Nicotine Cat

You will remember that we were all invited to the launch of the above book which is published by Brian Lynch (Duras Press). The occasion at the Unitarian Church in St. Stephen's Green was a great night. Whacks of interesting people.

Brian gave a tour de force introduction to the book and its author, Augustus (James) Young, who proved to be an engaging guy. The church setting added greatly to the literary tone.

You can get the book here

Besides myself, other iarscoláirí present were Alan Dukes and Kevin Brady.

Apart from the usual interesting wall plaques, the church boasted an innovative ecumenical piece entitled "Celebration". The sculptor was Patrick McElroy. It includes imagery from the various world religions. It is refreshing to see this sort of stuff in a conventional Christian church.

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Foley's 2009

John's letter to Tony following our night in Foley's is reproduced below. Again all credit and thanks to Tony for organising a great night.

Dear Tony,

My visit to Dublin is now well behind me and I have to say that the recent evening at Foley's with my old Colaiste Mhuire friends was one of the best such nights yet. It was extremely funny and it seems that many of us are becoming more outrageous as the years roll on.

Thanks to all of those who came along on the night and commiserations to all of those who didn't, or couldn't, because you did miss out on a really great night.

O'Bradaigh was in full flight on the night (as always) with outrageous comments on most things and was robust in his defence of them! Frank Russell was the master story-teller on the night and he regaled us with many interesting tales from helicopter & aircraft disasters and near-disasters to Local and International politics. His detailed descriptions of helicopter activities near the Irish North South border were hair-raising. His stories and inside knowledge about irish politics and politicians is always illuminating.

Its OK Alan (Dukes) - you were missed, but not mentioned either favourably, or unfavourably, on the night. Mind you I am not at all sure whether that is a good thing for a Politician!

Altogether a brilliant night and we can do it all again next year as I am putting the finishing touches to our trip to Europe this week.

With Kind Personal Regards to all of you,

John Whelan

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Foley's 2010

Message from John re next year
So pencil it in!

With regard to next year Foley's night, I can already advise that it will be on Friday, July 16 from 7pm.

You can read John's letter on our 2009 night here.

Call for contributions

I have sent out a specific email request to the lads for material for inclusion in this newsletter. I included a list of possible topics, ranging from the autobiographical to opinion pieces. I look forward to getting loads of replies (ha!).

Contribution No. 1 - John Whelan

Unsurprisingly I got a piece from John Whelan by return post. It is a good read, and all credit to John for penning it. John (along with Tony) has been the motor of our "annual" reunions. Míle buíochas, a Sheáin. You can read it here

Contribution No. 2 - Seán Ó Maoláin

Seán Ó Maoláin has raised some questions arising out of Seán Ó Faoláin's contribution. These serve to widen the debate. Some of them had sort of occurred to me. Can we continue this debate which could end up being both revealing and useful? You can read it here

Cúrsaí Tís

Seol isteach bhúr gcuid scéalta, griangrafanna, airgead don chiste chosanta (only joking - strict editorial control !!)

Comon Lads - Ábhar len bhúr dtoil

Guidelines for submission of material for publication in IarNuacht. These are designed to be helpful to everybody in the long run!

John Whelan reveals all

I confirm that having lived in Parnell Square since early childhood and having never being too keen on walking great distances, my parents first choice of a primary school for me was the Dominican Nuns on Dominic Street. Some of the Nuns were reasonably nice people and didn't torture us too much. Others could have written the training manuals for Guantanamo Bay.

After that suitably tough early education, I must have been deemed reasonably prepared for the Christian Brothers at Colaiste Mhuire which was just up the Square from where we lived. It was a natural choice being so close to our home and the Brothers had no trouble accepting one Sean O Faolain who must have come across to them as being suitably bruised and battered by the Nuns and therefore adequately prepared for life at Colaiste Mhuire.

