Rathdown Reflections

Welcome to Rathdown Reflections, where our past pupils share memories and anecdotes from their time at Rathdown.

Lisa Wynne, Class of 2007

Lisa lives in Killiney, Co. Dublin. She holds an honours degree in fashion design from NCAD (2012), and a particular interest in sustainability and how the fashion industry can do better for the planet and its people. Lisa is currently settling back into life in Ireland after living in Japan since 2014.

The Memory:

Probably anything to do with music – being in Chamber Choir with incredibly talented singers, practicing for all the Carol Services, the TY musical, playing around on GarageBand, the Songschool workshop, and performing in school, the National Concert Hall and the Pavilion Theatre. Recording the SUCH CD in 2006 was an incredible experience – especially when Ruth O’Mahony-Brady and I spent an entire day in RTÉ’s massive Studio 1 just for our track.

The Teacher:

There were so many who taught me more than their subjects; Ms Green for encouraging me in my success with the hammer in school and DSD Athletic Club, Mr O’hEithir for coordinating our delegations at MUN conferences, Mr O’Brien for putting up with us taking over the Art room, and Chris Connolly for not only bringing History alive over six years, but for establishing SUCH and spearheading the charity CD we recorded.

The Subject:

Art, Music, History, English! I’m a humanities lady.

The Friend:

I am still close to my school friends even when we’ve been on opposite sides of the world. To single out one, I’d have to mention the musical shenanigans with Ruth O’Mahony-Brady. Though our wild, multi-instrumental, Pink Floyd medley didn’t make it onto the NCH program, our arrangement of Annie Lennox’s “Why” went down well. We’d spend most lunchtimes rocking out in the music block, and made amazing memories performing at the National Concert Hall, at graduation, and at random morning assemblies. I’m proud and grateful that we’re still close and get to hang out now we’re both back in Dublin.

The Song:

As well as the songs I played with Ruth, our graduation song, Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” brings back a lot of memories.

The Lesson:

Sixth Year was stressful, but importantly, it was the most fun; something I understand now as work-life balance! Our Common Room was our home and we loved it. It brought us all together - boarders and day-girls and form groups. I was privileged to be Head Girl, which taught me a lot about community, shared responsibility, and leadership.

Kirsten McGarry, Class of 2003

Kirsten lives in Dalkey in Dublin and is currently studying Medicine through the Graduate entry as she is already a qualified Physiotherapist.

The Memory:

It is hard to choose but I think my favourite memory is from the 4th Year trip to the Dordogne in France. I got
to know most of my classmates much better and I found things out about my close friends that I didn’t know. The whole year bonded together and we became close, whilst sailing and fishing each other out of the water or
singing songs around the camp fire.

The Teacher:

Mrs Connolly (History) or Mr Henderson (Geography). Neither teacher used books much; they both used the white board to write or drew entertaining pictures. I am a visual learner and really appreciated this. Both teachers treated us as adults and I think that meant we acted
more maturely. I also loved having the threat of a rock being thrown at my head whenever saying something
silly in Geography!

The Subject:

Science for Junior Cert. I loved dissecting the worms in Biology and mixing the chemicals/using the Bunsen burners in Chemistry!

The Friend:

The only one person who ever stood up for me – Suzi Morgan. I’ll never forget that. I wish I was as strong as her when I was in school, or in fact now! And I have to mention another wonderful friend I look up to, who I have also known for over 20 years; Maria O’Sullivan, the kind of friend who after all those years still drives to my house with treats when I’m sick.

The Song:

Greenday-Good Riddance (Time of your life) was our 6th year graduation song. It will always remind me of Rathdown and 6th year in particular.

The Lesson:

Being lucky enough to attend Rathdown is a privilege that will stand to you in life. It is great to be supported in academic, sporting, artistic and other talents. I know so many strong successful women today from my time at Rathdown. Yes, it was tough at times, but that prepared me very well for life. The lesson I wish I had known back then was to always maintain a healthy perspective.

Katie Coyle, Class of 2013

Katie lives in Dalkey in Dublin and is currently studying to become a pilot with Commercial Pilot Flight Training with Bristol Groundschool.

The Memory:

In my final year the annual choir competition encouraged our year to enter our original mash-up written by Emma Lambert to RTE’s All-Ireland school talent show. We got to the Dublin semi-finals but sadly had to give up on our dreams of using the winning prize to fund a group holiday.

