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Drinking from Different Fountains

Contents
Foreword Early Years Feheney Side of Family Towards Adulthood Sojourn in the Caribbean Part of English Province Return to Cork Christian Leadership in Education Endnotes

A Memoir

John M Feheney
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Foreword

ne of the reasons why I am writing this Memoir now is that I have become increasingly aware of the approach of the end of my life. Though my mothers family, the Ranahans, have been notably long-lived, no member of my fathers family, the Feheneys, has lived far beyond 80 years. And I have already passed 80. Moreover, since I have concentrated on writing biographies in recent years, I am very much aware of the help even random biographical notes can be to a future historian. Yet another incentive has been the fact that, in recent times, the Province Leader of the Presentation Brothers, to which I belong, has been encouraging older members to write their stories. So here is a part of mine. The approach adopted in this volume has been one whereby a chapter has been devoted to each of what I consider the significant stages of my life. No doubt, more could be written about some of these stages, but I have tried to avoid burdening the reader with too much detail. The reader will notice that I tend to get very absorbed in whatever work or project I am involved, and that my work usually brings me great satisfaction. For the past forty years, I have regularly kept a personal journal, which has been a great help in writing this memoir. I am very grateful to some of my colleagues, who have read an earlier draft of this volume and suggested amendments. These include Brothers John D Brazil, Paddy Minehane and Terence Hurley. John J OConnor and my web designer, Kelli De Franco Lee, have also helped me with the layout and format of this work. I also feel grateful to my many colleagues and friends, who, over the years, have helped me personally and professionally in numerous ways. I especially place on record my gratitude for and appreciation of the support I have received, and continue to receive, from my own family and my religious community. May God bless and reward them. John M Feheney Mardyke House, Cork, Ireland 20 September, 2012.

Copyright: 2012

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

First published 2012 on www.iverusresearchfoundation.com jmfeheny@iol.ie

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Chapter 1 Early Years

was born in Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland, on 16 March, 1932. My father, John Feheney, and my mother, Bridget (nee Ranahan) lived at Ballinacourty House, Askeaton, Co. Limerick. The reason why I happened to be born in Adare was that my Aunt, Mary Anne Clifford, mothers sister, was a nurse, living in Adare, and she was keen to help my mother during the delivery. Aunt Mary Anne (nee Ranahan) was a widow, whose husband, William Clifford, medical officer in Adare for 38 years, had died a decade earlier. I was the second child in a family of four boys and two girls. My older brother, Michael, was a year and a half older than me, while, after me, came Mary, Matt, James, who died as a baby, and Elizabeth. The Clifford house was located in the centre of Adare, on the southern side of the main street. It was one of the iconic thatched houses, built by the Earl of Dunraven in the nineteenth century and leased from him. The two-story house had about one acre of ground attached. This was divided into a garden and a little field for the pony. In later years, I usually went to Adare for my summer vacation and came to know and love the place. Ballinacourty House My home, Ballinacourty House, had a long history. The property was formerly part of the Bury estate, which had been granted to Phineas Bury by Cromwell in acknowledgement of the financial aid which Bury had provided for the Protectors Irish campaign in 1649. The land grant was confirmed by King Charles II after the Restoration in the Settlement of 1666 and the Burys lived for several generations, initially in Summerville, Pallaskenry, and subsequently in the famous Queen Anne House at Shannongrove, nearby. However, when the Burys inherited the estate and title of Charles Moore, First Earl of Charleville, they moved residence to Tullamore, Co. Offaly, and sold off the Pallaskenry estate in parcels. 1 John Evans, who built Ballinacourty House around 1750, was a member of an influential family of Cromwellian planters in Munster. They were descended from George Evans, who was a sergeant in Cromwells army in Ireland. Like many Cromwellian soldiers, George was paid off in land debentures when discharged. But, unlike some of his companions, he did not sell his debentures, but started a cobblers shop in Kinsale, and methodically sought out other discharged Cromwellian soldiers and purchased their debentures for small amounts of cash. Over time, he built up a substantial estate. In his later years, he acquired the title of Colonel. He took care to give his children a good education, thereby smoothing their subsequent entry into the landed gentry class. From there, they moved into the aristocracy, the old Colonels grandson, George, becoming Baron Carbery of Castlefreke, Co. Cork, in 1715.2 Before we leave old George Evans, the reputed founder of the Evans dynasty in Munster, it may be of interest to reproduce an extract about him from the Diary of John Perceval, First Earl of Egmont. The entry for Saturday 16 April, 1737, reads: Col. Evans, the Old, to distinguish him from Col. Evans, the son (who died a Privy Councillor of Ireland in my time and was the father of the present Lord Carbery of that kingdom), was a sergeant under Oliver Cromwell and after the Restoration, set up a cobblers trade in the county of Cork. I think at Kinsale, but being a cunning, industrious and saving man, by buying army debentures, and other opportunities that offered, laid the foundations of a large estate, which his son and grandson, the present Lord, by parsimony have improved to
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near 6,000 pounds a year. When the old man was 80 years old, a woman laid a bastard to him, and proved it so well upon him that he was sentenced to stand in a white sheet or to pay 40 pounds for commutation, but his vanity and love of money was so great, that he chose the former, after which meaner people, guilty of the same fault, made no scruple to stand in a white sheet, having so honourable an example, and this was all the Church got by her censures. 3 When old George Evans came to die, the parish minister exhorted him to repent of his sins, and particularly of the rebellion in Cromwells time in whose behalf he had borne arms. His physician chanced to be in the room at the time, so turning to him the Colonel asked him how long he thought he should live. The other feeling his pulse said, An hour at most. Then the Colonel, turning towards the minister (said), Take notice that I pray that I may go to my old master, Cromwell. Bless me, cried the minister, Why, hes gone to hell. No matter that, replied the Colonel, wherever he is, Im sure that he is the uppermost!4 Ballinacourty, comprising 410 acres, was leased to John Evans by William Bury of Shannongrove in October, 1751. When John Evans died in 1792, part of his property passed to his brother, George Evans (1742-1819), and another portion, including Ballinacourty House, passed to Thomas Davenport, who, in 1771, had married Martha Evans, one of Johns four daughters. The Evans part of the property was duly inherited by Rev Tyrrell Evans, son of George, while the Davenport part was inherited by Thomas son, Thomas Evans Davenport (d.1856). Thomas Evans Davenports heir was Dixon Davenport (d.1872), who also held more extensive property in Tralee, Co. Kerry, and who did not play a prominent part in local affairs in the Ballinacourty area5. In Griffiths Valuation (1850), Thomas Evans Davenports property in Ballinacourty, including some small farms on short leases to local people, comprised about 250 acres. Davenport also held property in Askeaton, including several houses rented to townspeople. He subscribed to the publication of Samuel Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) and was a founding member of the Limerick Athenaeum (1850). He also held the title of Colonel and was a local magistrate. He was the author of a report compiled at the request of Henry Watson, High Sheriff of Limerick, dated 6 December, 1845, in which he stated that there was an adequate supply of potatoes in county Limerick for both food and seed for the year 1846. Unfortunately, and sadly, Colonel Davenports information was incorrect, as the subsequent history of the potato famine in county Limerick confirmed. Davenport also acted as Tithe Proctor for the parish of Iverus in 1828 and 1829.6 Dr John ODonovan, in the course of his work for the Irish Ordinance Survey Office, visited Ballinacourty House in 1840 and described the house as L-shaped, with a gate lodge, a kitchen garden, an orchard, attractive offices and a handsome planting. When I was a child, some of the fruit trees in the orchard were still bearing and I remember with pleasure the luscious pears, which were my favourites. Curiously, two of those pear trees are still standing and bearing fruit after 250 years! 7 Dixon Davenport broke up the Ballinacourty property before he died in 1872, selling portions to three separate buyers. The portion containing Ballinacourty House, with about 140 acres, was purchased by the Baker family. They, however, ran short of money and sold a further 60 acres in four lots to local farmers. Finally, in the 1920s, they sold the remainder of the property to a Mr Hodgins. He, however, retained it only for a few years before selling the house and about 80 acres to my father, John Feheney, in 1927. Apart from the orchard, one of the most attractive aspects of the farm for a child, like me, were the fort and a large wood, both atop the highest hill in the area. There was always something of interest to see in the fort
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or in the wood: rabbits, foxes, stoats, and many species of birds, including pheasants, woodcock, ravens, pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, magpies, sparrow hawks, grey crows, rooks, jackdaws and a bevy of smaller birds. Jack, a Mentor There were also many species of tree in the wood, most of which I identified with the help of our knowledgeable farm labourer, Jack Griffin. Jack was a most interesting and instructive companion. He had a lively intelligence and a great memory. These qualities, however, were somewhat overshadowed by a deficiency in interpersonal skills. He had a dominating personality, a short temper, many prejudices and a dislike of groups. Though a diligent and efficient worker, he liked to work alone but he welcomed an eager listener, with lots of questions like me. Anything he ever heard or read, he seemed to remember. He taught me how to recognise various trees: ash, elm, lime, birch, alder, aspen, holly, sycamore, beech, hawthorn, blackthorn, willow, hazel, Scots pine, larch, Douglas fir and spruce. He had some knowledge of animal diseases and was familiar with such things as the life cycle of insects, including the warble fly and the common tick. I would spend hours asking him questions and listening to him. It was he who introduced me to the family history of some of the local gentry: Wallers, Caulfeilds, Evans and Davenports. Jack was had a special interest in the story of Sir Hardress Waller, who, in the seventeenth century, lived in nearby Castletown Manor. Sir Hardress, born in Kent, threw in his lot with Cromwell and was one of the judges who condemned King Charles I to death. After the restoration of his son, King Charles II, there was a time of reckoning. The astute Sir Hardress, however, was one of only two of the regicides to surrender 1: Castletown Manor, home of the Waller family themselves for trial. Though Sir Hardress was condemned to death, the sentence was commuted to exile and he spent the remainder of his life imprisoned in Mount Orgeuil Castle, Jersey, where he died in 1666. This is what the history books state. But local lore, of which Jack was a knowledgeable exponent, had an alternative version. This was that Sir Hardress escaped from Jersey and secretly made his way to Castletown Manor, where he had a secret hiding place, and from which he emerged only at night. But, eventually, the secret leaked out and Sir Hardress enemies, who were both determined and numerous, decided to wreak vengeance on him. One dark night, they sailed up the river Shannon, anchored off Wallers Island, crept towards the Manor, and waited for their quarry to appear. Sure enough, in the early hours of the morning, Sir Hardress emerged from a side door and began taking exercise by strolling about. It only took minutes to capture him and take him to a wood nearby. His captors then packed him into a barrel and drove iron spikes through it. They then took the barrel to the top of a nearby hill and let it roll down to the bottom, leaving the poor man to die in agony. 8 In 1936, John Thomas Waller, locally known as Jack, the last of the clan to live in Castletown Manor, sold the estate, amounting to 6,636 acres, to the Irish Land Commission for division and reallocation to local small farmers. The previous year, he also sold the mansion to a demolition contractor, who proceeded to knock it down, auctioning off the furniture and valuable fittings. It is related that the Countess of Dunraven purchased the main marble staircase for 100, with the proviso that it be taken down carefully and delivered to
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Adare without damage. The important development for Jack, however, was the news that, in the final stages of demolition, a secret empty room was discovered in the mansion. Jack was exuberant when he heard the news and went around stating that this was the hitherto missing proof that Sir Hardress had really escaped from Jersey and that the story of his death at Mount Orgeuil Castle was merely a story put out by the English Royalists to save face. Local Carpenter Another great mentor in my early life was Jim Nealon, a local carpenter. Jims workshop was on the side of the road, about half way between our house and the local National school. Every afternoon on the way home from school, I called to Jims shop without fail. I asked what he was working on, examined the product, asked from what wood it was made and examined his tools. I learned that the shafts of carts were preferably made from larch, while the wheels were made from elm. Oak was a highly-prized wood, reserved for beams and furniture. Beech was generally not suitable for carpentry, having a tendency to split as it dried out. Hurleys, on the other hand were made from Ash, as were handles of forks, spades and shovels. Spindle wood, when available, was ideal for making ploughing yokes. Scots Pine was suitable only for cheap boards, while pitch pine, full of resin, was long-lasting and highly prized. As he worked with different tools, he explained their use: different types of saws; spokeshave; plane, augur, pincers, pliers, hammer, mallet, wood chisel, square and level. I often watched a cart grow, starting with the shafts, then the frame, then the axle and finally the wheels. When the wheels were finished, they had to be taken to a blacksmith, who shod them by heating an iron band, slipping the expanded cylinder over the wheel rim, then plunging it in water, whereupon the iron cylinder contracted and became a tight fit. Shannon Estuary Near the brow of our hill was a large stone, weighing about a ton, which, according to local lore, was long ago thrown by a giant at an opponent across the Shannon from County Clare. Later, I identified it as a fall-out from the melting and receding ice sheet of 15,000 years ago. The dominating physical feature in the Ballinacourty area was the estuary of the river Shannon. This river deposits large amounts of silt in the estuary west of Limerick city and, in the Ballinacourty area, the main channel of the river is dwarfed by a vast expanse of mud flats on both the Limerick and Clare sides of the river. These tidal mud flats were a haven for wild fowl and waders and every trip to the river revealed new secrets. Among the waders were the curlews, always the first to warn of our approach; the dunlins, the turnstones, the sandpipers, the whimbrels, the golden, grey and green plover. Among the ducks, we could make out the mallard, shell, teal and widgeon. In the winter months, there would be small numbers of Greenland White-Fronted geese, that fed in the nearby fields at night. Our ambition was always to crawl stealthily up the high grassy bank and get a peek at the birds before any of them got wind of our presence. The river bank had been constructed by Rev John Thomas Waller, a local landlord, who, in 1869, purchased 269 acres of the estuary mudflats from the Irish Government. Using local contract labour, he constructed two retaining banks, one in Ballinacourty, about 400 yards long, and one in nearby Castletown, which was about 700 yards long. Each bank was about 16 feet high, 30 feet wide at the base, narrowing to 8 feet at the top. On the Ballinacourty side of the river, there were two small islands, each of which could be accessed by a causeway. These islands were wonderful places for exploration. One of the interesting features of these islands was the fact that the underlying soft limestone was full of fossils. Moreover, this rock was near the surface: all you had to do was strip away a few inches of

