G LENSTAL N EWSLET TER
00 people came to Anne O’Reilly’s tea party, celebrating 50 years since her arrival at Glenstal in 1953. Parents, old-boys, present and former teachers, matrons, and nurses assembled at the ring in front of the castle to download cholesterol packed pastries and tea. People from 3 to 93 came to pay tribute to Anne, who has been a mother and a friend to thousands who have been connected with our school for half a century. Rain came for seconds driving everyone into the castle for shelter, but only sufficient to remind us how lucky we have been with the weather all this summer. It was an easy and enjoyable party where friends who had not met for years came together with that openness and simplicity which have characterised Anne in her dealings with us all. The buzz of conversation lasted well into the evening. A very moving celebration of the Jubilee Mass at 6 O’Clock featured Noirin ni Riain, her son Eoin, Mark Roche-Garland, Diarmuid O’Donovan and the monks Schola. Readings were done by Edward Leahy, John Callan, and Betty Scott. Br Ciarán played the flute. Fr Abbot Christopher was celebrant and Fr Andrew preached.
After communion Anne herself said a few words which touched everybody. She gave a sketch of the things about school life which came back to her memory and showed that a most holy and radiant gratitude is the real secret of her simple and noble person. Mark Patrick Hederman o.s.b.
Jonathan Cody (88-94) and Christine Hatton Ronald Booth (73-78) and Gudrun Baumann Teddy Daly (83-88) and Dee McHale Justin Conry (86-92) and Elaine McArdle Paddy Markey (83-89) and Charlotte Urquhart Dan Johnson (85-91) and Michelle Bourke Graham Farrell (80-86) and Valerie Lyons Nicholas Donnelly (8590) and Harriet Mearns Rickard Deasy (59-66) and Ciara O’Connell Ivan McMahon (87-92) and Sharon O’Reilly Iain Farrell (50-56) and Margot Norton Ralph Cunningham (8288) and Alison McCulloch Michael Keane (82-88) and Avril Hobson Christopher Ryan (77-83) and Ruth Hallet Tom Fitzpatrick (87-93) and Katie Armstrong Darragh Brown (90-96) and Christa Pallas
The AGM was held at Glenstal on Sunday, October 19th, 2003. The attendance, slightly up again this year and more varied, is still very low at 38. The Annual Mass for deceased members was concelebrated by Frs. Dominic (Chief Celebrant and Preacher), Philip, and Andrew. This was followed by the customary sumptuous lunch in the School, during which a presentation was made to Br. Michael in recognition of his 50 years as a monk. The meeting took place in the O’Brien Room in the Monastery Library. Outgoing President Pat O’Connor reported on a very successful year, noting especially the excellent attendance at the Dinner in Dublin in March, 2003, and particularly the number of younger members who have started to attend Society functions. An enthusiastic vote of thanks followed in recognition of Pat’s dedicated and successful term of office. Fr. Andrew reported on finance:we are still solvent! He expressed sincere thanks to the hundreds of members who DO contribute either by standing order or by regular contributions. Br. Denis Hooper, Headmaster, attended the meeting and briefed members on a wide spectrum of School affairs: Board of Management, International Benedictine schools seminar in San Paolo, School Commission, Professor James Arthur’s wide-ranging study of the School, Rugby Tour of Australia, and Scholarship Fund. Gearoid Bradley (1965-1970) was elected the new President of the Society. He out-lined his ideas to improve communications between ourselves by making full use of email, websites, and our database. Greg Ashe, resident High Priest for all matters electronic at Glenstal, expressed his active interest in all these proposals. New Old Boys website just launched. Register online & update your own details. Feedback/comments welcomed. Make sure your details are correct for Ubique Spring 2004 edition.
www.myubique.com ANNUAL DINNER DANCE—Friday March 19th 2004 in the Alexander Hotel, at Merrion Square, Dublin 2. Commencing with reception at 19.00. Partners very welcome. Music and dancing included. Further details on the website. Make up a party and book early.