The Teacher:

Rathdown would not have been what it was for me without Mrs. Murphy. She supervised Extended Day in the Junior School and then Palmer Hall study for my senior cycle.
As a child she knew all my secrets! Madame Monin was also a very supportive teacher who proved she was up for a challenge trying to teach me tenses in French class.

The Subject:

Art class was a chance to unwind, especially in Sixth Year.

The Friend:

The friends I’ve made, no matter how far away we all travel, when we come back together it is like no time has passed at all. I’m very grateful for the friends I continue to keep from my time in Rathdown.

The Song:

The anthem for the weekend was Taylor Swifts “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” which we played every Friday at 3.15pm for two years without fail. The only song to challenge Taylor is the obvious choice. Another past pupil texted me during the royal wedding to let me know they were singing “Be Thou My Vision”. A Rathdown girls favourite.

The Lesson:

Life is what you make it. There are no limits and the more you give, the more you get.

Gráinne O’Hogan, Class of 2007

Gráinne O’Hogan lives in Dublin and is currently working as Arts Manager at UCD.

The Memory  

I have so many treasured memories of my time at Rathdown – but getting to spend every day in the company of close friends is a gift you don’t appreciate until you’ve grown up. The everyday moments are what I am most grateful for – lying on the cricket lawn on rare sunny summer days, tea and chats in the sixth year common room, sneaking up to the boarding house to hang out for those precious free hours between school and prep, lunchtime choir rehearsals…the list goes on!

The Teacher

Marian Jordan for always encouraging and inspiring me!

The Subject

Latin! Even though I was the only girl in my class for the Leaving Cert!

The Friend

I am infinitely grateful for my amazing school friends– ten years on, we are all scattered across various continents, but true friendship knows no bounds (although WhatsApp helps too). Having recently moved back from London, I am even lucky enough to now live with two of the girls here in Dublin. I must salute Rachael McKeon who has supported and empowered me since the first day of Senior Infants at Scoil Lorcáin, throughout our time at Rathdown, as neighbours finding our way in our professional lives in London, and now from a distance in Los Angeles.

The Song

“Be Thou My Vision” of course – we even sang it at Clemency Heyland’s wedding ceremony this year!

The Lesson

I’m going to cheat a bit here and reference another song which sums up the best lesson I learnt at Rathdown, which is to always embrace life and new adventures. We chose Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” for our graduation song as it sums up the eternally positive, ambitious and inspirational attitudes of my friends and teachers: ‘Drench yourself in words unspoken/ Live your life with arms wide open/ Today is where your book begins’.

Martha Lewis, Class of 2015

 Martha Lewis was Head Girl in the Class of 2015. She lives in Dublin and is currently studying European Studies at Trinity College Dublin.

The Memory  

Far too many to pick just one: organising RADMUN conferences, the various SUCH shows, in particular, all of 6th Year performing our version of the Lion King in the SUCH Talent Show 2015.

The Teacher

Impossible to choose just one but Ms Mackey taught me German for six years and Classics for two and created a relaxed, fun and welcoming atmosphere in her classes.

Ms McGing for not only her infectious enthusiasm for history and the thought-provoking discussion incorporated into every class but her countless words of wisdom.

The Subject

Again, I am struggling to narrow it down…History, Art, Spanish, German

The Friend

As I have only recently graduated, I’m lucky enough to keep in contact with a large group of the girls from the class of 2015.

The Song

Be Thou My Vision (of course)

Florence and the Machine – Cosmic Love (choral competition song from 6th Year)

The Lesson

That regardless of your ability, social background or ethnicity, no goal is ever too great or too ambitious if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to it and that you determine your own limits.

Claire Hyland, Class of 1989

The Memory

Sitting outside the prefabs sunbathing at lunchtime. Climbing to the top of the fantastic umbrella tree that used to be outside Hillcourt house and a big water fight on the last day of school. Also going back to a reunion and tour of the school a few years ago and sneaking cooking sherry from the new and very posh Home Ec lab with some other nameless alumni! (Only because we were so well behaved when we were in school!)

The Teacher

Probably Dr Cummins- she managed to drag me through leaving Cert Physics when I realised at the end of 5th year I needed physics and not biology to get into college! There were a few students I spoke to at her funeral who credited her with their chosen career paths in science.

