St Mary's Catholic Primary School

In Jesus' footsteps we learn, love and grow together to be the best that we can be!

Past Pupil Memories

Did you attend St. Mary's Catholic Primary School? If so then send us your memories and we will share them here.

Josephine Fitzsimmons (Coombs)


I am 70 in April  so all you lovelies that were in school with me hello hello. I also have lots of memories and names that pop up now and again, I began school with a girl called Connie Morgan  I  always think of her as my best friend because I didn't have many !!! Anyway I went looking for her 2 yrs ago I knew she lived in Ely and had a good idea of the area and yes I found her so wonderful to see her, also I bumped into Barbara Rowlands who looks just the same as  I remember her we were going to try and set up a reunion but I think she may have lost my number it would be so nice to meet up again, she told me I was quirky in school well I never !!! That's why Connie was my only friend!!!


Do you remember Mr Donovan I had a school girl crush  on him and kept staring at him in class one day he punished me by making me sit by Kenny Evans I then developed a crush on Kenny ! Names like Colin Blunt, John Light, Gregory Walsh, Laurie Brooks lovely Christine Thompson,  Maria  Melvyn, beautiful Kathleen Harry and her sister Regina - how lovely if we could meet up again.


Do you remember the bakery in Wyndham Crescent, I use to go to mass every morning so I could get a hot roll and then a free bottle of milk when I got into school . I had a beautiful teacher in the seniors (no I didn't pass the 11plus) her name was Miss Roffie  I'm not sure of the spelling but she was so lovely to me, what about Mr Trigg now he was a force to be reckoned with I was scared to look at him! They were great times, some one mentioned Llandaff baths when it was freezing cold, I use to wear my sisters cossies they were two big for me I hated going , I can buy my own now ! Also tennis lessons I was hopeless but went on to play really well after I left school.


I remember the youth club, but I was a bit reserved or shy I suppose so I think I only went once I was in awe of all the pretty older girls I was the youngest of four I just wanted to grow up so quickly and look like them. When I pass St Mary's school now which is often, it looks small. I remember jiving in the playground, assembly mass once a month beautiful home grown roses on the alter, steamed pudding and custard and that  lovely meat pie with thick crust. Miss Hughes our domestic science teacher ,lovely lady the boys use to chat to us on cookery day so we would give them some of what we had cooked!!!


I live on a farm now in St Fagans my husband says he loves walking through the door after work just see what I have cooked ! Nothing changes, well that's it really could go on forever so many memories some good some not so good but we make the best out of what we have. If anyone is interested in a reunion let me know ill get some Botox done!


God bless

Josephine Fitzsimmons (Coombs)

Denis Moore - Pupil 1946 to 1956


Teachers and staff I remember: 

Miss Guy - Head of Infants and Juniors

Tom McCabe - Head of Seniors

Teachers:- Miss Ready, Miss Birt, Miss Roper, Miss Green, Miss O'Connor, Sister Delorous, Miss Mansell, Mr Rahl, Mr Keeley, Mr Torjusen, Mr Sullivan.

Dinner Lady - Mrs Wake

Caretaker - Mr Crimmins



  • Monday to Friday delivering milk in crates to classes
  • Tuesdays - swimming, walking to Llandaff Fields open air pools
  • Thursdays - Games day: Rugby & Baseball - walk to Llandaff Fields
  • Gift of apples from Canada (1947) due to shortage of fruit
  • The lovely milk tablets (due to shortage of milk)
  • The building of woodwork class in the playground
  • Fridays filling the inkwells
  • Going down to sweet shop (Simmons) in lunch break
  • Going down to bakery for hot cobs and batches
  • Last but not least the outside toilets, freezing in winter not too bad in summer


School Friends

Danny Stone, Terry Williams, Stephen Hunt, Michael Granville, Billy Brookman, David Roblin, Mike Murphy, the late John Hickey (Cardiff RFC Rugby) 

And the big families: Walsh, Roblin, Hurford, Barry, Hurley



Hope this will bring back memories for other pupils.



Noreen Dunne


I would like to invite you to step back in time with me as I remember growing up in the parish of St Mary of the Angels, Cardiff. When you visit St Mary’s you will be aware of the many outstanding features of this beautiful church: the stained glass, the Stations of the Cross, the baptismal font with its exquisite carving and, of course, the Rood Cross.


