The quaint seaside village of Dunmore east, on Ireland’s sunny south east coast, provided the location for the first reunion of the class of 2003. The festivities took place during the weekend of Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July, 2013, amidst the glorious sunshine provided by Ireland’s warmest summer in living memory (at least in my living memory). Our base for the weekend was the very lively and picturesque Strand Hotel situated in the centre of the village. An outside terrace, overlooking the sea, with the sun blazing down and waves crashing against the terrace walls gave a rather spectacular feel to the Friday afternoon.
A small group gathered early, taking a able with a sea view, and started ordering pint bottles of Bulmers by the dozen. Within minutes the table was black; the ever helpful drinks waiters struggling to cope with the exponential growth of dark bottles. Our number grew slowly as the afternoon wore on, with arrivals from all over Ireland, London, Italy and Australia until eventually we had twenty sit down to a later than planned dinner on the terrace.
The conversation flowed at the dinner table; the clock turned back to younger years passed. Tales of rugby games (usually lost), huts being built, night-time excursions, smoking in towers, pupils in; then out; headmasters coming and going (3), suspensions galore and various other forms of teenage devilment were brandished about to recall what can only be considered a happy time. General merriment continued to the early hours, though, not surprisingly there would be consequences. A mishap centered around red wine and stomach acid, the unexpected arrival of a squad car and tequila infused tirades at 4.00 in the morning: proof that Friday night was nothing short of fantastic.
Saturday morning saw a tide fully in and a rather small group of swimmers jumping from the slipway into the fresh Atlantic waters. It wasn’t warm, but with an Irish breakfast to follow the day was off to a flying start. Stories from the night before reverberated around the dining room in reckless disregard for our fellow diners, but no matter, they can only have been suitably entertained, though the younger ones may have been doing some head scratching! When breakfast was over, there was a quick run round to all the rooms to raise the stragglers from their peaceful slumber: shouting at, jumping on top of, punching and dead legs all required!
Next it was off to the serene surroundings of WaterfordCastle via the car ferry for a spot of Clay Pigeon shooting. When one considers the tender nature of all participants the standard was, I would say adequate, and thankfully all survived unscathed to retire to the clubhouse for a pub lunch and a well deserved rest. Then back to Dunmore; where some swam, some slept, some drank and all looked forward to meeting the late arrivals.
We were delighted to welcome Leo McGrath; former teacher, rugby coach and friend along with Br. Denis Hooper OSB; former teacher, housemaster, headmaster, rugby coach and spiritual advisor (?) to join us for the evening. When combined with the other later arrivals we had twenty five sit down for dinner in the Azurro Restaurant for an Italian meal washed down with oceans of red wine: careful Westy! Speeches were provided by Gordon Doyle, School Captain; Br. Denis, Leo and Simon O’Doherty who wowed us all with his very special surprise! After dinner it was back to the Strand where all remained till the early hours.
All in all, it was a great weekend; the only negative being absent friends. However, when Gordon and I began organising way back in January we were ever so slightly pessimistic about the numbers the weekend would attract. A year group which, in all honesty, didn’t mix well; combined with high levels of emigration meant our expectations were low. To have twenty five sit down for dinner on the Saturday night was absolutely fantastic and I for one thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend. It was suggested at dinner on Saturday that we reconvene in five years time as opposed to waiting the traditional ten. I’m fully in favour of this idea; ten years just seems like such a long time.
Neil Shee – 20th September, 2013 – Follow my blog: www.neilshee.wordpress.com