|Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. D.P. Moran C.M. B.A.||Rev. D.P. Moran C.M. B.A.||Rev. D.P. Moran C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. V. O’Dea C.M. B.A.||Rev. P. Gallagher C.M.||Rev. P. Gallagher C.M.|
|Rev. J. O’Hare C.M. B.A.||Rev. J. Kenny C.M.||Rev. J. Kenny C.M.|
|Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M.||Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M.||Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M.|
|Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.||Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.||Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.|
|Rev. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.H.||Rev. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.||Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.|
|Mr. J.F. Hicks B.A.||Mr. J.F. Hicks B.A.||Mr. J. Doherty M.Sr.|
|Mr. P. Greene||Mr. P. Greene||Mr. P.J. Forde B.A.|
|Rev. C. Murphy C.M.||Rev. C. Murphy C.M.||Mr. P. Greene|
|Rev. A. McCrory C.M.||Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.||Rev. C. Murphy C.M.|
|Rev. J. Kenny C.M. B.A.||Rev. W. Hederman C.M.||Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.|
|Rev. J. Roughan C.M. B.A.||Rev. J. O’Hare C.M. B.A.||Rev. W. Hederman C.M.|
|Rev. J. Donaghy B.A. B.D.||Rev. J. Donaghy B.A. B.D.||Rev. J. O’Hare C.M. B.A.|
|Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.||Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.||Rev. J. Donaghy B.A. B.D.|
|Mr. J. Doherty M.Sr. M.A.||Mr. J. Doherty M.Sr. M.A.||Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.|
|Mr. W.J. Elliott, Art Master||Mr. W.J. Elliott, Art Master||Mr. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.|
|Mr. J.F. Hicks B.A.|
|Mr. W.J. Elliott|
|Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. D.P. Moran C.M. B.A.||Rev. D.P. Moran C.M. B.A.||Rev. P. Kelly C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. P. Gallagher C.M.||Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.||Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.|
|Rev. J. Kenny C.M.||Rev. W. Hederman C.M.||Rev. A. Spelman C.M.|
|Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M.||Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.||Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.|
|Rev. H.K. O’Hanrahan C.M.B.A.||Rev. T. Dougan C.M. B.A.||Rev. T. Dougan C.M. B.A.|
|Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.||Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.||Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.|
|Mr. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.||Mr. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.||Mr. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.|
|Mr. P.J. Forde B.A.||Mr. P.J. Forde B.A.||Mr. P.J. Forde B.A.|
|Rev. C. Murphy C.M.||Rev. J. Kenny C.M.||Rev. J. Kenny C.M.|
|Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.||Rev. P. Kelly C.M. B.A.||Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. W. Hederman C.M.||Rev. P. Gallagher C.M.||Rev. P. Gallagher C.M.|
|Rev. J. O’Hare C.M. B.A.||Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M. B.A.||Rev. W. Hederman C.M.|
|Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.||Rev. T. Devine C.M. B.A.||Rev. T. F. Devine C.M. B.A.|
|Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.||Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.||Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.|
|Mr. J.F. Hicks B.A.||Mr. J.F. Hicks M.A.||Mr. J.F. Hicks M.A.|
|Mr. J. Doherty||Mr. J. Doherty M.Sc.||Mr. J. Doherty M.Sc.|
|Mr. P. Green|
|Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Sheridan C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. P. Kelly C.M.||Rev. P. Kelly C.M.||Rev. P. Kelly C.M.|
|Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.||Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.||Rev. H. Murnaghan C.M.|
|Rev. W. Hederman C.M.||Rev. W. Hederman C.M.||Rev. W. Hederman C.M.|
|Rev. T. F. Devine C.M. B.A.||Rev. T. F. Devine C.M. B.A.||Rev. T. F. Devine C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. D. Corkery C.M.||Rev. D. Corkery C.M.||Rev. D. Corkery C.M.|
|Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.||Mr. W. O’Riordan M.A.||Mr. S.P. O’Boyle B.A.|
|Mr. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.||Mr. J.P. O’Boyle B.A.||Mr. J. Hicks M.A.|
