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'73 go West, Westport, for 40th Reunion

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Apr 13, 2013
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“Go West young man” was an injunction delivered at a time and a place long long ago. Forty four members of the class of 73, who can sadly no longer answer to the description “young men” did indeed go west – to Westport in Co Mayo for a weekend of golf, gossip and Guinness and an opportunity to catch up. Some came from as far afield as Claremorris, Achill Sound, Ballina and Sligo while others ventured from Atlanta, Houston, Alberta, Ontario and Perth, Western Australia, to say nothing of a small number from the UK.

An advance party attended on the Friday, graced Matt Molloy’s pub, dined in style and stayed up late. The weaker contingent arrived on Saturday by various means of transport – including this correspondent who flew into Knock Ireland West airport – with a sense of apology as to how we laughed at Father Horan back in the day when we all thought he was mad trying to build an airport. How wrong we were.

Some people played golf on the Saturday and another contingent rode bikes from Achill Sound to Westport along the Greenway – a redundant railway, while others explored the sights – from Westport House, the Harbour, the town and – yes – the pubs. We watched Leinster beat Munster at Thomond Park, sank a few pints, and returned to the Wyatt Hotel for a meal. This was preceded by a tribute delivered to four Vins – two deceased, two happily not – by four pastmen. We reflected on Fr Martin Rafferty, Fr Denis O’Donovan, Fr Seamus O’Flynn and Fr Kevin O’Shea with affectionate and amusing tributes delivered – in one case in rhyme!

Honoured guests were Paul Harmey and Dick Wafer.

There is a particular closeness to the 1973 year group. We remembered five of our brothers who have gone before us – thankfully none since the last time we were together in 2008. We witnessed old alliances renewed, old characteristics resurfacing, the recalling of past heroics and events, but really it was a mellow and collegiate affair, punctuated by much laughter.

The organiser was John Loughran, or – in reality – his long suffering PA Maria Condron. To Maria must go a gold medal – for she managed to extract – with much patience – decisions and money from 44 middle aged Irishmen who booked, cancelled, rebooked, left it to the last minute and changed their minds like a bunch of auld wans! In spite of all that, it was a great success and, allegedly, the final stragglers left Westport on the Tuesday!

The photos are courtesy of our ace photographer, John Mitchell.

Paul Bennett