Thursday 23 May 2019

Countdown is on to the Pres 200 celebrations

This historic picture of the Presentation school dates back to 1910
This historic picture of the Presentation school dates back to 1910

Anna Hayes

A final call for submissions for a book that will commemorate the bicentenary of the Presentation Secondary School has been issued by the two teachers compiling the publication.

Scott Gaynor and Joe Rolston are compiling the book that will chart the school's development from its initial opening in 1818 to the present day.

The school was set up Jane Teresa Frayne (from Dublin) and Catherine Devereux, from The Leap in Davidstown, who also subsequently founded the Presentation Convent in Enniscorthy, which only closed in 2001.

Joe and Scott have, with the help of a few key contributors and researchers, painstakingly gathered a wealth of material for the book, including the Presentation Convent files which provide a fascinating insight not only into school life in the past but also an interesting social history of Wexford town.

'We have 20 past pupils and teachers who are writing their own reflections on their time in the school. We have managed to get someone in every decade from the 1930s, some of whom attended primary school at the Pres,' said Joe and Scott, who joked that their summer holidays had been taken over by the book!

Joe will focus on the foundation of the school up as far as the 1950s while Scott will give an outline of the changing face of the school from the 1960s onwards and into the future, though the men admit that most of the focus will be on the past.

'We feel that our social media accounts and coverage have the present day well covered and that today's stories are for 100 years' time. We'll include the graduating year and the staff, and perhaps a collage from social media to highlight some of the more recent achievements.'

Among the contributors will be one or two academics who will focus on the impact the Presentation schools have made to society.

The teachers also received a large amount of submissions from the public to be incorporated into the book.

During the course of their research, the two teachers found plenty of humorous and interesting tid-bits of information in the Convent archives including mention of an earthquake in the 1890s, the arrival of the first typewriter in 1897, and, most humorously, the story of the Convent's first television set.

They explained: 'The Sisters were gifted a TV set in 1957 but in 1958 there's an entry about the bishop ordering them to take out the TV because, obviously, it could only receive British stations. There's a later entry in 1962, after RTE set up, saying that they could have it back!'

The book will be launched during a week of celebration, coinciding with the school's foundation day on October 2.

There will be a variety of events running throughout that week, most notably an open day on the Tuesday which will welcome past pupils back to explore the school they once frequented.

The book will be launched that evening and a lantern walk will also take place.

On Thursday, October 4, a celebration Mass will take place in Rowe Street Church.

On Friday night, a gala concert, featuring the school choir and past members of the choir, will take place.

Joe and Scott said: 'You don't turn 200 every day so it won't be a usual week in the school. It'll be a time for celebration.'

Wexford People

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