soil and you could see ammonites and belemnites galore. Later, I discovered that the area is famous for a soft fossil-rich limestone, technically known as Ballysteen limestone. 9 From about the age of eight to twelve, my chief leisure activity was hunting. This was a grandiose name for exploring the surrounding countryside with a couple of dogs. Occasionally, we encountered rabbits but our sheepdogs merely gave leisured chase and rarely if ever caught anything. Immediately after dinner on Sundays, we put leads on the dogs, in case they would attempt to return home, and headed off exploring. North lay the river Shannon and south lay Milltown lake, embracing about 50 acres. It was known that some otters lived in the lake and we were always on the look out to see them. There were always some wild duck, coots and moorhen, occasionally a few swans, but we never saw an otter. Most days, however, we saw foxes, hares and rabbits. Nearby, in the town land of Milltown, there was an abandoned Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks. This was on the property of the late Captain Alexander Caulfield, who had spent most of his life with the British army in India. On his retirement from the army, he had purchased the house and property previously belonging to Rev Arthur Champagne (1789-1862), a Church of Ireland clergyman of French Huguenot stock. Since the Caulfield family played an important role in the social and economic life of the area, I will say a few words about them. Caulfield Family General James Caulfield was born in Castle Cosby, Crossdoney, Co. Cavan, in 1783. He was a relative of William Caulfield, First Earl of Charlemont. He joined the East India Company and spent most of his working life soldiering in India. On his return from India in 1844, he purchased 3,100 acres of the Bury estate in Pallaskenry, which we mentioned above. He built a house on the outskirts of Pallaskenry, which he called Copsewood, in memory of Rev Michael Copps, a Catholic priest who lived in a little cottage on the site, but who died in 1819. General Caulfield was a straight-forward, if brusque man. In keeping with his experience in the army, he insisted on paying wages every fortnight, rather than every week. Many of his workers, or, perhaps more correctly, their wives, found this practice a hardship, since their budgeting skills did not extend beyond a week. The wives, accordingly, requested one of the senior workers to approach the General and request that workers be paid every week. An old retainer, named Patsy, was deputed to handle the negotiations and he began by inquiring about the Generals health and family. The General, however, with long experience of retainers attempting an oblique approach when making requests, barked, Spit it out, man, spit it out! Patsy got ruffled and, forgetting the prepared wording of his request, blurted out, General Caulfeild, sir, could we have our fortnights wages every week? With a smile, the General replied, Well, Patsy, you can have your weekly wages every Saturday, but not your fortnightly wages as well! The Alexander Caulfield, who purchased the Milltown property from Champagne was a son of the General. Since Champagnes house was old, Alexander built a new imposing mansion nearby. On the death of Alexander and his wife, the house and lands were sold. The last owner of the house was Patrick Moran, a retired school principal from Ballysteen. He and his wife sold the mansion for demolition in the early 1940s. As the demolition proceeded, the contractor sold off fittings to various people who called at the site. I was present at the demolition and alerted my mother to the on-going sale. Together we visited the site and she purchased windows and doors, made of fine wood, which a local carpenter subsequently installed in our own house. The place where the mansion formerly stood, was levelled off, covered with top soil and planted with grass. Soon, there was no visible evidence that an
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attractive house once occupied the site. The Generals grandson sold Copsewood House, Pallaskenry, together with about 250 acres of land, to the Salesian Congregation in 1919. The Salesians used the Generals excellent farm yard facilities as the basis for an agricultural college, which is still in operation today. The Irish Land Commission acquired the remainder of the estate and distributed it in small parcels to local farmers. 10 Ballysteen My mothers old home in Ballycanana was about a mile from our house. Ballycanana was one of twelve townlands in the ancient parish of Iverus, now known as Ballysteen. Iverus, a translation of the Gaelic name, Uibh Rosa, meaning the territory of the Rosa tribe, was once an independent geographical unit with its own chief. The ancient church, now a partlyrestored ruin, is in the town land of Ballyaglish, on what is now known as Beigh Hill. About a mile away is Beigh Castle, dating from the 15th century and, in ancient times, part of the property of the Knight of Glin. The castle is located on an elevated limestone outcrop, obliquely across the river Shannon from the present Shannon Airport. In Cromwellian times, the castle came into the possession of Sir Hardress Waller, who was a General in Cromwells army and helped General Ireton to subdue Limerick city and county. During the Napoleonic War, the Castle was strengthened and a raised platform for guns erected on the western side. The surface of this platform subsequently acquired a coat of soft velvety grass and became a popular recreation venue on sunny summer Sunday afternoons. As a placement for a battery of guns, it was ideal, since it overlooked the river Shannon and provided a wide angled-view from west to east. I spent many a Sunday afternoon there watching the sea birds and the sailing boats on the river. In 1905, an earlier makeshift quay was rebuilt with fine cut stone by the Limerick County Council. The pier had a fine slip-way, thereby making it easy to launch small boats or to dock larger ones. Galway Hooker-type boats docked regularly with loads of turf, the local people purchasing the fuel by the creel-full. In the nineteenth century the river was patrolled by a Customs and Excise Cutter. Moreover, up to the early years of the 20th century, a packet boat called there on its journey between Limerick and Tarbert. Coarse fishing was good off the quay, especially when the tide was coming in, but we preferred hunting for eels under rocks when the tide was out.11 The Ranahans My mothers family, the Ranahans, had connections with most of the families in Ballysteen. When I emerged from Mass on a Sunday and looked around at the groups of people chatting together, I could see that I was related to most of them through my mother. My maternal grandfather, Michael Ranahan (1858-1951), was the oldest surviving member of the clan. He was very sociable and a good raconteur. Apart from his great age (he lived to be 93), he dressed in an old fashioned way, wearing a three-quarter length jacket with buttons on the back, a cravat in place of a necktie and a beard, which, even in his 90s still had traces of the original red colour. Though retired from active farm work, one of his hobbies was brewing cider, which he did in a little house in the yard. Cider making was formerly a well2: JMF's book on the Ranahans developed skill in the area, having been introduced by (1987) members of the Palatine community, whom the Wallers, the local landlords, had introduced in the early nineteenth century. Most of the Palatines in Ballysteen had been settled in small holdings and had surnames like Legier, Doube, Shier,
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Sparling, Reynard and Languane, Shier being the only one of these surnames in the area today. In nearby Pallaskenry, the Burys had established a larger settlement of Palatines on their estate in the eighteenth century. Among these were the surnames Heavenor, Miller, Bovenizer, Ruttle, Neazor and Switzer. My maternal grandmother, whom I often visited before her death about 1937, was Mary OMullane from Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare. She and my grandfather had a large family of five boys and four girls. Three of the boys, Dan, John and Denis emigrated to the USA and settled in Chicago. Like some other young men from the area, their first destination in the US was Notre Dame University, with which there were local connections. Notre Dame University was operated by the Holy Cross congregation, the Vice-President of which was Father Patrick Carroll from nearby Cappagh, Co. Limerick. He was a well-known writer, being the author of the Patch series of novels, as well as the editor of the US national Catholic journal, Ave Maria. The Holy Cross Sisters had a womens college close to the university and no less than thirty girls from our part of West Limerick, had joined this congregation at Note Dame. The university was built on a huge campus of 1,000 acres and the management was always seeking manual workers. So, as soon as my maternal uncles landed in the USA, they headed for Notre Dame and immediately landed jobs as groundsmen or farm workers. Of course, once they found their feet, they moved up to Chicago, to other jobs that paid better wages. My grandfather, Michael Ranahan, always welcomed the chance to tell a story. Many of his stories were about the faction fights that were common in the area during the first half of the nineteenth century, especially in the 1820s and 1830s. The disputes that led to faction fights tended to be vague and on-going. It was unthinkable for someone to be on any but the local side and, once a person became involved, there was little opportunity to drop out. The local community made it clear that you were expected to bring your stick and hold yourself ready for combat at every fair afterwards. The men, and sometimes the women, of Ballysteen tended to fight against those from Askeaton and Stonehall, now known as Kilcornan. One of the causes of the on-going disputes is said to have been the collection of seaweed along the Shannon estuary. Ballysteen claimed exclusive right to seaweed in every townland bordering the foreshore of the river, including the town lands of Ballinacourty, Beagh, Ballinvoher, Ballycanana and Ballysteen, and they harvested the weed from the shore. Incursions, however, could be made from 3: Collecting seaweed (kelp) the sea by non-natives and the seaweed could be cut and collected from a boat, without intruding on the land. This practice was, however, strongly opposed by the people from Ballysteen. A dispute over the collection of sea weed would appear to be the ostensible cause of a faction fight at the fair of Askeaton in 1833 and, possibly, was part of the background leading to ongoing faction fights at the Fair of Stonehall. 12 The fair of Stonehall was held twice a year, on 14 May and 25 September, in the fair green, a patch of land obliquely across from the present Catholic church in Kilcornan. In the 1830s, there were several instances of serious faction fights. My grandfather maintained that up to 20 people were killed in these fights in Stonehall over the years. Three Kennedy brothers, who were dedicated faction fighters, were killed: one in 1829, another in 1830 and the third in 1832. In October, 1832, a young man of sixteen years and his sister, aged
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eighteen, were charged with the murder of the third Kennedy man at the September fair of 1832. Both were convicted of manslaughter and transported to New South Wales. At the same fair, on 25 September, 1832, the parish priest, Fr. Timothy Foley, sought in vain to separate the combatants, and it was only when he and other would-be peacemakers failed, that Major Thorpe, a police magistrate, issued an order to the police to open fire. A teacher from Ballysteen, James Reddan, who was a spectator rather than a combatant, was killed, in addition to others being wounded. The numbers involved in these faction fights ran into the hundreds. 13 In 1833, at a fair in Askeaton, the Ballysteen faction was engaged in a serious fight, the cause of which was alleged to be the collection of seaweed. This time, when the parish priest failed to separate the combatants, Colonel Thomas Evans Davenport, of Ballinacourty, gave the police, reinforced by military, the order to open fire, again with fatal consequences.14 Askeaton, Wisconsin My grandfather often talked about his maternal uncles, members of the Somers (also spelled Summers) clan, who emigrated to Wisconsin and founded a new town, Askeaton, in the mid 1850s. A group of people from the parish of Askeaton/ Ballysteen left Ireland in 1854 and emigrated to the USA. They included Maurice and James Somers, my great grandmothers brothers, together with their cousin, Big John Somers, and a dozen neighbours. They seem to have been a united group with a good leader because, on arrival in the US, instead of scattering, they remained together, working as navvies in New York State and saving some money for an expedition westward. After about two years, they had accumulated enough money and secured passage on a ship passing through the great lakes. They remained on board until the ship reached its final stop, at Green Bay, Wisconsin, at the top of Lake Michigan. There they disembarked and travelled inland until they reached what is now Wrightstown, WI. They met Mr Wright and, from him, purchased parcels of land, each approximately 50 acres, an adequately-sized farm by Irish standards, but a very small one by US standards. Patiently, they cleared the virgin forest and constructed log cabins. They called their settlement, Askeaton WI, subsequently building an imposing Catholic church and a Catholic school. The church is still standing and a few of the original names are still to be found there, though not that of Somers. Some years ago, contact was established between the descendants of the original settlers in Askeaton WI and their distant relatives in Askeaton and Ballysteen, Co. Limerick. I was happy to be associated with this latter venture and, nowadays, among my regular visitors from the USA, is a very distant cousin, Ed Summers, whose roots are in Askeaton WI.15 The Mine Field Across the road from my grandfathers house, was the mine field. This was part of the property of the Westropp family, who purchased it from the Encumbered Estates Commission in 1703. In pre-Elizabethan times, this land was part of the Dundon estate, which, after confiscation, had a long series of owners, including members of the British Crown (James II and Queen Anne). In the early nineteenth century, Edmund Odell-Westropp, then owner of the property, opened a mine shaft to extract silver. The lode ran east-west and the main shaft was 106 feet deep and there were shallow diggings extending for about 500 feet. Westropp also built a small quay on his property nearby, through which he exported the ore. The vein of silver was shorter than anticipated and it ceased to be economic to work after some years. Weaver, a geologist, noted that the project was abandoned by 1838. The mine is clearly marked in the early ordinance survey map. 16
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Though the mine had been closed for many years, this did not mean that there were not small pickings for the curious visitor. I first visited the site with my grandfather. Though the surface of the field was by then covered with grass, he steered me towards a hawthorn bush and put me searching the ground. Soon I had a handful of what appeared to be very heavy pebbles. He then took his penknife and scratched away the dirt and showed me the glint of metallic ore beneath. That, he said, is some of the silver that the miners left behind! My own subsequent research, however, indicated that the matter was more complicated. A survey of the area in my lifetime, which included numerous boreholes, has indicated that there is not only silver but also copper, lead and zinc in the mine field and around it. One survey in 1980 indicated reserves of one million tons with a grading of 2% lead, 3.5% zinc and 14 gm./ton silver. Though the concentrations do not, with current prices, warrant mining, under certain economic conditions, an open-cast mine might be financially viable. But, in such a scenic area, and with our present awareness of the potential damage to the local environment, which might result from an open-cast mine, I doubt that there would be local support for such a venture.17 Though the official reports state that the owner, Mr Westropp, closed the mine when the silver lode ran out before 1838, local lore has a further gloss on this. According to my grandfather, the mining operation came to an end in the following way. One day, after receiving their wages, the men working in the small mine, adjourned to the local shebeen to slake their thirst. They were delayed by a heavy downpour of rain. When they eventually returned to the mine, they found that the main shaft had collapsed owing to the rain and the diggings were temporarily unworkable. They sent for Mr Westropp and he used the collapse of the mineshaft as an excuse to close the mine. I expect that the truth lies somewhere between the two accounts. School At the age of four, I began attending Ballysteen National School, then, as now, a two-teacher school. Built in 1861, the building had three classroom: one for infants, with a gallery, which was not then in use, one for junior pupils, up to second standard, and one for senior students up to school-leaving age. The school and nearby St Patricks church were situated on a plot of almost two acres of land donated by the 3rd Earl of Dunraven in 1861. In my time, there was an enrolment of over 80 pupils, the teachers being Ms Maureen Sweeney, teaching the junior classes, and Mrs Kathleen OSullivan, teaching the seniors. Some pupils, especially girls, remained in school after the age of fourteen, the legal school-leaving age at the time, to follow advanced courses. These pupils were in 7th and 8th classes and worked mostly on their own preparing for public examinations, such as those governing entry to the Post Office and the County Council. It must be remembered that, at the time, there was no secondary school in the area, though this need was subsequently met by St Marys Secondary School, Askeaton, an excellent establishment under private management. While I was in the junior classes, the school participated in a Folklore Collection Project organised by Seamus Delargey for the recently-established Irish Folklore Commission. There was great excitement in the school because any pupil who participated in the project was excused from homework, provided s/he produced acceptable material. There was a wide range of categories of local material that could be collected including: proverbs; festivals and customs; local fairs; landlords; food in olden times; bread; hurling; accidents; weather; natural catastrophes; old houses; giants, leprechauns and mermaids; ruins; graveyards; emblems; penal times; old coins; legends; Whiteboys; memories of the Great Famine; local heroes; local stories and memories of the Fenians. Only pupils from the senior classes were permitted to submit material, which had to be written in a clear, legible hand. Moreover, the name and age of both the adult informant and the student had to be listed,
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probably to ensure authenticity. The collection took place between the autumn of 1837 and the spring of 1838 and, when the collecting was completed, the Principal, Mrs OSullivan, arranged in excess of a hundred pages in portfolio format and sent it off to the Folklore Commission in Dublin. This archive is so extensive that not all of it has yet been examined. The entire collection runs to 5 million pages, with 40,000 photographs and many drawings and sketches. 18 Many years later, I read all the submissions from the schools in Ballysteen and Askeaton. Some were historically valuable, some were informative and some were amusing. There was one submission on local wisdom about the best day to get married, which read: Monday for health; Tuesday for wealth; Wednesday the best day of all; Thursday for crosses; Friday for losses and Saturday no luck at all One of the submissions from a 12-year old girl described a great flood in the river Deel at Askeaton in December, 1912: Near our land the flood burst in over the fields, came down to our front door, in through the house and out the back door, sweeping chairs with it. The stream in our field became a roaring torrent, and spread out over John Hayes field. Paddy Ryan of Church Street, with his man, John Purcell, was on his land milking the cows. They had a donkey and cart and three tankards. The flood swept away the donkey and cart and spilt the milk. John Purcell was nearly drowned and the donkey was found drowned beside the railway station next morning. 19 Ms Sweeney, who taught infants, first and second classes, was a small, fiery woman from Ardara, Co. Donegal, who was loved by most of her pupils. While the boys kept their distance, the girls in the class seemed to be always taking turns combing and brushing her hair or changing her shoes for slippers. I had a good memory and had no difficulty learning and reproducing material. It was a different story, however, when it came to penmanship. In those days, pupils copy books were preserved in the school to be available for examination anytime an inspector called. The desks we used were about eight feet long, each seating four or five pupils. Unfortunately, over the years, some of the screws or bolts linking the surface board to the cast-iron legs loosened, so that, if a pupil made a sudden movement, the entire desk shuddered with potentially disastrous consequences for anyone writing. The homemade ink, which varied in colour depending on the amount of powder added to 4: Ballysteen National School, 1946 (built 1861) the water, was in inkwells sunk into the desks and the old-fashioned dipping pens, with separate nibs, were communal, given out when the time came for writing headlines. It was your bad luck if you received a pen with a faulty nib. Among the capital sins, which were punishable, were ink blots, badly formed letters and dog ears, which was the term used for the curling of the corner of a page. In my early years, and largely because of the unsteady desks, copying letters and headlines was a hazardous occupation: lines that should be uniform and flowing turned out
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jagged, or changed direction midway. Then ink blots seemed to materialise out of nowhere and, despite my best intentions, the corners of my copybook mysteriously grew dog ears. So my copybook was never placed on the top of the pile for the perusal of the school inspector. As I progressed up through the classes, I discovered a liking for English and history. In 5 th and 6th classes, the best English essay was usually read out by the teacher and, even in 5 th class, I set my mind on winning this distinction. In due course, it came and I got a great thrill out it. At this stage, I read everything that came my way. There were as yet no special collections of books for children or young people provided by the public library, so the books I read were usually those intended for adults. Our own book case contained some books by Dorothea Conyers, a local author, who wrote on hunting themes and whose characters were mainly drawn from the gentry. I particularly enjoyed her Sporting Reminiscences (Methuen, 1920). From my cousins, the Naughtons, I borrowed some of the novels of Charles Dickens, especially, David Copperfield. I particularly disliked Davids step father, Mr Murdstone, and his nasty sister, Jane. As it turned out, I found it difficult to get Mr Murdstone out of my mind when, a couple of years after the death of my father, my mother married a second time. But more on this later. The boys in our school devoted most school breaks to playing football, while the girls skipped and played games, some of them involving hopping on one leg. In the summer, however, some of the boys played a game called, Jack Stones, which I discovered had been played by schoolboys in the area for generations. Mother Marries Again My father, about whom I will speak in the next chapter, died in November, 1940, when I was eight years of age, and my mother rose to the challenge of managing the two farms, one at home and the other about five miles away in Askeaton. Of course, we had a servant boy and a servant girl, together with another workman, who specialised in heavier work, such as ploughing. Both the servant boy and servant girl were hired at the hiring fair in Newcastle West in January and ended their contract a few days before Christmas. Both lived with us and were, for all practical purposes, part of the family. In 1944, however, without warning to us children, my mother married Jim Sheehy, a local man, of middle age, who had his own house and farm. After the wedding, which was private, my mother 5: St Patrick's Church, Ballysteen, built 1863 broke the news to us. Michael, my elder brother, and I were most affected, not because we did not like Jim, whom, as a neighbour, we knew well, but because having a stepfather made us different to every other child in school. While the others spoke about their fathers, we would now have to call Jim our stepfather. The term stepfather sounded strange, even unnatural and, most of all, embarrassing. Moreover, I had an additional problem, having just read the book, David Copperfield, I could not stop thinking of the unhappiness, even misery, stepfather Murdstone, had caused poor David. A few days after the marriage, Jim came to live with us, and, to give him his due, he never interfered in the personal lives of us, children. When any disciplinary matter involving us, children, arose, he would say unequivocally to my mother: this is your responsibility; you must deal with it. Jim was kind, sociable and companionable. He was well-spoken, dressed well, was a good singer and a good dancer and, in general, was somebody to be proud of. In due course, he became one of my mentors, though, for several years, I avoided calling him
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stepfather when I could avoid it. In 1945, my step-sister, Ann Sheehy, was born. I remember the day well, since I was given the task of driving to Askeaton in the horse and trap to collect the nurse, and, later, the doctor. My stepfather, Jim, was so excited at the prospect of the birth of his first (and only) child that he excused himself from evening milking and I had to milk his share of cows as well as my own. Later in the evening, a lovely baby girl, Ann, was born and, from her first moment, was the object of everyones affection. In due course, my two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, became her surrogate parents and watched over her with great love and devotion. Jim and the Wallers My stepfather, Jim, began his working life as a teenage boy at the Manor in Castletown, where his duty was to act as minder for the Rev John Thomas Waller (1827-1911), who, by then, was suffering from dementia. Jim had lots of stories about the Wallers and, whenever we were together, I would ask him questions about this famous family and he would answer at length. Rev John, son of Rev William Waller and his wife, Maria OGrady, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and ordained as a priest of the Church of Ireland. In 1855, he married Sarah Lavalin Puxley of Dunboyne Castle, Castletownbere, Co Cork. She belonged to the Puxley family that developed and operated the copper mine at Hungry Hill, Allahies. Rev John inherited the Waller estate, comprising over 6000 acres, on the death of his father, Rev William Waller, in 1863. He was, consequently, landlord of many tenants who had farms on lease from the Waller estate. He belonged to the evangelical wing of the Church of Ireland and was long-time secretary of the Irish Church Mission Society, a proselytising organisation, which invested resources in converting Irish Catholics to Protestantism. 20 Nor was Rev John a mere armchair evangelical. He believed in doing his own bit towards converting Catholics and, in 1861, he engaged evangelical scripture readers to hold bible classes and to erect hoardings with scriptural quotations in nearby Pallaskenry. With the tacit, if not the active, support of the Parish priest, some of the Catholic people of Pallaskenry and surrounding area, numbering about 200, assembled in the village and, after fiery speeches, tore down the hoardings and pelted the scripture readers. The RIC were summoned and 33 people, men and women, were arrested and charged with riot and affray. At the assizes in Pallaskenry on 18 June, 1861, six of those charged were convicted and imprisoned, while another eleven were convicted at the subsequent Petty Sessions. Moreover, Rev John managed to get one of his friends to raise the matter in the British House of Commons. Around this time, he also published a serious of articles attacking aspects of Romanism in The Limerick Chronicle (1861-1862). These articles were subsequently published in booklet form under the title, The Mass (Dublin: Herbert, 1882).21 Jims duties as minder of Rev John included some unusual tasks. At times, the old man would think that he was still active as a clergyman and he would insist on going to the local Church of Ireland in Castletown. On arrival, he would put on his vestments and go to the lectern and read an extract from the bible. With Jim sitting in a pew in front of him, he would then launch into a long sermon, with a strong evangelical flavour and occasional imprecations against the Romanists. At the end of his homily, he would ask, Jim, what did you think of that sermon? Jim would invariably reply, Powerful stuff, Your Reverence, powerful stuff! This seemed to please and calm the old man. Farming and Riding Though generally speaking, a farm was an interesting and exciting place in which to live, there was one aspect of farming that I decidedly disliked. This was tillage, my special dislike being reserved for the cultivation of root crops, using the minimal technology of the time. The challenge which tillage posed for us children was compounded when the Irish
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Government, at the outbreak of World War II, specified a quota of compulsory tillage for each farm. Even small boys were expected to help with hoeing and thinning turnips and mangolds and picking potatoes. This work was hard on tender fingers and, before the days of mechanisation, was generally disliked. Haymaking was more pleasant work, while milking cows was not my favourite task, especially since we had a comparatively large herd that, in my time, had to be hand milked. Anything to do with riding or driving horses, however, was welcomed. From the time I was quite small, I learned to ride a horse bare-back. Later, I graduated to a saddle and learned, by trial and error, to jump. My objective was simply to remain in the saddle, no matter what, and I am sure I would have disappointed a riding instructor with my rakish, if not ungainly, seat. I practised jumping diligently by clearing every wall and fence on our own farm, quietly preparing for the day when I would attend my first hunt and, hopefully, impress the more experienced riders. This ambition seemed to come nearer realisation when we acquired a young grey horse, which could both jump and gallop impressively. Fate, however, seemed to frustrate my plans when Michael, my older brother, who also wished to attend the hunt, announced, that, as the eldest in the family, he had first choice of the grey. I had to assent to his claim but distained using one of our Irish draught working horses, even though they could jump. I was hoping for a more spirited mount that would give me an opportunity to show off my daring, if not my skills, in riding. Finally, I approached my cousin, Denis Naughton, who was also a good friend, and he offered me a loan of a fine spirited chestnut horse, something for which I shall be forever grateful. Two of the popular meets of our local Hunt, The Stonehall Harriers, were at Ballysteen Cross on New Years Day and at Askeaton on the feast of the Epiphany, 6 January. I attended both these meets, mounted on the beautiful chestnut. This fine half-breed horse neither refused nor failed to clear any fence. And, with the help of Lady Luck and a little skill, I remained in the saddle as if glued to it, throughout each hunt. The country, over which we rode, to a large extent, consisted of stone wall fences and there was no shortage of foxes. I had to check myself a few times as I galloped along in case I got ahead of the Huntsman, Michael OShaughnessy, and the Master, Paddy McDonogh. By then, I was wise enough to know that this would be a breach of hunt etiquette. As I galloped side by side with Michael, he gave me some useful tips for my riding: keep your toes turned in, your thighs tight around the horse and sit up straight in the saddle! These meets with the Stonehall Harriers in the 1940s were among the highlights of my short riding career. More than sixty years later, I recalled those heady days, together with Michaels advice on riding, when I edited the Stonehall Harriers Centenary Record. (Cork: Iverus, 2011). Michael is still senior Joint Master of the hunt and Ivan McDonogh, son of Paddy, the Master in my day, is now junior Joint Master. School Holidays One of my favourite places for summer holidays was an extended visit to my aunt Mary Anne Clifford in Adare. She lived with her son, William, then in his twenties, in an attractive twostory thatched house in the middle of the village. Adare, apart from being a well-laid out and attractive village, had a rich history and several important ruins. In the nineteenth century, the Earl of Dunraven had restored the Trinitarian abbey and had given it to the Catholics, while he gave the Church of Ireland community the restored Augustinian abbey. The Franciscan Friary ruins were located on the eastern bank of a picturesque stretch of the river, with the remains of a Desmond Castle nearby. There was also Adare Manor, residence of the Earl of Dunraven, through the grounds of which the river Maigue also flowed. My cousin, William, had inherited a farm from his uncle in Crean, Bruff, and most days, we would drive there. My aunt would cook the meals and William and I would join in the farm work, especially the hay making, when all available help was needed. The
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surrounding terrain was very flat, but in the distance loomed the Galtee Mountains. On certain days, these mountains appeared very near, not more than a couple of fields away. I became convinced that reaching them would take no more than an hours walking, so I approached an old retainer, Will OHalloran, and asked him to accompany me some evening after work on a walk to the foot of the mountains. Great God, he exclaimed, are you mad? Those mountains are miles and miles away . I found this hard to believe, because that particular day they seemed very near. But, since I knew Will would report any escapade of mine to my aunt, I had to postpone my expedition to the Galtee Mountains. Years later, when I did climb Galtemore, the highest peak in this range, I realised the wisdom of old Wills warning. Even as the crow flies, the mountain was at least 25 miles from Crean! One of the more exciting events in Adare was the passing of the Dunraven horsedrawn coach between Rathkeale and Limerick, through Adare, every morning and evening. Since petrol was strictly rationed during the years of World War II, there were few, if any, private cars travelling the roads. To facilitate people, including visitors, travelling to Limerick, the Earl of Dunraven took the family coach out of storage and put it on the road. It was drawn by four horses, and, in addition to a coachman, had a separate bugler, who blew a blast of music as he approached each village on the way. There was a stop for a change of horses at the Dunraven Arms Hotel on the eastern side of the village and the bugler played a fanfare as the coach went through the village. I never tired of watching the horses trot smartly along. The animals were beautifully groomed, and varied in colour: bay, chestnut, black, grey and dun. I marvelled at the skill of the coachman who had to control four of them, while my driving experience was limited to one, when I drove our horse and trap. My aunt told me that one day there was a heavy thunder storm and the horses reared and tried to bolt when a loud thunder clap sounded near them, but the coachman succeeded in bringing them under control. The coach driving past was a sight to cherish and the reveille-like blast from the bugler really rounded off the entire spectacle, just as icing does on a beautiful cake. It outdid any coach scene I have ever seen in a Western Film. Once the USA became involved in the war in Europe, Ireland was used as a venue for rest for US soldiers suffering from battle fatigue. I saw many of them at the Dunraven Arms in Adare: they seemed to be always handing out ballpoint pens to the boys who acted as caddies for them on the golf course. In fact, it was then and there that I saw the first ballpoint pen. Sen Riada, who later led a revival in Irish music and is celebrated as one of our great modern composers of Irish music, was about my own age and lived across the street from my aunts house. We met occasionally, but I considered him bookish and he rarely, if ever, joined us in our informal football games. I could, however, hear him practising his violin from across the street. Another venue for my summer holidays was my cousins farm near Sixmilebridge, county Clare. The OMullane family, of which my maternal grandmother was a member, lived at the northern side of Gallows Hill. We could easily see Gallows Hill from our house, but the river Shannon came between us. The easiest way to get to OMullanes house was to take the Windy Gap road from Limerick city over Gallows Hill. I often did this journey on my bicycle, though, since I did not have a set of gears, I had to walk the last half mile to the top of the hill. Once I reached the top, however, I could freewheel down the far side, using my brakes when I came to a twist in the road, until I reached OMullanes house in the townland of Coolecasey. The household consisted of Nora Mullane, my mothers cousin, and her three sons, Peter, Paddy and Johnny. The OMullane home was an old house, which had formerly been one storey high and thatched. Peter, the eldest son, was, however, a handy man and he had replaced the thatch and raised the new roof so that, when I first arrived there, the house was two-story and slated.
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In the guest bedroom, where I slept, there were two items that dated from former times. One was a home-made feather mattress, often known as a thick. Though this type of mattress was very soft, I found it inferior to the shop mattresses we had at home, since it was more mobile and less firm. Moreover, when you leaned on the thick, the feathers tended to move away from you inside the outer cover. The other item on the bed was an old-fashioned handmade patchwork quilt. This was very warm and was an excellent covering for a cold night. Since my stay was usually in mid-summer, however, I found it somewhat heavy and excessively warm. I was particularly glad, however, to sleep on a traditional thick, since I had heard about them but had not hitherto seen one. One of the chores I usually performed for Nora was to take tea to her sons working in the bog in the afternoon. First they cut the turf, using a sln (a type of spade), then they laid it out on the grass to dry and then put the sods standing in small groups of three to permit it to dry further. Finally, the turf was piled into small heaps before being carted home. Though I usually had my tea, including all the bread and jam I could eat, before I left the house, by the time I had walked a mile across the bog to the men, I was feeling hungry again. This hunger got worse as I watched my cousins eating, while I secretly hoped they would offer me a sandwich. Other people have also told me about the special hunger a person can experience in a bog. While my own explanation of this peculiar hunger would attribute it to the relatively long walk and the mountain air in the bog, Irish mythology suggests that it is caused by the hungry grass. This is a patch of grass planted by the fairies. If a traveller unknowingly walks on this grass, s/he begins to feel very hungry. In extreme cases, this hunger also begets physical weakness, which, it is said, could lead to the death of the victim. With this superstition in my mind, I did not delay once my cousins had eaten but hurried back with the empty lunch basket to the house, excusing my prompt departure by saying that I had more chores to do for Nora. Noras eldest son, Peter, liked to talk about their local landlords, the Butlers of Castle Crine. This family, a branch of the Ormond Butlers, had been in the area since the 1700s and had an estate of about 11,000 acres, with an annual income of 1,000 in the early 1700s. Peter showed me an old document stating that, in former times, tenants had to pay duty of 17s 6d on each holding, in addition to rent. The last member of the family to hold the Castle Crine property was Ms Henrietta Butler, whom Peter said was a tartar, and who devoted her later years to maintaining her traditional rights and jealously guarding her property. She absolutely forbade the common practice in the countryside of gathering up rotten sticks for a fire from any of her properties. As landlord of the tenanted farms in the area, Ms Henrietta refused permission to any tenant to build a house on the side of the road, even though the house would be sited on their own property. They could, however, build a house on their property provided the building was hidden out of sight. There was a distance of three miles between OMullanes house and the town of Sixmilebridge and there was not a single house along that stretch of road while Ms Henrietta lived. When she died on 29 August, 1938, the Irish Land Commission acquired the property, the tenants got an opportunity to purchase the freehold of their farms and some of these farmers were allocated additional parcels of land. The contents of the old Butler mansion, Castle Crine, were auctioned, and the building levelled to the ground. Only the former kitchen garden and orchard, surrounded by 10-feet high stone walls, and the ornate entrance survive to this day

