Home Thoughts From Australia

Conor Dwyer (class of 1962) was prompted to write, from his home near Brisbane, with some memories of our days at the ROW, when he learned of the passing of our old friend Eamonn O’Malley RIP.

Conor hailed from the Shelbourne Road/South Lotts Road area and, like many lads at the ROW, was a keen soccer player. He played with Home Farm and his talents were recognised at an early age as he was capped for Ireland against England at under 16 level.

Conor remembers the late Eamonn and Tony Rowe very well. Tony and Pat Canavan were also keen soccer players and, of course, in those times they played on the school Gaelic Football team as well. He recalls one incident very clearly. In September 1958 Bro. Hickey called Gaelic training on a Saturday which corresponded to the start of the Soccer schoolboys under 14 season. Conor was picked to play for Home Farm. Tony and Pat were both picked to play for Bolton Athletic in Ringsend. Unbeknown to each other the lads decided to line out with their Soccer clubs as the Gaelic was only a training spin.

The next Monday at 12 noon, Hickey called the three lads up to the top of the class and informed them that Bro. Moynihan required their presence in the science room immediately. The lads, sheepishly, presented themselves before “Billy” who stood in typical pose, with hands in cummerbund, asking why they had not shown up for Gaelic training. The boys explained their positions and were told that, if they ever missed training again, they would be expelled from the school.

Another “football” incident recalled by Conor, occurred in a Gaelic match against Drimnagh Castle at Island Bridge. The Brothers in charge were Treacy, the American and a young Collins. We won the match but a highlight was when Pat Canavan secured victory with a goal which he coolly headed to the net. All hell broke loose for the wrong reason; not joy at winning but anger at the manner of scoring the goal. The charge was led by Treacy, who had a reputation for toughness, but the boys stood their ground and demanded to see where, in the rules of Gaelic Football, did it state that a goal could not be scored by the ball being struck by the head of the scorer. The authorities were stumped but, of course, the mutterings about the “influence of foreign games” lingered for a time.

After Leaving Cert, Conor joined Irish National Insurance company. He later emigrated to England and from there he went to Australia where he worked for Sun Alliance and Stenhouse Insurance Brokers. He later opened his own brokerage based on the Gold Coast. Conor retired from the Insurance Industry in 2006 and lived, with his wife Marlene, in Robina on the Gold Coast. Conor and Marlene were great hosts when my wife, Teresa and myself visited them in Robina in 2014. Conor gave us a tour of Brisbane and introduced us to some of his Irish friends there. We were there on a St. Patrick’s weekend and the craic was at least as good as that which we enjoy at home. There was only one difference; the weather was lovely and we were able to watch the parade in tee shirts and shorts.

Conor and Marlene recently downsized to a Retirement Living Apartment north of Brisbane. The complex is near Moreton Bay. Conor sent a couple of photos taken from his balcony just to make us all jealous as we shiver in our winter weather. However, we have to say that it looks great and we wish Conor and Marlene long life and health in their new abode.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on the above or if memories of schooldays are stirred by the blog.

If any of our readers are away from Ireland and would like to contribute any “Home Thoughts” we would be delighted to hear from you. You can email Jim Conway, at jim.conway7@gmail.com.

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Recent Funerals

The funeral Masses for two of our old classmates, Tony Rowe and Eamonn O’Malley, took place recently, may they rest in peace. We bid them a fond farewell and attach below copy of the covers of their Mass leaflets as a memento.

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Eamonn O’Malley RIP

It is with great sadness that the PPU announces the passing, on November 25th, of Eamonn (Class of ’62). Eamonn was a larger than life character who supported many PPU events especially the Golf outings and the annual dinner. His good humour and wit lit up many an evening at the ’62 table at the Westbury and no round of golf was dull when Eamonn was in the fourball.

Eamonn went to work with the Irish Aviation Authority when he finished his education and he had a long and distinguished career there.

We send our sincere sympathies to Eamonn’s wife Rita, his daughter Aisling and his sons Brian and Peter.

At the time of writing Eamonn’s Death Notice is on rip.ie but the funral arrangements are yet to be advised. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.

