There were a few things that my school — St Mary’s Convent, Arklow — had going for it but as far as I was concerned, the choir trumped most other activities. That was on account of the nun in charge, Sister Agnes, who had been, we had heard, a professional singer before she entered the convent. She was brisk, upright, her habit immaculate, with beady blue eyes and the kind of focus that set her apart even in the convent.
Her choir was legendary, at least in our circle. We won every competition we entered, and we entered lots: Dublin, provincial music festivals, Llandudno in Wales. Not winning would have been a source of collective shame, letting down past generations of choristers.
But this time we went further, to Belgium, for a European schools competition.