Sr Mercedes 2

Sr Mercedes Desmond, now 93, has championed science education in Ireland for over 60 years.

Born in Donoughmore, Co. Cork, Sr Mercedes was professed as a Sister of Mercy in 1944 and despite having never studied science at secondary school, she enrolled to study Physics at UCC in 1945. In addition, she studied astronomy, which spurred a lifelong Sr Mercedes 1interest in the subject. She also studied chemistry and, due to the daytime rationing of gas during World War II, carried out practical work in Chemistry at night in the old science building (now Civil Engineering) in UCC.

After graduating with a B.Sc. in Physics and Chemistry, and later a HDip in Education, Sr Mercedes was assigned to St. Aloysius School in Cork city in 1949, where she taught Physics, Chemistry and Maths, as well as Physiology until the introduction of biology as a subject on the curriculum. After her appointment as principal of the school in 1978, enrolment rose to 1200 students, becoming the largest all-girls secondary school in Ireland.

In 1962 Sr Mercedes, along with a small group of others, founded the Irish Science Teachers’ Association (ISTA). Sr Mercedes immersed herself in science education at local and national level, organising courses for science teachers, from glass-blowing and electronics to ecology and astronomy. She will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Education.

Widely esteemed for her humility, Sr Mercedes’ commitment to science education has made a massive impact on standards across Ireland and beyond. 

Evening Echo article