Tipperary’s First Sunderland AFC Supporter?
Sister Mary Vincent Quigley
Capparoe, Rearcross, Newport, Co. Tipperary 1897 – 1995
Convent Mourns: Roker fan Mother Vincent dies, aged 97
A Hard Act to Follow
A Nun who taught generations of Wearside children has died, aged 97. Mother Vincent of the Convent of Mercy in Tunstall Road, was born in Ireland in 1897 and came to Sunderland to enter the convent in 1918. She taught for nearly 40 years at St Patrick’s mixed school in Wear Garth. And she was one of the few teachers to remain in Sunderland when the school was evacuated in the Second World War. After retiring from the School at 65, Mother Vincent taught for two years at the Convent’s private school in Wolsingham, before returning to the convent as assistant to Mother Superior. In the latter years of her life Mother Vincent took a keen interest in needlework and knitting. Her other great passion was Sunderland AFC. Her friend Mother Enda said: “She would carry a small portable radio and no-one could disturb her on a Saturday afternoon until she knew how Sunderland had done, just a couple of days before she died she asked one of her visitors in hospital how the team was doing. She was 76 years in the Convent, which is a marvellous achievement”
Written by Rob Freeth – Echo, March 1995
Sister Mary Vincent Quigley
Sister Vincent, who died recently, was my headmistress at St Patrick’s School, Sunderland. To me she was a very devoted lady. Even when I left school we kept a friendship going. When I was away from my home town of Sunderland, no matter where I was, Sister Vincent would write and send all the news. She was a great supporter of Sunderland AFC. They should be very proud of her as I am and always will be.
Written by John Hamilton – Echo, March 1995
Angel of the East End, Mother Vincent has died
Mother Mary Vincent died in her 98th year at Oaklea Convent of Mercy Sunderland on March 4th after spending 77 years in the city. Sister Vincent served her local community and Catholic education in the East End of the town. She was born in Newport, Tipperary, one of a family of 13 and came to Oaklea in the 18th year. She was the first Sister in the community to gain a diploma in Montessori teaching methods and taught in the Convent school opened by Madam Montessori herself in 1921.
In 1921 Mother Vincent obtained her teaching certificate at Endsleigh, Hull and appointed to St. Patrick’s Infant School and shortly afterwards succeeded to the headship on the death of Sister Malachy. At the time the school was surrounded by warrens of heavily populated terraced streets where both poverty and ill-health were rampant. She witnessed the slum clearance and the building of several blocks of four-storey flats around the school, together with the migration of families to new estates on the outskirts of the town.
On the outbreak of World War II, she organised the education of children in the school who did not go on evacuation. But things were back to normal when the bombings did not happen in the early months and many children returned.
Later the East End was so badly hit by bombing and she was able to give much comfort to the distressed. To her last day she remembered the full names of all pupils in her teaching years. Great confidence was shown in Mother Vincent, especially by parents rehoused on the edge of the town who continued to send their children down to Pats, by-passing two other Catholic schools on the way. A great compliment to her was the stability of her staff. At least three teachers spent their entire teaching lives with her. Sister M. Augustine says Mother Vincent rich heritage of faith was a life-long example to the community and she was much aware of the needs of society.
She retired from St Patrick’s at the age of 65 and after some time at Wolsingham returned to Oak Lea. She was a fervent supporter of Sunderland AFC carrying around her secret portable to listen in to the commentaries and even in her final years would not retire till she knew the final score.
Mother Vincent will be remembered especially by all those ex-Pats whom she “started off” in their final year by her cousin, Sister Elfrida. Mother Vincent’s Requiem was concelebrated by Fr Leo Pyle, Fr Vincent Mallalley and Fr George Dolan in the convent chapel on March 9
Written by Kevin Finn –North Cross, April 1995
Legendary Rearcross Nun Dies
The death took place recently at Oaklea Convent Sunderland, of Sister Mary Vincent Quigley, who was born in Capparoe, Rearcross in 1897. Sister Mary Vincent left her home among the tranquil and scenic Sliabh Phelim Hills and headed for the city on the banks of the river Weir. She joined the Mercy Order, based in Tunstall Road. The year was 1918, and as it transpired, she spent the remainder of her life in her adopted city where she became a legend in education circles. Her fame reached its zenith during World War II when she was one of the few teachers who refused to leave when numerous schools were being evacuated at the height of the conflict. She received numerous commendations over the years for her courage and dedication to the welfare of generations of Sunderland children.
Her faith and vocation were the most important things in her life, but not far behind was her love soccer and particularly the famed Sunderland Club. One of her colleagues at Oaklea recalled how Sister Mary Vincent would spend most Saturdays in her room tuned in to the football action on BBC Radio 3 and “heaven help anyone who disturbed her” until she obtained all the details, especially those concerning her beloved Roker Park club. She must have been Sunderland’s greatest ever supporter because some of the last words she spoke as she lay on her deathbed was to ask Mother Superior how Sunderland were progressing. Two days later she went to her eternal award. After her death she had the distinction of receiving glowing tributes on both general news and sports pages of the Sunderland newspapers. One paper (the “Echo”) headlined one of their reports “A hard act to follow”
Her greatest memories were from the times when the “beautiful game” was graced by true sporting geniuses such as Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Stan Mortensen. Sister Mary Vincent was surely one of the most distinguished people to come from historic Rearcross and she has left an indelible mark on the City of Sunderland. As her achievements testify, she went a long way since the days in the early 1900’s when she sported and played in the old schoolyard in Rearcross, under the shadow of Cullaun Hill.
Written by John Gleeson – Nenagh Guardian, April 1995