Sister Act

In the race or on the sidelines, the Sisters of the Holy Names get in on the action.

From their convent along Fort George Wright Drive, the Sisters of the Holy Names have long enjoyed a front-row seat to Bloomsday. Sister Eileen Rose Kelly, for one, has watched more Bloomsday races than she can remember.

“It’s really wonderful. A lot of people holler to us and say, ‘Hi, sisters ... pray for us, sisters,’ you know, things like that, and we’re still very much a part of it,” Kelly says.

Sister Paula Turnbull, a local sculptor who created the garbage-eating goat in Riverfront Park, ran Bloomsday for nearly a decade, but now, even from the sidelines, she still feels like she’s part of the race.

They enjoy the spectacle of it all — the throngs of people, the unusual costumes some runners wear — but seeing familiar faces year after year is the best part.

Kelly recalls one man in particular, who shakes hands with the nuns every time he runs by. She also looks forward to seeing a couple from California whom she spoke to during their first Bloomsday race. Since then, they have always visited the convent the day after the race.

“I thought they weren’t coming this year because he’s been quite sick, but he’s got the word that he can walk but not run so they’ll be here,” she says.

After reflecting on their Bloomsday experiences, both Kelly and Turnbull reached the same conclusion: Bloomsday is, above all, good for the community.

“I’m glad people participate in it. I think it’s a great community thing,” Turnbull says. “A lot of people come by, or they’ll come and make it a visit to friends. I think that’s great.”

“I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s an acceptance of everybody on our part,” Kelly says. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are. We need more of that.”

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