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Deceased Past Pupils 2021

November is, traditionally, the month when we pray for our relatives and friends who have passed away. The Past Pupils Union has, for many years, arranged for Mass to be celebrated for past pupils who died during the year. For many years, the Mass was said in the Monastery in Westland Row but, when the building was sold and the remaining Brothers moved out, the Administrator of St. Andrews agreed to include our deceased past pupils names in the St. Andrew’s Day Mass, which is usually celebrated by the Archbishop on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s feast day, which is the 30th of November annually. This year, 2021, the Mass will be celebrated by the newly appointed Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend Dermot Farrell, on Sunday November 28th at 11.30am. We are hoping that our chaplain, Fr. Eugene McCarthy will be able to be a co-celebrant.

There are 6 names, so far, on our list of deceased past pupils this year, Tom Butler, Ken Beaton, Shay Healy, Gerry Mackey, Jim Bradley and Tony Rowe. May they all rest in peace.

Four of the above were former Row Men of the Year, Ken Beaton in 1989, Shay Healy in 1983, Gerry Mackey in 1988 and Jim Bradley in 2005. This is an unprecedented number of “the old guard” to pass on in one year and, by way of tribute to them, it is worth looking at a brief biography of the six as follows –

Ken Beaton

Ken entered stockbroking with the firm of Butler Briscoe when he left school in the 1950s. Having risen to the top of his profession, Ken spent most of his career arranging the allocation of Government stocks from the Dept. of Finance through to their ultimate buyers – the financial institutions.

Ken was a key player in the market when gilts boomed in the in the 1980s. He was at the helm when Black Monday hit the markets in 1987 and stocks crashed. Ken and Butler Briscoe survived. Today his old firm still thrives under the name Dolmen Securities.

Shay Healy

Shay (or Ogie as he was known) graduated from The ROW in 1961 and embarked on an outstanding career in the World of music and entertainment. A special News Blog tribute to Shay was published on April 20th 2021.

Gerry Mackey

Gerry was an outstanding Soccer player. H commenced his career with Johnville and captained the Irish Schoolboys and Youth International teams before joining Shamrock Rovers in 1951. Gerry won every honour in the game as well as captaining the League of Ireland and Irish International teams. Gerry had a very successful career in business with Irish Shell and BP.

Jim Bradley

Jim, who started his education with the Brothers in Wexford, before moving to the ROW, had an outstanding career in business with Rowntree Ltd, Cadbury Ireland and C&C. Jim became President of the Beverage Council of Ireland and was also elected to the Board of Governors of the Marino Institute. He also held a number of non-executive directorships.

He was very active in past pupil affairs. He was Chairman of the committee which organised the commemorative concert at Dublin’s Convention Centre to mark the 250th anniversary of the birthday of Blessed Edmond Ignatius Rice in 2012.

Tony Rowe

Tony died recently at his home in England. He was born in 1944 and lived in Markievicz House. He left the ROW after Inter Cert and joined the British Army. He was posted to the Royal Army Signals Corp due to his “high level of education” and served in Aden and Germany where he became proficient in the language. Tony later suffered from Alcohol addiction but, following counselling he turned his life around and later became a counsellor himself. This brought him all over the UK where he spoke at seminars and was credited with helping a huge number of people to turn their lives around.

Tom Butler

Tom graduated from the ROW in the late fifties. He was a great supporter of the ROW Golf Society outings and won regularly over the years. Unfortunately, at the time of going to press, I have been unable to get details of Tom’s career. Jerry Carroll says that he has memories of Tom when they both served as altar boys in St. Andrews. The priests treated the boys to an annual outing to Red Island holiday camp in Skerries and Jerry recalls one year when Tom entertained all present with songs from the stage.

If anyone has memories of Tom or, indeed, any of deceased past pupils, why not leave a comment using the facility available on this blog.

This News Blog has been compiled and posted by Jim Conway who can be contacted on jim.conway7@gmail.com.

