Sister Mary Ignatius Davies

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Sister Mary Ignatius Davies
Born Mary Davies
(1921-11-18)18 November 1921
Innswood, Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica
Died 9 February 2003(2003-02-09) (aged 81)
Kingston, Jamaica
Nationality Jamaican
Occupation Nun, teacher

Sister Mary Ignatius Davies (18 November 1921−9 February 2003) was a Sister of Mercy and inspirational music teacher known for her work at the Alpha Boys School.


Born Mary Davies in Innswood, Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica,[1] Davies was baptised at the St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Spanish Town, and went to the St. Catherine Elementary School.[2] After her family moved to Kingston, she attended Mico Elementary School and later the Alpha Academy, the girls' high school attached to the Alpha Boys School.[2][1][3] She joined the Sisters of Mercy on 1 February 1939, aged 17, taking the name Ignatius,[2][1] and lived at the school for the remainder of her life.[4]

She inspired many musicians from the Alpha school to become professional musicians, including future Skatalites Tommy McCook, Don Drummond, and Johnny "Dizzy" Moore, as well as trombonist Rico Rodriguez and Leslie Thompson, who went on to become the first black conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.[1] She contributed to Island Rock, a documentary series broadcast in 2002 on BBC Radio 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of Jamaican independence.[1]

Sister Mary Ignatius had a large record collection that was the envy of many pupils at the Academy, and was a huge fan of blues and jazz.[4][5] For many years she operated a sound system on Saturday afternoons at the school, which attracted people from surrounding areas.[5]

While best known for the musicians she taught, she was also involved in teaching football, cricket, boxing, table tennis, and dominoes at the school.[5][6]

In 1996 she was awarded the Badge of Honour for services to Jamaica.[2]

She died at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica, on 9 February 2003, aged 81, after suffering a heart attack the day before.[5][3][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Pierre Perrone, Sister Mary Ignatius Davies: Headmistress behind ska and reggae (obituary) The Independent on Sunday, 3 March 2003, archived from original source
  2. ^ a b c d e "Alpha's Sister Mary Ignatius passes on ", Jamaica Gleaner, 11 February 2003. Retrieved 7 December 2014
  3. ^ a b Katz, David (2003) "Sister Mary Ignatius Davies: Unlikely mentor of Jamaican ska greats and international jazz musicians", The Guardian, 15 February 2003. Retrieved 7 December 2014
  4. ^ a b Green, Thomas H. (2006) "Nun who nurtured reggae", Daily Telegraph, 12 January 2006. Retrieved 7 December 2014
  5. ^ a b c d "Sister Ignatius' Musical Legacy Lives On", Jamaica Gleaner, 7 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014
  6. ^ Charles, Jonathan (2007) "The nun who nurtured reggae", BBC, 26 December 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2014

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