|Mr. P.J. Forde B.A.||Mr. P.J. Forde B.A.||Rev. J. Kenny C.M.|
|Rev. J. Kenny C.M.||Rev. J. Kenny C.M.||Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M. B.A.||Rev. C.J. Curtin C.M. B.A.||Rev. A. Spelman C.M.|
|Rev. A. Spelman C.M.||Rev. A. Spelman C.M.||Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.|
|Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.||Rev. J.P. Doherty C.M.||Rev. T. Dougan C.M. B.A.|
|Rev. T. Dougan C.M. B.A.||Rev. T. Dougan C.M. B.A.||Rev. B. Mullan C.M. B.A.|
|Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.||Mr. T.W. Holden B.Mus.||Mr. J. Doherty M.Sc.|
|Mr. J.F. Hicks M.A.||Mr. J.F. Hicks M.A.||Mr. S. Cooney B.A.|
|Mr. J. Doherty||Mr. J. Doherty|
Old teachers in a photograph
From the centre of the universe just above Lough Neagh
There came a photo of some teachers who taught but yesterday
There’s not too many of them left perhaps there’s just the one
But they haven’t changed a bit though their day is mostly done
Seán O’Boyle’s ‘miserable salary’ left him always short of money
His summers were in Donegal with that great man Paddy Tunney
Chasing Simie Doherty all along the banks of Finn
Enjoying songs and music ‘round the bellows and the tine
His great friend pedalled through the streets his coat-tail like a sail
Maybe giving out his version of Dobbin’s Flowery Vale
At major-generalling or Shakespeare – who can forget Macbeth
The squeaky-voiced three witches or the ingredients of their broth
Down the banisters you could glide below to Johnny Doc
In the labs made to his measure at the bottom of the block
Just like Joe McHugh’s seven day licensed bar
With strangely coloured liquids displayed in glass jars
Father Frankie Maher introduced us all to Latin
How soon he had us all amo amass amattin
Then later we progressed to Father Doc O’Doherty
For Caesar’s Gallic wars, Ovid’s odes and Latin poetry
Happy Spelman set us French tests that were extraordinaire
With horses in the salon each one sitting on a chair
With him we laughed so much that many of us cried
(That he was still alive I only copped on when he died)
My copper plate hand writing so impressed was Father Con
He only had to see it to burst out into song
Holy God we praise your name he’d sing out tunefully
That you sent down this student to be taught by humble me
These images in the photo that came to me on line
Stirred in me some memories of a very distant time
Although they were from long ago they’re fresh as ever still
As when my youthful feet trudged slow up Sandy Hill
9th May 2013 Gerry McDonald (1955)
“Time In Armagh” (abridged)
Whether happy or unhappy our – your – schooldays are the days we will remember best, as long as we live. This struck me afresh when I read John Montague’s new book of poems, “Time in Armagh”. Montague was in his last year here when I was a first-year, but his memories are still raw and sore, his resentments cherished, fifty years later. I found it disconcerting that time had left no patina nor had a lifetime’s experience given any wider perspective on those years between 12 and 17. I too remember their harshness, and to make matters worse I was one of what he calls the ‘lesser species’ a despised and used day-boy, and I suffered extremely from bullying, but the school was good to us too. It had its rich days too and I am sorry Montague remembers so little of that.
Sean O’Boyle could be a mesmeric Irish teacher, and I can still recite passages of Scealta Johnny Shemisheen he coaxed us to learn, even after forty years: Vividly and hilariously he shared stories of his visits to the BBC, or encounters with old characters from whom he collected songs. Fr Conn Curtin taught me English, Even among the kindest and most loyal of his Vincentian confreres he was not renowned for his industry, On his lazy days he would read us short stories, or, best-of-all, whole tracts of Juno and the Paycock or The Shadow of a Gunman, He was a Dubliner and could do the accent to perfection. Maybe he thought he was dodging real teaching while we thought we had beguiled him because he was a soft touch, Willie O’Riordan taught me maths and turned me from a near innumerate who could scarcely remember the multiplication tables to a creditable wielder of the Calculus, He was so shy he chewed the corners of his textbooks round, but never had to raise his voice in class.