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Student Bursaries 2021 Presented

The PPU recently presented bursaries of €1,000 each to Geneveva Memes and Kristians Locmelis to assist in their third level education commencing in 2021. The presentation ceremony, which took place in the school on Monday November 15th was attended by school Principal, Kate Byrne, Deputy Principal, Cathriona O’Sullivan, Careers Guidance teacher, John Davids, PPU President, Dan Ferrari, Secretary, John Cullen and Treasurer, Jim Conway.

Genoveva achieved 625 points in the Leaving Cert and is now studying medicine in Trinity. Kristians is studying Biomedical Molecular Diagnostics in TUD, Grangegorman.

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Annual Mass for deceased Past Pupils 2021

Past pupils of Westland Row CBS, who passed away during the last twelve months will be prayed for during Mass, which will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend Dermot Farrell, on Sunday November 28th at 11.30am as part of the St. Andrew’s Day celebrations in Westland Row church. All past pupils are invited to attend.

Photo taken at the Mass celebrated by the Papal Nuncio, deputising for the Archbishop, in 2017

We already have 5 deceased past pupils on the list this year; Tom Butler, Ken Beaton, Shay Healy, Gerry Mackey and Jim Bradley. If anyone is aware of other past pupils who passed away in recent times please text their names to Jim Conway on 087 2557298. If anyone is in touch with any family members of deceased past pupils please pass on the Mass details in case they would like to attend.

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PPU Launches Appeal

PPU President, Dan Ferrari, recently launched an appeal to encourage past pupils to update their PPU subscriptions and/or make donations to help with the on going development of the school. The hard work put in by all the staff and others involved with the school in recent years has paid off and big improvements in pupil numbers and students going on to third level. The Irish Times put matters succinctly in 2020 as follows –

“The school which has shown the most dramatic improvement in the rate of progression (to third level) over a six year period is Christian Brothers Westland Row, Dublin 2. In 2014 two of its 12 students who sat the Leaving Certificate progressed while in 2020, 15 (71%) of its 21 students who sat the Leaving Cert accepted a third level place. This turnaround has much to do with the excellent leadership of Principal, Kate Byrne and Deputy Principal, Eddie Kelly (who retires this year after serving 41 years in the school)”

The PPU has supported the school in many ways, including financially, over a number of years and in 2020 we launched a scheme of bursaries totalling E2,000 annually to support students to meet some of the expenses in starting their third level education. Kacper Jaroszynski was the first recipient and the following video shows how important our help was to him.

Kacper graduated from the ROW in 2020 and is now in Third Level.

The challenge now is to continue and expand our support (we hope to give even more bursaries in the coming years) but we cannot do this from dwindling resources. We rely entirely on the generosity of past pupils and we need to expand the number of past pupils who pay their annual subs. This is only E25 payable by Standing Order. The President’s recent email enclosed a downloadable Standing Order but if you did not get that you can contact Dan by text or phone call to 087 6238136. Donations, of any amount, will also be welcome of course. Thanks and good luck.

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Assistant Principal, Eddie Kelly, to retire

The PPU has learned that, Eddie Kelly, Assistant Principal at CBS Westland Row will retire at the end of the current school year. Eddie has been a great stalwart of the school staff for 41 years and he leaves with good wishes from all his colleagues, pupils and the PPU. Many past pupils wish to pay tribute to Eddie and, as we couldn’t possibly fit them all in, we picked the one submitted by Ken Doherty to represent them.

Ken says –

“I would like to wish Eddie Kelly all the best in his retirement and take this opportunity to thank him for all the great service he has given to the ROW over the years. He was a great teacher to me and we all loved being in his classroom as it was always a relaxed atmosphere and easy to learn. The ROW will miss him greatly. Thanks Eddie.”

Eddie’s ROW years 1980 – 2021

Eddie was raised in Swinford Co. Mayo and attended University in Galway. On leaving college he responded to an employment ad with a box number and ended up in Westland Row. He vividly recalls his job interview with Brothers Cullen and Hendrick. Bro. Cullen made it clear that they were not looking for much “just someone not too bright who would not read the Irish Times in class”. Eddie says that they need not have worried because only the Indo and the Press were tolerated in Mayo!!!.

