THE SCHOLARS OF ‘73
by Tom Kenny
What memories do you have of your schooldays? Here are some reminiscences of a few old ‘Jes-mugs’,
Seán Duignan recalls that “To tell the truth, back in the late 1940’s and early fifties, being condemned to ‘six of the best’ was not all that bad. Back then too, we were part of a ‘boys only’ set-up, wearing little peaked caps which we doffed while saluting with military precision whenever a cassock or a clerical collar hove into view. We spoke Irish at all times – being caught speaking English was a punishable offence – and Gaelic football, hurling, handball and rowing were the only acceptable sporting activities. ‘Foreign games such as rugby and God forbid, soccer were beyond the pale”.
Dick Byrne’s memories are musical –“Musically, we had a great time in the Jes, and it planted the love of singing and theatre in me that was to continue all my life”.
For Seán Stewart, it was the school’s annual two-week trip to the Aran Islands to improve their Irish – “It was an extraordinary cultural experience watching the islanders fishing from their currachs, flaying oats, winnowing, the incredible silence and the intense dark at night”.
Joe Lally remembers Keogh’s shop next door to the school - “I can still see it now, I can still smell it now, I can still hear it now. Visual, olfactory auditory nostalgia, ‘genied out’ of the magic lamp of memories”.
For Damien Geraghty, his time in school were simply ‘the happiest years of my life’.
Seán O’Rourke’s days in the rowing club came to a premature end at the start of sixth year when he realised he had not been paying enough attention in class and that a sustained emergency assault on the Leaving Cert was required. But he was in no doubt that a few years in the Jes Rowing Club exposed him to values and qualities that will endure for a lifetime”.
Bernie O’Connell fondly remembers the English Debating Society and the introduction of ‘cultural evenings’ as being very formative.
One of Eric Ellwood’s teachers was “Mickey Holland who kept telling us that the Leaving Cert was the most important exam we would do in our lives. We were young and indestructible, bullet proof if you like and we kept saying “yeah, yeah yeah”. Of course, we now realise that he was right”.
Harry McGee’s experience in the school prompted him to say “The motto of the Jesuits is: Give us the boy and we will give you back the man. God, it’s a terrible cliché but then again, it is also true”.
All of the above quotations are lifted from the book “The Jes, 150 Years of the Jesuits in Galway, 1862-2012” and obviously relate to that school. The boys in our photograph were coming to the end of their days in secondary education. They had experienced a major growth in pupil numbers during their time there, some extensions to the buildings, the lifting of the GAA ban which resulted in rugby and soccer being played in the school and perhaps most significant of all, they were the last Leaving Certs before the school went co-educational and before it changed its policy of being an all-Irish school to education through English as well as maintaining an all-Irish stream.
The class of ’73 are getting together this weekend for a 50th anniversary celebration of their Leaving Cert year so I am sure there will be lots of swopping of memories as they renew old friendships and remember their classmates who have gone to God.
Those in the photograph are, front row: Fr. Paddy Tyrrell, Johnny Geraghty, Paddy Lydon, Fr. James Christian, John Bradley, Fr. Richard Butler, Frank Canavan, Alexander Eaton, Fr. Eddie Diffley.
Second row: Seamus McDermott, Donal Hynes, Joe Hynes, Colin Colbert, Declan Mannion, Seán Ó’Rourke, Enda Ó Coineen, Ian Stewart, Cathal O’Neill, Philip Walsh.
Third row: P.J. Neary, Kevin Gill, Martin Phelan, Gerry Mullen, John Murphy, Noel Mullins, Fergal Rooney, Vincent Kelly, Martin Finnerty.
Back row; Dermot Murphy, Michael Power, John Sheerins, Brendan Carroll, Rory O’Donnellan, Liam Small, Gerry Daniels, Colm Dalton, Declan Coogan and Brian Higgins.