BY Ryan McDougall | May 24 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Tribute to college that educated hundreds of Catholic teachers

Former students of an Edinburgh college that trained hundreds of Catholic teachers came together recently to reminisce about its contribution to Scottish education

More than 300 former students from across Europe returned to Craiglockhart College, now part of Edinburgh Napier University, on Saturday May 11, 100 years since the building opened as a training college for generations of Catholic teachers.

Anne Rae, an organiser and former student, said alumni came from as far as Norway to revisit the college for the celebrations.

“There must have been 200 people at the Mass alone and many more throughout the day, it was absolutely lovely,” she said.


Memory lane

“People had the chance to wander round the campus that was once our college, and even today, the main room that was used as a chapel is still called the chapel by the college today, which I’m delighted about—it was a real trip down memory lane for all of us.”

When the alumni studied at Craiglockhart, they sang Salve Regina every evening, which they replicated on the centenary celebration as the day came to an end.


Huge success

Marie Moynart, also an organiser, said: “It was an absolutely fantastic, fabulous day. I don’t think any one of us could have imagined it would have gone so well.

“Everybody involved had some sort of connection to Craiglockhart. The organist was a former student’s son-in-law and the priest who celebrated Mass was a former student.”


Historical building

Prior to its days as a college for Catholic teacher training, Craiglockhart was a treatment institution for First World War victims of shell shock, now recognised as a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It was bought by the sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1919 and quickly became a training ground for the many generations of Catholic teachers it served.

Much of the old building has been retained and a large extension has been built to house Napier University’s business school.


Sacred Heart values

Mrs Moynart, who was a student in the 70s, said: “It’s an iconic building—the Sacred Heart nuns’ values were strong and they were so intelligent. They instilled in us those great values.

“There’s something intangible about Craiglockhart—if you come into contact with another Craiglockhart student you can feel their values, there’s a sense of identity there that we call the spirit of Craiglockhart: it’s what bonds us all together.”



One attendee at the reunion said: “It was a magical day. It was great to meet with people I hadn’t seen since we all graduated in 1972. Matching faces to names was fun!”

Another person, who studied at the college from 1957-1960, said: “It was great to meet up with fellow ‘Craiglockharts’ and to recognise and, more importantly, to be recognised after so many years.”


Priestly connection

Fr Martin Birrell OSB of Pluscarden Abbey, Moray, led the celebration of Mass and had studied at Craiglockhart before leaving to pursue his vocation.

During his homily, he said: “I certainly got a surprise a year ago when I was contacted in my monastery of Pluscarden by Anne Rae asking if I would say Mass for a reunion of former students of Craiglockhart.

“Flabbergasted would probably be the most appropriate word. It is a credit to the fine work of Craiglockhart College that just as people proudly put ‘Oxon [Oxford] failed’ or ‘Cantab [Cambridge] failed’ after their name to denote a far higher level of achievement than 95 per cent of the population level, so I as a Craiglockhart failed— or did not stay the course—can now move upfront this level of, in itself, high achievement which has finally caught up with me after almost 50 years.”



Fr Birrell added: “100 years of Catholic education in Scotland under the Act, 100 years since the founding of Craiglockhart’s Sacred Heart convent and then Catholic teacher training college.

“100 years of continuing to learn from the Sacred Heart of Jesus who is meek and humble of heart and desires to lead us all to rest for our souls.”


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