W INTER 2003
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A RTIC H IGHS
We left Howth Harbour on the 17th of July, 2003 and sailed to Northern Iceland in just under seven days. We were six on board, four men and two women. I was joined by Nico Gore-Grimes, a cousin Adrienne Roche, Rob Harris, Karen Rudd and a Limerick man, Gary MacMahon. Adrienne steered such a straight course on the way to Iceland that she became known as 'Pilot Roche' but Gary meandered all over the ocean and earned the name of the 'Wandering Albatross'. He lived up to that title by wandering straight back to Dooradoyle as soon as we landed in Iceland. From Iceland we had a cold, wet and breezy passage across the Denmark Strait to Greenland's east coast, landing at Ittoqqortoormiuiit (Scoresby Sound) which is at 70째 North. There are 550 inhabitants in, what must be, one of the most isolated communities in the World. My last visit there was in 1985 when the inhabitants opened fire with rifle shots. We were too stupid to move on and eventually they gave up. What was once a "wild west" town, without a sheriff, has now been utterly tamed by the Danes. Civilising the place may have some advantages but we liked the old "wild west". From Scoresby we sailed north to Shannon island where we landed and then pressed on to Koldeway island at 76째 N, where we first met sea ice. Few have reached Koldeway island in open water conditions and this does, perhaps, support the worst fears of the "global warming" climatologists. Undeniably the sea ice is thinning in the arctic ocean. We turned to the north east in the hopes of easy passage to Longyearbyen in Svalbard which is a distance of 488nm. The distance which we had to sail through the sea ice was 132nm but we travelled 238nm, twisting and turning through cold, misty leads. In the words of Alfonso, King of Castile; "If I had been around at the time of the creation, I would have made some useful suggestions for the better arrangement of things". That is how we felt. Although we never contemplated disaster, the fact is that we were lucky to get out of the ice without losing the boat. The other side of stubbornness is stupidity and between one thing and another, I am afflicted with generous helpings of both. It may not be sensible to allow yourself to get caught in sea ice but, in spite of fear and tribulation, there is a rewarding side to it. The might, strength and energy of massive ice floes are inspirational and at once highlight the insignificance of a few struggling humans passing through an environment created by God without human intervention. Our daily lives surround us with buildings, highways, conduits, tilled fields and nitrate grass which is much greener than nature's product. There is a spiritual magnificence about ocean ice, which has not been touched or altered by man. In places, it is piled up to 40 feet above sea level, the result of some great battle between two giant ice floes which went to war many years ago when they collided as they fought for the best seat in
J OHN G ORE -G RIMES
the house. This hummocked ice can, at times, look like a mad man's carving. There is a crazy and violent disorder about it which is both beautiful and threatening. By far the best moment of sailing in ice is the moment when you get out of it. In an instant, the anxiety is gone and you are left with golden dreams and memories of the low arctic sun illuminating ice pools at midnight. We reached Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen on the 10th of August. At 78째 14'N the temperatures were cold and, Longyearbyen, whose very name suggests length and dreariness, lived up to its reputation as ice-laced rain blew horizontally in front of our eyes. What a pleasure then, to sit in a snug little bar and drink some pints of ale. Our next stop was at Bear island just 270 miles nm south. The rain had stopped but the fog stuck to the spiky mountains of Svalbard like a heavy grey mantle. Bear island was discovered on the 10th of June, 1596 by Willem Barents who gave the Island its present name because a polar bear was killed there on that occasion. In addition to some few huts, the only inhabitable houses are the Bear island radio and meteorological station, manned by nine women and men. The polar bear only appears when the pack ice comes south to the island in winter. We sailed south-east from Bear island in a hard driving north-west wind and the boat cut through the waves purposefully to reach the North Cape of Norway and the town of Honningsvag on the 16th of August. This was my sixth visit to that town and I expect that I may be well known in the three public houses in the town. The night after our arrival there was a civic reception and I was made a freeman of the town of Honningsvag (population 300). We passed down through the magical fjords of north-west Norway to stop for a short while in Tromso and later in Svolver on the Lofoten Islands. e then sailed to the Faroe Islands and tied up at Torshavn. We drove down to Brendansvik to visit the place were St. Brendan, the Navigator, had landed. Apart from a newly refurbished Lutheran church and walls of an unfinished twelfth century cathedral, not much else has changed at Brendansvik. With a little bit of imagination we could see Brendan and the brothers pulling the curragh up on the shore rocks and walking over the fields to greet us. We feel sure that he, in the course of his long voyages, would have experienced the same winds that we experienced between the Lofoten Islands and Faroes. Aeolus had been in poor form on that route and had severely tested both boat and crew by stirring up commotion in the Norwegian Sea and sending us waves, which washed clean across the boat. Happily, everyone on deck was clipped on. Leaving those arctic lands we returned to Ireland visiting Fingal's Cave and Iona. We arrived back in Howth on Thursday the 4th of September having been away for seven weeks. We had sailed 4,600 nautical miles.
