where I heard what I got in my Leaving Certificate.”
Nearby, the schools’ appointed public relations representative was explaining that for all its success and legacy, Mount Anville was not the State’s most expensive girls’ school.
At €5,100 per year, the secondary school was less expensive than Alexandra College in Milltown, she said, and cheaper too than St Andrew’s College in Booterstown, which caters for both boys and girls.
Nor she said, just as The Irish Times thought of it, was Mount Anville the most expensive single-gender, private school. “Holy Child in Killiney is a religious girls’ school and is more expensive too.”