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Chapter 2 Feheney Side of Family

y father, John Feheney, third son of John Feheney (at times spelled Feeheny) and his wife, Mary Cahill, was born in the family home at Aghalacka, Askeaton, Co. Limerick, and baptised in the parish church on 11April, 1874. He was the second youngest of a family of five boys (Michael, Matthew, James, John and Terence) and four girls (Margaret, Mary, Honor and Elizabeth). Tragedy, however, struck the family when the father, John, died in 1878, and the mother passed away three years later, in 1881. Both paternal grandparents were already deceased, so the eldest son, Michael, who was 21 years old when his mother died, assumed leadership of the family and supervised the rearing and education of the rest of the children. Materially, the family was comfortable since they had 77 acres of land, which was much more than that of the average tenant farmer at the time. The second boy, Matthew, served his time in Dublin in a drapers shop and eventually became a buyer in the firm of Todd Burns, Mary Street, as well as holding agencies for some overseas clothing suppliers. He was also one of the founders of the Harolds Cross Hospice in Dublin. The third boy, James, immigrated to Western Australia, where he established a sheep-farming station, but died suddenly and was buried in Perth. He also was unmarried. The youngest boy, Terence, died unmarried at the age of 35. His sister, Honor, also died young, while another sister, Elizabeth, died unmarried at the age of 41. Matthew died in January, 1921, of pneumonia. He was unmarried and was buried in the family burial plot, High Street cemetery, Askeaton. Only four of the family of nine survived to old age. These were Michael, John, Margaret and Mary. Margaret married Pat McMahon of Kilmoreen, Kildimo, Co. Limerick, but died without issue. Mary was educated at Presentation Convent boarding school in Crosshaven, Co. Cork. On completion of her secondary schooling, she entered the Presentation Sisters and, in 1890, joined a group of Sisters, who were sent to open a new house in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia. For several years, she acted as Mistress of Novices, in charge of the formation of new aspirants, after which she became superior of the Presentation convent in Windsor, St Kilda. Her community discovered that she had considerable administrative ability and she was elected Mother General of the Presentation Sisters Congregation in Victoria. She was noted for her shrewd eye for property and was responsible for acquiring some of the most useful and valuable sites for Presentation schools and convents in the state of Victoria. She was a friend and confidant of Most Rev Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne. She visited Ireland in 1932 for the Eucharistic Congress. She died at the Presentation Convent, Windsor, St Kilda, on 7 April, 1945, and was buried in the cemetery attached to the convent. Archbishop Mannix officiated at her graveside. While my father, John, worked with his brother on the farm at Aghalacka, Askeaton, he also held an appointment as rate collector for the Limerick County Council in the Askeaton/Ballysteen area. He took up this appointment about 1900 and retired about 1932. His cousin, Terence Moran, held the job after him and my younger brother, Matt, held it after Terence. For years, my father seemed to be a confirmed bachelor, but a friend of his, David Naughton, made a match for him with my mother, whose sister, Annie, was married to David. By the time he got married in 1929, however, my father was 55 years of age. His brother, Michael, had married a decade earlier and had three children, something, which, I expect, also nudged my father towards matrimony. In the early 1920s, my father had also purchased a
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medium-sized farm of about 50 acres in Toomdeely, on the outskirts of Askeaton, and he kept dry stock on this farm. In 1927, however, my father purchased Ballinacourty House and farm, about which I have written in the previous chapter. The same year, he moved to Ballinacourty and was initially somewhat bewildered by the size of the house and farmyard. Everything in Ballinacourty was designed for a member of the gentry and the efficient operation of the house, grounds and farm was all predicated on the presence of a cohort of servants. Most sections of the operation - orchard, kitchen garden, lawns, fowl, pigs, cows, calves and dry stock - required time and personnel to care for them adequately. I fear that my father had also overlooked the fact that most members of the gentry put money into their country seats, rather than taking it out. Many members of that class, in fact, had other sources of income, such as pensions from the armed forces or business interests. My father soon found that, because of the cost of labour, Ballinacourty, though not without its charm, was not a gold mine and he was glad to have the second farm in Askeaton, which he stocked with dry cattle and which required only a part-time herdsman to ensure its smooth operation. While he was alive, my father could scarcely go anywhere without my brother, Michael, and I, insisting on accompanying him. Close as I was to Michael, I found his desire to be also with my father irritating at times. In retrospect, I can see that it was probably a case of sibling jealousy. While Michael was content with fathers presence, I wanted to be asking questions. As we drove along the road in the horse and trap, I would keep asking my father, Who lives there? or Who is that man? or Are they related to us? or What is the name of that place or that hill or that lake or that river? It came as a dreadful shock, therefore, when I got up one morning to find my father still in bed and my mother waiting for the doctor to arrive. Neighbours and relatives began calling to our house and, with the arrival of each visitor, my mother began to cry. We children were not permitted into Dads bedroom, but I overheard my mother telling visitors that he had suffered a stroke. Evidently, the doctor felt that nothing could be done for him and he was not removed to hospital. After being ill for about a week, he died on 28 November, 1940. After his death, the house seemed to be crowded, and I was distracted by relatives and neighbours, who took pains to keep us, children, entertained. I only vaguely remember the funeral Mass and the interment in the family burial plot in Church Street, Askeaton. But I remember well the empty feeling afterwards, especially when all the kind relatives had departed. I also remember my mothers occasional reminder that we would have to be especially good, now that our father was dead. The death of my father left an empty space in my life. My hero and mentor was gone and I naturally sought other heroes and other mentors. Though, in addition to my brothers and sisters, I had a number of school friends, I seemed to be always seeking an adult mentor. This is probably why, in the previous chapter, I have written at length about older men, whom I sought out as mentors. Among these were Jack Griffin, one of our day labourers, my grandfather, Michael Ranahan, Jim Nealon, the local carpenter, and, finally, my stepfather, Jim Sheehy. I seemed to have a great intellectual curiosity, which neither siblings nor peers were able to satisfy, but which drove me towards friendly and knowledgeable adults. Going to the Fair While my father was alive, one of the great events for me was going to the fair of Rathkeale with him. Fairs were also held at Askeaton, but these were small compared to the big fairs in Rathkeale, of which there were eight every year. Usually, my father only attended these fairs when he wanted to purchase or sell animals and, though both my brother, Michael and I, wanted to attend, only one could be excused from school for this event. So, we took our turns. Attending a fair, meant rising early in the morning and arriving at the fair not later than
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7 am, when the business of buying and selling got underway. At this time, the shops were still closed and the cattle, their drovers and buyers had the streets to themselves. The shopkeepers, had, however, made preparations to keep the animals away from their premises and this was assured by placing crush barriers on the inside of every sidewalk. The animals, themselves, stood quietly in the street, with mournful eyes, but required at least one person in attendance to prevent them mixing with other animals. There was fresh cow dung everywhere, but all connected with the animals wore high boots, with or without gaiters, and ignored the filthy streets. With the shops still closed, and no place to purchase sweets, it was a bit boring standing around waiting for the buyers to arrive. I asked Dad if I could stroll around and he agreed. The various lots of cattle seemed to be arranged according to age. Thus the largest, I was told, were 4-year olds, each up to 1400 lbs in weight. My dad later told me they were intended for butchers or for shipping to the United Kingdom. Then came the 3-year olds, each up to 1,000 lb, and also intended for killing, though these medium-sized animals were preferred by butchers in smaller towns. Smaller cattle were usually purchased by farmers who had excess grass and wished to fatten them for sale later for the beef market. The smallest of all were the calves, usually in creels atop carts. These would be purchased by farmers who wished to feed them to maturity. I also came across strippers, which were cows that their owners failed to get in calf. I was familiar with this type of animal because Dad sometimes purchased them for fattening and subsequent sale to butchers. Even when fat, they fetched a lower price than a bullock of corresponding weight, because of their age, and the fact that their flesh was likely to be tougher than that of a younger animal. A fat stripper, however, was attractive to some butchers, since the cost was reasonable and the meat from them sold well in the meat stalls. Later, the shops opened and the fair grew noisier with people raising their voices as they bargained and made sales. Then a ballad singer, who had a sheaf of printed ballads nailed to a blackthorn stick, made his appearance. He offered to sing any of the ballads, the words of which he was offering for sale. Somebody purchased the popular ballad, The Rocks of Bawn, and he launched into the song, though he confined himself to the first two verses. The singing was intended to give the purchaser an idea of the tune of the song. Somebody else wanted the ballad, Skibbereen, and he also sang two verses of that. He was selling the ballads at two for one penny and I bought four for tuppence. I had earlier discovered that I had a singing voice and I was keen to expand my repertoire. There was another man selling ash plants. He had a bundle of them under his arm and people could take their pick at four pence each. When I got back to Dad, I found that he was talking to a potential buyer. Dad had twelve three-year old bullocks, nine of which were large and in good condition, while the remaining three were smaller. The buyer, who wore brown boots and matching gaiters, asked, What do want for the nine big ones? They will all have to go together, replied Dad. How much? I will let you have them for 18 each, said Dad. You must be joking!. Ill give you ten and you wont get better! Two tens would be more like it. Youre a decent man. Look, Ill go to eleven. Im afraid that you will have to go a lot higher. Will you take twelve and Ill pay you the minute the bank opens. No thanks, not a penny less than eighteen. Come now and be reasonable. You wont get eighteen even if you keep them another year. My best offer is thirteen. By now a little crowd had gathered, eager to see a sale concluded and someone
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shouted, Yerra, cant ye split the difference? A friend of my father shouted, Make a move towards him, John. Ill tell you what, replied my father, Ill let them go for 17'. Make it fourteen, said the buyer, and its a deal. I cant do it, said my father. Look, my final offer to you is fifteen. No, not a hope, said my father. At this, the dealer made as if to go away, but one of the bystanders caught him by the shoulder. Are ye out of yer senses, or what? Ye are two sensible men and there is only two pounds between ye. Come here, John. Come here, Mr Crowley. He took the right hand of each man and joined them together, saying, Will ye now split the difference? Im willing, said my father Yere a terrible man, said Crowley with a smile, I suppose Ill have to agree. My father and Mr Crowley then shook hands solemnly, after which Crowley took out a coloured marker and marked the forehead and rump of each animal with his own logo. Take them to the railway and put them on the Cork train. I will meet you at the bank when it opens, he said. By now I was glad that our business had been concluded. I helped to drive the animals to the train and put them in the Cork wagons, then returned to Cahills on Main Street, which was both a bar and an eating house. Mrs Cahill, who was related to my father, gave me a big hug and soon we were eating a lovely breakfast of sausages, fried eggs and black pudding, with plenty of bread and jam. When the bank opened, Dad was paid for his animals and, soon afterwards, we were trotting home in the horse and trap. On the road to Askeaton, we passed the entrance to Stoneville House, where the Massey family lived. On the gable end of a building there, I saw a stone carving of a man working at an anvil. Dad said that this figure was popularly known as the Stony Man. Later, I learned that the figure was that of the Roman Deity, Vulcan, patron of fire, who was usually represented standing beside an anvil. The figure had been carved by a local sculptor, Martin Scanlan, who also carved the lions and eagles on the walls and piers of the entrance gates to Stoneville. 22 Singing on the Stage I mentioned above that I had purchased some ballads at the fair of Rathkeale with a view to expanding my repertoire of songs. I had discovered that I could sing solo and, in the days before widespread radio and television, I got plenty of practice in this. I was by no means a great talent, but, from a young age, I did have the gift of being able to stand up in a crowd, automatically choose the correct key, stay in tune for the duration of a song and be quite relaxed and normal. My readers must also remember that this was a period when there was some singing, and occasionally music and dancing, at most gatherings in the Irish countryside. The principal exception to this custom was in those houses where card games were regularly held and where nothing which might distract attention from the cards was permitted. As our neighbours became aware of my ability and willingness to sing, I would often be asked to sing a song. Gradually, therefore, I began to collect songs and have them ready for singing at any time. It was also a custom at the time for people to sing while they milked, finding, from experience, that this calmed the cows and, it was believed, made them give their milk more freely. So, every evening, as I hand-milked my allocated number of cows, I practised my songs with enthusiasm, something which also helped me forget the tedium of this particular work. In the matter of ballads, I benefited from the experience of one of my mentors, Jack Griffin. Jacks idea of a good song was a serious, even melancholy, ballad, moving slowly,
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with only a faint beat and a complete absence of bounce. With Jack, lyrics were as important as melody and a ballad had to tell a story, paint a picture or conjure up a situation. Among his favourites were Skibbereen, The Rocks of Bawn and Avondale. Every time I called on Jack, he would ask, Any new song? If I said yes and named a song, he would ask me to sing a verse. I remember starting to sing, Far away in Australia for him. I had barely completed the first two lines, when Jack interrupted with a wave of his hand, saying, No good, no good! In the case of another ballad, called, The Bold Galtee Boy, he allowed me to complete the entire first verse, before saying, There might be something in that one. Evidently, the sad tale of the capture and exile of the rebel Galtee Boy met at least some of the criteria Jack required in a good ballad. Other ballads that got Jacks approval were Boolavogue and Carrickfergus. With Jacks affirmation, I was ready to take the stage when, during World War II years, Ballysteen turned to amateur theatricals. Towards the end of 1941, the Ballysteen Dramatic Society was formed and its first production was in March, 1942. This production featured a variety concert, ending with a 3-act play, Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff. This production, and others like it, was designed to raise funds for the building of a separate house for the Catholic curate in the parish. My song was part of the variety concert section of the programme. I got through the first performance without any problem and the entire production was considered a success. A decision was then made to bring the production to any of the neighbouring villages in the area that possessed a suitable hall. So, that season, we played at Askeaton, Rathkeale, Foynes and Coolcappa and I got to know the other participants in the production. When we had to travel to another village, we usually went in a truck, which was capable of accommodating both players and props. In subsequent years, the Ballysteen dramatic society produced other popular 3-act plays, including, The Mountain Dew by George Shields, The Money Doesnt Matter and Paid in his own Coin by Thomas King Moylan. Each time, there were a few warm-up variety items and I was always included. My self-confidence gained enormously from these appearances and helped overcome my fear of large audiences. They also helped me learn to relate to other people and blend into a team. I think the experience also helped to give me a more realistic appreciation of my own talents. I was not unusually gifted, but I could play my part in entertaining a crowd. Later, when I learned to strum a guitar and play a keyboard, I was able to make a useful contribution in leading young people in singing for religious worship, especially at youth retreats. The Rockites I am going to devote some space to the Rockite rebellion in West Limerick, because this movement cast a fateful shadow over my extended family and was the cause of the deaths of my paternal great grandfather and great grand uncle. The Rockites were the lineal descendants of the Whiteboys that came into being in the later decades of the eighteenth century. The first recorded Whiteboy incident happened in county Limerick in 1761. Whiteboys were so called because of the long white shrouds or dresses members wore over their clothes to prevent them being identified. They also blackened their faces to complete their disguise. They were the cutting edge of agrarian protest by subsistence farmers against what they considered to be the unreasonable demands in rents and tithes in the early 1820s. Among their regular activities were: raiding houses of the gentry for arms; posting threatening notices to landlords, especially those who evicted tenants for failure to pay rent; attacking tithe proctors and process servers; damaging, especially houghing, animals; burning ricks of hay and corn and assembling threatening mobs. Though they are called Rockites by historians, many people at the time called them Whiteboys, partly because the latter word was embedded in popular speak and partly because the disguise of both groups
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was similar. 23 The name Rockite came from the first leader of the movement in West Limerick, Patrick Dillane, a blacksmith, who, on being called a rock because of his powerful displays in pelting rocks at opponents, adopted the self-styled name, Captain Rock. The name caught on and soon public notices and threats were being signed by Captain Rock. After Dillanes capture and trial, the leadership of the movement was taken over by Walter Fitzmaurice, also from West Limerick, who, after many daring, but lawless, exploits, was captured by Major Thomas Vokes, a magistrate and chief of police in the area. Fitzmaurice, however, to the disgust of members of the establishment, escaped execution by turning states evidence. The name, Captain Rock, persisted, however, and was used by different local leaders to signify that they were following in the violent tradition of the first two holders of the title. 24 A bitter conflict with a new and irascible agent, Alexander Hoskins, on the 34,000acre estate of Viscount Courtenay in Newcastle West is generally regarded as the beginning of the Rockite agitation between 1821 and 1824. Historians, however, are careful to note that the trouble on the Courtenay estate would have remained local, had it not coincided with the most punishing economic crisis, manifested particularly in the collapse of grain prices following the Peace of Paris in 1815 and the consequent downsizing of the armed forces. The price of oats fell by 42%, while that of wheat and barley fell by 56%. A fall of some 20% in the price of cattle followed in 1820. Rents, however, remained at the conflated level they attained during the first decade of the nineteenth century when, mainly owing to the Napoleonic wars, there was a period of great economic prosperity. By 1820, however, not only the small subsistence farmers, but also the larger middlemen, were in serious economic difficulty. 25 The burden of tithes, payable to the clergy of the Church of Ireland, was a close second to high rents in making life difficult for the subsistence farmer. Up to 1823, when the Tithe Composition Act was passed, the full burden of tithes fell on the small farmer, whose main cash crop was agricultural produce, pasture being up to that time exempt from tithes. In the Askeaton, area, however, the order was reversed and the tithes burden was top of the list of grievances for the small farmer. This was the background to the Tithe Affray in Askeaton on 15 August, 1821, that had such serious consequences for my extended family. 26 The tithe proctor, being the person who estimated and collected tithes, in the Askeaton area was John Ivess, who lived in Craigmore, Askeaton. On the night of the 15 August, 1821, a large group of Rockites, dressed in white robes or dresses, with faces blackened, assembled for the express purpose of attacking Ivess house, seizing the tithe books and burning them publicly. The leader of this group was Terence Moran, brother of my great grandmother, Margaret Moran. Unknown to the Rockites, their plans were betrayed in advance to the police and a detachment of Peace Preservation police were lying in ambush at Ivess house waiting for the Rockites, who numbered about 200, many mounted on horseback. The attackers were first challenged before both sides opened fire. One constable, Thomas Manning, was killed while Moran and three other assailants were wounded. The attackers then dispersed, Moran being helped from the scene, while the other three seriously wounded men hid in a ditch. Moran died of his wounds and the other three, also near death, were discovered next morning and brought to Rathkeale, where they were buried in a Croppy grave near the bridge. A rumour went about, denied by the police, that one of the three was still alive when buried in quicklime and this inflamed public opinion and moved the Rockites to form a conspiracy to murder Major Richard Going, magistrate and commander of the Peace Preservation Police in the area. He was subsequently murdered in Curaheen, near Cappagh, Co. Limerick, on 14 October, 1821.27 Following the Askeaton Tithe Affray, some men were arrested. They included Michael Moran, brother of Terence, together with Michael Halloran and Michael Fitzgerald.
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The three were tried at Limerick Assizes on 18 December, 1821. Several establishment figures, including some local Protestant landowners, gave evidence testifying to Michael Morans law-abiding disposition and general good character. In his own evidence, Moran testified that he did not willingly go to Ivess house, but was forced to go there by some Rockites. There was also a suggestion that he turned states evidence at the trial. At the conclusion of the trial, Michael Moran was found not guilty and set free, while the other two men were convicted and hanged. 28 The mortal wounding of Terence Moran, while leading the Rockites in Askeaton, when combined with the discharge of his brother, Michael, at the trial in Limerick, led to some ambivalence in the way the Moran family was subsequently regarded. The Rockites and their sympathisers cast Terence as a hero and were sceptical, if not derisive, of Michael. The local landlords and the people who were not caught up in the Rockite movement, on the other hand, regarded Terence as misguided and led astray, while they regarded Michael as decent and anxious to obey the law. Their sister, Margaret, my great grandmother, if judged by her actions, seemed to fall into a median category: she refused to pay tithes on her farm, but tried to distance herself from local events by subsequently taking a husband from outside the parish. My great grandfather, Michael Feheney, was a son of a medium-sized farmer in Killoughteen, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. About 1829, a marriage was arranged between Michael and Margaret Moran. Following the usual custom at the time, as she had a farm, it is probable that he brought some money with him. The couple were very happy and their only child, John, was born and baptised in 1830. The tithe agitation, which had died down in 1824, now came to the fore again, this time spreading out from Munster and finding its most violent expression in Leinster, especially in county Kilkenny. Though the first clash of the Tithe War took place on 3 March, 1831, at Graignamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, the first casualties occurred at Bunclody, Co. Wexford, when the police opened fire on people who resisted tithe collection. Twelve people were killed and twenty wounded. On 14 December, 1831, a group of tithe resistors ambushed a patrol of 40 members of the Constabulary at Carrickshock, Co. Kilkenny, killing twelve constables, including the Chief Constable, and wounding many others.29 After these events, opposition to the collection of tithes spread throughout Munster and Leinster. The Government, now concerned at the increase in confrontations with agents of the law, released figures showing that enforcement of tithe orders had led directly to the following catalogue of crimes and outrages: 242 homicides, 1,179 robberies; 401 burglaries, 568 burnings, 280 cases of cattle maiming, 161 assaults, 203 riots, 723 attacks on property. One of the worst confrontations occurred in Rathcormac, Co. Cork, in 1835, when armed Constabulary, reinforced by British army troops, reportedly killed 17 people and wounded 30 in the course of collecting a tithe order, valued at 40 shillings. The Government became even more concerned at the violence and the employment of such large numbers of police to collect relatively small amounts of tithe money. In 1833, parliament passed the Tithe Commutation Act, whereby the tithes payable were reduced by about a quarter and the landlord paid the remainder, reclaiming it with the rent from tenants, if he so wished. This ended the violent aspect of the tithe collection. Finally, with the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland by the Gladstone Liberal Government in 1871, tithes for the maintenance of the Church of Ireland Clergy came to an end. 30 My great grandmother, Margaret, before her marriage, was also active in resisting the payment of tithes. The Tithe Composition Act of 1823, however, permitted the Tithe Proctor, who collected tithes for the local clergyman, to distrain farm produce or stock and sell them at a public auction, thereby recouping his tithe money. Since only cattle in a field could be distrained, while those in a shed were immune from seizure, tithe proctors found that seizure
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of corn was the easiest way to recoup the tithe money. It so happened that, in the mid 1820s, Margaret, after getting her corn cut and stacked in the haggard, in preparation for threshing, was, without warning, visited by the tithe process server, who handed her a document stating that her corn would be distrained in settlement of a demand for unpaid tithes. Meantime, two members of the Peace Preservation Police would stand guard beside the corn until arrangements could be made to remove it. Margaret, however, managed to get word of the situation to some neighbours who spread the word to other anti-tithe protesters. That night, while the two constables nestled at the butt of the corn rick, a couple of neighbours hit them over the head and then locked them in a stable nearby. On a signal from the assailants, about half a dozen horses and carts drove into the haggard and removed all the corn, transporting it to another farm in nearby Cappagh. This farm was very secluded, being so far from the road that people had to pass through five fields and five separate gates to reach it. There the corn was unloaded and the carts departed, while, next day, all the corn was threshed and the grain stored in sacks to be sold for Margaret to the grain merchants in Limerick. When the constables awoke next morning they found the stable door unlocked but the corn gone. Margaret had to disappear for some time after this, so she packed a few clothes and made her way to some friends a few miles away in Borrigone, near Foynes, where she remained until interest in the affair had died down and the police had other matters to occupy them. After her marriage, her husband, Michael Feheney, was anxious to dissociate himself and Margaret from the anti-tithe movement, so he paid his tithes when they became due. Their son, John, was born in 1830 and Michael began to look forward to a peaceful existence. He kept in touch with his relatives in Newcastle West and sometimes, when he had to attend a fair in Rathkeale, he would go on to his old home and spend the night there, returning to Askeaton next day. Michael went to one of these fairs in 1832, riding his saddle horse, and driving some cattle before him. He did not return that night, but Margaret was not worried, assuming that he had journeyed on to Newcastle West to spend the night with his relatives. In the early hours of the morning, however, she heard a horse trot into the yard, then stop and begin to neigh. She dressed and went outside, where she found Michaels saddle horse, complete with bridle and saddle, but without its owner. Later in the morning, she got her brother, Michael, and some helpful neighbours to traverse the road to Rathkeale and then further to Newcastle West, but they found no trace of her husband. People, who had attended the fair at Rathkeale, confirmed that they had seen or met Michael there and that he had sold his cattle, but could not say what happened to him. Neither had his relatives in Newcastle West seen him. Margaret informed the police of her husbands disappearance and her fear that he had been injured or killed, but the police had no reports of any such event, nor, indeed, did they succeed in discovering any helpful information about him or his travels. Over the following months a rumour began to circulate to the effect that Michael Feheney had been set upon, robbed and killed by people associated with the Rockites. Given the social and political circumstances of the time, robbery was unlikely to have been the sole object of the attack. It is possible, if not probable, that Michael got on the wrong side of Rockite supporters and that he had paid for this with his life. Moreover, Michaels body was never found. Local Politics In 1898, the British Parliament passed the (Irish) Local Government Act and elections for the First Limerick County Council were held in April, 1899. Askeaton was one of the electoral divisions for county Limerick and the declared winner of this seat was Lord Thomas SpringRice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Mount Trenchard, Foynes. The runner-up was Michael Feheney, my uncle. Though family lore states that, on appeal, Monteagle was disqualified on the grounds of irregularities and the seat awarded to Michael Feheney, I have, as yet, found
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no documentary evidence to confirm this. Monteagle, who was a member of the House of Lords, as well as a former member of two county councils in Wales, represented the Unionist interests. Feheney, on the other hand, represented the Nationalist interest, and the fact that he succeeded in having Nationalist Members of Parliament, including Michael Austin, attend his election rallies, indicates that he was regarded as a strong candidate. His guns were spiked, however, when John Hogan from nearby Shanagolden entered the race, thereby splitting the Nationalist vote and giving Monteagle an easy victory. Analysis of the election results, however, show that, even despite the split Nationalist vote, Monteagle only managed to defeat Feheney by 60 votes.31 Elections for the second council were held in 1902 and, this time, my uncle topped the poll and was declared the winner. By now, he had identified himself as a member of the antiParnellite faction of the Irish Party, led by Justin McCarthy and William OBrien. The Earl of Dunraven, who represented Adare in the Council, described the excitement caused by the first County Council elections: It was very amusing and exciting. No contested parliamentary election had taken place for years and the County Council constituency was wild with excitement. We drove all about the district, speaking from brakes in the villages and at crossroads. There was much chaff - all the humours of old fashioned elections, considerable consumption of porter and some little fighting. 32 It would probably be true to say that the new County Councillors, such as my uncle, saw themselves, not so much as legislators or policy makers, but as consumer representatives, concerned with complaints and grievances. They also fulfilled an important role of mediation between constituents and the new county administrative bureaucracy. The role of county councillor also meant meeting and dealing with a large number of people. My father, as assistant to his older brother, also got to know a great number of people in West Limerick. My uncle was returned to the council in 1905 and 1908, but, in 1911, he declined to stand, having by then begun to think of getting married. Though my father accompanied his brother to most of his political rallies, he had no political ambitions himself and never gave an election speech. In fact, he was a rather shy man. My Generation and the Next My uncle Michael, who died in 1939, married Catherine OSullivan from Templeglantine, Co. Limerick, and they had a family of one girl, Mary, and two boys, Johnny and Bill. They were more than a dozen years older than me and were always helpful and supportive of me and my family. It was from them that I learned the family history of the Feheneys. None of the three married, however, and all three are now deceased, so their branch of the family has died out. Of my own family, my two brothers, Michael and Matt, had sons, but, in the present generation, only one of my nephews,

