From the bottom of the stairs going up:Maura O’Higgins; Mary O’Sullivan; Maura Laverty; Patricia Hawkins (me, in long dress), and Una Cafferty. Don’t know names of all the escorts! Mine was Don Cooney (dentistry). I think it was the 1961 Arts Ball
It always bemuses to read about the storm in a teacup regarding the wearing of trousers. I wore dresses/skirts all my time in UCD, and indeed most of my life. Few women look well in trousers, in my opinion. Marlene Dietrich possibly being the exception!
I don’t recall the male students demonstrating and protesting to be allowed to wear a dress or skirt.
Do you know that Maura O’Higgins (in that photo) and I were the only two girls from our secondary school leaving certificate class that year who went on to U.C.D. Maura had been a day pupil and I a boarder at that school (Holy Faith in Glasnevin). At no point was U.C.D. or indeed any university ever mentioned to our sixth form, no more than if Ireland didn’t have such institutions. A university education wasn’t discussed at all as a possibility. I have often talked in the intervening years with past students and other people about this strange attitude. Mind you that school was a strange place anyhow when I was there and I have never been back. Forward and outward thinking would not have been on the schedule! There’s a book somewhere in me about that place.
If my father (himself a U.C.G. graduate) hadn’t announced that I was going to university I probably wouldn’t even have heard that a certain building stood in Earlsfort Terrace.
That said, there were a goodly number of women students then at U.C.D. and the first raft of soon-to-be nuns from the teaching orders, as B.A. had become a requisite for becoming a secondary teacher.
Those nuns sat by themselves in the front rows of the lecture halls, they were not allowed to talk to us women students, and not even look at the male students! It sounds mediaeval, doesn’t it? The poor things would scuttle off, we know not where, and I assume they had some kind of common-room of their own so that they wouldn’t be adversely affected and morally ruined by the likes of us.
The student nuns were not Professor Louis Roche’s favourite people and he really leaned on them, throughout the lecture, which kept him from leaning on the rest of us.
It would be very unusual for a woman to go into a pub back then. We didn’t drink, or certainly not beyond the odd glass of wine in our parents’ home. I thought I was living madly when a date brought me to a wine bar (so refined!) in Baggot Street. Was it Bartley Dunne’s?
I worked in London for the Summer in my final UCD year, and the atmosphere was so different. After work we could go into a bar, no one stared, and wonder of wonders, have a lager and lime.
We kept body and soul together thanks to a very large Chinese restaurant in Wicklow Street (called, I think, the International). Very affordable, and plentiful helpings. Long queues formed down the passageway into the restaurant and outside along Wicklow Street.
In the basement café in Earlsfort Terrace we crowded together, drank the absolutely dire coffee and talked at length about our plans to change the world!
My husband Carlos (RIP) and I got married in University Church (Stephen’s Green) in May 1984. Photos in Stephen’s Green. Brought back the past when I and fellow students would stroll around the green at lunchtime. And standing on those stairs in the Shelbourne, in that photo, did I ever dream I would be having our wedding dinner in the Shelbourne and that I would have married an Argentinian.
Anyhow those are just a few memories from the past.
Patricia Hawkins de Medina, BA 1964