Dublin Branch Annual Dinner 2019

Photo courtesy of Liam Nicholl (Chairman Dublin Branch)

It was held in St Stephen’s Hibernian Club, Dublin on  8th March 2019.

Report by Liam Nicholl (Chairman Dublin Branch)

CCR pastmen started arriving at St Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club, Dublin 2 from 7.0 p.m. all cutting a dash in their smart black tie attire. The atmosphere in the bar started rising to reach a crescendo as the gong rang for dinner at 8.0.

A 60 strong platoon of able bodied CCR men and 3 supporting ladies streamed into the dinning room to the strains of It’s a Long way to Tipperary”.  

A warm welcome was extended to all present by your chairman and particularly to those who had travelled – patron of our Union Dom Malachy Thompson from the monastery and college, Union President, Mr Fergal Keane, from London and Alumni Officer and Union General Secretary, Ms Katherine Donovan from Tipperary. A welcome was also extended to our guest schools representatives, St Michael’s, St. Mary’s, King’s Hospital, Gonzaga, CUS, and Terenure. Congratulations were also extended to both Gonzaga and St Michael’s on reaching the Senior Cup Final on St Patrick’s Day.

First to take the floor was Dom Malachy who gave an update on the good progress being made at the College with increased numbers, good results and a full programme of academic and sporting activities. He also followed up on the announcement he made at the Abbots Cup that the monastery and college were one campus. He outlined an exciting and innovative project to make the entire campus at Mount St. Joseph’s Abbey and College carbon neutral.

Then, before dinner, as an introduction to the theme of the evening, Dr Ina Kelly, Tyrellspass, a guest of our Union played a slow Irish Air on her Uilleann pipes as a Tribute to the past students of CCR who served in WW1. Ina’s grand uncle, Cornelius I. Kelly, Portumna, was shot down over Flanders and killed, aged 19. Her grandfather was also a past student.

After a standing ovation for Ina, the buzz of conversation throughout the room rose in intensity as all engaged in good conversation and enjoyed the quality food and excellent “Own Label” Cuvée CCR Union wines.

Next up was our very own Gerard O’Meara (1970), resident CCR expert on all the wars, who recounted, in just 12 minutes, aided by Power Point photos, remarkable stories of our CCR pastmen  who served in all areas of the armed forces.  These included stories of men who served in the Royal Flying Corps (precursor of the RAF), e.g. Major Tim Killeen, Miltown Malbay, who was shot down by the Red Baron, survived but died in later life of war wounds.

Gerard also told stories of pastmen who served with the Royal Navy with it’s big naval base in Cork, to an intrigued audience. These included Patrick Harrington, aged 17 who, when home on holidays from CCR, took place of his mate, who was ill, on board the HM Trawler ‘Clifton”  but sadly hit a mine shortly after leaving Cork Harbour and was killed.

Some CCR pastmen were taken as Prisoners of War by the German army, e.g., Henry E. Hall, who, after the War became a leading light of Irish Industry and from 1942 to 1945 served as President of the CCR Union. Other survivors went on to have successful lives after the war, e.g., William Keegan, Co Laois, who went on to become head of the Board of Works in Hong Kong.

Sadly Gerard told us of other casualties, e.g. Robert and Joseph Cussen from Co. Limerick and Patrick Dundon from Limerick City.

The second theme speaker, Sean Boyne, biographer of probably our most illustrious CCR past student of the period, Emmet Dalton, focused his talk exclusively on Emmet. Dalton served at rank of captain in WW1, was decorated for bravery (Military Cross) and was with Tom Kettle when he was killed at the battle of the Somme. He became a Major General in Free State army after the war, developed a close relationship with Michael Collins and was with Collins during treaty negotiations in London and later at Béal na Bláth.

Dalton, a scratch golfer, helped CCR win one of the early inter schools golf competitions, was instrumental in setting up our CCR Union both in Ireland and London and in fact preceded Henry Hall as Union President.

Remarkable photos of past students of the period were displayed and one could hear a “pin drop” during both presentations.

The final speaker on the night was our London based, Union President, Mr Fergal Keane, who spoke of the importance of the relationship and interdependencies between Ireland and UK and a need for friendship, now more than ever, at this time in a Brexit conflict. He thanked and complimented the Dublin branch for their innovation in staging the event, a tribute to our fellow past students “that was well overdue” in his own words.

In summary, as a CCR pastman, it was a night to be proud of for our fellow pastmen who had served in a tragic period of history. We remembered them, for the first time on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, a remembrance that is well deserved.

 Liam Nicholl,Chairman,Union, Dublin Branch published this article about the dinner.


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