6: Immediate family: Matt, Paddy, JMF, Michael, Mary, Elizabeth and Ann, 2000

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Michael, has male heirs. Moreover, the Killoughteen, Newcastle West, branch of the family has also died out, so, in the island of Ireland, there are to date only two male children who might possibly continue the surname, Feheney. I should add, however, that, in contemporary Ireland, where many men in rural areas neither marry nor produce offspring, the Feheney case is not anomalous. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, in addition to two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, I also have a half-sister, Ann Sheehy, who married Mike Downes, from a well-known family in Ballysteen. Ann and Mike have three daughters, ine, Brigid and Maureen, as well as a son, Michael. My sister Mary, who was married to Paddy OShaughnessy, died suddenly on 15 August, 2004, aged 71 years. She and Paddy had no children and they lived in a now abandoned but historic house, Castlegrey, Kilcornan, which had formerly been the property of 7: Members of Extended family with JMF the Waller family. Paddy died three years later, in 2007. Mary was a wonderful aunt to all her nieces and nephews and her sudden passing was mourned by all members of the family. My sister Elizabeth married Dick Stack from Broadford, Co. Limerick, and they had three daughters, Elaine, Bridget and Ailish, together with a son, John. Ailish married Paddy Moriarty from Annascaul, Co. Kerry, and they have two children, Pdraig and Aoife, while John was recently married to Georgina Frawley, from Rockhill, Bruree. Bridget died in 1995, while Elaine is still unmarried. My elder brother, Michael, who died in 2005, married Mary Madigan and they had a family of two boys, John and Vincent, and two girls, Stephanie and Edel. Neither John nor Vincent has children, while Stepanie, who lives in Australia, has one son, Conor, Edel and her husband, Alan Sheehy, have one son, Hugh, and are expecting twins. My brother, Matt, married Catherine Jones from Askeaton and they have a family of four girls, Anne, Brd, Catherine and Sarah, together with a son, Michael. Anne married Gerard Neville and they have two daughters, Laura and Emir. Brid married Riad Hacini and they have four children: Tariq, Inez, Ameen and Aya. Catherine married John Kennedy and they have four children: John, Safraidh, Patrick and Kealan. Sarah married Tom Culhane and they have one daughter, Margaret, and are 8: JMF with nieces and nephews, 2000 expecting another baby. Michael married Claire Fox and they have two sons: John and Matt. I think that it would be true to say that I am the recipient of much love and affection from all members, immediate and extended, of my family. This is something that I, in turn, try to reciprocate. In addition, I have had the great pleasure of being the family historian and genealogist. My first book, The Ranahans of Iverus (1987) was devoted to my mothers family, the Ranahans. I have also completed family trees of the Feheney family, though, compared with the Ranahans, it is a relatively small family. Moreover, I have researched the family history of several other families in Ballysteen, not a few of which are connected with
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me. I hope that, soon, I will be able to make this information available to those interested and concerned. Feheney Surname Though the surname Feheney, sometimes spelled Feeheney or Feaheney is a variant of Feighney, and comes originally from county Roscommon, our branch of the family has been in West Limerick for at least 200 years. This minor sept was a branch of the Sol Muireadhaigh (Silmurrray) clan in Roscommon. The name Feeney, more common in Galway and Mayo, comes from a genealogically different sept. Feeney was part of the powerful Hy Fiachrach, and was originally located in Easkey, Co. Sligo.33

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Chapter 3 Towards Adulthood


s I came near the end of my time in 6th class in primary school, I began to think of secondary school. At this stage, my mother had confidence in my decisions and, in most matters, including my secondary education, she was content to let me do the research and to make recommendations, while she reserved the final approval to herself. The Salesian College nearby in Copsewood, Pallaskenry, would have been ideal, but, admission there was not possible. At the time, there were two separate sections in Copsewood. One was an agricultural College for older students, who had completed their secondary schooling, while the other was a scholasticate for aspirants to the the Salesian congregation. The scholasticate was moved elsewhere in later years, and a secondary school came into being in its place, but this change came too late for me. Next, I considered two boarding colleges in Limerick, Mungret College, operated by the Jesuits, and the diocesan college, St Munchins. While I was considering the matter, the parents of my school friend, Jim Hayes, who was also a cousin, completed arrangements for Jim to attend the Presentation Brothers Juniorate, Coliste Muire, in Douglas, Cork.

Boarding School At this time, games, especially hurling and football, occupied much of my spare time and Jim proved an eloquent advocate for the promised facilities for these games at Coliste Muire. The Presentation Brothers were not completely new to me, either, since there were two Brothers from the area, both of their families well known to me. Moreover, a friend of mine, Sean Culhane, had attended this college for a couple of years, but had then immigrated to the USA. As the summer of 1945 progressed, Jims arguments in favour of Coliste Muire became more persuasive, so, on 28 August of that year, I registered as student there. The College bursar and household administrator was none other than Brother Aquinas Neville, who knew my mother and came from a farm near us. A practical, downto-earth, hard-working man, he was very kind to Jim and myself and we soon settled into 9: Coliste Muire, Presentation Brothers Juniorate the school routine. One thing that I had forgotten, though I must have been told beforehand, was that Coliste Muire was an A class secondary school. This meant that Irish was the medium of instruction for all subjects. To ensure that all students were fluent in Irish, this language was the official medium of communication between staff and students. Moreover, students were also expected to use Irish when talking among themselves. Though this seemed strange and artificial at the beginning, with the excellent example of the teaching staff, it soon became second nature to us. The curriculum at Coliste Muire was the usual one in Irish secondary schools of the period, with two public examinations, the Intermediate (now Junior) Certificate after three years, followed by the Leaving Certificate after a further one or two years. The teaching was sound and, since ours was a boarding school, there was plenty of time for study and home work. If the programme had a fault, it was that it had a very narrow focus on the examination subjects. Public examination results were generally good and there were few instances of
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failure. Though students were usually confident in the subjects they had formally studied, there was a certain deficiency in their general cultural acumen. Thus, for instance, debate through the medium of Irish was encouraged, even emphasised, whereas debate in English tended to be neglected. There was, of course, an immediate pay-off from the use of Irish in our debates, because when the time came for us to sit our Irish oral examinations for primary teaching, we secured high marks. However, lack of wide reading and exposure to cultural interests and activities meant that our English essays sometimes revealed a paucity of ideas. There were between eighty and ninety students in the college in my time and participation in games, mainly hurling, football and handball, was encouraged. Only occasionally was hot water provided for washing, but this was not greatly missed in that era, since the general atmosphere was Spartan and we were proud of the fact that we could stand under the cold shower without flinching. I remember an announcement in the dining room one evening stating that the war was over. This announcement gave a false impression to some of us, because we got the idea that this would signal the end of food rationing and food scarcities. But this was not the case. Thankfully, the Presentation Brothers had their own bakery in Cork and they produced lovely bread, so, with this, and plenty of the basic foods, including meat, potatoes, vegetables and rice, we were, generally speaking, well fed. The college had its own orchard and kitchen garden, so we had plenty of vegetables and locally grown fruit. Fruit from overseas, however, such as bananas, oranges and grapes, were not to be had. I remember the first oranges in the shops in Cork after the war. I purchased one and ate it on the street outside the shop. Early in 1947, there was a big freeze, during which the snow remained on the ground from 27 January to 15 March, and, because of the frozen ground, we were not allowed out on the playing fields. In place of games, and to ensure that we had exercise, we were made to go on long walks, something which most of us hated. We prayed fervently for an end to the frost, but week after week, it seemed to get worse. Finally, two days before St Patricks Day, a thaw set in and, by the time the feast day of Irelands national patron dawned, all the frost and snow had gone. Then it was back to games again. Every year, the students were divided into a number of teams, each captained by one of the senior students, and these teams competed in a league to find the best captain and the best team. Each team, of course, had players in the age range 13-18, and quite a number, including myself, had ambitions to play for local clubs or counties. These ambitions had to be realised during school vacation since permission was not granted to students to play with any team, other than that of the college, during term time. My personal ambitions were partly realised when I was chosen to be a member of the Askeaton minor team, which won the West Limerick Minor Hurling championship in 1947. Though I was only fifteen years at the time, I was tall and, even then, was well on my way to my final height of six feet four inches. As the summer holidays in 1947 drew to a close, we were informed that, with the increase in numbers, Coliste Muire was being reserved for junior students, while the senior students, including myself, would return to a new venue, Park House, Passage West, Co. Cork. Like Coliste Muire, formerly known as Tramore House, Park House, newly named Coliste Treasa, had formerly been the residence of a member of the gentry. Both houses had been adapted and extended to make them suitable for use as residential colleges. There were only two classes in Coliste Treasa, the Intermediate Certificate class, of which I was a member, and the Leaving Certificate class. During the first three weeks after our return in 1947, we enjoyed
10: St Teresa's College, Passage West