As you approach the sanctuary, you will observe an abundance of Connemara marble on the high altar and rails of the inner sanctuary. This marble is of special significance to me as it was brought from Ireland by my grandfather, James Walsh, in the early 1890s. James worked as a stevedore at the docks in Dublin and was responsible for this precious cargo of marble destined for the sanctuaries of St Mary’s, Cardiff and St Joseph’s, Penarth. Both churches, of course, designed by the same architect.


When James arrived in Cardiff he felt an immediate affinity with the Welsh people. There was little work in Ireland at that time so he decided to start a new life in Wales and soon brought his wife, Julia and their children to Canton where they set up home. My mother, Alice, was just seven years old at the time: it was 1895. While the new church was being built in King’s Road, I understand that the old church in Wyndham Crescent served a dual purpose, being used as the school on weekdays. It was here that my mother and her brothers and sisters received their education.


In 1909, when my mother was twenty-one years old she married Thomas Dunne, a young man who had come from Tipperary to work on the Great Western Railway. The marriage took place in the new church which had opened in 1907; it was here that the couple had met and fallen in love at first sight, viewing each other across the central aisle and introducing themselves to each other on the church porch at the end of Mass. The fifth of seven daughters born to Alice and Thomas, I was born in May 1925 and baptised at St Mary’s at the age of two weeks. At the age of three I started to attend school in the old building. I remember there being one large hall with an enormous coal fir in wintertime; at least four of five classes were held in this space.


By this time building was progressing well on the new school, the foundation stone having been laid and blessed by Archbishop Mostyn in October 1928. We moved, amidst great excitement, into the new school, probably in 1930. I don’t remember the exact date.


Schooldays were very happy ones, we were fortunate to have devoted and gifted teachers who instilled within us a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge. Needless to say we were given a firm grounding in religious education. Each year we were inspected and examined by three canons of the archdiocese; the names which come to me are Hannon, Jarvis and Griesharber. We were slightly aware of these dear gentlemen and made sure that we knew all the answers to their questions.


Once incident I will never forget from my early days at school – I was curious to know why a lovely teacher, Miss Olive Connor, always took a little group of children into her classroom each morning before lessons began. I felt slightly envious and wondered why I was not included. So, one day I climbed up and looked through the window, only to see the dear lady distributing milk and sandwiches to the children whom she knew had come to school without breakfast. Unfortunately for me, Miss Connor saw me and later that morning gave me a good “telling-off”: I had the grace to feel ashamed.


There were several highlights in the school year, the first was the annual Corpus Christi celebration. Each school processed through the streets of Cardiff, meeting in the castle grounds for a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. I would have loved to strew the rose petals before the Sacred Host but this privilege, for some reason, was always given to the girls from St Peter’s.


I think, if I am to be perfectly honest, that the event which I enjoyed more was the outing to Barry Island, which always took place in the feast of the Sacred Heart. We were driven in a fleet of charabancs or “charabangs” as we called them, singing all the way. It was always a magical day when we enjoyed the sea and sand, the roundabout and, of course, the lively tea at the Merry Friars’ Café before returning home. St David’s Day was, of course, very special. Each class gave a performance on stage. I particularly loved dressing up in Welsh costume for the dancing. I still remember the music. In the filed of drama I never attained my ambition to play Queen Boadicea and had to be content with being a wayside daffodil.


At St Mary’s we were always blessed with good priests who worked with parents and teachers in an atmosphere of perfect trust to keep the Catholic faith alive. We were privileged to enjoy outstanding music, including the Gregorian chant; several of the priests in those days were brilliant organists. In 1941, an incendiary bomb fell on the sacristy of St Mary’s, causing considerable damage and disruption; thank God the church itself was spared.


I left St Mary’s School in 1936 at 11 years of age. In September 2006 I returned to the school as a volunteer helper where I gave some of my time to help today’s generation of young children with their reading.

Lesley Constandi (nee Andrew)


My family has a long history with St Mary's, both the school and the church.


I attended St Mary's School for almost 7 years up until February 1964, when my family moved to Australia. My maiden name was Lesley Andrew and my brother Clive also attended St Mary's, 3 years behind me. We lived in Lionel Road. Both my mother, Miriam Whitt, and my father, Terry Andrew and his brother and sister attended before me. My maternal grandmother, Gwen Whitt, was a member of the 'Mothers' Club'. I attended the Brownies that was held in the hall.


