40th Anniversary Gathering Report (1974 -2014)

And so it came to pass…following many months of meticulous & painstaking planning our own very special gathering took place in Limerick over the weekend of 5/6th September just gone.

Forty years on, a veritable lifetime for some, and although somewhat decaying in parts with the passage of time, but nonetheless remarkable in that it retained what most of us could remember, our cherished Alma Mater once more came to life and welcomed back close to 150 of us for perhaps what might well be the last time.

The Union Council, driven as always by the brothers Roche, put together an array of activities that saw us mark the 40th anniversary of the closing of the college (in 1974) with some style and a great deal of panache, culminating in a wonderful dinner in what once might loosely have been described as the quietest room in the house. The College Chapel. Bedecked in the college colours (thanks to Brian O’Flynn for organising that) and resplendent with finely set dinner tables, cutlery and glassware, we dined, we wined, we laughed and we reminisced along with the ghosts of the past who must surely have been wondering what in the name of God was going on.

It was a truly outstanding weekend heartily enjoyed by all and d’you know what, those ghosts of the past probably had a chuckle or two trying to figure out who was who. Oh, the ravages of time…….

Hosted by our President Seamus Dennison, immortalised in Munster rugby folklore for a certain tackle back in 1978, the weekend programme kicked off on the Friday with the annual golf outing held at the magnificent Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in very pleasant weather conditions.

Adare Manor, itself a harmony of history and modern luxury, has a golf course that will test any golfer. It’s one of the very best with an envious pedigree of hosting prestigious events, but a few of our guys made little of it with some very high scores. 45 golfers departed from the first tee, under the very capable joint batons of the ever present organisers Victor Ryan & John Power, and most of them managed to return with their sanity intact.

The competition for the Union Cup now renamed the Fr. Senan Timoney Trophy, to honour the contribution made to the Union by Fr Senan who passed away during the year, was won by Terry O’Brien with a score of 37 pts. Michael D Lynch and last years’ winner Michael Murphy followed Terry home with a similar number of points but beaten on count back.

Most of us were based in the newly renovated Strand Hotel in the heart of the city where over 100 attended the AGM, dinner and presentation of prizes later on Friday evening.

The AGM was a very lively and vibrant affair with a variety of topics debated, and it can safely be said that it was by far one of the more productive meetings of recent years with contributions coming from most of those in attendance.

We then had a very pleasant dinner after which our President, Seamus, presented the prizes for the golf. John Power was his usual eloquent self and a big thanks to Victor Ryan for organising the prizes.

The bar, with the added magnet of live music, provided the backdrop for the rest of the evening with some of the younger guys or at least those who thought they were younger guys defying the laws of gravity (and logic) by attempting to throw a few shapes on the dance floor albeit completely out of sync with the music! The usual suspects could be found very much later on talking rubbish and keeping the barmen up way past their bedtimes.

All in all, a great day to kick off the weekend.

Next day, Saturday, at midday saw us convene out at the College for a tour of the house and grounds organised with the help of the Limerick Christian Centre, the Mungret Heritage Society and Limerick County Council. Once more there was a great turnout of over 100 for what was one of the highlights of the weekend and a real trip down memory lane, especially for those who had not been back since leaving the College.

The Limerick Christian Society have taken over the middle section of the College comprising the stone corridor and classrooms in that section all the way to the top floor including the chapel and what was the study hall (now converted into a small school). The society has done a very fine job in preserving their section and has built a number of bedrooms on the top floor for use by visiting groups. This section of the tour was conducted by William Sheehan of the LCS.

William was instrumental in arranging for us to hold the reunion in the college and to him very many thanks for making that possible.

Limerick County Council have bought the other section of the school and this, with the exception of some of the dormitories which had been converted into offices but never used and suffered from some vandalism, is virtually as it was in 1974 but very much the worse for wear. This section includes the old Poetry and Rhetoric classrooms, the back stairs and all of the priests section. Nevertheless areas were very recognisable and we are told that the County Council have plans to turn this section into a secondary school. The tour of this area was conducted by Tom Cassidy of Limerick County Council, who over the planning process for the event turned out to be a great ally. Many thanks for that.