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glorious sunshine and, in addition to field games, we went swimming in the tidal Lee estuary in Passage West. It was then I learned to swim, though, at the time, I did not get far beyond the basics of moving about and staying afloat in the water. We also had a croquet lawn and learned the basics of the game of croquet. Unfortunately, some of us mistakenly got the foolish impression that the Irish climate had changed and that we would be able to play croquet and go swimming throughout the year. But we were brought back to reality in October, when the rain came and the wind began to blow. Then we discovered that the location of Coliste Treasa, built as it was on a hill overlooking Cork harbour, which was a scenic but windswept site, was cold, bleak and windy for about nine months of the year. The academic programme, as at Coliste Muire, was very focussed on the examination syllabus. The teaching varied from superb to sound, and there were ongoing heavy homework assignments. I was greatly aided by my good aural and visual memory. This was particularly useful for memorising poetry, which had to be done in Irish and English. As the year progressed, I began to value academic achievement and, by the time the Intermediate Examination was held in June, 1948, I felt very well prepared. In fact, my main fear was that, when answering the examination questions, I would not have sufficient time to write down all that I thought I knew. Meantime, the summer and the sunshine had come around again and we had time for croquet and swimming. We were not, however, going home for summer vacation that year. This development came about as a result of a change of policy by the Presentation Brothers in respect of aspirants to the Congregation. Though Coliste Muire and Coliste Treasa were both juniorates for aspirants to the congregation of the Presentation Brothers, it was understood that boys needed time to understand the significance of the decision they would make at the end of their secondary schooling. In general, between half and three quarters of the students in the Leaving Certificate would decide to enter the novitiate. The students in my group, consequently, did not expect to have to make this decision until they had completed the Leaving Certificate, but, in 1948, the major superiors decided that students would have to make this decision after Intermediate Certificate. In accordance with this new policy, when I received the results of my end-of-term examination during the Christmas holidays, I also received a letter informing me of this change of policy and asking me to think carefully on its implications for me and my life. Religious Life Following her normal procedure, my mother told me that this would be my decision and that she would be happy with whatever I decided. So I went for a walk in our wood and weighed up the pros and cons and decided that I would return to college and, subsequently, enter the congregation of the Presentation Brothers. Granted, I was some months short of sixteen years of age at the time, but I, nevertheless, felt comfortable making this decision. I will also grant that what I did during my Christmas holidays was merely to formalise a resolution that had been maturing quietly in my mind for some time. I had felt very comfortable and happy in the school up to that. Moreover, I related very well to my companions and the students that I admired most were choosing the same lifestyle. I was happy dealing with intellectual concepts and I felt that the profession of teacher would suit me. But, even more important, especially in the formalising of my decision, was the conviction that life was short and that any decision as to how I would spend my life had to be taken in the context of eternity and the life to come after death. One of the Brothers who had a decisive influence on my life and on my decision to become a Presentation Brothers was Brother Aquinas Neville, whom I mentioned earlier and whose family was well known to me. When we were in First Year, he gave each of us a little hard-cover notebook, approximately A6 size, in which he encouraged us to write our
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favourite prayers. He also gave us prayers for specific occasions e.g. before and after Holy Communion; before starting study; before an examination; when ill; for a favour; for parents and loved ones and so on. I remember keeping this little notebook with me for years, until finally I mislaid it, but I continually use some of the prayers it contained. In accordance with the new policy, in July, 1948, I and about 25 of my classmates, made our way to the Presentation Brothers Novitiate at Mount St Joseph, a large imposing building on Blarney Street, on the northern suburb of Cork city. The first month was very pleasant and relaxing. Before lunch we did some maintenance work on the grounds or around the house and in the afternoons we played games or went swimming. The venue for swimming had to be within walking distance, and apart from the public open swimming pool, known popularly as the baths, we had a choice of a part of the river Lee, known as Hell Hole, or a smaller tributary of the Lee in Kerry Pike. On 12 August, 1948, I received the habit of the Presentation Brothers, together with a new name, Brother Matthew, and was formally inducted as a novice. The novitiate lasted two years and the first year was devoted almost exclusively to religious studies, including a study of the life of Christ; the New Testament; the Rules and Constitutions of the Presentation Brothers and the three vows, chastity, poverty and obedience. At the end of the first year of novitiate, we were told that, the following year, we would study for the Leaving Certificate. Personally, I found that, by this time, I had an enormous intellectual appetite. Again, our course was very focussed, since we all had to do the same subjects: Irish, English, Latin, History, Geography, Mathematics and Technical Drawing. I liked every subject and my only problem was that I felt that I did not have adequate time for homework and study. Brother Evangelist Griffin was a superb teacher of mathematics and Latin, less so of English and history. The year went quickly and I continued growing and, by the end of the year, had reached my full height of six feet four inches. Food was good, but now, owing to the pressure of study, games were confined to Saturdays. I found Sunday to be a boring day, partly because the day was tightly organised and lacked adequate change from normal routine, which most people associate with Sunday. Moreover, we usually had one of those unpopular formal walks in the afternoon. After a preparatory 8-day retreat, I made my religious profession on 12 August, 1950, and was assigned to teach at St Josephs primary school, Mardyke, Cork, during the following year. After that, it was assumed I would begin teacher training or university studies. For me there were two notable events during the year, 1950-1951. The first was that the furnace broke down at the beginning of December, 1950, and, after a thorough examination, the engineer recommended that not only a new furnace, but also a complete new central heating system would have to be installed. There were, of course, 11: JMF, centre, back, after 1st Profession, 1950 open fires in the study halls and common rooms, but no heating in the chapel or in the bedrooms. In bed, we piled all the blankets we could secure on our beds and then generated our own heat. I remember times during the day when I was studying with an enormous overcoat over me. After a time hands and feet would get very cold but I had a strategy to warm myself. This was to go outside and walk vigorously up and down the avenue
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until I was warm again. Then, it was back to my bedroom to study. The second event that year was an arrangement whereby, to help some of us to brush up our science subjects and prepare for entry to the faculty of science at the nearby National University of Ireland, Cork, we had tuition in chemistry and physics. Though some of my colleagues regarded these classes as a burden, I welcomed them, since, at secondary school, I had studied general science rather than the full course in these subjects. Despite the absence of heat in my bedroom, I persevered with the textbooks in chemistry and physics and slowly they began to reveal their secrets. At the end of the year, the tutor gave an examination and, since I scored high in this, it was decided that I would study for a degree in science. During the three years of temporary profession, we were taken to the West Kerry Gaeltacht each year for two weeks, during which we combined a vacation at the seaside with an opportunity to acquire greater fluency in spoken Irish. We had accommodation at Granvilles Hotel and the two weeks were a very pleasant experience. All the staff, including old Pdraig, the general dogsbody, spoke Irish fluently. Every morning, even if the rain was coming down in bucketfuls, Pdraig would invariably greet us with L brea bog! (A lovely soft day). The Parish Priest, an tAthair Toms Moriarty, looked forward to our annual visit, partly because our visit provided him with more people with whom he could chat. Once you stopped to chat with him on the road, it was difficult to escape from him. Sometimes, as we walked to the beach, we had 12: JMF, centre, back, with colleagues in hurling team, 1952 to make a sudden diversion to avoid him, and the consequent lengthy chat. I renewed acquaintance with Garid Ciomhin, who was in Coliste Muire with me, but who had returned to work on his small farm and to continue the family tradition of lobster fishing. I often helped Garid launch his naomhg, or flat bottomed, canvass-covered ketch, which, I found, was quite heavy for two people to lift and carry to the water. I would row while he checked the lobster pots, removing lobster, crayfish and larger crabs. Later, Garid acted as my guide during a visit to nearby Dn an ir, now a ruin, and the site of a famous massacre on 10 September, 1580. A force of 600 Italian and Spanish troops, under the command of Sebastiano di San Giuseppe, had been sent by Pope Gregory XIII, to aid the Irish during the Desmond Rebellion. After Richard Bingham had blockaded the force from the sea at Smerwick Harbour, Giuseppe had no alternative but to take refuge in the ancient fort, Dn an ir. Grey and the Earl of Ormond, however, bombarded the fort with heavy artillery and the defences of the fort collapsed under the fusillade. Giuseppe seems to have been given to understand that his troops would be given quarter if they surrendered, but, once they capitulated, Earl Grey ordered the massacre of all the entire Papal force, sparing only the commanders. In his report to HM Queen Elizabeth I, the Earl wrote, Then I put in certain bands, who straight fell to execution. There were six hundred slain. Some Irish historians, have found evidence that both Walter Raleigh and the poet, Edmund Spencer, were also present.34

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Cultural Activities One of the projects which I initiated while I was at Mount St Joseph was the annual production of an in-house journal, called Irisen an Chnoic. Like most of the issues, the first number, produced in 1951, was duplicated, using a gestetner, rather than printed. The cover, however, was printed and featured a pen and ink drawing of the building at Mount St Joseph by Brother Jarlath Linehan (1907-1992). This building was designed by Samuel Francis Hynes and completed in 1894. The journal featured articles, reports and poems about the history and work of the Presentation Brothers. Copies were sent to each Presentation House and articles were also invited for future issues. Since neither I nor my colleagues were able to touch type, we relied heavily on two older volunteers. These were Brother Albertus Reen (1889-1990), who typed the material in English and Brother Leopold OMahony (19242011), who typed the Irish material. I edited the issues for 1951, 1952 and 1953 and, I am happy to say, the journal continued until the 1970s. Years later, when I returned to Mount St Joseph as assistant to the Superior General, I founded another journal, Presentation Studies, which I have been editing ever since. Another cultural activity in which I became involved was amateur theatre. During the Christmas holidays, we usually produced a concert, including a 3-act play. This was the era of amateur dramatics and there was a good range of suitable plays. Though I also acted, I was particularly interested in production. Among the plays in which I acted and/or produced were: Professor Tim by George Shields; Tomorrow Never Comes; The Bishops Candlesticks a dramatic adaptation of Victor Hughos Les Misrables; Shadow and Substance by Paul Vincent Carroll and The Whip Hand by BG McCarthy. In these productions, men had to play womens parts and the provision of appropriate female clothing was usually a big challenge. In the provision of stage props, the producer also got many opportunities to be creative. The play was usually preceded by a short variety concert. The first variety item was a performance by our resident (makeshift) ensemble playing a selection of tunes, starting and ending with the signature tune for the then popular BBC programme, Music While You Work. We had a variety of instruments: keyboard, violins, a mandolin, a guitar and a button accordion, while I acted as. One of the instrumentalists, Steve, had the gift of being able to write down any tune he knew or heard and this proved a valuable asset to the group when we wished to add to our repertoire. Old habits tend to die slowly! To this day, I still conduct a little musical ensemble that plays at our liturgies University Studies In the fall of 1951, I began studies at the National University of Ireland, Cork, popularly known as UCC, for a BSc degree. In the first year, each student had to study five subjects and I chose Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Botany and Science French. Since there was an option to study Chemistry through the medium of Irish, I was one of only a handful to make this choice. Though, studying the subject through Irish did entail greater effort, this was counterbalanced by the fact that, owing to the small number of students choosing this option, we could get more individual attention from the lecturer, Raimon 13: UCC, JMF's Alma Mater Cinnide. In the second year, we could drop some of the subjects and, since I was doing a double honours degree, I chose to
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concentrate on Chemistry and Botany. Partly because of my relationship with the lecturer, I got to love Botany and, subsequently, completed an MSc in this subject. The morphology section of the Botany course involved a great deal of classification, something in which I was able to use my retentive memory. At the beginning of our practical botany classes, I experienced some difficulty in cutting sections of plants sufficiently thin to enable me to see all the cells. Eventually, I discovered a way to obtain excellent sections. This was simply to cut ten sections whenever I wanted one. I then put the ten sections in the staining solution. When I removed them and shone a light on them, one could immediately see the sections that were virtually transparent. These were the ones to put under the microscope, while the others were discarded. The Botany course also involved the collection, drying and pressing of flowers to form a flora collection. I greatly enjoyed this, and would go around spying out samples for possible inclusion in my flora collection. Years later, when I went to the Caribbean, I joined the Institute of Tropical Botany in an attempt to understand the topical flora. Even today, I find myself taking note of flowers and herbs as I walk along. Teaching I completed my BSc degree in the autumn of 1954 and was immediately assigned to teach at Presentation College, Mardyke, Cork. I was to reside in nearby Mardyke House, where I now live. This Georgianstyle house was built about 1809 by Major-General Sir Robert Travers, a ranking officer in the 95th Rifle Brigade of the British army. Born in County Cork, he 14: JMF, 3rd, back row, with BSc Hons. class, UCC, 1954 had the unusual distinction of having five more brothers, who were also officers in the British army. Moreover, three of the five brothers had been knighted for their services. Even more significant, perhaps, was the fact that seven of Sir Roberts sons served in the British army, one, General James Travers VC CB, winning the Victoria Cross. At the time there were about five acres of ground attached and the house, which was bounded by the road on the south side and by the northern channel of the river Lee on the northern side. Mardyke Walk, on which the house was located, was originally a semi-private avenue and even when I arrived there in 1954, there was no through traffic. At the lodge, beside the present UCC Granary theatre, there was a barrier, permitting only pedestrian traffic westwards. Vehicular traffic had to enter midway in the avenue, opposite the UCC gate. Along the stream, which was then the only remaining relic of the original sea dyke, was a row of elm trees, immortalised in the ballad, The Banks of my own Lovely Lee. The relevant words were, My heart was as light as the fair wind that blows down the Mardyke through each elm tree. These elm trees also formed the background to a short story by Sean Faolain, one of Irelands great men of letters. It will be remembered that Seans first home was 1 Mardyke Place, before the family moved to more spacious accommodation at Half Moon Street, Cork. These famed elm trees fell victim to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s and
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had to be cut down. Next door to Mardyke House was Mardyke Cottage, originally on the same plot of ground. This was built as a dower house for Harriet Laetitia, nee Belford, wife of Sir Robert Travers, about 1818. The dower house was a provision made by some members of the gentry for a widow, after the death of her husband. With this arrangement, the eldest son, who usually inherited the fathers property, could, if married, take up residence in his fathers house, confident that provision had been made for his mother. This, therefore, was the rationale under pinning the building of Mardyke Cottage as a Dower House. There have been several owners of Mardyke House, following General Travers, whose widow sold the property after his death in 1838. We note here only a few of the owners, including Samuel Bleazley (1835), William Tomkins (1873-1879), Dr PJ Cremin (1879-c.1900) and Mr HT Wright (c.1900-1922). Mr Wright, a British official, was collector of taxes in the south of Ireland and resident at Mardyke House when the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in 1922. British officials were then given a choice: either remain in Ireland under the new administration in the 26 counties or return to the United Kingdom. In the UK, there was a further option, namely, to go to one of the British colonies and take up an appointment at a higher grade. Mr Wright declined to work with the new Irish administration, opted to return to the UK and put the Mardyke House property on the market. It was then purchased by the Presentation Brothers as a residence for the Brothers who were teaching at nearby Presentation College. The grounds at Mardyke House were very pleasant and the younger members of the community, like myself, derived special pleasure from having the northern channel of the river Lee at the rear of our garden. There was a slip from which a boat could be launched, but our preferred activity was fishing. Though the trout we caught were small, they tasted beautiful. Tuberculosis During the year 1954-1955, in addition to teaching, I also attended evening classes at UCC and, at the end of the year, obtained a Higher Diploma in Education, which was a requirement for registration as a secondary teacher. The satisfaction I felt at this, and the successful completion of my first year teaching in secondary school, was overshadowed, however, by a medical diagnosis, which revealed that I had active tuberculosis in my right lung. At the time, Ireland was just coming to terms with the scourge of tuberculosis and the current treatment could only be had in a sanatorium. I was, accordingly, packed off to Heatherside, a sanatorium on the lower reaches of the hills north of Doneraile, Co. Cork. The main part of the sanatorium was built in 1909, in accordance with the practice of the period to expose patients as much as possible to fresh air. This practice was still in operation when I arrived there and one door of my bedroom opened out on a lawn and was left open all day. Antibiotics had come into use in the treatment of the disease in 1946 and I was put on a course of streptomycin. In 1949, another drug, para-aminosalycilic acid or PARA, was found to be effective and I was also treated with this. Subsequently, they tried isoniazid or INA and, finally, pyrazinamide on me. I made excellent progress, but, since the minimum stay in a sanatorium was six months, I was not released for a year. At that time, there were still traces of the fear of tuberculosis in Ireland, since, in the past, it had generally proved fatal. Moreover, there was also a lingering stigma attached to the disease. When somebody was diagnosed with it, members of that family often felt embarrassed, even ashamed. As a result of this, following a positive diagnosis, most patients initially tended to minimise their condition. One poor man, for whom the disease was in an advanced condition when he arrived in Heatherside, kept saying, Im lucky, I was caught in time! Even the mans physical appearance suggested that this statement was arguable, but
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the other patients merely nodded and promptly christened him Caught in Time. I have to admit that, initially, I felt the same way towards the disease and I did not tell my family about my condition for several months. While I was in Heatherside, I was joined by another Presentation Brother, Ferdinand Guckian, who was a great reader. Now one thing every patient had in a sanatorium in that period was plenty of time and I chose to devote my time to reading. Ferdinand introduced me to the great Russian novelists, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol and Maxim Gorki and, with his encouragement, I persevered in reading the better known works of these famous authors, often discussing them with him later. At the end of the year, we were both released from the sanatorium with clean bills of health and, after a holiday at home, I was sent to Coliste Treasa, Passage West, to recuperate. Recuperation The house in Passage West had been closed as a juniorate the previous year and it never operated as such again. My stay there was pleasant, though I became ambivalent about the advantage of the house being located on top of a hill overlooking the village. Pleasant as it was to freewheel down the hill to the church and the village, I had to pay for this indulgence when pushing the bicycle all the way back up again. In the quiet of Passage West, I devoted my spare time to two new activities. One was studying privately for a BA external in English and Latin from the University of London. This was a valued qualification at the time and was a wonderful path to a university degree for people who did not have access to a university. It was a prestigious qualification in overseas British Colonies and there is a story of a teacher in India who listed a qualification after his name as, BA (London External), Failed. In my case, I continued the course only as far as Intermediate Arts, approximately first year level, before abandoning it in favour of research for an MSc. The other activity I took up was shooting. While the study kept me at my desk, the shooting took me out walking along the estuary, through the fields and woods. I fear, however, that I did as much bird watching as shooting and my game bag was generally empty on my return from shooting expeditions. Back to Pres In August, 1957, I was judged ready to return to full-time teaching and I was assigned to Presentation College, Cork, to teach science, while residing in my old room in Mardyke House. At the time, science teachers in Ireland were trying to put pressure on the Department of Education to provide laboratory assistants in schools with science laboratories. School inspectors were advocating, even insisting, that science teachers facilitate students in performing science experiments themselves, rather than merely watching the teacher do demonstrations, but this was impossible, unless there was a laboratory assistant to set up the equipment and lay out reagents. In those days, secondary teachers taught 22 hours a week and, for most of the day, moved from one class to another, without a break. Moreover, some of the laboratories were occupied throughout most of the school day, though there was usually a small secure room off the laboratory where specialised equipment and chemicals could be stored. While a laboratory assistant could use this area to prepare materials for different classes, the teacher could not do this work, since it would mean leaving a class unattended. I mention this matter here because almost sixty years later, this problem has not yet been solved: science teachers are still calling for a laboratory assistant and in significant sections of the school science syllabus, students do not an opportunity to do relevant experiments themselves. In Pres, I got involved in several extra-curricular activities. One from which there was no escape was school rugby. In my class, I had some great rugby players, especially:
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Jerry Walsh, later capped for Ireland 26 times; Tom Kiernan, who was capped 56 times and captained Ireland on 24 occasions. Perhaps one of Tommys greatest achievements, however, was his coaching Munster to defeat the All Blacks in 1978. He was also Irish coach when they won the Triple Crown in 1982. I remember playing against Jerry and Tommy in a staff versus students game. One incident in that game stands out for me. Jerry was running at full tilt for the line to score a try when I confidently intercepted him, fully expecting that I would bring him to the ground. However, Jerry managed to feint and gave me the most violent hand-off into the nose! With flashing lights in my eyes, I scarcely saw him as he touched down for a brilliant try. The Pres rugby coach at the time was Pat Barry, who trained a couple of generations of players. As a means of fostering the literary talents and inclinations of students, I founded a Wall Magazine, on which I posted drawings, cartoons, poems, essays and reports on school sporting and cultural activities. I built up a network of student contributors and every Monday morning I would post a fresh edition, around which students would crowd to read the new material. I also renewed my interest in drama, especially in production. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pres produced some good school shows, starting with Snow White and going on to Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. My colleague, Tom OBrien, was music director and I was responsible for scenery, props and general backstage management. Among the schoolboy stars were Robert Carlile, who later moved to the Abbey Theatre, and Michael Casey, later musical director at RTE, who was the backbone of the orchestra. Dan Donovan At the time, Dan Donovan, a teacher at Pres, was active in the Presentation Theatre Guild, of which he was co-founder in 1942. This group of past students of the school, initially under the direction of Dermot Breen, founder of the Cork Film Festival, enjoyed great success in drama competitions in the 1940s and 1950s. They were frequent winners at drama festivals, including Cork (1946) with RC Sherrifs Journeys End; Cork (1947) with Black Stranger by Gerard Healy and Thunder Rock (1950) by Robert Audrey. Among the religious plays which the Guild presented were Behold Your King (1949), The Trial of Christ (1952), Caesars Friend (1954) and Murder in the Cathedral (1956). When I returned to Pres in 1957, I asked Dan 15: Dan Donovan Donovan, now producer of all the Guilds shows, if I could understudy him, watching his direction from the wings, with a view to picking up a few tips. This Dan readily and generously agreed. That is how I came to be an insignificant part of the Guilds production of Alessandro Manzonis I Promessi Sposi in 1958 and Ugo Bettis, The Queen and the Rebels, in 1959. This latter production was winner of the A class in the Cork Drama Festival and received enthusiastic praise from the adjudicators. Michael Twomey, who later became well-known as an actor and producer in Cork, was a member of the cast. My association with the Presentation Theatre Guild was interrupted in 1959 when I was assigned to the Caribbean. Dan Donovan went on to found the Everyman Theatre in Cork and to act in and produce a great variety of wonderful shows. Though he retired from acting and producing in 1985, he continued as a member of the management team of the Everyman Theatre until 1998. Scientific Research On my return to teach at Pres, I made contact with Oliver Roberts, professor of Botany at UCC. We had remained friends since the days I was a part-time member of his staff as director of practical classes for the year, 1954-1955. He invited me to join in a research
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project he was directing at the time. This research project involved a search for a suitable method of blinding drains, at the bottom of which concrete pipes had been laid to drain away excess water from low-lying farms. At the time, the Irish Government was giving generous grants to farmers to drain land and make it more productive. Within a few years, however, it was found that, on many farms, the concrete pipes had been infiltrated by plant roots. Moreover, the moist conditions within the pipes facilitated enormous growth of these roots, so that, eventually they completely clogged up the drainage pipes and led to a renewal of winter flooding of the land. It was agreed that the problem was primarily a botanical one and Roberts accepted the challenge to devise a solution. I, as a part-time researcher, was asked to make this problem the focus of my research. My final Masters thesis would consist of a description of my experiments, together with a literature review, an analysis of my results and some practical recommendations. Fortunately, I included a statistical analysis of my results, because I found that the external examiner regarded this as essential for the validity of my findings. My research involved the examination of a range of carriers for known and effective herbicides. If a cheap and suitable carrier for the herbicide was found, then the pipes could be covered with a layer of this treated medium before blinding with soil. My work involved not only experiments in the laboratory and in the University glass house but, also, visits to farms to inspect both the effects of the root growth, and review various unsuccessful previous attempts to solve the problem. After two years work, I found two herbicide carriers that were suitable. The first and best was sterile white clay from Kilkenny and the second was peat dust, both cheap and available in great quantities. The Irish Department of Agriculture was so pleased with the work of Professor Roberts and I that they decided to offer a scholarship for a three-year research project on the topic. The research could form the basis of a PhD degree. At the time, I was writing up the final draft of my MSc thesis, and Roberts, who had read a preliminary draft, advised me to apply for this scholarship. He also made the point that, if I wished, there would also be a parttime lecturing post for me in his department. My reply was that I would personally be very interested, but, as a member of a religious congregation, the final decision would rest with my superior. So I completed and submitted my thesis and put the proposal about the scholarship and doctoral degree to my provincial superior. The provincials reply came back within two weeks. The doctoral proposal was turned down, and, instead, I was assigned to teach in a new secondary school, for which the congregation had assumed responsibility, in Chaguanas, Trinidad, in the English-speaking Caribbean. Though I was somewhat disappointed that my proposal for doctoral research had been turned down by my superior, I was not devastated. One of the first things instilled into young religious in my day was that the religious superiors always know best and that, ultimately, they mediate the will of God for the individual religious. A more cynical friend of mine put it another way, remarking that one of the purposes of the religious life (in the middle of the twentieth century, at any rate) was to cut right across an individuals personal desires. I think that the decision of my superior must also be seen in the context of the religious thinking of the period. Part of this thinking was the idea that the individual exists mainly for the furtherance of the ministries of his religious congregation, not, as might be held today, to use his own particular talents in the task of realising the kingdom of God on earth. During the remaining weeks of the mid-summer vacation of 1959, I began to clean out my bedroom. I passed on my classroom notes to a colleague and did some preliminary reading on the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean.