I was in standard 4A when I left in 1964 and that class was ruled over by Mr Donovan who we all liked immensely. I remember Miss Hurley, Miss Cronin, Miss Ready and her sister-in-law in the infants Mrs Ready, who absolutely hated me!. The forbidding (to us) Sister Dolores was head mistress in those days and her neice, Jane McCarthy, was in my class. Mr Chidgey was 'in charge' of the B classes and his daughter Clare was in my class. Please accept my apologies for any spelling errors in these names.


There were two other lovely nuns, Sister Syra and Sister Marietta, both Irish as I recollect, always with smiles on their faces. When I was in the infants another beautiful nun, we simply called her Sister Mary, herself came to Australia. I believe she went to Darwin. I still remember the little speech that I was chosen to deliver at her farewell. Do you know how she fared?


Like other contributors, I too remember the bakery and the fish and chip shop. We used to await, with much anticipation, the arrival of the bonfire toffee once a year at the sweet shop around the corner.


I remember the terrible toilets outside, always flooded and blocked; warming the milk on the radiators; being sent home from school when the same radiators froze, rendering the classrooms unusable; dinners in the hall - I still cannot face Spotted Dick after all these years; the boys kicking cans around in the area outside the woodwork shed because of a lack of grass to play football. All wonderful memories.


On my first trip 'back home' in 1988, I visited the school only to find it closed for a public holiday. I have visited the church several times in the ensuing years on other return trips. The only priest that I remember by name is Fr Finea. When I was about 8 years old, a gentleman one Sunday allowed me to ring the church bell. I was lifted off the ground by the sheer weight of the bell and the same man had to grab me to save me from being launched into the bell tower.


My father died in Wales in 1987 on a trip to see his family and his service was conducted at St Mary of the Angels. My parents were married there by the same priest who Baptised my mother. I took the sacrament of Holy Communion there. My Aunt, Jean Hayman, still attends mass there I believe.


I would be very interested in hearing from any student from my years at St Mary's. I have tried unsuccessfully to find the girls. They would have different surnames due to marriage. So the former Julie Davies, Vivienne or Ursula Bray, Judy Snowball, if you're out there, my email address is


Best wishes to all at St Mary's from (now) Lesley Constandi.

Phillip “ Charlie” Venn


I started at the infant school in 1953. We lived in Leckwith Road, Canton, a mixed family of mainly Irish decent, namely Tobin, Ellwood and Walsh / Welsh. Just up the road was the old Ninian Pub or hotel as it was then. Jim Bryant and his wife ran the pub and they had a daughter Sheila who also attended St Mary`s School. We went to St. Mary’s church in Canton, the Sacred Heart church in Broad Street, Leckwith had not been built at this time.


Infants and Junior School

The headmaster of the school was Mr McCabe. I don’t remember much of the infant school, other than it was run by nuns, with the odd priest / monk giving religious instruction. St Mary`s still had monks at this time, not sure if they were Benedict? or Franciscan ?


The junior school was run by Sister Dolours, and her merry band of angels. The nuns wore a habit with lots of starched petticoats, that rustled when they walked. We used to call them “ rustling death “ if you heard the sound of the habit it was to late and they had hit you before you had a chance to get away. All of the nuns seemed to carry a chair leg rather than a cane, and they must have gone to a special training school to learn how to use it with maximum effect. Of course if you did nothing wrong , you never had this happen to you, but like most of my childhood friends this was a common experience, we were often caught loitering or messing about in the corridors.


 Does anyone remember the weekly trip to Llandaff open air swimming bath`s ?, it was the highlight of the week. To be marched up Severn Road and into Llandaff fields, I am sure that some of the teachers thought it was their duty to ensure that you had a bath at least once a week. I remember we went, even in the middle of winter when the pool had ice on it.

 Character building is how it was described.


Being Catholics, rugby was the school sport, [ football was for hooligan protestants ] and before I left the juniors I played in the team that won the Sinclair Cup for under 11`s. The match was played on the old “ Kairdiff Arms Park “ ground, in front of a huge crowd, well about 50 people anyway.


Another highlight was a European holiday. We went to Austria for two weeks, in 58 / 59 ? I remember that we travelled on the Trans Siberian Express. This was possibly the first time we had been on a real train, with sleeping compartments and they sold food and drinks from a trolley including beer, what a challenge for us kids, will they serve us , yes they will, they had no age limit.  I remember the teacher, John Donovan going mad with the porters, for serving beer to us children. The train ran from Calais to Tashkent, Siberia [ that’s the farthest point in Russia ] and we got off at Innsbruck, Austria. We stayed in a little village named Zirl, about 10 miles out of Innsbruck, and the only thing I remember is Freddie Pole setting fire to one of the bedrooms. We had a really good holiday and I think it cost all of £ 13 each, so my paper round and working anywhere paid off.


