'...but even today, more than years later, I feel a little twinge when I think of my first experience of betrayal'

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'...but even today, more than years later, I feel a little twinge when I think of my first experience of betrayal'


Mary remembers becoming an adolescent. She describes the sense of betrayal she felt at the loss of a friend from her boarding school days.


Mary Dynan


Trinity College Dublin




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Mary Dynan

Is Part Of

Adolescence and Early Adulthood


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Cloughmills, Co. Antrim

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


It was the day before the end of the school holidays in 1948. I was to return to Kilkeel the next day to begin my second year there. I was actually looking forward to getting back and meeting my friends after the long holiday. My mother's London cousin, Gerald Byrne, a flamboyant and ebullient character - who wrote a weekly column in the Sunday Empire News - as if that was not bad enough, he was visiting with his peroxide blonde lady companion. Their marital status was dubious - a big deal in those days and certainly worthy of a sniff in my particular family. Nonetheless, he was being entertained hospitably and that meant a tour round the Glens and to the Giants Causeway and I was taken along. The sun shone beautifully in the Glens as we walked along rustic paths and enjoyed the rushing waterfalls and, from the right vantage point, Scotland sparkled on the horizon. However, clouds wee gathering as we got to the Giants Causeway. We parked the car at the hotel and walked about a mile to the spectacular rock formations and then the heavens opened. The adults managed to get into a shelter and I was sent back to get coats and umbrellas. I ran along feeling quite sorry for myself as my pretty floral dress was soaked through. 'It is not fair_� I grumbled to myself, but I got the required articles and soon everyone was safe and dry in the hotel. I had to take all my clothes off and have dinner wrapped in my father's overcoat, a novel experience. Next day I had a streaming cold and my mother decided I had better not return to school until I had recovered. At this stage, it seemed like a good idea, especially as coincidentally I had my first real period an event which had been foreshadowed earlier when I was presented with a packet of sanitary towels and told that I would be needing them. I was not too surprised, though there was no explanation about what it meant. From bits and pieces that I had observed in school and hearing people talk about 'the curse' I supposed that it was something to be endured, particularly as its arrival meant that I was treated as even more of an invalid. I recovered and returned to school about these days late. By then the damage was done. When I went to the classroom I was frustrated to find that the only desk that was left was between two girls who would not have been my first choice of companions. Luckily I had the same spot in the dormitory as the previous year. While it was not the most coveted alcove, it had the virtue of being familiar. I found it had to contain my chagrin when I went to the refectory and found that I had to sit at the end of the table, a place usually reserved for a first year. Apart from being humiliating, this meant that I had to do a lot of the chores beneath my lofty station as someone in Form 3. But the thing that stabbed my heart was the fact that my special friend A_�_ had deserted me. She wouldn't even talk to me as she cosied up to her new friend, Margaret. It seemed to me that she wanted to flaunt her new friendship and I could just look on, desolate. Everyone else had paired up and I was left alone. What would I do for the Sunday walk? Would I have the humiliation of having to be allocated a partner? Who could I talk to about this 'curse' thing? When would it come back? I lay in bed and wept tears of homesickness and frustration and wondered what would happen. Nobody wanted me. I moped around, friendless, for a while. Sr. Dervile became concerned and asked what was wrong. She sat me down for a t�_te - �_ - t�_te and I poured out my sad tale (minus the period, of course). She came up with ideas about teaming up with people in other classes which did not seem to me to fill the bill, but the fact that she cared cheered me up a bit. Luckily rehearsals started for our annual musical - Her Ladyship - and I was picked to be in the chorus, as well as to say 'look, he's fallen_� at an appropriate juncture - a speaking part! We became very busy with the music, as well as helping Mr. Eliott to paint the scenery and assisting Sr. Marie Raphael with getting costumes fixed. The costumes had come in big baskets from Dublin, but needed some pinning and tucking. I soon forgot my forlorn state as I threw myself into all the activity and spread my affections a bit, so I went home for Halloween in a much better mood. I do not remember staying all of the year at the bottom of the table, but even today, more than years later, I feel a little twinge when I think of my first experience of betrayal, even if it was on a small scale.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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