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Chapter 4 Sojourn in the Caribbean

ollowing a leisurely voyage in a French boat, I arrived in Port of Spain, Trinidad, towards the end of August, 1959. There were three other Presentation Brothers with me: Anthony Sheehan, who immediately left for the island of St Lucia; Ferdinand Guckian, who went on to the island of Barbados, and John T Curran, who remained in Trinidad, but moved to the southern city of San Fernando. I was assigned to the staff of the college of SS Philip and James in Chaguanas in the centre of Trinidad. Shortly before I arrived, the college had moved to a new building and the principal, Brother Harry Kelly, took me to see the campus the next day. Not only Harry, but the entire college staff, was immensely proud of the new building. Chaguanas, Trinidad After touring the library, the principals office, the staff room and a few classrooms, we went to see the playing fields. It was then in the middle of the wet season and the first thing I saw in the middle of the field were two giant water buffalo, sunk to their heads in two large water holes, which they had made for themselves. My readers will remember that these animals love soft ground and that, in the rainy season, if permitted, they will always make holes for themselves, allow them to fill with water, and then relax. Nearby were some goats, two of which were tethered in a nice patch of savannah grass, while, some distance away, a skinny cow was also tethered. There was no fence around the campus and I noted that the animals did not confine their perambulations to the so-called playing field, but, instead, wandered all over the campus, the goats eating any shrubs that did not have thorns. That evening, Harry and I had a conference. We agreed that, since the academic work of the school had to go ahead, I, as Deputy Head, would give my full attention to this, while Harry, who liked anything to do with building, would see to the erection of fences and the creation of a playing field out of the swamp at the rear of the college buildings. During the following months, Harry worked marvels: using daily paid labour, he erected a fence enclosing the entire campus and made arrangements with the local sugar estate to borrow their tractors and graders to dig up and then grade the playing field. Since the entire campus was little above sea level, levels were critical to ensure run off of rain water. But, with generous help from a surveyor at the sugar estate, for which the parents of most of the students were working, Harry installed suitable drains. Then came the challenge of planting grass and here both Harry and I learned something important about the botany of tropical grasses. The two most useful grasses in the tropics are Pangola grass for feeding animals and savannah grass for lawns and playing fields. Both of these grasses, however, are not normally propagated by seed. Instead, they spread by vegetative propagation. We wanted savannah grass for the playing field, so we had first to gather handfuls of grass with roots attached, and then plant them in the field, allowing one clump per square foot. Then, lo and behold, with rain and sunshine, each clump spread out to cover the intervening space, thereby forming a beautiful green carpet. Harry also planted lots of trees and flowering shrubs. On the southern side of the college building, he planted a line of Royal Palms (Roystonea Regia), which can grow to one hundred feet in height. Around the playing field, he planted a selection of trees, chosen for both beauty and shade. In between the giant Samaan trees were pink and yellow Pouia. The Samaan (Samanea Saman) or Rain tree is a dome-shaped evergreen about seventy feet high that provides superb shade. The pink
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(Tabebuia Pentaphlla) and yellow (Tabebuia Seratifolia) Pouia were chosen for their flowers, as well as for shade. They flower in January, before the new leaves appear and, in combination with the Samaan, form a delightful picture. Since no tropical grounds would appear complete without the glorious Poinciana or Flamboyante tree (Delonix Regia), some samples of this tree were also added. While Harry was giving a good deal of attention to the grounds, I was giving my attention to the school. One of the problems we faced at that time was the fact that, whereas the school year began in January and ended in December, the university year began in October. This meant that teachers, who had planned to go to university, would leave in September, and new teachers had to take over classes that were already supposed to have completed their examination syllabus. It took some years, and then only after the local campus of the University was established, before the school year was altered to start in September. In the matter of public examinations, the Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE), at Ordinary and Advanced level, were well established in Trinidad and most of the islands of the British Caribbean. I found these examinations very satisfactory, not least because they constituted a widely accepted academic currency. When our students applied to a British University, the admissions office there was immediately able to evaluate our students qualifications and signify acceptance or otherwise without delay. When I arrived in Chaguanas, the college was known as the College of Ss Philip and James, but, because it had come under the ownership and management of the Presentation Brothers, it was renamed Presentation College Chaguanas or PCC. In the south of Trinidad was our sister college, Presentation College San Fernando. Whereas Presentation College San Fernando had an enrolment that was about 45% Catholic, the corresponding figure in Chaguanas was only 27% when I arrived in 1959. The religious affiliation of the remainder of the students was approximately as follows: 45% Hindu, 15% Muslim, 8% Anglican and 5% other Christian. Though the majority of the teachers were Catholic, there were also representatives of other denominations among them. We had a short school assembly each morning, including a brief prayer, which different students, of different religious affiliation, in turn, led. We agreed that the best well-known common prayer was the Lords Prayer and this was used, in association with a short prayer, written by the student leader. Ethnically, more than 60% of the students, including Muslims, were East Indian, whose ancestors had come to Trinidad as indentured servants, to work in the sugar cane estates during the nineteenth century. Though the Presentation Brothers and Most Rev Finbar Ryan, Archbishop of Port of Spain, were happy to operate a Catholic school in which only 27% of the students were Catholic, not every Catholic clergyman was in agreement. The latter would argue that, with limited resources, the school should be located in an area where there was a higher proportion of Catholics. That, however, involved ignoring some facts. The first and most basic was that a parish priest, Fr Max Murphy, founded this school in the 1940s, as a relatively small project, to provide second level education for the children of Catholic parents in his parish. There were then no objections to this small benevolent project. However, divine providence took a hand in the matter and the school grew and improved and its reputation spread. Non-Catholic parents then began to request admission for their children and, gradually, the school expanded and flourished to the point it had reached when I arrived in 1959. I must admit that my intention, and that of my fellow Presentation Brothers, was to build on the foundations 16: Fr Max Murphy, already laid and to go on to greater success. In other words, in Chaguanas
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place of a second level school of merely local significance and reputation, we had ambitions to make the school into an academy of national standing. This is what we did and there was national recognition of this ten years after I arrived when one of our students won the Jerningham Gold medal for being the candidate with the highest marks in the country in the Cambridge GCE Advanced level examination. But even this achievement did not settle the argument as to whether non-Catholic students should be made welcome in significant numbers in Catholic schools. This debate, however, was not new. Something similar raged in the early Christian Church, with Origen in the third century opting for openness and Tertullian advocating separateness and expressing fear of other cultures and religions. Moreover, the same argument moved from the theoretical to the practical in Birmingham in 1993, when the Oratorian Fathers decided to close the renowned St Philips College on the grounds that it was no longer viable as a Catholic institution because the number of Catholic students had fallen to 19%, the remainder being non-Catholic. Catholic parents and some school governors protested the threatened closure and appealed the matter to Rome. After due consideration, Cardinal Pio Laghi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, sent a reply. He stated that, in the first instance, the Church did not like to see any Catholic school closed and, in the second, throughout its entire history, the Church had regarded schools as one of the most effective means of evangelisation. Moreover, he said, the Catholic Church, in a spirit of friendship and humanity, is happy to share its educational facilities with people of other religions. I venture to suggest that this, in effect, is still the rationale underpinning the educational policy of Presentation College, Chaguanas, which, though no longer owned or managed by the Presentation Brothers, continues its ministry in the name of the Catholic Church. 35 I established good relations with the local Maha Sabha Hindu school, especially with the principal, whose sons were attending our college. He always invited me to functions held at his school, which often included demonstrations of classical Hindu music and dancing. There were local organising committees in every village in 1962 in preparation for the declaration of independence of Trinidad and Tobago, within the British Commonwealth. I was a member of the Chaguanas committee and one of my duties was to visit the outlying villages to witness their cultural presentations, which often took the form of variety concerts. There was great variety in the concert items, the producers striving to reflect the different cultural elements in the local community. As Independence Day (31 August, 1962) drew near, we all made an attempt to decorate our buildings. Since the college was a comparatively large building, we ran out of bunting and had to make an emergency purchase of some hastily manufactured decorative material. It consisted of a large roll of cloth, printed in horizontal bands of white, red and black, the colours of the new national flag of Trinidad and Tobago. It was one of my first experiences of a scam in Trinidad, because the manufacturer opted for a quickie job with inferior dye. The day before Independence, there was heavy rain and, when it cleared, I found that the new Trinidad and Tobago colours had run in the cloth and the flag material across the top of the college was a multicoloured mess. Chaguanas was close to the famous Caroni Swamp, a tidal mangrove wetland, covering some 15,000 acres along the western coast. Harry and I decided to purchase a small flat-bottom boat and an outboard engine and we had many pleasant Sunday afternoons in the swamp. One of the chief attractions was a colony of Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus Ruber), which roost and breed there. The birds derive their brilliant colour from the shrimp and red shellfish which they eat in the swamps. Many other species of bird are to be found in the swamp also, including cattle egrets, snowy egrets, little egrets, roseate spoonbills, herons, wood duck and birds of prey. Since the swamp is tidal there is also an abundance of fish and shellfish. I remember, on one occasion, fishing there with two of the boys attending the college. One time, when we pulled in a line, we found a sting ray hooked, which the boys promptly
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released, having a healthy respect for its vicious sting. On numerous occasions, we saw alligators, which are common in Trinidad. During the first year in Chaguanas, we did not have our own house, so Harry and I resided in the presbytery, with Canon Max Murphy, the parish priest. Though he had a common Irish surname, Max was an American Negro from Texas. He had opted for the priesthood long before the era of civil rights, at a time when very few, if any, Catholic dioceses in the USA were accepting black aspirants. The consequence of this was that Max and another black colleague were sent to Czechoslovakia to complete their seminary training before World War II. After ordination, he came to minister in the archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad. It was he who first envisaged and established the college. Living at the presbytery enabled us to meet and get to know a large number of parishioners.