The final section of the tour took us to the graveyard and within its environs the older buildings and churches in the area to the right of the avenue, as one exits the College. This was a most informative hour or so conducted by Nessan O’Donoghue of the Mungret Heritage Society. Nessan is steeped in all things Mungret and provided us with a great insight to the very ancient and early times of the settlements in Mungret. Again, our heartfelt thanks for this

Following the tours everyone then reconvened back in the College for the final events of the weekend starting with a concelebrated Mass at 6pm.

Chief celebrant Fr Joe Brennan SJ led the prayers and was assisted by Fr Michael Sheil SJ, Fr John Guiney SJ, Fr Joe Moran SJ and Fr Kevin Laheen SJ. The mass was held in what was the First Club library and our thanks and appreciation go to Brian O’Flynn, who organised and co-ordinated the mass.

President Seamus then officially launched a book written by Fr Laheen SJ and entitled ‘The Jesuits of Mungret’. We were very honoured to be asked to perform this task and very pleased to be in a position to be able to do this in the College.

We were then treated to a wine and canapé reception on the lawns whilst awaiting the call for dinner.

Dinner was a splendid occasion. The Chapel looked stunning. Fillet of Prime Irish Angus Beef or Sea Bass was on offer together with Starter, Dessert, Tea or Coffee & Petit Fours all prepared on site and effortlessly served up by the chefs and staff of Knights Catering. Knights, owned and operated out of Dublin by past pupil and long standing council member Roger Fitzgerald installed a full working kitchen in front of the old study hall, set the chapel out with tables and chairs to accommodate 145 past pupils and guests and delivered a meal of exceptional quality. Our sincere thanks to Roger and his team for a wonderful experience.

Past pupils from all over the world were present, coming from the UK in their droves, the United States and Germany to name but a few. However, the honours and plaudits have to go to Pat Corr who travelled from Florida at the ripe old age of 84.

Tom O’Neill was the perfect Toastmaster and with his usual aplomb carried the evening through with great style.

The curtain then came down with the President’s address. Seamus Dennison demonstrated, as he had throughout the weekend, his wonderful ability to hold an audience and regaled us with stories from a bygone era touching on his own experiences and those of his contemporaries, whilst in Mungret.

He then invited President Elect Ciaran Smyth to accept the chain of office for the coming year, following which the new President then addressed the gathering and formally closed the proceedings.

Bus transport was provided to and from the Strand Hotel as part of the dinner cost, with the return journey leaving the College shortly after 12 midnight, and on arrival back at the hotel the younger lads or those who thought they were the younger lads kept things going well into the small hours.

A lot of work and effort over a long period of time went into making this venture the success that it turned out to be, and to use that old well worn cliché these things just don’t happen by themselves.

There’s always someone who drives things along.

To that end, our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for his part in pulling all of this together go to Karl Roche. Karl, as always, was unstinting in giving of his time and energies and deserves most of the credit for the outcome.

And, to all of the organisers of the various tasks may we congratulate you on an excellent job. The results of your efforts are evident in the number of testaments received from a large number of those present.

Now that you have tasted the annual get together we hope that it will tempt you back again next year.



Samples of some kind and positive comments made by those who attended. 

“ I want to pass on my thanks to the council for the entire organisation which resulted in such a memorable reunion”

Joe Fahy

“I think it was the most successful of reunions and found it quite emotional to be back in the college again”

Dr. Jimmy O’Brien Moran

“I would like to thank all the council members for a fantastic week-end”

Ciaran Smyth Incoming President

“I would like to thank you on the weekend’s events in Limerick”

Tadgh Dwyer

“I hope you get hundreds of emails telling you what an enjoyable experience we had”

Bob Boles UK

“ Being in and around the college was wonderful”.

Martin Gleeson

“It must have been satisfying to see all the hard work come to fruition. Ran like clockwork.”

Seamus Dennison Outgoing President

“I will cherish the memories of the nostalgia engendered as we guided the lads through the main block and the ancillary buildings not to mention the spirit of hope for the future that was evident at the evening festivities”

Tom Cassidy

Conservation Officer

Limerick County Council