John Doherty made scientists of some of us and took extra classes on Wednesdays and even on Saturdays in my last year to give us a better chance in the then-new A-levels. I wish that I like a Yeats, could write out their names in a verse, and immortalise them. I regret that John Montague, who maybe could do that, did not remember all of his time in Armagh.
I will end with a memory of the man John Montague called by his nick-name, ‘brass-jaws Sheridan’. He was President and tried to persuade us that we were destined to become leaders of society. This notion was so absurd, so much at odds with everything we knew of ourselves that we rejected it out of hand.
Now when I look at many of my contemporaries I see among them the rich business-men, the striving politicians, the principal teachers of dynamic schools, the lynch-pins of local communities, the substantial farmers, the poets and the bishops that Gus Sheridan dreamed of.
I wish well to the school. I trust it will continue and develop the traditions which are now united in it from all the men and women here and from those that have gone before; that it will protect and enrich the lives of its pupils and continue to offer this country men with the spirituality of a Frank Lenny, with the humanity of a Jerry Hicks, with the painful, partial truthfulness and incisiveness of a John Montague.
Gerry Kelly (1946) – Prize Giving Day, December 20th 1993.
A Dean Looks Back
In May, the President asked if I would see him in his office. Would I agree to take the job of Dean for the following year? It was a bolt from the blue; it was certainly not one of my life long ambitions. I had seen myself as a priest. I had seen myself as a teacher but as a Dean of Discipline in a Boarding school never. He gave me a few days to think it over and, feeling a certain helplessness before what seemed to be the foolishness of Divine Providence, I duly relented and agreed.
“Are you going to be Dean next year in Armagh?” an acquaintance enquired incredulously. “Yes”, I replied with some hesitation. I was immediately the subject of sympathy. “Oh, God help you .. you’ll never be the same again.” With such encouragement could anyone blame me for being apprehensive as I waited for the inevitable opening in September? There were so many imponderables; it was going to be completely different from anything I had yet experienced. There was no preparation for the job; there were no crash courses; there was no list of “do’s” and “don’ts”.
The night the boarders returned is lost in the dim recesses of the past; it’s just as well. I heard long afterwards from some students that I resembled Hamlet’s father wandering around the house, wondering what was going on. I had no apprenticeship – just two-and-a-half hours with the previous Dean in the month of July. Little wonder that my feeling as I watched the boarders return was one of apprehension; it was a case of a man and his wits against 400 scheming youths.
One of the first things that a new Dean had to cope with was the helplessness of the First Years. A good number were home sick. The problem was made worse by the diabolical tradition of “ducking” which was merely an attempt by other Years to make sure that First Years knew their place and that they stayed there. In their state of confusion and fear, a number of First Years ran away only to be picked up by the Police or by Yours Truly. I remember having to go to the police station a number of times to pick up a student who had run away. I felt quite embarrassed each time at being cast in the role of the big bad wolf who was responsible for such misery in a young lad.
Homesickness was always a problem especially in the first term, though the problem was eased when students were allowed home at the weekends. My reaction to most cases of homesickness followed a similar pattern. First there was a certain amount of genuine sympathy which came from being reminded of times when I too had been homesick. Then when it persisted, there followed a feeling of exasperation and a hope that the parents would be sensible and would not give in. For the most part the phase passed and a time was reached by these students later on when they were able to joke about their predicament.
