25th June 2020

Catching up with Nagle’s first student

Margaret O’Callaghan (nee Brannigan) delivering Nagle College’s welcome speech to the Apostolic Delgate from Rome in 1958.

We had the honour and privilege of connecting with Mrs Margaret O’Callaghan (nee Brannigan), the first student to register at Nagle in 1958. When Mrs O’Callaghan began her schooling at Nagle, there were was no designated learning space – they shared with St Mary’s Primary School. There were also no designated Houses like we have today. 
Mrs O’Callaghan’s joy was felt through the phone when she received the call from our Registrar, Ms Rhonda Lawrance, asking about her time at Nagle. “How you set my memories spinning back to 1958,” Mrs O’Callaghan commented.

When asked how her time at Nagle helped equip her for life after school, Mrs O’Callaghan replied, “I remember gaining a feeling of self-confidence within myself and a strong determination to pass my exams.” 

Nagle College was the first Catholic Secondary school in East Gippsland. As such, in 1958, an Apostolic Delgate from Rome. Mrs O’Callaghan had the honour, as College Captain, to deliver the welcome speech. 

“The visit by the Bishop of Sale, the Apostolic Delegate from Rome, Monsignor Walsh our Parish Priest, Mother Catherine our first Principal, the Presentation Sisters, Catholic School Children from Orbost and Lakes Entrance joined us in welcoming the visitor from Rome,” Mrs O’Callaghan reminisced about this fond memory. 

Thinking back on her time at Nagle, Mrs O’Callaghan especially rembers Mother Catherine Curtin, the first Principal. “I found her a most caring and inspiring teacher. She was truely and extraordinary leader.”

“Nagle College taught me to be honest with myself and to strive to succeed.” Since graduating from Nagle College, Mrs O’Callaghan did just that. “I began working at the office of a local solicitor for 10 months before taking the opportunity to travel to America and work on two separate occasions.” 

In 1967, back in Australia, Mrs O’Callaghan trained as a Division 1 general nurse and graduated in 1970 from the Gippsland Base Hospital. 

“My greatest achievement since leaving school was my marriage to my husband John, being a mother to six children and grandmother to 10 grandchildren,” Mrs O’Callaghan says. 

When asked if she had any words of wisdom to share with current students, she replied “I hope each and every student has pride in being a student at Nagle College, and appreciates the outstanding College is has become from 1958 to present.”

“Times have certainly changed, but I hold fond memories of Nagle College and the students and friends I made and interacted with back in 1958.”