The first job I ever thought of taking up wasn’t a job at all for it was more of a vocation. I was going to be a nun. Of course I hadn’t a clue what it would entail, I just had an idea that Mammy and Daddy would be very, very pleased with me. Now where did I get that from? It must have been from snatches of overheard conversation. I was such an eavesdropper in those days. My method was to play quietly, seemingly deeply involved in some childish occupation, my tiny ears on stalks and if adults nudged each other or pointed to the little ones, that was my cue to be rapt, engaged with dolls, puzzles, books, anything that would make them believe that I could not hear, understand or care what they were saying.
Young Thomas Maguire is going to Maynooth. The family are delighted. He has the two aunts on his mother’s side in the Poor Clares and his Uncle Emmanuel Maguire a curate in Hannahstown.
Father Emmanuel never got his own parish?
No word of it. His mother can’t understand it at all. I think myself he is too soft to make a good PP.
There was talk…..
Shush! There’s nothing in that. His mother’s a saint.
So it was that I learned to have a vocation, to become a priest, a nun or a brother was a wonderful thing. A thing that brought pride and delight to your whole connection. Little wonder it seemed like such a good idea even for a bad rip like myself. Today I could be merry and bad and then far, far in the future I would be old and good. First I would be a nun then eventually I’d be a saint. I would have brown wooden beads; carry a cross and a wreath of pink roses. My mother would be delighted with me.
It was later on that I learned about vocations. You didn’t choose to be a nun or a priest. God chose you by calling you to it. But by this time it was starting to seem an unappealing idea. I was less enamoured with pleasing Mammy and Daddy and more interested in pleasing myself. Being a nun sounded dreary. The clothes were bulky and cumbersome, you had to be bald and obedient, you’d never be out of the chapel and the food wasn’t great and you would never have any money nor get a lie-in. But what if God called you? You’d have to go in for it if God called you. I dreaded getting a vocation. Having to be good would be dull, dull, dull and being a saint meant being tortured or murdered for your virtue whatever that was. It just didn’t seem worth it to me.
And so it was that I would forgo the Convent’s call and became a nurse instead. But, as they say, that’s another tale.