Since my blog of 2007 concerning my time as a boarder at the Visitation Convent school 1942-1947, I have noted with interest that other former pupils (though not from the years I was there) have commented on their experiences of the place. Mostly, their memories are sad and bitter ones. It has made me think back again at my years there. Were such things as they have mentioned really going on, and I never knew about them? All I can say, is that I was never maltreated during the whole of those years, nor did I see or hear of any other boy being beaten or forced to eat his own vomit by the nuns, or being refused permission to go to the toilet, or being so oppressed that suicide would be contemplated. In my opinion, the nuns were dedicated to looking after us - and this they did to the best of their ability. Of the 20+ nuns at the convent when I was there, there were only perhaps three that I didn't get on with too well - not bad going. The teaching was of a high standard thanks to Sr. Anne, Sr. Edith and Sr. Magdalen. OK, Sr. Anne did tap me on the head with the end of a pencil a couple of times for getting my sums wrong - so what! What else do I remember? I remember the kindness shown to me always by Sr. Catherine, Sr. Anne Selma and Sr. Therese, and also by Sr. Helen Joseph, who used to teach in the little school in Chideock. I remember Sr. Julianne playing the harmonium in our chapel, and Sr. Georgina always working away in the wash house. Yes, the porridge could be lumpy, and I didn't like marrow or spinach, but the sisters were catering for quite a number of boys. One could hardly expect meals to be as Mum made them. And lastly, I remember our walks on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons and afterwards attending Benediction in the Chapel, with the nuns and ourselves singing the old hymns. No, for me, not a harsh existence, but one that I remember with affection.
James McGuinness. Convent number 74.
A memory shared byon Oct 7th, 2009.
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