Rathfarnham Abbey

Rathfarnham Abbey

In 1997, the centenary of the establishment of Loreto Normanhurst, a group of ‘pilgrims’ – students, staff, parents and friends of Loreto Normanhurst – travelled to England and Ireland to retrace the footsteps of Mary Ward, Teresa Ball and Gonzaga Barry.

The group stayed at Rathfarnham Abbey, the first Loreto school, which was begun in a beautiful Georgian house in 1823.  It was a visit filled with poignancy.  The ‘pilgrims’ walked along the corridor that Mary Gonzaga Barry and her companions trod for the last time in 1875, as they departed for Australia, knowing they would never return to Ireland.  It was poignant also in that it had just been announced that Rathfarnham Abbey, then with only 160 students, was about to close.  Yet Loreto Normanhurst and the other Australian Loreto schools, founded from Rathfarnham Abbey, thrive in a new continent and a new century.