Old friends get back together classmate’s Golden Jubilee

Reunited…the Class of 1960 from Raheen National School (front – from left) Marie Harte nee Coughlan, Mai Gilmore nee O'Brien, Olive McMahon nee O'Brien, Annan McDonagh nee Brehony, Sr Kathleen M Murphy, Maureen Callahan nee McLearn, Nancy Mahony nee Kelly and Anna Costello nee Coughlan, Margaret Gilbin nee Coughlan, with (back) Tommie Coughlan, Michael Larkin, Imelda Duffy, Padraig O'Brien, Johnny Malone, John Nevin, Josie Murray and Mikie Kelly.

Old schoolmates from Killimor took a trip down memory lane at the weekend for a celebration on the double.

For the first time in 56 years, the 1960 class of Raheen National School gathered for a reunion.

But this wasn’t an ordinary gathering – the 17 former friends reunited to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Religious Profession of their classmate, Sister Kathleen M. Murphy of Claremadden.

After doing the ‘Primary’, aged just thirteen and a half, she headed to Juniorate in Swanage near Southampton in the South of England. It was here young girls decided whether they wished to become nuns.

She did, and joined the Sisters of Mercy, and received an education – degree, masters and doctorate in religious education.

She taught in State schools in England and worked her way to the top of Maryvale Institute in Birmingham – the equivalent of a Catholic teacher training college – where she became head of religious education.

After years of travelling England, Wales and Northern Ireland in that capacity, and on missions, when Sr Kathleen reached her Golden Jubilee milestone, there was only one place she wanted to be – home in East Galway!

“They asked me would I like a trip to Rome, or a trip anywhere else to celebrate. I didn’t. All I wanted was a reunion with my classmates in Raheen National School. Because I had left so early, that’s what I wanted.

“My brother said firstly, my classmates wouldn’t care enough to want to come. And secondly that it would be impossible to get in touch with everyone, even if they did want to,” she recalled.

But nothing is impossible. And he was wrong abouit her classmates not caring – they jumped at the chance to meet again!

So with the help of Anna McDonagh nee Breheny, one of Sister Kathleen’s class mates, her brother Tom and his wife Marie, the group got together last weekend.

Everyone who was mobile made it to the celebration, including seventeen classmates; only two couldn’t be there due to illness.

The day itself was unique and special, not least for the powerful homily delivered by Fr Christy O’Byrne at the mass which was concelebrated in St Patrick’s Church Kiltormer, Ballinasloe. The choir, under the direction of Lucy Kilkenny excelled themselves.

Offertory gifts included a bible, a symbol of Sr Kathleen’s missionary life; and the old plaque from the Raheen National School was polished-up and brought to the altar by classmate Michael Larkin.

Candles were lit for three deceased classmates, the late Sean Hogan, Kathleen Duane and Joe McClearn. There was a special candle lit also for her late parents, Jim and Delia Murphy, who lived to 100, and the deceased parents of the classmates, all of whom had passed away.

They browsed old communion and confirmation photographs and reminisced on the ‘good old days’ during a day full of emotion. Later they updated each other on the years gone by over a special celebration meal in Gullane’s Hotel, which was followed by dancing to the music of the sixties.

“It was a powerful day. Not just for me. But what struck me was that it was a powerful day for all of the classmates. Many of them hadn’t seen each other in 56 years. It was very emotional. For me it was a very spiritual day, a very emotional day,” added Sister Kathleen.