The Salty Era

Presidents and Prefects 1949-1956


1949 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Gallagher J. McKernan ? ?
1950 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Gallagher R. McKenna G. Watson ?
1951 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Gallagher K. Beahan T. O’Hagan ?
1952 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Devine T. Woods D. Sweeney ?
1953 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Devine P. Taggart A. McAnerney ?
1954 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Corkery pl. McLaughlin B. McAleer P. Campbell
1955 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Hegarty F. Parke D. O’Rourke ?
1956 Fr. Sheridan Fr. Hegarty O. Milliken M. Martin D. Taggart







The era began with the Korean war and finished with Suez. When I went in as a first year, the place was awash in mythology about the famous teams that had won the McRory Cup. In the next five years, no cups, no finals, no glory. For the first time we had a tennis team competing successfully and I still have great memories of the great thrill we got of not only beating Bambridge College in the Ulster semi-finals but in eating ham on Friday – another sort of victory at the time because it was so exceptional.

Fish on Friday. And strict visitation rules. The only time that you saw Armagh was during the forced marches on a Sunday. You were always hoping that ‘wee doc’ would not set too tough a pace for the journey out into the country and that you’d meet the bulletors on the roads for a bit of diversion from the boredom of the
route march.

It was the era of ‘Billy Duck’, Johnny Nark, Sean O’Boyle, Gerry Hicks. The beginning of the era when the school was not totally dominated by the religious. But even as the lay staff members began to be significant, Fr. Frank Maher joined Armagh community and left an indelible mark, which, paradoxically, is almost completely forgotten. He was the young Vincentian priest coming very enthusiastically from Dublin deciding to try to convert the free takers of the football team into kicking a Gaelic ball in the toe point of Rugby fashion.

The building of the tennis courts changed the topography of the place . It meant that Frosty Green wasn’t as isolated down below in the woodwork shed and that at least if you wanted to reach him you could reach him by going through the tennis courts. Basketball courts were also constructed on the same territory but never quite took off.

That was also the time of the new wing, when suddenly we had Terazzo floors and communal showers; certainly looked on with mild trepidation by people who had not been used to that form of shared ablutions. Not only was it the time of the new wing, it was also the time of the new alleys being built down the back. Those new alleys created new handball heroes who were good not only within the college but even outside. It still didn’t do away completely with the playing for fries challenges outside the old loos. All significant personal duels whether in handball on the flat expanse outside the toilet at the back or even the tennis courts, when they came, were not medals but fried bread. The honours course was to play for sausages. It was a time of moving fries and moving sausages on a regular morning basis as people paid off their debts of honour during breakfast. It was also the time of the inscribed egg. The names were written in pencil or pen on the egg the night before and then collected still named the next morning.

When parents came on a visit, if you were lucky enough to be beside ‘Busty’ or ‘Fonso’ you would be guaranteed to have the fair share of the family loot in cakes or tarts for the next few evenings. Some parents started to place permanent orders with the then blossoming supermarkets in Armagh for regular delivery to their spoiled sons in College. Eventually the heavy hand of authority clamped down on this.

The visit down town was the highlight. Prefects were admired for the fact that they did not have to invent the dentist as a reason for getting downtown to the marvels of the city cinema and – if their luck was in – the marvels of the Sacred Heart Convent or the High School.

The construction of the High School almost directly across from the back entrance meant that there were some students of that era in Armagh who paid more attention to the gymnastics of the High School than to what Paddy Hamill was urging upon them in their own gymnasium.

It was a betwixt and between time.


Tom Savage