Catholic Heritage Blog

Archive of the Month – Favourite Mount Anville School Photograph from 1916 (Society of the Sacred Heart, Ireland and Scotland)

Black and white portrait of young woman wearing a hat and glassesThe Society of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic religious congregation founded in France in 1800 by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. Its major work was the education of young women of the rich and the poor classes. The Society of the Sacred Heart quickly expanded within Europe and beyond, and came to Ireland in 1842.

On 5 August 1865 Mount Anville became the property of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The first impressions of the community have been preserved in a letter to Rome ‘this beautiful property, situated near the sea has a delightful view of the mountains and bay of Dublin…’

Mount Anville currently comprises of Mount Anville Montessori School, Mount Anville Junior School, Mount Anville Primary School and Mount Anville Secondary School.

In 2016 Mount Anville Secondary School, in conjunction with the Provincial Archives, put on a photographic exhibition reflecting the school in 1916.  The purpose was to give the current students an understanding of the education and types of activities that took place 100 years previously, plus to increase awareness of the Provincial Archives which is located on the same grounds.

One activity that emerged from the archives was that school plays, in English and French, were a regular feature of life in Mount Anville in 1916 and tended to be performed on special occasions.   The following extract was found in the Journal of Studies: For the Reverend Mother’s Holiday (3 July) ‘the school acted ‘The Emperor’s Robes’. It was very well done. ‘

Many photographs of students in costume were discovered when preparing the exhibition. The girl above, Mary Fitzgerald, caught our attention. Mary, always smiling, appears in several photographs in costume. We wanted to know more about this theatrical enthusiast. Using the school register we were able to ascertain that Mary was from Kerry.  This information allowed us to search the National Archives of Ireland online census to find out more about Mary and her family. We discovered that she was from Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry. She was one of four children of John Bernard (Mineral Water Manufacturer) and Ida Mary Fitzgerald. In September 2012, aged 6 years, she entered Mount Anville along with her sister, Kathleen. According to the Provincial Archives, Mary remained in Mount Anville until 1926.  

If you are interested in this collection or any others held by the Society of the Sacred Heart, please contact the Provincial Archivist at

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