English version of Catholicism seemed softer in schools

Posted by Kelly Fincham at 5/26/2009 2:30 PM EDT

My family decided to move back from England to Ireland in 1979. When I say "moved back" I'm really referring to my mother's family who were all from Drogheda, Dublin and Skerries.

My father's family were English on his dad's side and Irish on his mother's (Waterford). Anyway, up until then I had been taught in English schools with the English version of Catholicism.

It was a fairly flexible version, some of us were Catholic but some of us weren't. Nuns were only wheeled out to teach religion and even then, they were pretty progressive in comparison to the nuns I encountered in Drogheda in 1980.

There, some of the nuns expected you to almost genuflect in their presence. There was very little true warmth for their pupils; just a very severe discipline.

Looking back, the women would have gone into the convent at about the same time my mother left Ireland with 10 shillings and a watch to go into nursing school in England. My mother could so easily have been pushed into the convent. Her father had died and my grandmother could barely provide for the seven children.

Eddie Holt explains well why the nuns of the 1980s chose that path in the 1950s. I'm glad no-one in my mother's family was forced to follow that route.

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