Class '83 - Tenth Reunion recap
Finnstown House, Dublin
When the invitation dropped through the letterbox and hit the floor I realised the awful truth, I had only six months to lose 20 lbs. and gain a career. The 1st life crisis was upon me. The 1st yardstick for my life was here. Somehow I should take stock, evaluate what I had done with my life, seek a new focus and direction or more realistically I could turn up for the beer.
The great day arrived and we gathered at Finnstown House near Lucan. Upon entering the hotel the conversation was somewhat flat with brief outcrops of genuine emotion - "Ah, yes it's yourself." "Sorry what was your name again?" Or the ubiquitous "Just hang on till I talk to (fill in any name here), I'll be back in a minute." But while name badges seemed to be the thing that most people desired there was only one person who had entered the "Who the hell is that?" category. Presently the old names came flooding back with little anecdotes attached to them - "The last time I saw you was in the Organ Loft having a smoke." Or "I'm sure you were the one who used to cry at night when we were in 1st Year." Nor were those of us, who did not inhabit the dim and distant Jurassic period called 1st Year, allowed to forget the hateful thing that we were then and will always be to our dying days - "Ah yes I remember you. You came late didn't you? A second year SCUT I think." At this point you start to seek out those people who earlier couldn't remember your name, safe in the knowledge that they won't remember that you were ever a Scut.
More and more people arrived and the 50 attenders assembled for the group photo. This was certainly a victory of hope over experience. It had always seemed difficult to arrange a photograph when we were in school. Now that there was a lack of an authoritative figure (Fr Denis O'Donovan was to arrive much later) it seemed an impossible task. In fact if the photographer wasn't on an hourly commission it would never have happened. It was here more than at any other time that the clock seemed to jump back those 10 years.
'83 in '93, Finnstown House
Certainly the waistlines were bigger, the hairlines higher and the hair greyer, but no longer did we seem reserved or unsure about the whole evening. Suddenly we were joking, laughing, pushing and slagging. In short the boys were back in town.
Onward the meal ("Oh, and don't forget to bring in the chairs with you") where the choice was to recreate old school cliques, post school cliques or even old Ref placings. Personally I avoided the whole thorny issue by coming in late and sitting where I could. The food was fine and much to my amazement we abstained from singing 'When we win the Cup, we'll have sausages for tea...' But we didn't avoid the speeches, you never can. After a word from our organiser-in-chief, listing the travel arrangements of those who had arrived from further afield, and the regrets of those who didn't, the platform was handed around many different speakers whom you'll be pleased to note received the appropriate silence and attention that you would expect. Mementos were made to a few people. Fionn Murray for his success in motor racing, Jody Fanagan for golf and Joe Fogarty on behalf of the SCT of '83 for reaching the final of the Leinster Senior Cup... .But before the evening resembled too closely a scene of Prize Giving we managed to retire to the bar to commence the real business of the evening.
How you judge the success of these events is difficult to gauge. But the opinion on the night and afterwards was that it was certainly worth the effort. Even those who had previously said that they wouldn't show up were glad that they did. There was no flash of inspiration as to what it was that made us show up that night. Was it to brag about how well we'd done? Was it that we really wanted to see all those people after all these years? Maybe it was just curiosity. The surprising thing (besides the fact that no one had died) was that although many had changed beyond recognition and many had changed hardly at all, so many of us were there. I think in the end Castleknock was such a part of our lives for 5 or 6 years that we made friends there that somehow endure. Even after no contact with someone for many years it seems as if you can walk back into that friendship as if no time had elapsed.
Or then again maybe it was just curiosity.