Ardtona History

Extracts from the Parish Booklet published for the 25th Anniversary in 1982

In 1941 Fr. Riordan who was then a curate in Dundrum asked me to .start a Junior School in the Holy Cross Parish as there was no private school in the area and people had difficulty in bringing their children into the city to school. As it was the beginning of the Autumn term when he came to me I had to start immediately and for the first month Fr. Riordan arranged that I could rent the tennis Club pavilion which was on Ballinteer Road.

At the end of October 1941 we moved into Ardtona House on the Lower Churchtown Road. I always feel that I was very lucky in the first group of children because they set the atmosphere and attitudes for those who came later.

Judy Inglis was one of the first group – she is still living in Churchtown and is active in the Parish of the Good Shepherd. There were two Dowling brothers who were very clever, particularly at mathematics. They both qualified as Engineers and Pat later became a Benedictine Monk. Their parents live in Ballinteer. Patricia Fry’s father had a wonderful model railway, her mother still lives in Churchtown. Hugh Hamilton has long since left Churchtown as have Grainne Saunders, Rosemary Purcell and Christopher Barry. These are just a few of the names that come to my mind from the very early days.

In 1945 a friend of mine thought that I should get an assistant. She told me that she knew a very good teacher who had been teaching in a school in Rathgar which was closing down. And so came Eilish Moriarty who later became Mrs. O’Sullivan. Mrs. O’Sullivan became part of Ardtona and remained until her retirement in 1974 when she went back to live in her beloved Kerry.

We were in Dundrum Parish until the Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1957. I think it was Fr. Carey – then a curate in Dundrum, now Parish Priest of Ballinteer – who came to tell us that we were being moved to the new Church which was then part of Rathfarnham Parish.

At first we were sad when we got this news, but Fr. Hyland, who was the curate in charge of the Good Shepherd Church became a very good friend and helped us to make the First Communion ceremony a memorable occasion. Our children were the first to receive First Communion in the new Church.

Now each year we have some children receiving their First Communion whose parents were First Communicants in the early days of Churchtown Parish and so there is a continuity which makes a friendly family atmosphere.

The early forties was a difficult time – the war was in full swing, there were many shortages – tea, sugar, butter etc., were rationed and petrol was in such short supply that only doctors and a few other priority people got a small ration to be used for their work only. So there were no cars and few buses but everybody knew their neighbours and there was always lots of conversation especially on the last bus which left town at 9.30 p.m.

Living in Churchtown was like living in the country, there was no Church, no school, no pub (P.V. Doyle opened the County Club about the early fifties). Rathfarnham was cut off by the narrow lanes but Dundrum had the great advantage of having a Railway Station. The last train left Harcourt Street at 11 p.m. and was always packed. It took ten minutes to reach Dundrum. The Churchtown road was very dark as there were no lights but the people walking up from the train chatted together and were concerned for each other so we all felt that we were part of a community. I am glad that this feeling of community is being revived in Churchtown.

Happy memories crowd in on me whenever I enter the Church of the Good Shepherd and it is with joyful anticipation that I look forward to the Silver Jubilee celebrations.

S.F. Rogerson

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