A Visit from our Irish Roots

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Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht visited St. Mary’s Dominican High School, Friday, November 7. Minister Humphreys, in New Orleans for the 2014 International Irish Famine Commemoration November 6th through 9th, addressed the school assembly where the choir performed  “Danny Boy” and “The Lady of Knock.” New Orleans, rich in its Irish history and traditions, was selected by the Irish Government to host the Commemoration that started in 2009. The annual event aims to keep the memory of the Irish Famine alive and pay tribute to the outstanding accomplishments of the Irish men, women and children who left their beloved homeland to escape certain death by starvation and illness.

St. Mary’s Dominican High School traces its roots to Dublin, Ireland in 1860. On November 5, 1860 seven Dominican sisters from St. Mary’s Convent-Cabra, Dublin, Ireland arrived in New Orleans. The foundresses of St. Mary’s Congregation in New Orleans were Mother Mary John Flanagan, Mother Mary Magdalen O’Farrell, Sister Mary Hyacinth McQuillan, Sister Mary Brigid Smith, Sister Mary Osanna Cahill, Sister Mary Xavier Gaynor, and Sister Mary Ursula O’Reilly. They came at the request of Rev. Jeremiah Moynihan, Pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in New Orleans, to teach the children of the Irish immigrants. These Dominican women, educated in the humanities and the fine arts, opened St. John the Baptist School for Girls on December 3, 1860, with a recorded attendance of 200.

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