W INTER 2003 DOMINIC SEAN JOHNSON (1947-1951) Golden Jubilee of Monastic Profession (1953-2003) I left the school in June ’51 and entered the monastery the following October with Fr. Vincent Seamus Ryan and Fr. Kevin Dan Healy (RIP 1999, Nigeria). Over the years I have served under Frs. Bernard, Placid, Abbots Joseph, Augustine, Celestine, and Christopher. Fr. Placid sent me to Kimmage, Dublin to study Philosophy in 1953. I returned there in 1975 to study Communications and Psychology while living in Balnagowan and teaching RE in Cabra Vocational School. Later I thought RE in Newport Vocational School, Tipperary. In the mid 1960’s Abbot Joseph dispatched me to Corpus Christi College, London to specialize in Catechetics. The college was a hotbed of Liberation theology and left wing views. You may have come across some of these in the Letters Columns of the Irish Times expressed by me. The college was closed in the 1970’s and knocked down in 1984. While studying in London I lived in Ealing Abbey. There I developed an appetite for the pastoral Benedictine priesthood which enabled me to minister in Dublin, South Wales, Largo (Florida), and San Francisco. In 1991 and 1992 I studied at the School of Applied Theology, Berkeley CA and wrote a thesis an MA thesis on Religious Education in Ireland: Present Problems and Future Prospects. Abbot Christopher appointed me Prior in 1994. Since I was born in Limerick, Rugby has played an important part in my life. I have witnessed many fine teams playing for Glenstal. Some of my RE and Latin students knew how
P AGE 3 to introduce a red herring in class with a heated discussion on Rugby. My Christian philosophy is each day is a new beginning. The Lord has been good to me.
PETER ROCHE (1939-1943) Peter and I were at school in Glenstal during the war years. He was three years senior to me but I got to know him on our many journeys between Waterford and Boher, going back to school and coming home on holidays. Returning to school, we would not have been in very good form, but Peter did his best to cheer us up, and many a hilarious journey we had. After school Peter studied zoology at TCD and malting in Scotland. He was an accomplished and dedicated farmer and malter, always keeping abreast of the latest trends and techniques, and always treating others with the greatest charm and respect. I did a lot of shooting with Peter; those days were always fun days and were often followed by a game of Poker into the small hours. Peter did not just shoot birds: he was a very keen and expert ornithologist and became eventually President of the Irish Wildbird Conservancy and also a specialist advisor to the Irish Government on Wildlife matters. His name will always be associated with his gift for gardening and especially for the beautiful garden at Woodville which he and Irene tended so lovingly. Only a few days before he died he could be heard on Radio talking about that
garden, as full of life and enthusiasm as ever. Peter’s death followed a short illness which he accepted with his usual unassuming courage and cheerfulness. One always felt the better of meeting Peter. He was a man of great sincerity who loved meeting people. He had a fund of amusing stories which he recounted so very well. Family was the centre of his life. He will be sorely missed by his dear wife, his five children and fourteen grandchildren, as also by his truly vast circle of friends. Gordon Doyle (1940-46)
CLASS OF 1993 10 YEAR REUNION
he Waterman’s Lodge, Killaloe set the scene for the Class of ’93 Ten Year Reunion Weekend. A global search had started a year earlier and we did manage eventually to touch base with everyone. But, as Fr. Andrew put it, based on the contact information in Ubique, one would think that most people were still sitting at home in their parents’ kitchens, 10 years after leaving school. [Subtle hint: Keep your details uptodate] An incredible 30 of the 39 class members who graced Glenstal with their unique personalities managed to mark the occasion travelling from far and wide for a weekend of (censored) and craic. An attendance of this size confirms the importance of Glenstal as an institution and also the
need for gatherings to maintain the unity of each class. Our thoughts and memories were with absent friends who couldn’t make the occasion and especially with Brian Egan, who holds a special place in the spirit of the class. Appearances, responsibilities and marital status apart, it only took a brief few minutes for the atmosphere/mood of school boys to return as we began to reminisce on the good times of old. Our sincere thanks to Marcus McMahon Snr. and the staff of the Waterman’s Lodge who played host to a terrific weekend and a wonderful dinner on the Saturday night. On Saturday afternoon, the braver and less (censored) visited Garrykennedy, where we turned our hand to water-skiing before lunch in Larkin’s pub. We had the honour of being joined by Fr. Andrew and Br. Timothy, and also by Anne O’Reilly who recently celebrated 50 years in the school. The class made a presentation to Anne in honour of her patience, as she watched over us during our teenage years. A highlight of the Saturday evening was the impromptu speech of Ronan Brennan, our co-captain, who warned that if Jason McMahon, Jim Reddy and Tom Reilly were able to track us all down, God knows what that says for all the (censored) out there! Jim Reddy (1988-1993)
