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The orphan with a hundred mothers

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Sr Noela Fox PBVM launches her book The Orphan with a Hundred Mothers. Photo: Domremy College
Sr Noela Fox PBVM launches her book The Orphan with a Hundred Mothers. Photo: Domremy College

After losing both her mother and father, at only age six Irene Kedgley found a home with the Presentation Sisters at Domremy, living on the grounds of Domremy College Five Dock for 18 years.

Her story is now in print after the publication of a new book, The Orphan with a Hundred Mothers, which recounts her life at Domremy in 1920s Sydney.

Written by 93-year-old Sr Noela Fox PBVM, the book follows Irene’s journey from being adopted by Mother Joseph Dunne, the foundress of the college, through to her later years as an honoured guest of the school.

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Sr Fox never personally knew Irene but felt close to her by exploring her legacy.

“I first thought about writing this book over a year ago and I thought at the time that someone should tell the Irene story,” Sister Fox said.

“But, as usual, someone never did. So I thought, ‘I suppose I’ll have to be that someone.’”

The Presentation Sisters were joined by former teachers and students at Domremy for the official book launch on 2 May.

Sr Margaret Barclay PBVM, a former student of Domremy, said the event was a significant milestone and celebration of the college’s heritage.

“The book brings us to the front door of Domremy, as it is a story written right from the grounds,” Sr Barclay said.

“It’s quite an amazing story. You could imagine the sisters taking in a six-year-old child who wasn’t even a Catholic.”

Irene’s legacy lives on: the beautiful rose garden around the Domremy driveway is a memorial to her first husband, Ray Maher, in whose name the college also awards a prize for English and mathematics.

Sr Barclay thanked Sr Fox for, “giving flesh to a story so readable, and that tells us that nothing is impossible with God.”

“Stories influence the culture of a family or an institution. I believe Irene’s story reflects the welcome, hospitality, and the values of Domremy College,” she said.

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