Eunice Baily was 16 in 1956 aback she aboriginal gave a Christmas agenda to her academy acquaintance Clare Brazil. Added than six decades later, that actual aforementioned Christmas agenda is still actuality beatific aback and alternating amid the two women.
“Isn’t it a acclaim to the column appointment that it’s never been lost,” says Eunice, as the women sit calm in Clare’s home in Co Waterford, account the agenda and reminiscing.
The brace were pupils at St Mary’s, the Ursuline abbey boarding school. They larboard in 1957, and that December, Clare alternate Eunice’s agenda with the message: “Does this accompany aback blessed mems! Send it to me abutting year.”
Over the accomplished 63 years, the agenda has been acquaint amid Waterford and Kerry, Cork, London, and Dublin. It became a blithe tradition.
The aboriginal agenda – with a atramentous and white angel of the three astute men on the advanced – came from the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, beatific to Eunice with a ceremony aback she was appointed secretary of the school’s branch. It now has three added bedding of agenda inside, apprenticed calm with thread. The abrupt ceremony greetings action alone a glimpse into the lives that abundant over the years, afore and since.
The duo aboriginal met as second-year boarders. Eunice was from Tralee in Co Kerry, Clare a Waterford City local. “We clicked,” Clare says, “because neither of us admired hockey.”
Together they anamnesis the boyish adventure of travelling to academy on the alternation “full of boys activity aback to De La Salle and Rockwell”; of alfresco clothes blind in the attic of the academy to be fumigated “with a sulphur candle” to anticipate measles or craven pox; of lining up to ablution with tin basins and jugs – their vests kept on for modesty; of aboriginal morning Mass; of aliment and adulate with aureate abstract for tea; and walks in the grounds, which included a acreage and a calm science college.
Both were in the choir – “a abundant way of accepting out of school” – and the orchestra. Clare was aboriginal violin and Eunice bifold bass, “because I was the alone one big abundant to accompany it bottomward the corridor!” There were dramas and musicals, and debates on Sunday evenings.
“On accustomed evenings you’d sit about bed-making and mending, and they ability apprehend a adventure to us,” Clare says. Eunice became “an able darner”. “I would abuse for added girls as a altogether present.”
By the time they sat the Leaving Certificate, alone eight girls remained in their year. “That’s like a big family,” Brazil says. “We were all in the aforementioned dormitory, the aforementioned classroom. We knew ceremony added so well.”
Clare larboard Waterford to abstraction pharmacy in Dublin. Eunice, who was destined to abstraction law and accompany her father’s convenance in Tralee, abstruse autograph and typing, and concluded up abutting the bank.
“We all backward friends,” Clare says. “I aggregate flats in Cork and London with Fionnuala and Irene, who were in the Ursulines with us too.” And every Christmas, year afterwards year, the agenda would be beatific amid Clare and Eunice, with aloof a atom of advice about their lives, and loves.
1961Don’t dream of accident this as this stage! I’m acquisitive it will be in apportionment aback we’re grandmothers – but we’ve to get husbands first! Accept a admirable Christmas. Eunice
By 1961, Clare was still in Dublin, active in one of a alternation of “grotty Rathmines flats”. There wasn’t abundant socialising: “Nobody had money. A adolescent from Cork arrive me to a dress ball in The Shelbourne. He came to aces me up on his bike, to accompany me in on the batten – in my dress!”
Eunice formed aboriginal at the Provincial Coffer in Cork, flat-sharing with Maeve Binchy. “I had accepted her aback I was 14. We met on holidays in Ballybunion. Our fathers were accompany and colleagues. The collapsed was over a candied shop. Its kitchen beam was so low you could either abrasion rollers in your beard or aerial heels, but not both. We would ablaze blaze lighters to accumulate warm, because annihilation abroad would break alight. Maeve acclimated to say, ‘when the blaze goes out …we go out.’ We had abundant fun together.”
1962I’ll bet you didn’t apprehend this – it’s the alone agenda I beatific this year. I wrote you a continued letter but forgot to column it…Am animated you’re still a affiliate of the Spinster Club. I achievement this time abutting year neither of us will be. If the Pioneers could alone see you now! Clare.
1963Well! I assumption some of us accept it & others haven’t Mrs Brazil! Let’s achievement I accomplish the brand this year but it’s doubtful. Eunice
Clare alternate to Waterford and affiliated Donal Brazil, who she knew from “up and bottomward the hill” – John’s Hill in Waterford City – area they still animate today. Orla, their eldest, was built-in in 1964. She died afore she was 10. Michael, their second, still lives with them. A account of him affair President Michael D Higgins hangs abreast their advanced door. Photographs of their added four children, and three granddaughters, are dotted about their brilliant home.
The card’s abbreviate letters over the years alone adumbration at this ebb and breeze of the women’s lives, with moments of abundant beatitude and sadness.
1984I abhorrence that this almanac of our accord will never be serialised in the Sunday Times unless we say article added absorbing ceremony year than Blessed Christmas. Adulation Eunice.
1985Sara says this is affecting (the “in” babble at St Angela’s) it is so boring. Imagine it is about 30 years a going! Clare
1987Sara is cerebration of starting one of these cards, now that she is in 5th year, she’s apprehensive who’d be about in 31 years time. Love, Clare.
1996: 40th ceremony of cardTo babyish Clare. It is the alone agenda I’ve beatific on this card’s 40th anniversary, as my mother died this sad year. Adulation Eunice. (Thank you for advancing to break with me in Tralee afterwards she died.)
Between Christmases, both women travelled extensively, and there is some advertence in the letters to these trips. Eunice’s biking began in 1960 with a cruise to Paris. “Then I was on the aboriginal of the amalgamation holidays to Sitges and Torremolinos. You’d apperceive the Irish because they’d be advancing bottomward to the coffer with Roches Stores artificial bags.”
Later campaign took her to North America, Hong Kong, China, and about Europe. “After I retired from the coffer in 1998 in Dublin I could biking for best periods, to places like South America, Canada, alike Alaska. I’ve had abundant adventures.”
In her 60s, Eunice began abutting the Brazils on tours organised by Accompany of the Waterford Museum of Treasures. “We’ve been to Venice, Madrid, Berlin, Bologna… endless of places together,” Clare says.
2005Dear Eunice, what a acceptable activity we have. This year we’ve met in Florence, La Rochelle and Ile de Ré & had a acceptable time together. We’ll accept our aboriginal grandchild abutting June. See you in Madrid afore that, I hope. Adulation Clare
2010The year I went to Cancun, Mexico to Garrett’s bells and while there swam in azure seas on my 70th birthday. My admirable sparkling niece, Anne, anesthetized abroad from blight age-old 38 in November – a huge accident to me. Adulation Eunice.
So what’s kept their accord alive, and the agenda activity aback and forward? “Chit babble and things in common,” Clare says. “And your hospitality,” adds Eunice. Underpinning aggregate is the band they formed as schoolgirls.
2007The year we acclaimed 50 years on from our time in St Mary’s, met all or best of the chic in Faithlegg House Hotel. We’re cat-and-mouse for a new baby. Christmas comes about all too bound now Eunice! Accumulate well, adulation Clare
This year the agenda is due to biking amid Dublin and Waterford. “Maybe I’ll aloof leave it with you now,” Eunice suggests. “I don’t appetite to accident it accepting absent at this stage.” She takes out a pen and begins to write:
2019Happy Christmas Clare. The year that you, me, and the agenda accomplished fame.
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