Beginning Medical School in Ireland – 1958

Beginning Medical School in Ireland – 1958

by Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer MMM         U.S.A.      17.04.2023

The long-awaited day arrived. Sr. Martha Collins and I had settled in Rosemount, our House of Studies in Dublin, and had met the other students in the various years of Medical School. We were delighted to meet our companion Sr. Maura Lynch, who was a second-year novice and a very gifted person. She always saw the funny side of a situation. Michael Byrne, our gardener and jack of all trades, had fixed up three shining bicycles for us to ride to Earlsfort Terrace where the Medical School was then located. What would it be like to ride a bicycle through the streets of Dublin? Would I pass potato fields? I was soon to find out.

Everything happened so fast. The rising call was at 6am. Morning Prayer was in the chapel at 6:30 and then Mass at the Parish Church at 7am. received Holy Communion before Mass to get an early start for breakfast and then get on our bicycles to ride the four and a half miles to College, University College, Dublin. Sister Nurses, Srs. Laurena Gallagher, Edel Weir, Maureen O’Connor, and Ann Curtin. went off to Dublin earlier as they had to be on duty at 8AM. This was the last year that the Sister Nurses lived with us in Rosemount. Training in the International Missionary Training Hospital (I.M.T.H.) in Drogheda had recently commenced.

The older Sisters cycled this distance in twenty minutes. I seemed to take longer but twenty-five minutes was not too bad. Mother Mary wanted us to say prayers while we cycled because our prayer time was shortened so that we could study more. “Come Holy Ghost, Creator, come” was often on our lips and hearts to make them more His own. There was not so much traffic in those days and, when returning to Dublin, I wondered how we would cycle on the same roads now. I loved reading the signs in Irish, “Fir ag obair”, Men working. The men were so handsomely dressed in shirts trousers and ties. It was all so novel to me.

I was told there would be other Sisters in our class and we would recognize them right away. I wondered how this could be and then I met one and realized she wore no makeup, had sensible shoes and plain clothes. Stiletto heels, makeup, dress suits were what the other women in our class wore. A Jesuit priest taught us Botany and had the women students separated from the men. I was surprised to find so many women studying medicine. We were a smaller class, only 90. At that time. foreign students were admitted who were sponsored by Missions in Trinidad and other countries. These men spoke to us quite freely and we enjoyed hearing about their backgrounds.

Pre-Med consisted of four courses, Zoology, Botany, Physics and Chemistry. Some of these courses were held in the College of Science which was quite a walking distance away. We would rush down to the nuns’ room, specially provided for a large number of Sisters, take a snack and then get on our bicycles to ride to the College of Science. Very often we would meet up with Finbarr Lynch, Maura’s brother, a Jesuit, who was also attending the College of Science. We shared a wave from each other’s bicycles.

Our classes in the College of Science were huge. The classrooms were built stadium style to accommodate 400 students from the college of Dentistry, Veterinary, Science and Medicine. Fortunately we could hear well what was being taught and I found it all very interesting.
We would ride back to Earlsfort Terrace, park our bicycles, and take dinner in the college cafeteria in 86 St. Stephen’s Green. The cost was two shillings and six pence which was put on a bill and sent to Rosemount. If there were a long line, we would go into the nearby Newman’s chapel and pray for 30 minutes and then eat. On some days we had time to walk in Stephens Green. I always enjoyed that.
When the lectures were finished, we would cycle home to Rosemount and study before supper. After supper we would have recreation and study together in a room with a fireplace and then retire at 10PM.

This was the normal routine which took sometime to get used to but was always exciting and full of adventure. This leads us up to Christmas where I will continue in the next blog