History of the Buildings

The original grey school building, presently named for M Paul Mulquin was built by St Mary’s Parish ( Rev. J.F. Corbett) for the Parish children - girls and junior boys. It was opened in 1875. This building would more appropriately reflect the reality of the time if it was named for M Berchmans Carroll who taught and was the Head Teacher of St Mary’s Primary School from 1874 (first in St Mary’s Church then in this building) until 1910. (Sr Berchmans died in 1912 aged 64). Sr Margaret Mary Kelly took over in 1911 and moved across the road to the present site of St Mary’s Primary School in 1912 where she remained until 1923.

Many of the buildings at PCW were named to acknowledge the significant contribution of the Presentation Sisters. 


Established the first Presentation foundation in Victoria at Presentation Convent Windsor.

Parents John Mulquin and Honora Sheehy. Catherine Mulquin

born 1842, Adare, Limerick, Ireland and educated at "Laurel Hill", FCJ Convent, Dublin, was professed in 1863, in Limerick. In 1873, she volunteered and led the seven foundation sisters to the "St. Kilda Mission" in response to the urgent call from Rev. J. F. Corbett,

"From the ends of the earth...

"As the secular clause in the Victorian Education Act of 1872 had withdrawn funding from denominational schools, a high level of voluntary service would be necessary to continue to support St. Mary's Primary School. Secondary classes would also be welcome to answer the emerging demand for the higher education of women. Christmas Day, 1873, marked the foundation of what developed as PCW; the second Catholic Secondary Convent School for girls in Melbourne. M. Paul was a cultured, vital, dynamic woman. The education she fostered during her fifty-six years at Windsor was in the liberal tradition, broad and integrated.

M Sr. Berchmans Carroll 1848 - 1912

Head Teacher / Teacher St Mary’s Primary School 1874-1910.

Anne Carroll, was educated by the Ursuline Sisters at Thurles, Tipperary. She joined the Presentations, Limerick in 1867 and volunteered for the St Kilda Mission in 1873. She opened the classes for girls(and junior boys) in St Mary’s Church in 1874 and in 1875, as Head Teacher, moved into this building, the new Parish Primary school, built by Rev J.F. Corbett.

By 1883, the total enrolment at Presentation Convent reached 367 of which 290 were Parish Primary students. In 1912 the Primary school moved back across Dandenong Rd to its present site.

Sr Berchmans was in the school until 1910. It is recorded that she was a very dignified woman and an efficient organiser.

M.Ita Cagney 1865 -1954

Professed as a Presentation Sister in 1887 her teaching life was at Windsor, where she was Principal from 1906-1914. Mother Ita was responsible for an extensive building program, including the 1908 section on the convent side (Boarding School) and the first block of the 1911 red brick building on the Hornby Street side.

She was the second Superior General of the Amalgamated Presentation Sisters of Victoria from 1914 to 1932. In the many Presentation convents and schools opened in her time, she was noted for her careful management of money, often too careful for comfort! In financially difficult times, she consistently planned for the future and always took the opportunity to acquire adjacent properties up for sale.

M. Ita was slightly built, quietly spoken, unfailingly courteous but very firm. Attention to detail, punctuality and practicality were characteristic. She would, on occasion, climb a ladder to interview the foreman on site while a building was in progress.

M Columba Feheney 1871- 1945

Born Mary Feheney at Askeaton, County Limerick, Ireland, in 1871. Educated at Presentation Convent, Crosshaven, County Cork. Arrived in Melbourne in 1890. Professed as a Presentation Sister at Presentation Convent Windsor in 1893.

Superior at PCW 1914- 1918, 1923-1928, 1930-1931

Elected as the third Superior General of the Amalgamated Presentation Sisters Victoria 1932 - 1945.

 All her teaching life was at PCW. She specialised in Literature, History and Mathematics.

M.Columba was a woman of great natural dignity, warmth and personal charm. She was deeply spiritual, scholarly and always very encouraging towards sisters and students in her care. She expected the best from everyone and usually received it. In times of difficulty she excelled as a counsellor and peacemaker.

The Windsor Chapel, the eastern wing of the convent (the front door to the Chapel) 1917 and extensions to the Hornby Street building were completed under her guidance.

M. Bertrand Rahilly 1903-1985

Principal: 1938-1958.

Educated at PCW.(Head Prefect), BA.,Dip.Ed.,University of Melbourne. Leader of the Convent 1959 - 1964, 12 years on the Congregation Council.

Buildings such as this hall and the administration block showed her drive and vision.

An excellent swimmer and tennis player, her first major project was to promote sport and establish the school houses. She cleared the block beside the railway for two netball, two tennis and circlos courts, hoping to add a swimming pool!

A strong personality, a capable business woman, builder and administrator.

Sister Mary (Rosaria) Kavanagh pbvm OAM

Sr Mary regarded 1936, a mid- Depression year, as the year that actually made her! At the small Iona School, Sr Leo, a Sister of StJoseph, coached her for the Diocesan Scholarship and set her on an academic path through St Ita’s, PCW, the University of Melbourne - BA., Dip.Ed., B Ed., M Ed. and ultimately to an OAM for services to Education.

