It was a refuge of sorts. The previous years had been tough, time was moving too quickly and like many teenagers I wanted to escape reality. It was a split second decision, and reality dawned quickly.
The story goes; When Jean Baptiste Debrabant, decided to build Our Lady’s Bower Convent and Boarding School, he used the designs from his home in the south of France, to save costs in this new venture. Fact or fiction, the Boarding School has now closed, precisely because, of financial issues. After 130 years the La Sainte Union order of Roman Catholic Nuns, can no longer afford to keep it running and pay for the care of an ageing population of sisters.
I knew nothing of the Bower when I entered the school. My Enid Blyton knowledge of boarding schools didn't prepare me, for four-minute showers and questionable chicken dinners. It took some getting used to. My Blyton collection, also didn't prepare me for the feeling of camaraderie, or the presence of the Bower Girls who had been, and survived.
It never occurred to me, that Our Lady’s Bower Boarding School would stop being a home to lost souls like me. Despite all the negativities that have emerged about the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, it came through unscathed. However, it seems even my teenage refuge, isn't immune to the powers of recession.
In June of 2014 the last eleven boarders sat their Leaving Certificate, packed up their belongings and left. Known as “The Last Eleven” the girls or sisters as they refer to each other, have a special bond, and are now working on what every Bower girl is taught to do, pursuing their dreams.