Class of 1937 - 50th Reunion recap
Stephens Green Club
Larry Steen, chief organiser, pictured in 1937
Our natural, human tendency to celebrate milestones in our career — to pay attention to "times and moments" — receives its endorsement in the Old Testament injunction to observe commemorations, notably of the Fifty Year Jubilee associated as its name indicated, with joy and exuberance. So it was entirely appropriate that "the class of '37" should make a common remembrance of what was for us a momentous occasion in our career. Incidentally, for former generations of Knock men. the word Jubilee had a special connotation; it was the College slang for "mutton", this item of the College menu, having apparently been introduced on the occasion of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria — one wonders what was its predecessor in the Ref!
Quite fittingly, the initiative in the arrangements came from Larry Steen. one of the two Head-Prefects of the year. He was joined by John Louth and by the present scribe whose eligibility to be involved stems rather from a proximity to sources of information, than from a June examination with the Leaving class — he having pursued his studies till 1938 — An Cursa fada!
Early on. it was decided to invite those who though leaving in 1936. had by age and class a natural right to belong to 1937. The Celebration was to take the form of an assembly for dinner in the Stephens Green Club on the eve of the England International, later postponed to the eve of the French Match. It was to be a semi-formal affair (collar and tie. no cords or jeans) and male-chauvinistic!
After a great deal of research as to address and availability, most of it very instructive as to whereabouts and occupations of former classmates, long since almost forgotten, we assembled — twenty-six of us. together with the President of the College. Fr. O'Shea. the Union President of the year. Paddy O'Callaghan. and our invited guest. Fr. Killian Kehoe. C.M. the Dean of the years "35-'37. To those three we express a grateful thanks for honouring the occasion.
What of one's reaction to meeting these faces from the past. I deliberately refrained from refreshing my memory by a glance at the Chronicle of the Year, and confess to having been disappointed at a quite fallible recollection in some cases. In others, it was as if they had come at you yesterday in the Senior Playhall or the North Pole (qui legit intelligat!) Some had come from afar, many had been in touch with one another fairly regularly: but between all there was that grateful bond of remembrance of the good old days, the cement of a common series of recollections, the indefinable spirit which. I like to think, stamped us all as something special. Indeed, one supposes that every generation of school-boys think of themselves as unique, but a gathering such as our's and its recording bring to mind what Tomas O Criomhthain said, about "an t-Oileanach":
"Scriobhas an meid seo. chun go mbeadh cuimhre orainn. mar na beigh ar leitheidi aris ann".
So. there was much " Do you remember" and "Where's poor oul so and so" and "I'll never forget the evening that" and much assurance that the recipient of the compliment did not "look a day older". Speeches were kept to a minimum, a few letters of apology were read out, notably one from Fr. Kevin O'Hagan. the other head-prefect of the year, now a busy pastor in Sheffield. Inevitably one thought of the many chairs which might have been filled, had the Grain Reaper not done his work. Of the great cup-winning team of that year, only 7 survive, the Prefect group of 13 shows 5 gaps. Ar dheis De go raibh siad go leir!
But time, the great destroyer is also the great preserver. It was heartening talking to the lads to discover that their priorities are right. They are a moderately conservative group who value the old traditions and cling to the old faith. Fr. Alex McCarthy used to assure us in the Children of Mary that the distinguishing feature of a past student was his loyalty to his Church and devotion to our Blessed Lady. I am not emboldened to think that he would not have been disappointed.
For some of the Jubilarians, ties with the College have been increasingly tenuous. One member present. Florence D. O'Connor, has the distinction of having one of his offspring still in the College. In all events it was appropriate to make an appeal from the Chair for greater participation in the College (Easter) Retreat and for continuing Union membership.
If one could voice a personal wish it would be this — that this event, if held in subsequent years, take place in the College itself, incorporating a Commemorative Mass. One regret, of course, was that the evening went by so quickly. When at last we broke up with much back-slapping and assurances that we would be back for the Centenary we felt (what a tendency to associate others with one's own point of view!) that we had forged a further link in the chain that began to bind us away back in the mid-thirties.
Is fior na beidh ar leitheidi arts ann.
Names of those present at the Function:
Laurence Steen. John Devaney. Andy Spelman. Michael Behan. John Louth. Gerry Hinds. Eamon Smyth. John Joe Murphy. Tom O'Brien. Paddy Halpenny. John Joyce. Michael Farrell. Liam Connolly, Alec Blayney. Seamus Dundon. Florence O'Connor.
Apologies were received from Frank Roe (a late withdrawal due to urgent Legal Calls). Brian Alton. Kevin O'Hagan. John Butler. Paddy O'Flynn. John Desmond Hill. James Dyar. Fr. Bill Meagher. Jimmy Byme.
A. Spelman. CM.