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Although the school was founded in 1873, the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the present building of St Mary’s Secondary School, Holy Faith, Glasnevin, ensures a festive mood this weekend but no more festive than the original ceremony on 8 December 1939. Amazingly the then President of Ireland and the entire government was present: Douglas Hyde, Eamon de Valera, Sean T. O’Kelly, Frank Aiken, Sean Lemass, P.J. Rutledge, Sean McEntee, P.J. Little, Oscar Traynor, Dr Ryan, T. Derring.
The only woman dignitary was the Lord Mayor, Mrs T. Clarke, widow of Tom Clarke, signatory to the 1916 Proclamation and executed leader of the 1916 Rising. Mrs Clarke, Kathleen, was Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1939 to 1943.
It was neither the Holy Faith sisters nor the school which drew such an unusual attendance but the involvement of the architect P.J. Munden with the Republican movement and his membership of the Irish Volunteers. Munden’s design for the school’s new building featured entirely Irish materials: Ballinphellic brick and County Dublin granite dressings. Its elevated site above the National Botanic Gardens and impressive dimensions, 59 metres long with a height of 17m metres, ensured that school was, and remains, a distinctive element of the Glasnevin skyline. The contractor was R. Macken of Synge St.
The anniversary Mass will be celebrated in the convent chapel by the parish administrator, Fr Richard Sheehy, and will be preceded by an afternoon of school tours, viewing of old photos and memorabilia with a sip or two of mulled wine.
Source: Vivienne Keely, Glasnevin A Sense of Place (Dublin: The History Press, 2014)