Our New House Some months after our arrival in Chaguanas, Harry was given approval by our major superiors for the building of a residence for the Brothers. Though he chose an experienced builder, he insisted on acting as architect himself. One of the features in Harrys design was a perforated outer wall on the southern side of the house. In order to ensure a permanent breeze through the house, Harry used perforated bricks from top to bottom. The rationale unpinning this strategy was excellent and the design looked 17: Our house, Chaguanas, built by Harry, 1960 attractive on paper. He had, however, forgotten about snakes and insect life in the topics, and, after taking up residence there, almost every morning when we came downstairs, we found a couple of small snakes curled up at the foot of the wall. Most of these snakes were not only small but harmless and, once we got accustomed to them, we disposed of them by getting them on to a stick and throwing them out on the grass. Occasionally, however, we found a coral snake (Micrurus circinalis), which is poisonous and which can be identified by its concentric rings of black, yellow and red. To complicate matters, there was also a false coral snake (Anilius Scytale), which mimics the red and black, while lacking the yellow of the true coral. When I consulted old Tan, our night watchman, he gave me a rule of thumb to distinguish one from the other. It was in the form of a childrens rhyme, Red on black venom lack; black on yellow, dangerous fellow. In addition to the snakes, there was another poisonous insect which sometimes made its way mysteriously to our bedrooms. This was the centipede, which loves to hide in dark corners, such as shoes or socks left lying on the floor. We soon learned that the secret of controlling centipedes in the house was regular cleaning and sweeping of floors. Scorpions are also common in Trinidad, but they are usually found in sheds, storerooms and anywhere they have protection from the elements. The perforated bricks also gave free entry to mosquitoes and flying insects. Since the land in Chaguanas is flat and is adjacent to the Caroni swamp, it is infested with mosquitoes. Every evening, at the onset of darkness, the mosquitoes appeared in clouds. One could hear the combined sound from thousands of these insects, all, apparently, ravenous for a white mans blood. The period between sundown and bedtime was a hazardous time, when considerable energy had to be given to evading bites from mosquitoes. One solution was to lie on my bed reading, with the mosquito net spread over me. It will be recalled that this was
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the era before television, so reading was the main leisure activity at night. As soon as I got careless, however, and allowed an arm to rest on the headboard of the bed, lo and behold, a clever mosquito smelled my flesh and deftly stung me through the net. I always associate being stung by mosquitoes in Chaguanas with the beautiful tropical plant, Lady of the Night (Brunfelsia Americana). This plant was in a pot under my window, but I rarely noticed its beautiful perfume during the day. On a still night, however, the odour was strong and almost intoxicating as it came wafting through my bedroom window. This was one of the few times that I felt thankful for Harrys perforated bricks. Birds I was not long in Trinidad when I met Richard ffrench, the naturalist. At the time, Richard, in his leisure hours, was doing work for the World Wild Life Trust, especially ringing birds that passed through Trinidad during migration. I offered my services and we worked together for some years. One of the first flocks that I helped to ring were the Dickcissel (Spica Americana), finch-like seed-eating birds, that breed in the mid-western USA, but which migrate to central and south America. Flocks would stop off in Trinidad for a few days while on migration and feed on the rice fields. They travelled in huge flocks and, when coming in to roost in the evening, would darken the sky. We used mist nets to catch and ring them. Another group of birds we studied were terns, which bred on an uninhabited small island, Soldado, off the south coast of Trinidad. There we founded several species of tern, including the Roseate (Sterna Dougallii), the Noddy (Anous Minutus), the Common (Sterna Hirundo) and the Sooty (Sterna Fuscata). In one of our ringing expeditions, a group of entomologists from the Rockefeller Research Station in Trinidad came with us, and, while we ringed the terns, the scientists collected parasitic lice from the birds webbed feet. These lice were taken away to undergo laboratory examination to see if they were hosts to bacterial strains that carried diseases, especially fevers, which were endemic in Trinidad. Richard was, meantime, working on a book on the birds of Trinidad and Tobago. At the time, I was keeping a sharp lookout for birds on our grounds to alert Richard to the presence of any strange species. There was one bird that visited our playing fields at night and which I could not identify, mainly because the flock did not arrive until sundown and was gone before sunrise. These birds, however, did have a distinctive call, which resembled the sound a small animal would make. Richard, in fact, later described the call as a penetrating, high-pitched squeal. I kept asking him to call at the college, but, each time he came, the birds had gone. Finally, I asked him to come for afternoon tea and to wait until the birds arrived. Fortunately, the birds came early that evening and he was able to get a look at them through binoculars. He finally identified them as Southern or Cayenne Lapwing (Vanellus Chilensis), which spent their days on the sea shore, but came at night for the tasty snacks in our playing field. 36 Before I leave this section on birds, I must mention the pleasure I got twice a year when swallows stopped off for a rest in Chaguanas on their migration from North to South America and vice versa. Since our playing field was the largest clear green area for some distance, the swallows made it their collection area. While some of the birds crowded the goal posts and roof of the college building, others quartered the field feeding on flies. Far above them, circling in the sky, would often be a peregrine falcon, attracted by the flock and waiting its opportunity to dive on one of the little birds. Snakes and Cricket After two years and with the house completed, Harry was transferred to Presentation College, Barbados, and three new Brothers, Liguori OMahony, Cyril OSullivan and Bosco Stack, joined me in Chaguanas. The first two have sadly passed to their eternal reward, while Bosco
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is still with us. Cyril had always been a sports enthusiast, though not an athlete himself. Soon, however, he acquired a great love of cricket and was passionate about the college cricket team. Though a big energetic man, he had a horror of insects and snakes, something which is integral to the following story. The story is also obliquely connected with Harrys perforated wall. As I acquired more and more practice throwing out the snakes that came into the ground floor of our residence, I began to experiment with putting the smaller ones into bottles. I discovered that snakes can go for weeks, even months, without eating. I then put one into a cigar case, added a couple of drops of water to ensure a moist atmosphere, made a little hold for air, and replaced the cap. I then put the cigar case into a jam jar, in which I kept pens and markers and forgot about the little snake. All our bedrooms opened on to a balcony on the north side of the house and faced the cricket pitch, giving an excellent, even a grand-stand view of cricket games. One afternoon, while I toiled at my desk marking student assignments, Cyril was seated outside watching our senior college team playing a colleges league game. Our best batsman, Ram, a special favourite of Cyril, was at the crease with a score of 96 not out. If he could reach 100, it would be the first century ever scored in college cricket and our supporters were supportive and encouraging, even vociferous, calling out, Four more runs, four more runs. The best bowler for the opposing team took the ball and walked back to the mark from which he would begin his run. Ram took his stance, hoping for a boundary. Just before that, however, Cyril got up to stretch and looked in at my desk. The cigar case immediately caught his eye, and, being curious, he stretched out his hand and took it, remarking, I like your taste in cigars, Matt. He then unscrewed the cap of the cigar case, whereupon the little snake darted out its head, baring its fangs. Cyril screamed and dropped the cigar case and the little snake disappeared. There were, however, much more serious consequences at the cricket crease. At the very instant that Cyril screamed, the bowler had released the ball and Ram, who would normally have his eyes glued to the ball as it looped towards him, took his eye off the ball, and, instead, glanced up to the balcony, where his mentor stood. Poor Ram was clean bowled and the umpire raised the dreaded finger, signalling that he was out. Cyril was extremely annoyed. I suspected that, secretly, he was angry with himself for creating the distraction that deprived Ram of a century in College cricket. But the nearest tangible object of Cyrils frustration was my poor self, who, as far as I could see, had done nothing wrong, but who, in Cyrils eyes, was the remote cause of the entire debacle. So he blurted out, Blast you, Feheney, you and your bloody snakes, as he strode out on to the field to console poor Ram. Meantime, I had been appointed principal of the college and I nominated Cyril as games master. He was a tower of strength and became a central figure in sport in the local community. Wes Hall, the legendary West Indian fast bowler, was, at that time, coaching under-age cricketers in Trinidad and Wes and Cyril struck up a great partnership. Moreover, Cyril was also responsible for fostering the talents of some young cricketers, several of whom were later picked for the Trinidad and Tobago national team, with two making the West Indies team. Catholic Education Policy In 1962, I was elected secretary of the Association of Principals of Assisted Secondary Schools (APASS), something which led to my involvement in the formation of Catholic educational policy in Trinidad and Tobago for the remainder of my time there. This association catered for all denominational secondary schools, which were in receipt of financial aid from the Government. The Government, led by Dr Eric Williams, had, in 1960, signed an agreement with representatives of religious denominations in respect of the management and financing of these schools. This document, signed on behalf of the
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Government by the Minister of Education on Christmas Day, 1960, became known as the Concordat. One of the provisions in this agreement was that, in return for payment of staff salaries and maintenance grants, the Ministry of Education would have the right to select 80% of first year entrants to assisted secondary schools, from an order-of-merit pass list, based on the results of a national Common Entrance Examination. This arrangement was already in operation when, in 1962, the Government began preparations for new comprehensive legislation, designed to govern all aspects of public education in Trinidad and Tobago. I was chosen as the representative of APASS to work on a small Governmentappointed committee that would review a preliminary draft of a new Education Act. The draft was significantly amended in the light of our discussions and was finally passed as The Education Act 1966.37 I In subsequent years, a good deal of the activity of the APASS had to do with attempts to get the Government to raise capitation grants for maintenance so as to keep pace with the rise in the cost of living and to induce the Ministry of Education to expedite the appointment of staff. In 1921, the amount of money each student paid in school fees was fixed at $16 TT per term. This figure was left unchanged by the Hammond Committee of Inquiry in 1956. When the Government began to pay salaries of teachers, the figure of $16 TT was retained, but now earmarked for operational expenses. This figure was again reaffirmed in 1960 and, up to the time I departed from Trinidad in 1975, I was involved in negotiations to have this amount raised to a more realistic figure. One of my last memoranda, on behalf of APASS, to the Ministry of Education, was on this very subject. Yet there was no change in this figure for another two years, but, by that time, I had left Trinidad. 38 In1973, the Archbishop of Port of Spain appointed me as chairperson of a Conference on the Future of Catholic schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Together with a central advisory committee, we organised the country into regions and got principals and managers to hold preliminary conferences in their areas. The regions then sent their reports and delegates to a plenary conference held in Port of Spain on 11-13 October, 1973. About 200 people attended and the proceedings were subsequently published in book format. 39 It became obvious that the Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago had a long history of involvement in Catholic education, dating from the 18th century. The numbers of Catholic schools, primary and secondary, had steadily increased during the nineteenth and twentieth century and the Catholic community was a beneficiary of this Trojan effort. Though Catholics only constituted 36% of the population in 1973, 37% of all teachers were Catholic. At primary level, 48% of all children in private primary schools were Catholic, while the figure for public primary schools was 34% and that for intermediate schools was 70%. At secondary level, 48 % of all students in public secondary schools were Catholic, while 34% of all students in private secondary schools were Catholic. The 1973 conference concluded that this huge investment in Catholic schooling warranted serious planning for the future, with special emphasis on long-term policy. It is arguable whether these objections were achieved in the intervening forty years between then and now. 40 After the conclusion of the conference on Catholic education in 1973, I gave some of my spare time to researching the history of Catholic education in Trinidad. The results of this research were incorporated in my MA thesis on that subject, submitted to the University of the West Indies and, subsequently published in the volume, Catholic Education in Trinidad in the Nineteenth Century (Four Courts Press, 2001). More recently (2010), I
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published a companion volume, Catholic Education in Trinidad and Tobago in the Twentieth Century. Arising from my work as secretary to APASS, I became involved in the early 1970s in the teaching of religious education at secondary level. To this end, I formed a core group, including Fr Terence Julien, Sr Gloria DOrnellas SJC, Sr Patricia De Freitas SHF, Paul Borelly and others and began to offer short courses to Catholic teachers during weekends and vacation time. It was a period of transition in the use of texts for religious education at second level, with the older apologetics-type texts being discarded, but new suitable texts not yet written. The more experienced teachers were able to create their own teaching material, but the younger less experienced ones were finding it difficult to keep going. Within this context, our catechetics courses not only gave practical help in providing copies of material that could be duplicated and used in class, but they also greatly improved the morale of teachers of religious education at second level. I published papers from these conferences in Catechetics Bulletin Nos. 71/1, 71/2, 72/1, 72/2.41 Academic Success In the intervening years, academic work progressed steadily at Presentation College, Chaguanas. I introduced science subjects and soon we had well-equipped laboratories, with two Government-paid laboratory assistants. Soon we were offering a science option at GCE Advanced level, and, with success in this area, our students began to win university scholarships. At the time, there were more university scholarships available in science than in modern studies or languages, partly because local science graduates were required for a flourishing oil industry in Trinidad. In addition to the scholarships offered by the Government, oil and chemical companies were also offering them. Our notable academic breakthrough came in 1968 when one of our science students won the Jerningham (now the Presidents) Gold Medal for obtaining the highest marks in the country at GCE Advanced level. This medal was and still is the gold-standard in secondary school academic achievement in Trinidad and Tobago. That student had to offer four subjects to qualify for this award and I was his tutor for two of these subjects. It was also probably the summit of my own achievement in my teaching career at second level. Since that first Gold Medal in 1969, Presentation College Chaguanas has, to date, won the same award on six subsequent occasions. 42 Following the conclusion of Vatican II, there was a perceptible energy in the Catholic Church and one of the developments to which this led in Trinidad was extramural theology classes for lay people. I was a member of a core group that organised these sessions in Port of Spain and San Fernando, the two largest centres of population. The majority of the lecturers came from the Seminary and we had weekly sessions in each place. Over two years, there was a good basic course in scripture and Christology. There were also shorter courses on comparative religion and psychosynthesis. In general, we used the gifts and specialities of the people we had to hand. The scripture lecturer, Fr Tom Brodie OP, is still active forty years later and is now director of the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick. Other Caribbean Islands In 1967, I was appointed to the Province Leadership Team of the Presentation Brothers in the British Caribbean. In addition to the two secondary schools (generally called colleges in the Caribbean), which the Brothers operated in Trinidad, they had corresponding secondary schools in St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados. My new appointment, apart from quarterly meetings, did not take up much time. However, it did mean occasional visits to the other three islands to formally review progress. This was a valuable opportunity for me to get to know these islands and their people. As was my custom, I usually briefed myself on the
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history, geography and sociology of these islands before I made a visit. The first time that I visited Grenada, I travelled by schooner. Schooners were locally-made wooden vessels, approximately the same size as the three vessels, La Nina, La Pinta and La Santa Maria, used by Columbus during his first voyage to the Caribbean. Whereas Columbus vessels were wind/sail driven, the one I travelled in had an engine, as well as sails. Half-an-hour before sundown, we left Port of Spain harbour. The water in the inner harbour was smooth as a pond, while the fiery red sun was sinking low in the west. Above us passed flocks of beautiful Scarlet Ibis, on their way to roost in the Caroni swamp, after a day feeding on shrimp and red shellfish on the deserted beaches of Tobago. I was up on deck, amazed at how calm the ocean was. Then we passed the Bocas, or Serpents Teeth, a group of rocks in the outer harbour, and suddenly the large waves hit us. An elderly white American, who was an experienced sailor, said to me, better lie down, if you dont want to be sick. So I spread my coat on the deck and lay down, while he explained the rationale underpinning that posture to me. You see, he said, the higher your centre of gravity is, the greater the arc through which your body will swing with the rolling of the boat. You have minimum arc when you are lying down, and, consequently, there will be least movement of your guts in that position. And the less your guts move, the less likely you are to be sick. I never forgot his advice, but I had few opportunities afterwards to apply it. I must say that the next couple of hours were uncomfortable, as I lay on the ground, with my head on my small travelling bag, while the schooner pitched and bucked with the waves. However, as we sailed into the harbour of St Georges, Granada, the sea became suddenly calm and the rising sun made everything look bright and cheerful again.

Grenada Geologically, Granada, like St Lucia, is a volcanic island, and one of the consequences of this is the great depth of water at the quay side in St Georges, the capital. With a draft of up to 30 feet, large cruise ships can sail right into the centre of the city, the passengers walking off the boat and straight into the big stores. Another striking feature is the volcanic lake, Grand Etang, in the centre of the island. It is surrounded by mountain peaks and, because of the mineral rich soil in the area, the lush vegetation creeps right to the edge of the lake, which is very deep, some locals asserting that it is bottomless. The wonderful sandy beaches, including Grand Anse, on the outskirts of St Georges, however, surpass everything else and extend for miles. Since Grenada was under French rule for a long time, having been captured in 1650, many of the surnames and place names are French. The French, however, met stout resistance from the resident Caribs during the invasion. The invaders, however, pursued the natives relentlessly, eventually isolating them in the northern tip of the island. It is related that the surviving Caribs, rather than surrender, committed mass suicide. The elevated rock, from which the Caribs jumped into the sea, was called by the French, La Morne de Sauters (The Leapers Hill). Today, the village nearby is simply called Sauters. In the treaty of Versailles, in 1783, Grenada was ceded to the British, but many of the place names remained French, such as Point Salines, Calliste, Gouyave, La Taste, DEsterre, Maquis, Fontenoy, Champs Fleur and Ka-Fe Beau. One of Grenadas most valuable products is nutmeg, which is the reason why it is sometimes called, Spice Island of the West. Presentation College, Grenada, was opened in 1947, without Government aid, in response to a request from Most Rev Finbar Ryan, Archbishop of Port of Spain. The college
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has made a very significant contribution to the development of Grenada, the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, being a past student. As time went on, modest maintenance grants began to be paid by the Government, but, even to the present day, the provision of adequate funding continues to be an ongoing worry for the principal of the College. St Lucia Like Grenada, St Lucia is another volcanic island, also containing beautiful beaches, and nowadays frequented by cruise ships. Both the Brothers house and the college were located on an elevated promontory in Vigies, overlooking the Caribbean sea. The college building had once been a barracks of the West Indies Regiment and the Brothers house was the home of the commanding officer. Due north of the college, and easily discernible with the naked eye, is the French island of Martinique, while, nearby, is Pidgeon Point. This was the stamping ground of the great Admiral Rodney, during the Anglo-French wars. It will be recalled that it was Rodney who captured St Lucia from the French in 1762. Less well known, however, is the fact that one of Rodneys sailors was the celebrated Irish poet, Eoin Rua Sileabhin. When Rodney defeated the French, under Comte de Grasse, in 1782, Sileabin wrote a poem, known as Rodneys Glory, to celebrate the event. When Rodney sought to reward him, Sileabhin asked for his freedom to return home, but, this was flatly refused. The college in St Lucia is known as St Marys College and has had an unusual distinction in having two past students who were both Nobel Prize winners. These were Sir Arthur Lewis (Economics, 1979) and Derek Walcott (Literature, 1992). Though the College was founded by the French Congregation FMI, the Presentation Brothers assumed direction of it in 1947. Two of the Presentation Brothers (Canice Collins, 1949; Macartan Sheehy, 1974), who were principal and examinations officer, respectively, in the college, were awarded the MBE. The Presentation Brothers continue to minister in St Lucia, but are no longer associated with St Marys College. One of my most memorable experiences of a visit to St Lucia occurred in the early 1970s, when I spent my long vacation with the Brothers there. We spent a good deal of time exploring the coast, as well as visiting different beaches and remote villages. One day, as we travelled down the eastern side of the island, we came to a lovely secluded beach at Des Barras and stopped for a swim and a picnic. After coming out of the water, I noticed a group of men with two bulldozers clearing a strip of coconut plantation near the beach. I went to chat with them and they told me that they were clearing space for a small airfield, to be used later when constructing a golf course. As we turned to walk back to the beach, I noticed what looked like axe heads on the ground. I began to quarter the cleared patch carefully and soon became convinced that the machines had ploughed through an ancient Arawak midden and had scattered the contents far and wide. Readers will remember that a midden is a prehistoric mound, resembling a refuse dump, usually containing bones, fish shell and lost or discarded objects, including tools. The Arawaks were the main pre-Columban Amerindian settlers in St Lucia. Their settlements were mainly on the eastern coast, suggesting that they came by boat from nearby islands, using the trade winds to facilitate their journeys. The disturbed site at Las Barras was littered with shells, bones and a great variety of axe heads, including some made from conch shells. I picked up about a dozen of the prettiest
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ones, though I am sure I could have found a hundred. Moreover, it must be remembered that the axe heads in the midden were only those that got lost or mislaid or were discarded. In addition to the practical use to which axe heads were put, it would appear that they were also used as objects of trade, ornaments and symbols of social position. Some of the samples which I picked up were so smooth, beautiful and well shaped that I doubted that they were ever intended for practical use, but, perhaps, designed as ornaments. There were no marks on the beautiful polished stone, which varied greatly in colour, including, green, blue, black, brown and red. I was not sufficiently familiar with the geology of St Lucia to identify the types of stone from which all my samples were made, but I did note that one of them was made of flint, giving it a fearsome sharp edge. The great variety in the type of stone used, suggested that all the axe heads were not made in St Lucia, some of them, perhaps, coming from other Caribbean islands or from the South American mainland. In normal circumstances, that site, following my reporting the matter, would have received temporary protection to facilitate an archaeological examination and the collection of artefacts. However, when I mentioned the find to an official from the Education Department, which, at the time, also catered for culture and heritage, he advised me, in effect, to forget the matter. His department had more demands on its slender budget than it could accommodate. Moreover, he said, there were far more important archaeological sites waiting for attention. It was within this context that I packed the Arawak stone axe heads in my bag one week later and returned to Trinidad. At the customs, when asked, I replied that I had nothing to declare and was immediately waived through with a smile. Barbados Presentation College Barbados was founded in 1958 and located in the parish of St John, in the centre of the island. Unlike, Grenada and St Lucia, Barbados is a coral island, which, in the past, was famous for its sugar plantations. Catholics constitute only about 4% of the population in Barbados and the majority of these Catholics are located in the capital, Bridgetown. Though the entire College campus was, in part, a gift from a kind benefactor, as a venue for a Catholic school, its location was problematic from the outset. There were few Catholics in the immediate area and the majority of students had to travel to and from the school. Though the school managed to cover operational and salary costs in my time, due in part to the introduction of boarding, in the long run, it failed to become financially viable and closed in the 1990s. Close to the College was a colony of redlegs, a term which traditionally referred to a class of poor whites that lived in poverty on small sugar-cane farms in Barbados. Since few of them managed to acquire a good education, or became involved in business, they failed, as a group, to become absorbed into the middle class, to which the majority of white people on the island belonged. Their ancestors were brought as slaves, or indentured labourers, from Ireland in the seventeenth century. In this respect, OCallaghan refers to a definite policy of the sons of Oliver Cromwell, following the defeat of Irish forces in 1649, to forcibly round up and transport poor Irish people to Barbados to work in the sugar cane plantations. One explanation of the name redlegs comes from the fact that, under the heat of the sun, their skin began to burn and eventually settled into a light brown colour. On the road from Presentation College to the beach, I often encountered members of this group. Physically,
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they looked undernourished, and were not very sociable. They held themselves aloof from neighbouring blacks and it was alleged that some members were involved in the sex trade, especially in providing white girls for middle-class blacks in the city of Bridgetown. Among the acknowledged redleg surnames was Goddard, one member of this clan, John Goddard (1919-1987), becoming captain of the West Indies Cricket team in the 1940s. 43 San Fernando In 1971, I was transferred as principal to Presentation College, San Fernando, which had been in existence since the 1930s. The Presentation Brothers had taken over administration of this college in 1948 and, in the intervening years, had built up a great academic reputation. It had some prominent past students including two Prime Ministers, who were leaders of contending political parties. One of the first things I did was to introduce morning assembly every morning and to include the singing of two hymns, one at the beginning and one at the end. When I heard that musical instruments from a youth band were for sale, I purchased the lot and set up a school band or combo, that began to play at morning assembly. Gradually, the hymns got livelier and more jazzy, and, while the students seemed to welcome this development, some of the teachers favoured tunes with more gravitas. 18: JMF with College 'Combo', Prize winners, 1973 I then found a very talented parttime music teacher and, before long, the school was producing annual concerts and entering for the famous Trinidad music festival, success in which was the objective of every ambitious young singer and musician. The additional work required in the staging of school concerts is often overlooked and there were times when I had doubts about the wisdom of initiating it all with the purchase of the band instruments. Yet, when the applause burst out at the end of a good performance, it more than made up for the work involved. Moreover, at any school function thereafter, there was always a little group of students that one could call on at short notice to perform the National Anthem or the School Song. The college also had a scout troop that, under the guidance of its founder, Brother Jerome Kelly, had achieved victory in several competitions, wining prestigious trophies. One of the exasperating things, however, about societies that are over-focussed on material results is that people expect on-going, even never-ending, improvement. If a school had fifty distinctions and 5 university scholarships last year, the public seemed to expect the school to do better this year. I remember a reporter for the local newspaper, who was also a good friend of mine. As soon as the results of public examinations were released, he would call to my office and his first question always was, In what way are your examination results this year better than last year? The varying abilities of students in different years or the changing social and staffing conditions were not relevant. My friend wanted his column in the newspaper to start off with the sentence, A new record in academic results were set this year by Presentation College, San Fernando, ...

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Every year, the school held a special function called Speech Day, a term borrowed from the public schools in England. At these functions, the principal delivered a report on progress and achievements in the school during the previous year; the archbishop came and affirmed the work of the staff in Catholic education; a representative of the Ministry of Education came and, sometimes, gave advanced notice of changes in educational policy; the successful students received certificates and prizes. Afterwards, a select group was entertained and treated to refreshments, with finger food. I remember, on one occasion, in addition to the finger food, I supplied chicken roti, which my reader will remember consists of spiced portions of chicken rolled in 19: 18: JMF with Joel Edwards, chapatti. It is served warm. The official from the Ministry of PPU, San Fernando, 2007 Education and his wife were delighted with the roti, considering it delicious. I invited them both to have a second roti, whereupon the gentleman put one in his pocket and his wife put one in her purse. The teachers were watching this and, I suspected, resented the visitor taking a second roti, since it was the custom that all leftovers, both drinks and eats, would be reserved for the teachers and consumed to the last bottle, once the visitors had left. Next day, one of the teachers came to me to say that I should not invite that official and his wife again, since they displayed poor taste in accepting an extra roti!

