by Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer MMM U.S.A. 31.05.2023
“Splendid, Splendid, Splendid,” fell from the lips of our motherly Sister-in Charge, Sister, Catherine Ryan, as she telephoned the aunt of my parish priest in New York. Both she, and Aunt Nan, as she was affectionately called, were originally from Kerry. Aunt Nan gave instructions on how to find her home in Blackrock and Sister Martha Collins and I cycled over to visit her. It was a welcome treat, and we enjoyed our conversation and the delicious tea and Christmas cake she served us. We told her of our happiness of attending Midnight Mass in our own chapel and all the festivities of Christmas Day. I had never heard Queen Elizabeth’s voice before, and the radio broadcast was a thrill to hear.
We had practiced a play which was hilarious. Sister Laurena was the Garda Siochana. She stopped Sister Philippine Duchesne for not having her bicycle light turned on. I could not stop laughing at the conversation between them because it involved all of us, her twenty-four children, in Rosemount. In desperation, she was let pass. Mother Mary would bring Sr. Julie Urban and any American Sister who happened to be studying in Drogheda to join us for dinner and watch us perform in the play. We always welcomed those visits.
Soon it was back to study. Our Zoology professor came to give us a grind in how to dissect the dog fish. We did this in the greenhouse at the edge of the garden. It was not very cold outside, but we appreciated the extra help. Evidently Professor Kane had done this for the MMM medical students for many years.
Around that time the Papal Nuncio died, and it was thought fitting that all the students should cycle that Sunday afternoon to his residence in Phoenix Park and say the rosary for the repose of his soul. All I can remember is the darkness of the long cycle ride, back and forth. The sacredness of the moment kept us going.
There was not much change to our routine of classes and study. What I found difficult was that there were no tests. I did not know if I really knew the material. The courses were getting more difficult. Maura had studied in Irish and was not familiar with the English terms. However, she understood the theory better, so we helped each other to learn. Would I be able to pass the exams? Everyone really studied hard, and we did the same. Soon spring was upon us, and I used to love to cycle next to the cherry blossom trees.
Easter was a welcomed respite to the study routine. It was a chance to recharge our batteries for the exams would soon be upon us. Eater Monday was a free day and all of us students went for a picnic up the Dublin Mountains. All I can remember is seeing the little lambs frisking about.
The day before our Pre-med exams, we were told to have some fun and relax. I told the sister in charge that I wanted to study Zoology. She said Sister, “For what am I sending you to the Zoo?” The three of us had an incredibly fun time at the zoo. I remember practically crying when I saw the North American skunk. It made me very homesick. We bought noticeably big ice creams for six pence. The main animal on the zoology paper was musca domestica, the house fly. The rest of the exams were a big challenge because I was not used to an examination of six essay type questions to be written in 3 hours. One was expected to write for 30 minutes with a great show of knowledge. There was no multiple choice or true of false. I kept on asking God to help me. The pass mark was thirty-three and one third. There was a remarkably high standard of marking papers. The results were not good. Only thirty people passed the first time and thirty passed the second time by taking a repeat exam in September. That meant we left behind thirty students. Some of the women with whom we had made friends were no longer with us. We had all tried our best.
To give us a treat after our exams, Sr. Maura Lynch’s family took us on an outing to Glendalough. How we all piled into the car was an orchestrated feat. At one point the hill was so steep that the car stalled and could not climb higher. Sister Martha had the bright idea of everyone getting out of the car and she would reverse the car up the hill. It worked, thank God. We all had a wonderful time, and the highlight was to climb into the cave of St. Kevin. To do this, one clung closely to a guide who told us to look upwards because a glance down might lead one to drop into the water. We three made it but I heard that this maneuvering was stopped the next year because a woman did fall into the water. We had a lot of fun that day and the laughter restored our balance to freshly start another year, First Med, but that is another story,