Eddie started in the school in 1980 teaching History, Geography and Religion. There were three classes in each year in those days. The classes were not as big as those of us, who were there in the sixties, remember. Eddie says that there were about 20 per class and the total enrolment was around 220.

Eddie says that the three streams were very different with the A classes being very bright and studious, the B group were more fun and challenging whilst the C classes were sadly neglected.

Discipline was good in those days, the leather only being produced on odd occasions.

Eddie was very fond of sport and quickly got involved in the Gaelic teams. He spent a lot of time in Ringsend Park on the Wednesday half day and after school on many days. The tradition of the Brothers, in their opposition to foreign games, was still alive in those days so Eddie waited patiently for Bro. Cullen to retire before he started a Soccer team. The teams were quite successful despite their lack of resources.

Eddie’s comments about the changes that came to the school in the eighties are very interesting. In the early part of the decade many of the students came from suburbs such as Ranelagh, Rathmines, Sandymount and even some of the North City suburbs such as Raheny. Numbers decreased in the late eighties coinciding with the opening of new modern community schools around the suburbs. The school went co-ed in 1984 and many more local children attended the school. Eddie had to learn the names of the flat complexes in the surrounding streets. The teachers, particularly the older ones, found the changed circumstances very challenging. Literacy and Numeracy became the priorities rather than Shakespeare and Theoretical Physics. The numbers taking higher level papers dropped and staff became very disillusioned.

Eddie says that his most difficult time came when the Brothers left in 1996 and the numbers dropped to an all time low. Despite all the difficulties, Eddie had shown his mettle and he was appointed Assistant Principal in 1999. The fight to keep the school open was in full swing and the tide began to turn.

Eddie pays tribute to a number of people including former Principal Ken Duggan and current Principal Kate Byrne, for their great effort in raising morale and creating a spirit of cooperation all of which resulted in getting the school back to a good place with numbers well up and many students going on to third level.

Eddie says that he is glad to be retiring at a time of growth and achievement in the school. There is no doubt that Eddie himself can proudly take his place at the top table with people who fought the good fight for the ROW. Back in 1988, a very witty Paddy Finnegan, remarked that Eddie’s arrival coincided with the decline of the school. Eddie has proven Paddy to have been very wrong and we would say that the Eddie’s arrival was a great day for the ROW.

Eddie is very complimentary towards the PPU for its contribution to the school over the years. The PPU would like to thank Eddie for his kind remarks and also for all his help over the years, especially during the numerous activities around the 150 celebrations and the 1916 commemoration events. We hope to get a chance to show our appreciation at a future annual dinner or other suitable event. Have a long and happy retirement Eddie, Slan agus Beannocht.

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Dan Ferrari elected PPU President

The PPU AGM was held via Zoom on Thursday last May 27. The big news is that Dan Ferrari (class of 73) was elected PPU President for the next two years. Dan will be double jobbing for a while as he continues to hold the Finance Portfolio for the time being.

Outgoing President, Jerry Carroll (class of 62) reported on his three year tenure of office. PPU activities were greatly restricted due to Coveid but a number of Zoom meetings were held, thanks to John Costello and DCU. Committee numbers have increased with the addition of Gerry Cassidy, who zooms in from Connemara, and Pat Neill. Both are very welcome. The incoming committee will shortly bring forward a number of plans to support the school and will seek to revive social activities as soon as possible. Further news, including information about how the school is doing, will soon be published via News Blog on rowppu.ie and alerted via email and WhatsApp, so keep an eye out.

Incoming President Dan Ferrari with John Murray and John Cullen
Dan (left) with John Murray and John Cullen at 2019 Annual Dinner

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Shay (Ogie) Healy 1943 – 2021

One of our most illustrious past pupils, ROW Man of the Year 1983, Shay (or Ogie, as we knew him) passed away on April 10th. Shay suffered with Parkinson’s disease for about 17 years but managed to work in the entertainment business almost to the end.

Shay had an outstanding career in music and television. This has been widely reported since Shay passed away. The RTE website contains a great tribute containing many videos and photographs. The PPU extends sincere sympathy to Shay’s wife Dympna, his sons and wider family. Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam.

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