NICOLAS FREELING (1939-1944) “I spoke French before I spoke English, had 4 years of childhood in Brittany, and 40 more since in France where I brought up my children and saw them marry French, German and Italian wives. I don’t regret a thing and am still English in my bone and fibre. A true European!” Nicky’s mother Nancy (a cousin of Erskine Childers), having been an ardent communist, converted to fervent Catholicism and Irish nationalism and moved her family to Ireland in 1939. He hated the move, which was soon followed by the break up of his parents’ marriage and five fairly unhappy years in Glenstal where he was known as Dominic Partridge. After an unfinished university career and two years in the RAF (1947-1949), Nicolas became a sous-chef in French and British luxury hotels. In 1954 he married his very charming Dutch wife, Renée (Cornelia) Termes, who survives him with their daughter and four sons. While working in Amsterdam, Nicolas was arrested on suspicion of involvement in some underworld activity. Fascinated by the worldly-wise detective who interrogated him, he began to write about him there and then. The rest is literary history: 13 Van der Valk novels, 16 Henri Castang books, 7 other novels. There were also four non-fiction works, including two containing revealing autobiographical material, The Kitchen Book (1970) and The Village Book (2001). The first of these has been hailed by Anthony Bourdain in his Kitchen Confidential as one of the three essential books for any aspiring chef to read. Over the years Nicolas won all three major literary awards for crime writing, the French Grand Prix de Roman Policier, the
American Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the British Crime Writers’ Golden Dagger. The highly appreciative accounts of his life and work which appeared in the better literary pages world-wide when he died in July 2003 leave no doubt about his stature as a major writer. During four years that I spent in Strasbourg (1964-68) where Nicolas lived for most of the last 40 years, I got to know him well. Subsequently, he and his family spent a year (1976-77) living in Dromore House, near Glenstal. This was a time when some sad ghosts of the past were laid to rest. An enormously ebullient and entertaining conversationalist, correspondent, and friend, he was a sensitive and compassionate observer of human nature, a deep and ruthlessly honest thinker, and a very nice man. May he rest in peace. Andrew Nugent o.s.b.
MICHAEL HENRY (1948-1953) It was sometime in 1948 that Michael and I first met, and there was another new boy that year, Eamon Phelan. We became pals, and this trio soon was known a s "Peewee", Mike and "Lofty". We played on the same rugby and cricket teams and spent most of our free time together fantasizing about the world of sport, pop music and jazz, and what the future might hold. Therein was the foundation of what was to become a lifelong friendship. When Michael left Glenstal he went on to study accountancy and moved to Balnagowan. I was working on the Continent honing my skills in the Hotel Industry. We always managed to keep in touch. In the summer of 1958 I was Assistant Manager at The
Holmpatrick Hotel in Skerries. Michael telephoned one day to say he had met a wonderful girl, Betty Griffin, and wanted to bring her to the hotel for dinner. He would rely on me to ensure they got the red carpet treatment! Chevallier and Gingold notwithstanding, I can clearly remember this instantly attractive young woman in a chic pink outfit and a positively charming personality. Betty was an immediate hit! After that, we teamed up for many dress-dances and other events. As Betty's professional career in Public Relations developed I had the privilege of working with her on many of her hotel projects. In the meantime Michael and I met on a regular basis for rounds of golf or to play chess. When NCR put out feelers for someone to head up the fledgling computer section of the company, he told me he was going to apply. "Computers are the thing of the future" he said, "and that's where I want to be". He was duly appointed to the position. Some years later, he told me he had been accepted as Company Secretary for Bank of Ireland Finance. This amused him as his father had retired from a lifetime of service to The Bank of Ireland. He felt things had come sort of full circle. When Sharon and I relocated to the U.S.A. in 1982 Michael's words of good wishes included lines from Shakespeare: "There's a tide in the affairs of men……….". It was a sad parting but we kept the friendship alive by exchanging letters on tape. We completed anything from two to six a year over the next 20 years. We kept pace with each-others lives, and that of family and friends. How thrilled he was at the arrival of their first grandchild. It was a Saturday in mid-
December 2002 when he called me. With much grief I listened as he told me he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. We talked often by phone from that day until the day before his surgery in mid-January this year. He came through that immense ordeal with flying colors but then succumbed to a stroke, from which he also emerged after a five-day coma, with all his mental faculties still intact. In the midst of this valiant fight the Lord called him home early on the morning of Sunday May 11th. Betty and the children were there as he slipped away. He was very peaceful. Michael's immense generosity of spirit, his ability to listen and then respond wisely, his passionate desire for justice, his abiding love of The Arts were all tempered by a keen wit, a sometimes explosive temperament, a ready caustic turn of phrase, and overall, a matter-of-fact approach to life. He was a loving father and grandfather, a faithful husband, and for me, the brother I never had. May he rest in peace. John Loftus '47 – '52
Let Us Remember Those who have left us since the last newsletter Nicolas Freeling (Dominic Partridge) (1939-1944) Peter Roche (1939-1943) Noreen, wife of Bill Downey (1941-1948) Frank Fletcher (19531958) THANK YOU FOR ALL THE MEMORIES & HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM ANNE O’REILLY Edited by Andrew Nugent osb Production by GPA Systems