Class of '73 - 30th Reunion recap
New Park Hotel, Kilkenny
In 1973 Liam Cosgrave was Taoiseach, Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize and Richard Nixon was inaugurated for his second term. The TV series Bonanza ended its long run and the Late Late Show had some way to go before becoming the world's longest running chat show. The Kennedys of Castleross and the Riordans provided our daily soap diets and Charles Mitchell read the news on RTE. On the rugby field the whole of Castleknock went to Landsdowne Road to give a huge welcome to John Pullin's England side who "may not have been very good but at least we showed up" following a boycott by Scotland and Wales the year before. In Cardiff the Barbarians had their famous victory over New Zealand with names that still evoke memories of greatness - Edwards, Bennett, Slattery, Gibson, Duckham and Going, and the immortal poetic commentary on the game came from Cliff Morgan.
That same year, 67 long-haired, flared-trousered and sartorially challenged young men from all over Ireland (and a few from further afield) left Knock to make their way in the world. They went into the universities, the professions, into business and spread far and wide, some to remain in exile, others to return after periods of adventure to settle down in Ireland and raise their families. Most have achieved parenthood, a small minority grandparenthood. Very sadly, three of them have passed away.
In April 2003, 47 of these individuals gathered in Kilkenny for a 30-year reunion. Greyer of hair - for those lucky enough still to have any - rounder of waist, with evidence of the odd pair of varifocal glasses, but still largely in possession of their own teeth and hips, they rolled back the years at the New Park Hotel. Father Kevin O'Shea celebrated Mass in memory of Peter Cunningham (died 1983), Rory O'Donoghue (died 2002) and John Crinion who died earlier this year.
Several golfers had made a two day event of it playing Gowran Park and Mount Juliet, and the rest of us listened to their Fisherman's tales of bandit handicaps, balls dancing on the water, and missed putts. That the tournament was won by David Hughes who claims not to have touched a golf club in twenty years just goes to prove that no one in Ireland lets the truth get in the way of a good story!
We had dinner, and the bar never closed, so the Craic was great and for those with the stamina, the hangover had great potential. From far and wide they came, three from the USA, one from Canada, three from the UK, and the rest from the four great provinces of Ireland. In an era when school reunions have become fashionable thanks to Friends Reunited.com, the class of '73 can feel slightly superior, as this was their fifth reunion since 1983. For this we have to thank the late Peter Cunningham, who organised the first one, and John Loughran (now an official National Treasure) who has organised the rest of them. We also welcomed, in addition to Fr O'Shea, Dick Wafer and Ray Walsh as guests of honour. Joe Connolly organised the golf.
The following morning a collection of the remarkably sprightly came down for a breakfast of high cholesterol before dispersing again to the four corners of the globe. Within less than 48 hours there was e mail traffic from Barney Mullan looking for a lost jacket! That should indicate to any doubters how good an evening it was!