WHEN I was 12 I was taken to see the film, Funny Girl, and I remember driving home and thinking when I grown up I'm going to be a singer like Barbra Streisand. Nonetheless, if I hadn't attended Mount Sackville Convent in Chapelizod, Co Dublin, I would probably never have become a singer. Sister Peter Cronan arrived at the school when I was 15. She had given up a career in Covent Garden Opera House to become a nun. She came to Mount Sackville to teach singing. It was she who first recognised that I could sing.
I remember soon after she arrived she auditioned us all for Goodnight Vienna. She gave me the part of a soldier and told me that she would like to train my voice. At first I thought she was being sarcastic, but I went ahead with it because it got you out of study. The music cells were at the top of the house you could have great fun up there.
Sister Peter began entering me for competitions and I won everything. I became something of a star in school and they were all very proud of me. I can still recall the day I was invited to do my first RTE broadcast. I was 16 and had just won the Feis Ceoil. I remember tearing down the stairs and calling to Sister Peter as she went into lunch. I was waving a letter from Jane Carty who is still a senior producer in RTE and who has done an enormous amount for young musicians.
Even before I started to sing, I loved school. Just recently a group of past pupils had an informal reunion and I was struck by the fact that every one of us had happy memories of our school days and of our teachers.
When I was height I had moved from the Sacred Heart Convent, Leeson Street, to Mount Sackville which was both a day and a boarding school. I pleaded and pleaded with my father to let me board, but he was reluctant to do so. Eventually he relented but I found that, although it sounded great, I didn't like being away from home. I went back to being a day girl after only two terms.
My mother was ill and died just as I was going into third year. I became the troublesome person in the school. However, the school handled things well and after about six months I settled down.
They were very supportive and I did well there. I go back to see them a lot. It's still very much a home from home.