At St. Leos in Carlow


               "He was pure of heart,fleet of foot and strong of limb"

 I had the very good fortune to be a boarder at  St. Leo's Convent of Mercy in Carlow, Ireland, during most of the nineteen forties.    It was known as the school that had  "a great name", and great it was!    

  At the tender age of seventeen, I fell head-over-heels in love with a certain, very handsome 2I-year-old Jim Leahy from The Millstream, Abbeyfeale, County Limerick.    Just like the Oisin of Tir na n-Og, "he was pure of heart, fleet of foot, and  strong of limb", but the romance was brought to an abrupt halt, when he decided to try his hand at poetry.  

  Every week, I was the proud recipient of an epistle very wisely signed:   "Your loving cousin, Jim."  Why wisely?   Because Mother Gonzaga, who perused all in-coming mail , had her eye on me, and didn't for one moment believe that any cousin could be as constant as the Northern Star as was, this " cousin Jim". She couldn't exactly prove it until the poem arrived, and then the fat was truly in the  fire.

  It ran thus:   I wish you were a little duck / aswimming on a lake/ and I aswimming by your side/ A happy Lough Gur drake.   

  With pursed lips and screwed-up eyes, she scanned the script and then, pulling herself up to her full five feet one, yelled:  " this man is no cousin of yours and we will not tolerate literature  of doubtful nature in this convent" and so, dear readers, both tearfully and regrettably, "Cousin Jim"  swam out of my life forever, and, I sincerely hope, lived happily ever after.  


Visit:  Talk : The Wanderings of OISIN by W.B.Yeats. 



Anita Kilbride - Jones,

(nee O'Brien),

St. Paul's Bay, Malta.

  At St Leos In Carlow-1948. 

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