'In Rome, we stayed in a convent and slept in dormitories and raided the nuns' kitchen at night.'

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'In Rome, we stayed in a convent and slept in dormitories and raided the nuns' kitchen at night.'


Theresa Byrne remembers the games she used to play as a child. She reflects on her early days as a member of a choir with other girls her age. This was an important activity and Theresa developed great friendships with the other members. The choir also gave her the opportunity to learn about fashion, photography and ballroom dancing and to attend and perform concerts and film premieres. Theresa also remembers a choir trip to Rome where they sang at the Castle Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope.


Theresa Byrne


Trinity College Dublin




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Theresa Byrne

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Growing up I didn't have a favourite toy apart from some games like _�� snakes _��n' ladders or ludo'. Neither did I have a pet! My most significant relationships and memories of my childhood were being a member of a choir, a junior one first. Without a doubt this was my favourite place to be and also my favourite hobby. This was a mixture of girls between the ages of ten years to sixteen years of age. A small selection, were recruited from several of the then convent schools. Every afternoon rehearsal was held from Monday to Friday for a couple of hours. The choir practice took place in one of the parlour rooms which were sparsely furnished with a heavy mahogany table and several chairs, the room was painted in a neutral colour and a blackboard was used, introducing us to the rudiments of music. The space and place was splendid, warm and cheerful. The venue was the Franciscan Friary, Merchants Quay. We girls engaged quite a lot with each other and the friendships that were born and formed remained so for many a year. We were introduced to music in many forms and without anyone realising, suddenly all of us were hooked on plain chant, Latin motets, learning to read Tonic Solfa and listening to classical music and the voice of Mario Lanza. The lovely song _��Gold Thoughts on Golden Wings' was our anthem and sung in Italian whenever a party was held. Though much more than music was learned. For example, ballroom dancing, photography and fashion were introduced to us and enjoyed. Consequently, I and the other girls were led into a very special place where music and friendship was nourished and developed, connecting us to church and organ music, while introducing us to a life which, perhaps, otherwise might have evaded some of us. We had a most kind and caring music director, devoted to creating music who directed us also to be better responsible citizens. We attended some _��film premiers' in the then Adelphi cinema, this was quite a unique opportunity as, no doubt, in those early days there was no possibility whatsoever of any one of us attending such an event. We joyfully entered competitions, where guest singers in several other churches, sang at the Grotto in Knock and, eventually, we went on a big trip to Italy. We sang in the inner sanctum of Castle Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope. A cup of Barry's tea and real creamery butter was enjoyed in the Franciscan College in Rome. In Rome, we stayed in a convent and slept in dormitories and raided the nuns' kitchen at night. This proved to be an educational and valuable trip and furthermore we were exposed to all things new, a people, a culture and the forever inspiring architecture of Italy.


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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