I was never a gifted student and served the first years of Junior school at Colaiste in the 'B' class. I must have suffered severe Class Distinction inadequacy problems as a result of those early years in the 'B' classes at Colaiste because I resolved, with my Mother's ever-forceful encouragement, that I had to work a lot harder and get myself promoted to the 'A' class. That happened at the end of primary school and I entered a whole new world after that. Given the very real talent that I found in the 'A' classes in Colaiste, what with Colm O Muirchairtaig, Alan Dukes, Johnny O Connor and the likes, the challenge was obvious and tremendous. I resolved that I would never be demoted back to the 'B' class from that time onwards and so it turned out to be. Through sheer hard work, I hung on to a position within the top 6 places in that 'A' class right through high school. I came out of Colaiste Mhuire in the famous class of 63' in fourth position which I was delighted with as the talent in front of me was truly exceptional. Not only did O Muircheartaig and Dukes have the capacity for absorbing enormous amounts of study, they had enough spare mental and physical capacity to enter and represent Colaiste Mhuire in all sorts of speech-making, debating and musical activities. It is totally beyond my comprehension even to this day how they managed to be as good as they were. There were light years between them and the rest of us, no matter how hard we tried.

Those very competitive years set me up well for the challenge of Mechanical Engineering at UCD and I was fortunate to finish with Second Class Honours there after four of the toughest years of my life. I might have got First Class Honours had I any idea at all about Chemistry, a subject that baffles me to this day. Regrettably, it was a compulsory subject in Engineering and thats a big problem if you have no clue what its about.

After UCD I went to Australia, rather than accept the offer of a Green Card for the USA with the attendant risk of being drafted for Vietnam! No bloody way was that going to happen. So Australia it was where I soon took up a position as Design Engineer with Chrysler Corporation which was based in Adelaide. After 11 extremely successful and enjoyable years I took up the position as Chief Engineer in a prominent Australian air-conditioning company. That lasted 13 years after which I became General Manager of a small Adelaide manufacturing company which designed and made all of the postmix beverage dispensing equipment used by the beverage industry Australia-wide. After 6 years of that, we sold the business to a US company. At age 54, I was unemployed and decided I wanted to run my own business rather than from then on, have to answer to some younger manager which I know I couldn't do. I am still running my own business today, 12 years later.

We print and stamp business envelopes at a rate of over 8 million/annum for 3200 customers across Australia. The business is highly automated and we run it with a staff of only three of us. Our turnover is up 26% on last year and our sales turnover has just passed $A5 million. The atmosphere is relaxed and we have a lot of fun. So much so that I consider myself to be semi-retired.

Life has been good to me and my family. I believe that those early hard years at Colaiste Mhuire prepared me well for the real world and certainly for the rigours of UCD. It remains a remarkable fact in my memory that of the 161 candidates that entered 1st year Engineering, only 45 successfully finished after 4 years. Its even more remarkable that all of the Colasite Mhuire 'Engineers' made it through in that extremely trying environment and all went on the have successful careers.

I have a lot to thank Colaiste Mhuire for, and I do, most sincerely.

With Warm Regards

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Seán Ó Maoláin raises some questions

John Whelan’s article raises a no of questions.

How did he end up in the ‘B’ class in the bun scoil in Colaiste? Was it as a result of inadequacies in the teaching in Dominick Street or flaws in the entrance procedures in Colaiste or was there some other reason? It is amazing that he would be in the ‘B’ class in the bun scoil and emerge as no 4 in the leaving cert in such exalted company.

Were there others in ‘B’ classes who should have been in ‘A’ classes or was Sean O Folain the only one?

Was there equal opportunity for all in Colaiste? Were those in ‘B’ classes taught by teachers of ability equivalent to that of the teachers of the ‘A’ classes or were they treated as second class citizens? Who needed the better teachers? Would it have been a proper deployment of resources that the ‘B’ classes were given the better teachers?

We had one teacher for one subject who had great difficulty in controlling a class because of his medical history. The ‘B’ class had the same teacher for several subjects.

Were there other prospective Mechanical Engineers in the ‘B’ class who never got the opportunity to reach their potential?

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