The Subject

I always loved art, it never felt like a real subject to me. In the junior school, before assembly, Miss Corry used to play us a piece of classical music -it is amazing what stuck!  Vivaldi’s 4 Four Seasons, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

The Friend

My best friend in junior school was Gayle Copsey and then Emma Martin when she moved into the house next door and started in Rathdown. I was lucky to have some great friends during school and others who have become great friends since school. I meet regularly with Antonia Hart, Lynn Kennedy and Peta McMullan and still laugh at school memories.

The Song

“Ring Christmas Bells” or any of the carols from the Christmas Carol service in St Pauls with Rev Linney singing away at full volume -or WHAM seems to be a bit of a soundtrack to the last few years as everyone fancied George Michael!

The Lesson

I suppose what I really value are the friendships I still have with classmates – there is something special about knowing people who knew you when you were a girl; who knew your first boyfriends, what bands you liked and the person you were before you were a mum or a wife or an architect.

Lorna Dodd (Thom), Class of 1995

Lorna Dodd (Thom), Class of 1995, lives in Dublin with her husband and two daughters, Julianne (6) and Alice (3). She has been an academic librarian for the last 15 years and currently works as Senior Librarian at Maynooth University.

The Memory

There are so many! Our Latin trip to Rome, Naples and Florence when we drove from Rathdown all the way to southern Italy. It took five days and we slept on the couch with Miss. Mew and Dean Salmon. I’m not sure it would even be allowed these days! I remember waking up early one morning on the coach to see the sun rising while we were driving over the Italian Alps.

The Teacher

I always have fond memories of Mr Walsh. He taught us RE. In 6th Year, I remember how he incorporated some class time for us to relax and take a break from the stress of worrying about exams and studying. It’s something I appreciate to this day!

The Subject

My favourite subject was history and I went on to study it at University. I was always inspired by Mr OhEithir’s passion and enthusiasm.

The Friend

I am still in touch with many of the girls from our year. We recently had our 20th reunion and it was like all the years rolled away and we spent the entire evening giggling like a bunch of 16 year olds! However, my most memorable friend has to be Luise Danz. When I think of Rathdown, I always think of sitting next to Luise.

The Song

Be Thou my Vision. We even sang it at my wedding!

The Lesson

That you can achieve anything you put your mind to and being a girl is never a reason to prevent you from doing anything. This is something I have put into practice in my own career and teach my girls every chance I get!

Lucy Shepard (Pheifer), Class of 1981

Lucy Shepard (Pheifer), Class of 1981, is President of Rathdown Alumni Association for 2014-15. She lives in Kilternan, Co. Dublin with her children Alex, Emma and Sam.

The Memory

The Liffey Descent with the Rathdown Canoe Club. Terrifying!!

The Teacher

Miss Gibbons, Art Teacher.  Anything was possible!

The Subject

Home Economics with Mrs Daly.  The highlight being making Christmas cakes and learning how to decorate using a piping bag!!

The Friend

Susan Guildford McDonald, a friend from day one in 1st Year and also Jane Noonan (Stafford ) from early years spent in Glengara. It was lovely to reconnect with girls from my year group at the 40th Anniversary Reunion.

The Song

Be Thou my Vision

The Lesson

The Tree of Knowledge (now the school emblem) was created during my time in Rathdown. To me, it represents the many opportunities, friendships and roads of life that have crossed my path as a result of the values instilled in me during my experiences at the School.

Anne-Laure Michellet (Kelly), Class of 1997

Anne-Laure Michallet (Kelly), Class of 1997, lives in New York with her husband Yannick. She is Editor (English, French and Spanish), in the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management at United Nations.

The Memory

Moving from the prefabs into the new classrooms!

The Teacher

Christine Connolly, History teacher and all-round confidence builder for anyone who spent time with her, in or out of class.

The Subject

A little hard to pick only one… three favourites: English, History and Spanish

The Friend

Impossible to pick only one! From Rathdown to the present day: Aíne Whelan, Anna Ovington (Massey), Melissa O’Carroll, Fiona Macken (Pilsworth) and Emily Baxi (Potter)

The Song

Favourite hymn at assembly: Shine Jesus Shine

Favourite performance of a song at a show: My Lovely Horse

The Lesson

Respect for diversity: with the boarders at school, we were lucky enough to have a pretty diverse student body in terms of cultures, religions, food preferences, worldviews… it’s something I have always sought out since and was a good preparation for working at the United Nations.