All good things have to end, and so came the 11 plus exam, I was not good enough to pass this and was to start in the senior school next term.


But I loved it, even though I was not suited to be an academic, I was a day dreamer. I drifted my way through the junior school.


St Mary`s Senior School, Little David Street. Cardiff


Eleven years old and your world was to change forever. We had lost some friends, as they went away to high school, or in some cases they went to other schools ie Fairwater rather than stay at St Mary`s. We were joined by other children, as they came from Ely and Fairwater if they wanted to attend a Catholic school in this part of the city. St Mary`s school in Canton was full, so we had to have the 1st and 2nd years classes in the old building in Little David Street in the town centre. We shared the old building with another school, not sure if it was Lady Mary or Fitzallan high school, but the place was a two storey old building in a run down part of the city, just across the main road [ Adam Street ] was the dock, in Collingdon road. I remember going to the dock and seeing the ships unloading and loading all sorts of goods, but mainly vegetables, the Edward England potato warehouse was at the end of the dock. As we could not afford the bus fare, two old pence a day, I had to walk from Leckwith Road to town in the morning and back in the afternoon, in all types of weather, Summer and Winter.


The head mistress was Dolly Bowley, she had a wicked sense of humour, and very good aim with the black board cleaner. If only she could have bowled for Wales we could have won all of the baseball competitions. I don’t ever remember her missing any target , head or body, and she never ever was a gentle or soft touch, hard as nails. I cannot remember if it was Barry Trigg or John Donovan who taught the second year.


As we had moved to town we used to use the old bath`s in Churchill Way, imagine that an indoor swimming pool. Like the rest of the area it was run down and past its best. Not for us the luxury of the Empire Pool, just down the road, and opened for the Empire games in 1958.


By the time we had moved back to Canton for years 3 and 4, it seemed like everything had changed. We were no longer the little children that had seemed lost when we first arrived. We were now older, able to cope with changes more easily.


Does anyone remember the following teachers ;


Frank [ Nobby ] Rahll Science and general studies. Ex RAF Pilot flew in bombers during the war with my uncle, Phillip Ellwood.


Mr McMahon Woodwork and Sport.


They were the best, they gave time, effort and had a lot of patience with us.


We had another European holiday and we went to Blankenburg in Belgium.  I believe that this was in 61 or 62 but I cannot remember where we stayed or who went on the trip, perhaps some reader will remember and let us know.


St Mary`s had a fantastic youth club, and people came from all parts of Cardiff to attend the dances that we had. Do you remember Dave Edmonds and the Raiders, ? they played at the youth club on a regular basis. We had a great outdoor sport section and often ran trips to Llangorse lake to go sailing and canoeing , and the Gower peninsula for all types of activities. Hiking in the Brecon Beacons was great fun, and I like to think that we all had a good time.


The teachers that were involved with the running of the youth club gave everything they possibly could and deserve our thanks and praise.


Finally I have tried to remember as many of the pupils as I could that shared schooldays with me on my journey through life.



Lyn Penn [ deceased ],  Henry Oliver [ Twisty ],  Mike Conlan,  Paul Fitzgerald,  Alex Tanti, Jeff Bunce,  George Chircop, Benny McCarthy,  Laurie Brooks,  Robert Roberts, Greg Pace, Freddie Pope,  Dave Acton, Clive Tree, Paul Cotter, Patrick Jones, Patrick McGuiness,  Patrick Hennaberry, Peter Stone, Vivian Pearcey [ deceased ], John Duffy, Piero Carramella (Restaurant and nightclub owner).



Sheila Bryant,  Julia Rowlands,  Judith Horwood,  Lynette Thompson,  Grace Gilligan,  Maria Chetcutti,  Antonia Chetcutti, Kathleen Lynch,  Maureen Bray,  Maria [ Rob Roberts wife?],  Dorothy Clarke, Veronica Donovan



Famous Italian footballer ?

Does anyone know if it was Giorgio Chinaglia that attended our school, he went on to play for Italy in the 74 world cup, he was attending a catholic school in Cardiff from 55 until 62.


While not at all academic in school, I loved Llandaff Tech and finally went to university when I was nearly 30 years old. I look back on my schooldays and remember St Mary`s with great fondness , and say thanks for such a good start in life.