Our History
the school gates open 8.40am each morning.
St. John of God Primary School, The Faythe, Wexford, Y35 YT38, Ireland. ~ 053-9123105. H.S.C.L. 087-9657964
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10:43:47am
Thursday, 6th August 2020

The Statue...

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In the early days the place for prayer meetings was in the oratory. A lamp was always burning there and could be seen from the quay. The fishermen and sailors knew they were home when they saw the light. The people themselves kept a lamp burning. A common question was "Is your mother in the lamp?" - which means she paid a few pence a week to keep it lighting. Mr James Marlowe of the Faythe remembers his sister Lil and some of the other monitresses going into the school twice a week to keep the light burning.

 

A story is told that one stormy night about one hundred years ago the crew of a small fishing boat lost their way at sea. For hours they lived in hope that the storm would clear and they would reach land safely. Most of them lived in the Faythe or surrounding districts. They were beginning to lose hope when suddenly one of them saw a light. They set their course in its direction and landed safely at Wexford Quays. Some say that the women were gathered in the oratory that night to pray for them. Whatever the story it was the light from the oratory of the school that saved them. In 1946 with the erection of the new school, the light no longer shone. But the fishermen of the Faythe decided to erect a statue of Our Lady on the gable end of the school. This statue would have a crown of lights which would be seen over Wexford Quay. It would bear the words "Mary Immaculate, Star of the Sea, Queen of the Faythe, pray for us". The description of the celebration in 1954 on the day on which the statue was blessed was carried in the local paper as follows:

 "A most edifying and inspiring ceremony took place at the St. John of God Convent School, The Faythe, Wexford on Thursday afternoon when, in the presence of a large number of people including old and young sailors, old and young lightship men, their wives and families and school children, the beautiful ten foot high Statue of Our Lady, which was to commemorate the Marion Year has been erected on the gable end of the school, fifty feet from the ground, was blessed by Rev. Dr. Staunton, Lord Bishop of Ferns.

 There were present too, sisters of the various houses of the order, and the sculptor Mr. John Leonard, Redmond Place, Wexford, Ald. Nicholas Corish, and Mr John Howlin T.C. were also included in the large attendance.

Forming a Rosary at the foot of the gable end of the building were a number of smaller pupils in the charge of a nun. Prior to the ceremony there was a procession of the school children, led by Rev. W.J. Gaul, St. Peter's college, members of the Children of Mary Sodality, Sisters of St. John of God and the general public. Hymns were sung.

At the blessing of the statue His Lordship was assisted by Rev. W. Anglim C.C.; Rev. J.Cummins C.C.; Rev. M. Doyle C.C. Other clergy present were Rev. J.M. Butler Adm.; Rev. M.J.O'Neill, Maynooth Missions and Rev. Patrick Sharkey O.M.I. Inchicore, Dublin. After the blessing, His Lordship pressed the switch which lights the crown of bulbs on the head of the statue".

 The fishermen each gave the proceeds of one days fishing to defray the cost. The statue was honoured for years after that. On feast days of Our Lady throughout the year a procession of children would come out the front door and go singing hymns and saying rosaries around to the back. The Infants, of course, were always placed closest to the gable wall. Too small to concentrate for long on the prayers they craned their necks to see the statue way up in the sky. With clouds moving above it, it gave rise to the illusion of the first moving statue.

As stated in the newspaper report the statue originally had a crown of bulbs which shone like stars. Sr. Columbanus told me once of the difficulty of maintaining them. The bulbs were difficult and expensive to replace when broken so the bulbs were replaced by a more solid halo. This, however got broken too. When Sr. Teresa Joseph was Principal she got the light lighting again but in the storms of 1989 the halo was swept away by the wind and at the time of writing (1991) the statue has no light.

 

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