For well over 80 years, she was closely associated with PCW - as a student 1938-1940; professed as a Presentation Sister in 1944; as a teacher, mainly English, Latin and Geography, 1947-1964; Principal 1965-1970. Community Leader 1971-1978 and twelve years on the Presentation Leadership Team. Supervision of Boarders was a constant and extended into her retirement with the Off-Campus Resident Students. She was particularly intent on ensuring the Boarders had access to as many cultural experiences as possible in Music, Art and Drama whilst in Melbourne. A person of intellect, integrity and courage, always ready and able to consider all sides of a proposal or problem, with an eye for unintended consequences. She is remembered as a dedicated, generous, outstanding teacher and leader.


Principal: 1932-1937

Born Alice Mary (Lalla) at South Yarra in 1891. Educated at Presentation Convent Windsor and Professed as a Presentation Sister in 1913. As a teacher and Principal she never seemed to assert discipline. It was sufficient for this small, softly spoken woman to enter a classroom and order instantly prevailed. Some maintained that even the `rubbish' on desks or floor quietly receded into the waste-paper basket!

She was universally regarded as a person of great integrity, unassuming, thoughtful and scrupulously fair in dealing with others. Mother Vincent was elected as the fifth Superior General of the Amalgamated Presentation Sisters Victoria in 1958 and re-elected for a second term in 1964.

Sister Marie Therese Harold 1926-

Marie Therese Harold, entered the Presentation Congregation in 1945 and attended Melbourne University 1959 - 1963. As a Boarder for most of the time, Marie spent her entire school life at PCW and taught here for ten years. In 1973 she was elected Deputy Superior General of the Presentation Congregation and then seventh Superior General in 1977.  As Leader she was elected a Councillor for the Union of International Superiors General. Then she worked as Deputy Chairperson for Secondary Staff at the Catholic Education Office Melbourne. In 1986 she went to Ottawa, Canada, passing the Baccalaureate in Canon Law (Magna Cum Laude) in 1987, and then the Licentiate, Masters in Canon Law in 1988. Marie returned to the Catholic Education Office as Co-ordinating Chairperson and Canonical Advisor, retiring in 1993. She remained available for advice on Canon Law issues. Unassuming and quietly confident. A person of dignity and integrity. A good administrator, an encouraging and methodical teacher, a trustworthy confidant with a dry sense of humour, a sharp mind and eye for detail.

Sr Mary Kavanagh has been actively associated with PCW for 82 years and still counting!

Sr Marie Therese has been actively associated with PCW for 89 years and still counting!!

172 years (so far) between the two of them and still counting!!!!


BORN: Limerick, Ireland

PARENTS: Robert Gunson and Jane Sheppard

Jane Gunson, Assistant to M. Paul Mulquin, came from a merchant family in Limerick. She was older than the other sisters and the only one with relatives already in Melbourne - two brothers, one of whom was the editor of the Advocate, the diocesan weekly newspaper from its first issue in 1868 until his death in 1901. As a result of a fall aboard the Great Britain, her leg was seriously injured and she never fully recovered. After a few years, she returned to Limerick, where she died in 1894. Her headstone there records that she was part of the "St. Kilda Mission", Victoria, Australia.

M. MONICA BRAY 1844-1929

BORN: Manister, Limerick, Ireland PARENTS: Patrick Bray and Bridget Minahan

Anne Bray joined the founding group on the Great Britain as a prospective postulant. On the voyage she was engaged as a nanny. A lady with a young baby employed her to look after her older girl, who related well to Anne. Anne was also very practical in looking after the domestic needs of the pioneer community. After her profession she continued her service to the community, which included making the altar breads for both parish church and convent. She died at the advanced age of 85 years at PCW.


BORN: Feenagh, Limerick, Ireland

PARENTS: William Irwin and Honoria Condon


Honoria Irwin was born in Limerick, 1842, entered the Presentation Convent there and was professed as Sr. Mary Patrick in 1866.As Bursar to the pioneer community for seventeen years, she was noted for her generosity to the sisters, the boarders and especially to the poor in St. Mary's Parish. Being responsible for money matters during those early years was a daily challenge. In the school she was in charge of the Infant Section and is remembered as very understanding of people in difficulties and resourceful in the solution of problems, financial and otherwise.

M. XAVIER MACKEY 1854-1940

BORN: Castleconnell, Killaloe, Limerick, Ireland

PARENTS: Anthony Mackey and Elizabeth Ryan

Elizabeth Mackey was nineteen when she applied to join the group. Young, vivacious and talented, she began her religious training on the Great Britain as well as being the `Life of the party!' Her fine singing voice entertained all on board. Music, Art and Literature were her strengths, to which during her sixty-seven years at PCW she was to add Anatomy, Zoology and Botany. A keen educationalist, she responded well to the massive changes in the higher education of women during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her Reception Ceremony 2/07/1874, filled St. Mary's Church. In 1922 she made a brief visit back to Ireland to encourage other young women to volunteer, especially for the various parish primary schools serviced from PCW.


BORN: Limerick, Ireland

PARENTS: Daniel Cronin and Brigid Ryan

Margaret Mary's life was comparatively short, forty-six action filled years. After four years as a member of the Presentation Community in Sexton Street, Limerick, she joined the pioneer group. She taught the senior classes when they were first set up in St. Mary's Presbytery in 1874 and at "Turret Lodge", on the present site of PCW, from 1875-1890. In 1890 she was elected Superior and died in office in 1891. She humorously referred to the fifty-six sea sick days aboard the Great Britain as having stabilised her mission vocation. She is remembered as a competent teacher, a good looking woman and as Novice Mistress to Elizabeth Mackey and Anne Bray, both in the original group, Mother Joseph O'Kennedy who followed two years later, and other young aspirants in the fledgling community.