12 April 2014

(Some of) the class of 1969 from
Gormanston meet after 45 years

Bewley’s Hotel, Ballsbridge, in the moonlight after last night’s dinner (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

It is 45 years since I finished school after sitting my Leaving Certificate in Gormanston College, Co Meath in 1969.

Forty-five years later, 17 of the Class of 1969 turned up for the Gormanston PPU dinner in Bewley’s Hotel, Ballsbridge. Some of us are near neighbours, by chance and by accident; some of us have been touch with one another to varying degrees; and some of us were meeting each other for the first time in 45 years.

If we are a cross-section of Irish society today, then we are quite a good sample of our generation – architects, accountants, company directors, vets, IT consultants, teachers, lecturers, counsellors, chaplains, priests, farmers, racehorse owners … some have even retired.

Some had travelled from London, some talked honestly about the difficulties they had faced since the collapse of the Irish economy in 2008/2009.

We talked about those who were not there last night, we exchanged memories of those who are dead, we talked about those who were in the years ahead of us and the years behind us, and we recalled monks and teachers from our days.

Some of us have kept in touch over the years, even through Facebook and LinkedIn. Some of us have worked together at times, or shared flats at the beginning of our working lives. Others I meet every now and then for coffee or lunch … from Dublin to Cork and Wexford, to Cambridge.

Some of us even made new friends, and certainly I remembered my time in Gormanston as happy days and years.

A reminder of the former Masonic Girls’ School at the entrance to Bewley’s Hotel in Ballsbirdge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford

It is 60 years since Gormanston opened as a boarding school, between Drogheda and Balbriggan. We heard further details last night of how the school is about to enter a new phase as the boarding facilities come to an end, and the school moves from the private sector to the public sector.

But schools change as time changes … we were reminded of this by our setting last night. The hotel on the corner of Merrion Road and Simmonscourt Road was built as the Masonic Female Orphan School, and the foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Abercorn on Saint John’s Day, 25 June 1880, and later became the Masonic Girls’ School.

The Royal Dublin Society bought the building in the early 1970s and renamed it Thomas Prior House after one of the founding members of the RDS. It was bought by the Wexford businessman Bert Allen in the late 1980s and later became Bewley’s Hotel. The former school Assembly Hall, where we had our dinner last night is now known as the Thomas Prior Hall.

The Class of 1969 from Gormanston at last night’s dinner in Ballsbridge

There was talk too of a dinner in June to mark this sixtieth anniversary, with an overnight stay. I stayed over for the fiftieth anniversary in 2004. How many of the Year of 1969 will be there in 2014?

We are:

William Barrett, Hilary Barry (deceased), Brian Brady, Aidan Brosnan, Derek Browne, Henry Browne, Peter Burke, Patrick Cassidy, Seamus Claffey, Patrick Comerford, Justin Connolly, Breen Coyne, Andrew Crotty, Thomas Delaney, David Dennehy, Michael Dervan, Gerald Dick, Frank Domoney, Paul Egan, Donal Geaney (deceased), Michael Geraghty, John Grogan, Richard Hayes, Michael Hickey, Liam Holmes, John Horgan, Frank Hunt, Stephen Kane, Paul Keatings, Noel Keaveney, Thomas Keenan, Bernard Kelly, John Kelly, David Kerrigan, Tom Lappin, Cyril Lynch, David Lynch, Liam Lynch, Donal Mac A’Bhaird, Donal MacCraith (deceased), James Madden, John McCarthy, Alfie McCrann, Brian McCutcheon, Harold McGahern, Pat McGowan, Joseph McGuinness, Kieran McNamee, Seamus Moloney, Francis Moran, James Moran, Peter Morgan, Raymond Murphy, Paul Nolan, Michéal ó Bolguír, Kevin O’Brien, Dermot O’Callaghan, Einde O’Callaghan, William O’Connor, James O’Dea, Dermot O’Donoghue, Tim O’Driscoll, Dermott O’Flanagan, Joe O’Keeffe, Donal O’Mahoney, Sean O’Meara, John O’Reilly, George Pratt, Dermot Rainey, Sean Regan, Noel Reilly, Russell Shannon, Paul Smith, Mauirce Sweeney, Donagh Tierney, Michael Walsh.


eurofrank said...

Isn't Donal McGrath dead? I thought he drowned not long after we left. My good friend Hillary Barry was reported dead a few years ago

Patrick Comerford said...

Thank you. Updated with these details. Any more updates appreciated

Dara Gallagher said...

Although in the year behind, I recognise you, and is that Russell Shannon in the back? Could you pt names to faces, please?
I remember going to our 40th, when we all watched as each other arrived, and played the game of guessing who we used be!
Thanks for posting.

Dara Gallagher said...

Err, I said 40th when I meant 20th, in 1990.

Patrick Comerford said...

We are (from left to right): Donal MacA’Bhaird, Andrew Crotty, Tom Lappin, Russell Shannon, Malachy Larkin, Alfie McCrann, Aidan Brosnan, Brian McCutcheon, Frank Hunt, Paul Nolan, Frank Reilly, James Madden, Patrick Comerford, Stephen Kane, Joe O’Keeffe, Seamus Claffey and James O’Dea.