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In the 1930s
by Mrs Fraser
(niece of Mrs Hissey - our oldest former pupil? - see foot of page)

In 1935 we went to St Michael’s College by train from Saltcoats to Bogside and walked across the Moor, a good walk. The trains were every hour, so if you missed the regular at 4.30, you had a long wait for the next. If you were ‘kept in’, you were really unfortunate.

I was ‘kept in’ in second year as punishment for not wearing my school hat – navy blue velour! I stood under the school clock until “Fanny” remembered I was there. It was after 4.30 and dark – no lights and there were no actual paths except rough ones worn by the feet of pupils over the years. I was afraid and late home. My mother was angry. I should have had some other form of punishment and caught the train with everyone. She met “Beenie” Lambie and said something should be done about transport. “Beenie” suggested I go round all the Catholic pupils’ homes and ask if they would like to go by bus. I got the job going round knocking doors and each family was pleased to accept. So “Beenie” did her thing at the Education Committee and we had a special bus to and from school and a season ticket. That was circa 1937.

Some memories of staff then:

Mr Glover (‘Tough’): Excellent Maths teacher, but short on patience. Sayings – “Come out the dross.”, “Come out the submerged tenth.”, “Speak now or forever hold your peace!” Fanny used him as a ‘belter’ for senior boys.

P J Leahy, Science, prefaced his statements with “In actual mechanical practice”. We counted 42 times in one period. He had a vintage car, cloth hood and plastic type windows – known to us as the “Puddle Jumper”.

Miss O’Halloran (‘Fuzzy’): great French teacher. The girls loved her clothes and shoes, very Parisienne.

Sr Mechtilde Joseph (‘Fairy’): I always felt she enjoyed punishment for others – good for the soul! She was petite; barely seen lips, they were always clamped tightly; very forbidding as though she expected the worst from pupils. She also had a moustache! It made her vulnerable.

Mr Cunningham (‘Charlie’): excellent Latin teacher. Lived in Ayr but encouraged us (VIth year) to meet at Mass in St Mary’s on Saturdays to read and understand Latin epistles and Gospels. A human being.

Miss Wade (‘Maisie’) - Not much fun; talked tough. If she couldn’t hear you, she’d yell “Stop caressing your tonsils” and various other sayings I’ve forgotten. Glaswegian.

Mrs Fraser, niece of Mrs Hissey

Our oldest former pupil?

Agnes (Addie) Hissey (nee McCabe) was born in Saltcoats on 17 Dec., 1907. After leaving St Mary’s, Saltcoats, at 14 for St Margaret’s in Paisley, she returned to St Michael’s (convent school). After sitting ‘Highers’, she trained as a teacher at Craiglockhart in Edinburgh. She taught in various schools in this area until her retiral. Mrs Hissey now lives in the Church of Scotland’s South Beach Home. She will be 100 in December – her two sisters died when they reached 100. She is blind but her memory is excellent.


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