One of my first lessons in the reality of being Dean was never to believe anything said by a student by way of excuse or explanation. Invariably it was a lie. I marvelled continuously over the years on the ability of students to tell lies. Even the best of students told lies at times in an attempt to get themselves out of trouble. What was particularly annoying was when students insisted on telling lies even when they knew that the truth was known to the Dean.
Attitudes to stealing had to be experienced to be believed. It was generally agreed that there was something wrong with taking money which did not belong to you; but there was a general refusal to apply the same principle to money’s worth. For that reason several pounds worth of “grub” could be stolen without the slightest qualm; the same applied to football and P.E. equipment. The underlying philosophy was: Somebody stole my stuff and that gives me a right to steal somebody else’s. The fact that boys had been careless and had left the equipment lying around was never part of the syllogism. For the most part, however, stealing was never as big a problem as it seemed to be on the surface, simply because missing property immediately became stolen property. Nevertheless, searches for stolen property seemed to have been the order of the day; they were never ending. There was always plenty of information forthcoming, if one went about gathering it in the right way, though the usual wall of silence was encountered. The principle of “rubber necking” was inculcated with amazing rapidity among the First Years and in no time they too knew “nothing about nothing”. This made the task of the Dean very difficult. The attitude of students with regard to “rubber necking” was very annoying and at times very difficult to understand; after all a Dean was ultimately acting in the best interests of the students but the students never saw it in that way.
Another problem which surfaced with amazing regularity was the accusation against the Dean of “picking on students”. Sometimes a student would say quite openly that the Dean was picking on him; that accusation gave the Dean an opportunity to explain his side of the matter but more often than not nothing was said; consequently the feeling that he was being picked on by the Dean festered until it reached enormous proportions. Needless to mention bad relations ensued. In many cases the unfortunate Dean would be aware of the resentment but would have no idea what caused it· and to make matters worse if he asked he would sometimes encounter merely silence. Years afterwards when they had left the College, past students would say with the greatest conviction:“You were always picking on me”, much to the amazement of a dumbfounded Dean.
What was it like to be Dean of Discipline in a Boarding School for a number of years? For the most part it was pleasant enough. The overall unpleasant memory is that of late nights and early mornings and the feeling of being always on call. There was the feeling of having to be always at the refectory door before the students emerged from first study; otherwise there was the danger of a riot with students milling around. There was the isolation away from the community with all meals taken on one’s own with Terry Wogan or Gay Byrne for company. There was the private Mass celebrated in the priests oratory with just one or two Sisters present and the inability of rarely being in a position to say Mass in public except occasionally on Sunday when the boys were at home. There was the recitation of the Divine Office at 12 o’clock at night almost overcome with tiredness and sleep. There was the feeling of always walking on a tight rope as far as discipline was concerned; too rigid a discipline resulted in one form of difficulty; too loose a discipline resulted in another; both had to be avoided as far as possible. There was the feeling of always being cast in the role of the big bad wolf or the tyrannical policeman.
Because of his position and because he is in close contact with the students, a Dean is in a position to get a remarkable insight into the mentality of young people and how they think and how they react and how they feel. A Dean sees the good and the bad in every student especially if he is a boarder.
I have very pleasant memories of very many excellent students who seemed to be able to see behind the role and the office and to understand why some decisions had to be taken. Most students were very forgiving and very few of them held any grudges or bitterness for harsh words said or punishments inflicted. There were inevitably harsh things said and done in the heat of the moment which afterwards one dearly wished unsaid or undone. Even in such extreme situations, students still forgave and overlooked and forgot.
In many ways the experience of being a Dean is an invaluable one which has left a deep and lasting impression. It is a very difficult job; in many ways it is impossible. In so many ways it is so unfair to take a man from the pleasant atmosphere of a class room and hurl him into the role of administrator and policeman. Between the two roles, the role of the priest tends to get lost which is unfortunate but inevitable. For me, my term as Dean was a very happy time in spite of the many difficulties and anxieties. It was a rewarding experience and one which will remain with me always.
Jim McCormack (1952)