The Less Fortunate In addition to school administration and supervising the normal academic work of the school, my role as principal also involved attending to unusual visitors. Among the casual visitors, I found those seeking help to be among the more challenging. Soon after my arrival in Trinidad, I noted that a significant proportion of the people who came seeking material help were also suffering from mental disorders. As I write these lines, I am looking over my diary for the first of January, 1975. Though it was a school holiday, I was in my office attending to some paper work that I had neglected over the Christmas period, when I had been struck down with a dose of flu. My paper work that day, however, was interrupted by several callers. The first of these was Coaldust, aged about forty years, who, as far as I could determine, suffered from permanent delusions. He was an East Indian vagrant, who came about twice a week for a little charity. Usually, he would come into my office, stand in front of my desk and, though making absolutely no sense, would harangue me for about five minutes. That day, in the course of his introductory speech, he said that he wanted a brown suit, short pants and short-sleeve shirt. He also added that he had not bathed for two years. This latter, I was inclined to believe. Normally, he was barefoot, but that day he wore a pair of brown boots. Once he finished his harangue, he seemed to forget the substance of it and held out his hand to receive the change that I usually gave him. I never discovered his real name, but everyone called him Coaldust.

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The same day, before lunch, an elderly East Indian, whom I knew as Mr Mohammed, also called. He requested some Christmas cheer...a little cake and ting. I explained that I did not have anything to eat in the office but he readily accepted a couple of TT dollars. In the afternoon, one of my regulars, Mr Roberts, an elderly negro, came. Mr Roberts had to get his half-monthly allowance, plus his Christmas box and a bar of soap. At his request, I gave him one bar of soap at the end of every month. He was quite inoffensive and spent his days on the college campus, going elsewhere at night. He said that he liked to stay in the college campus because it was quiet, something for which he apparently longed. He said his nerves are not good and I noted that he had a compulsion to wash his hands many times throughout the day. I expect that all three should be on regular medication, but, unless they or their caring relatives, demanded this, nothing would be done for them. Though attending to such people was irksome, especially when I was busy, I never turned them away and found that they were satisfied with a little attention and some small financial help. Sabbatical In the 1970s, a system of sabbaticals for the Brothers was introduced by the Higher Superiors. My turn came in 1975 and I made arrangements to use the year to begin a research degree at Kings College, University of London. It was arranged that a native Trinidadian Brother would act as principal, while I was away, and, if I did not return, would succeed me. Before the end of June, I began to pack my bag. I had accumulated a number of books, which I considered necessary for my anticipated studies in London and I was loath to leave these behind. The only other items I was keen to bring with me were the polished Amerindian axe heads that I had brought from St Lucia. In my fantasy moments, I pictured myself during my retirement, with these symbols of a vanished civilisation, into which I had got a brief glimpse, holding a place of honour on my bookshelf. They would also be mementos of some of my pleasant and carefree days in the Caribbean. But, unfortunately, I had to choose between my books and my axe heads, and the former won the day. Before I handed the axe heads over to the Brother-in-charge for safe keeping, I labelled them carefully, hoping that I would soon return to collect them. As matters turned out, I did not return to Trinidad for fifteen years. When I then entered our house in San Fernando, the first thing I inquired about was my collection of Amerindian axe heads. I was met by puzzled looks. Not one of the Brothers knew what I was talking about. Nor did a thorough search of the house reveal my vanished treasures.

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Chapter 5 Part of the English Province

In July, 1975, I moved from Trinidad to England. Though I had been assigned to Dartford for the duration of my study leave, my room there was being decorated, so the provincial superior suggested that, meantime, I should stay at Presentation College, Reading. Before that, however, I had some other business to which I had to attend. I had been elected a delegate to the General Chapter of the Presentation Brothers by the Brothers in the Caribbean. The venue for the chapter was Cork and I arrived there in good time for the chapter, about which I will write later. After the chapter, I had a couple of weeks holiday at home in county Limerick. On my return to England, I took up temporary residence in Reading. Presentation College, Reading The Presentation Brothers came to Reading in July, 1931. With the help of some Catholic friends, including Dr George Murphy-OConnor, whose son, Cormac, the recently-retired Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, was one of the first pupils, they found a suitable site for a Catholic college in Oakland Hall, Bath Road, on the outskirts of Reading. With about 25 acres of land and beautiful gardens, it seemed an ideal location for a boarding school. The house was purchased from General Hulicatt, but had previously belonged to the Sutton family, whose firm, Suttons English Seeds, was formerly well-known all over the world for seeds, bulbs and other horticultural products. This firm, founded in Reading in 1806, by John Sutton, acquired Royal patronage in 1858, and has maintained the royal connection ever since, being currently suppliers to HM, Queen Elizabeth II. The Suttons left their mark on the gardens and grounds of Oakland Hall where may be seen two beautiful examples of the giant sequoia, Sequoia Gigantica, together with excellent examples of Atlantic Cedar, Thuja, and various species of cypress. In front of the house is a sunken rose garden, embellished with a central fountain. The house itself was built of Cotswold stone and, at the time of my arrival, was comfortable and, generally, in good repair . There were bus stops outside the gate for buses going to and from the centre of the city. There were also spacious playing fields on the eastern side of the house. Though the college accommodated a limited number of boarders when I arrived there in 1975, boarding was discontinued shortly afterwards. The college continued to be operated by the Presentation Brothers as an independent Catholic second level day school until 2003, when operation and management were handed over to a parents committee. Within a year, however, the College went into administration and it was then purchased, together with the accompanying grounds, by the Licensed Trade Charity. This organisation renamed the college Elvian School and continued to operate it as a co-educational second-level school until 2010, when it was closed. I have discussed history and achievements of the college at some length elsewhere. 44 Postgraduate Studies at Kings College Though I was made very welcome by the community in Reading, and the accommodation and grounds were excellent, I found Reading somewhat distant from London, to which I had to travel daily for lectures. Some months later, I moved to Dartford, between which and Waterloo BR station, I found a frequent and convenient rail service. In the early months, after my arrival from the Caribbean, I found it hard to adjust to the cold. By English standards, the weather was normal, and there was no need for central heating in the month of October. But my feet were often cold and I had to put on the electric fire in my room. I also had to don
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thermal underwear rather early in the autumn. Gradually, however, I became accustomed to the English climate and soon disdained the use of thermal underwear. Kings College, London, on the Strand, was ideally located and easily accessed on the underground. I registered for an MEd in Science Education. Since I had taught science all my life, I welcomed the opportunity to update and up-skill myself, especially in areas such as new methods of chemical analysis, including spectroscopy and chromatography. I also opted for a course in environmental chemistry, something that was just then becoming popular. There were the usual essays to be written in connection with units in educational psychology, philosophy and sociology of education, but all our lecturers were excellent and I found the course very stimulating. For my short thesis, I decided to do a critical study of the history of science teaching in the United Kingdom, with special reference to the contribution of the great JJ Thompson, one of the pioneers in atomic chemistry. It may be recalled that he was appointed chair of a committee to evaluate the teaching of science during World War I. My supervisor was Professor Kenneth Charlton, under whose supervision I subsequently went on to do a PhD. One member of the teaching staff, with whom I subsequently collaborated, was Professor Gerald Grace, who was then a young lecturer in the sociology of education. Subsequently, he held appointments in the University of Cambridge, University of Wellington, New Zealand, and the University of Durham, before becoming Director of the Centre for Research in Catholic Education, with offices in the Institute of Education, University of London. He is one of the most prominent scholars working in the field of Catholic Educational Research and is co-editor of the two-volume International Handbook of Catholic Education (2007). He is also editor of the International Studies in Catholic Education, to which I have contributed articles.

Favours for Friends Following my transfer to England, I initially kept in touch with Trinidadian friends and colleagues. As is well known, Trinbagonians (inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago) are a warm and friendly people and often maintain their extended family networks, even when they leave home and take up residence abroad, including England. To a certain extent, I became part of this network and occasionally would be requested to do a little favour for a friend of a friend. On one occasion, I remember being asked by a very religious lady to >pick up a set of >small Stations of the Cross, which had been discarded by a convent in London, and to take them to a warehouse in the London docks. The warehouse regularly exported goods to the Caribbean, including Trinidad. Glad to oblige, I set off and reached the location, where the Stations were to be collected. Imagine my surprise, however, when I saw the size of the Stations. They were each about 12x8 inches, made of plaster and there were 14 of them. Moreover, I did not have a car, but was travelling by train, bus and underground. With some ingenuity, I got the Stations packed into two bags, each weighing about 20 lbs. Fortunately, with the two bags, I was well balanced. Using, a bus, the underground and my two feet, I eventually managed to get my load to the warehouse and hand it over to the courier. I adjourned to the nearest pub to draw my breath and try to recover enough energy to travel home. Some years later, when I visited Presentation College, San Fernando, the lady who organised the acquisition of the Stations of the Cross proudly showed them to me erected on the walls of the college oratory. By that time, she had almost forgotten my role in the getting them to Trinidad. >Arent they lovely?, she inquired. >Yes, indeed, I replied.
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>And I seem to remember that you had something to do with them? >Just a trifle, I replied, remembering the ache in my arms, years before, as I trudged along with the same Stations in two loaded bags. Another experience I had in >helping out a colleague in Trinidad concerned the musical score for a school performance of an operetta at Presentation College, San Fernando. I was asked to act as >London representative for the college, especially in securing performance rights and musical scores for the operetta. I put a good deal of work into this task and sent off the material to San Fernando, including an invoice for the cost of performance rights and scores. It will be remembered that, at the time, I was on study leave and was operating on a tight budget. I was no longer principal of a school, with funds at my disposal. Picture my dismay, and consequent embarrassment, when I received a reply from Trinidad stating that the materials had safely arrived and that everyone was grateful for what I had done, but that, because of Government restrictions on sending money out of the Trinidad, I would have to wait some time for a refund of the money I had advanced. The College financial controller, whom I knew well from former days, added that, in the light of the difficulty involved in transferring money out of Trinidad at the time, perhaps I would like to regard my financial outlay as a contribution to my old college! After months of waiting, I eventually received a sterling bank draft reimbursing me. But I made a resolution there and then that, in future, I would ask for money in advance, whenever I was requested to purchase something on someones behalf. St Vincents, Dartford Following my transfer to Dartford in November, 1975, I began to observe and learn something about the boys, who were all aged between fourteen and sixteen years. Each of them had come through the juvenile courts and had an assigned social worker. Each student was a nominal Roman Catholic and had been judged to be in need of residential training and supervision. There was absolutely no physical punishment, though physical restraint was permitted if the safety of staff or other students was likely to be endangered. Boys had occasionally to attend 20: Former St Vincent's School, Dartford, Kent court, accompanied by a residential social worker from the school. At these court hearings, not only might they face charges pending since before their arrival at St Vincents, but also charges arising out of offenses committed while they were away from the school, visiting their homes at weekends or during vacation time. Since St Vincents was celebrating its centenary in 1976, I volunteered to do research on the history of the school during the previous hundred years and to produce a centenary record. This was released in May, 1976, under the title, St Vincents Community Home Centenary Record, 1876-1976 (Dartford: 1976). I also contributed an article on the history of the school to the journal, The Community Home Schools Gazette (June, 1976). Though I was more conversant than most people with the history of St Vincents, I, nevertheless, found myself inadequately prepared for the post of Head of Care, which I accepted in September, 1976. It so happened that the previous Head of Care, who already had seventeen years service, was being given study leave, and I volunteered to step into to his place during the two years of his anticipated absence. In retrospect, I think this was far from being one of my wiser decisions. As the reader will see in the following pages, the enterprise was a learning
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experience for me and one in which the intellectual and managerial skills I had earlier acquired, and hitherto successfully used, did not always seem to have practical application. Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency While this memoir is not the appropriate place to look in any detail at the history of the treatment of juvenile delinquency in Britain, I feel that it is necessary to say a few words about it if the reader is to understand some of the pages that follow. But, before I enter into this discussion, I would like to describe in some detail the organisation of St Vincents, when I took up a post there in September, 1976. Both Certified Industrial Schools and their successors, Approved Schools, catered for large numbers. St Vincents, for instance, up to the 1960s had 200 students. Following the passing of the Childrens and Young Persons Act, 1969, however, larger schools were reorganised into two or more smaller units, usually called Houses. Each House had a House Warden and several residential social workers to care for about 20 boys. Boys from different Houses came together for classes, which, again, were much smaller than usual, generally containing a maximum of a dozen boys, who, following testing, were placed in groups working at approximately the same academic level. While the morning and forenoon was devoted to academic work in the classrooms, there were practical sessions in the afternoon. The trades, which were available in the afternoon, included gardening, painting and decorating, brick laying; carpentry/ woodwork and pottery. If their homes were able and willing to receive them, the boys went home for several weeks during the summer, and for a week or two at Christmas and Easter. Moreover, if acceptable to parents/ guardians, the boys also went home for weekends every month. Outside of school time, boys had the usual leisure facilities, including table tennis, snooker, basket ball, tennis, gym work and football. In general, apart from kicking a ball around the yard, and occasional organised games, football was not popular, mainly, I suspect, because it required too much expenditure of energy. Each House also had a minibus at its disposal for trips outside the school. These trips included visits to a local skating rink, occasional discos, together with canoeing and caving expeditions. Arrangements were also made for special tuition for those with specialised hobbies or interests, such as one boy who was a gifted flautist and who had ambitions to play with a classical orchestra. In general, it would be difficult to design a more holistic programme designed to provide stability, care, education and training for delinquent students up to the age of sixteen years. Every student in St Vincents was placed there by his local social services, after a detailed assessment of his needs. Virtually every student had also passed through the juvenile court, sometimes several times, and had been convicted of some crime. The types of crime, of which the boys had been found guilty, were, in order of incidence; theft and handling; violence against a person; criminal damage; motoring offenses; domestic burglary; robbery; public order and vehicle theft. The childrens courts were, in general, very supportive of efforts at the rehabilitation of young offenders, and social services rarely hesitated to fund special tuition for any student interested in preparing for a specialised later career. While it is generally acknowledged that the causes of juvenile delinquency are diverse, virtually all authorities agree that the parents and the home are critical in the matter. It is not rare to find that, in the case of single parents, or where both parents are working full time, the supervision of children tends to be neglected. It is also the case, unfortunately, that some juvenile delinquents come from delinquent families, where either a parent or an older sibling has become involved in crime. In such cases, there tends to be a cycle of delinquency, which is difficult to break. Recent research has revealed that 25% of boys and 40% of girls in youth prisons have suffered violence in the home. Similarly, close association with a delinquent peer can also lead to involvement in juvenile crime. Progress or lack of it in
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school is regarded as a good indicator of a students social adjustment and close association with a teacher generally has a beneficial effect. Since crime is a young mans game, the typical criminal is male and starts at the age of 14 or 15. Though we do not have the space or inclination to go deeper into the matter here, it must be noted that research indicates a connection between delinquency and mental health. Up to 85% of young persons in prison displayed a personality disorder, while 10% were found to be suffering from psychotic illness. Moreover, boys, aged 15-17, in prison, were eighteen times more likely to kill themselves than their peers in the community. 45 In tackling juvenile delinquency, there are two general strategies in England and Wales. The first is treatment in the community, which involves putting a child on probation. The other alternative, institutionalisation, is the one concerning which I have some experience. Up to the time of my taking up employment at St Vincents, institutionalisation was the preferred option of social services for young people in trouble with the law. Gradually, however, doubts began to grow about the suitability of this option from the point of view of both effectiveness and cost. While it would cost ,100,000 p.a. to keep a young offender in prison, and ,42,000 p.a. to keep him in Young Offenders Institution, like St Vincents, it would only cost ,3,000 p.a. for a one-year Community Rehabilitation Order for the same young person.46 In the matter of recidivism, recent research has shown that 68% of all young offenders, under the age of eighteen , are reconvicted within one year, while, for boys alone, the reconviction rate is 75% within the same period. While the effectiveness of the programmes at Young offenders Institutions, like St Vincents, compared to corresponding local community programmes, takes more time and skill to evaluate, the elected representatives of the British public were much more easily convinced by the cost figures. Without any doubt, local community programmes were much cheaper. It is within this context, therefore, that local authorities began to send fewer and fewer juvenile delinquents to Young Offenders Institutions and these institutions, in consequence, began to close. At the present moment, only 3.4% of all young offenders are placed in residential care. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. We must go back to the position in 1976.47 In the Firing Line I took up duty St Vincents Community Home on 6 September, 1976. The following are entries from my personal Diary. 26 September, 1976, >This has been my first weekend on duty (as Head of Care), and it has been an uncomfortable, if not unpleasant experience. The main trouble has been in Augustine House, where the boys have been in a bad mood. Four black boys, Jason, Elroy, Stephens and St Pierre, absconded and the police, according to standard procedure, were notified. Earlier, Ashworth and Harold had absconded from Charles House. Erith Police Station phoned about 11 pm to report that the latter two had been picked up and were in custody. These two were returned by the police about midnight and put to bed. Sometime after 11 pm, the night watchman, Jonathan, reported that some boys in Augustine House had turned on the fire hoses and had drenched some beds, also flooding the corridor outside the dormitory. This morning, Gerry Browne, the horticultural instructor, reported that some panes of glass in the greenhouse had been broken, apparently with bars of soap, because some bars were found lying around. Boys from Augustine House were suspected. This morning, before Mass, some black boys refused to go to service because they said that they were feeling >tired. Then two white boys said that they wanted to
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act as acolytes at the Mass, but, when the sacristan informed them that he had already made other arrangements, the first two refused to attend service at all. 15 November, 1976 >On Friday, Leroy John, a black boy, had a >blow up, and while being physically restrained by the staff, managed to deliver some powerful blows to Walter and Dan, two members of staff, who were trying to restrain him. I was called and, since he was being held in wrestlers lock by Walter, and this could not continue indefinitely, I asked that he be released. Leroy then went on the rampage, running around the house. In the waiting room, he hurled a large glass ash tray at the wall, breaking it in bits. He then broke off a piece of the hat stand and smashed a lovely glass lamp shade with it. We had to send for the police, who removed him at our request. Next morning, he was brought before a magistrate, who remanded him in custody to Latchmere House, a secure Assessment Centre. 29 November, 1976. >This afternoon, there was a serious incident. Gabriel Charles, a black boy, attempted an assault on Marianne, a white female member of staff. Fortunately, she handled the matter very well, kept her head and getting him out of the room, which was some distance from the main part of the school. Subsequently, she broke down and wept, while I tried to comfort her. Later, this evening, in the presence of Oliver and Charles, two senior members of staff, I confronted Gabriel. At first, he tried to pretend that it was all a lark, but, later, he broke down and confessed. This matter will have to go on his report sheet and will probably affect the outcome of a court case that he pending on Monday next. Sunday, 16 January, 1977 >This evening, I took a telephone message for one of the boys, Paul, from his girl friend, Katerina, who said that she was pregnant for Paul. Paul comes from Stevenage and his father is a member of the Irish Traveller community. Paul is now fifteen, but Katerina is only fourteen. Later, after he had spoken to her on the telephone, Paul told me that Katerina hopes to go into the maternity hospital to have the baby during the coming week. Monday, 17 January, 1977 >Today, one of the boys, Jack Daly, son of an immigrant Irish father, was found with car keys, including a key for a Mini, which, a member of the staffs tell me, is Jacks favourite car. Earlier, the woodwork instructor had reported that the door to his secure room had been forced and tins of Evostick were missing. Since Jack and his friend, Bob, were reported missing for a short period, both were suspected of the theft. Jack is also said to use Evostick when he can get hold of it. The boys were questioned separately, and, while Jack denied everything, Bob admitted the theft and added that Jack also had a stolen car stashed in the car park across the road from the school. Apparently, Jack stole the car when returning from a visit home the previous weekend and had parked it nearby in case he wanted to abscond in a hurry. Jack and Bob are both fifteen. Sunday, 6 March, 1977 >This morning, James de Silva went on the rampage, after arming himself with two sharp kitchen knives. He demanded his >money, with a view to absconding. This
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money is the pocket money allowance that each boy gets every week. Sometimes, there are deductions for breaches of the school rules or for bad behaviour. Earlier, James had seized a billiard cue and had threatened the House Warden in the latters office. The warden was rescued when one of the black boys came into the office on a personal matter, immediately took in the situation and, on his own initiative, manhandled James out of the office. James then took up his stance outside his House, still demanding his money. Somebody rang for the police, fearing that James might injure either another boy or a member of staff. I was also called and I began to engage James in conversation, assuring him that he would get his money, if he would come to the Heads office. Meantime, the police arrived in a Panda car and James, on seeing them, ran off across the playing field. A young policeman followed and caught up with James and brought him back. The police then took him away to the regional Assessment Centre. Post Script: James, while still in his teens, was later involved in an armed robbery, during which he killed the watchman on duty. Being a juvenile, James was sentenced to youth prison to be detained >at Her Majestys pleasure. Sunday, 2 July, 1977 >Yesterday, together with a group of boys and staff, I arrived here in a campsite in the Forrest of Dean, Gloucestershire, for a holiday camp. The location is absolutely breath-taking, with the river Wye flowing beside us and Tintern Abbey a mile down the river. The forest seems to consist entirely of broad-leaved trees, many of them, especially the oaks, veritable giants. In the depths of the forest, I have come across charcoal pits. This seems to be a cottage industry here, though it would appear that scrub wood, rather than trees, is used for the fires. The weather is dry and sunny and the ground very hard. I experienced this last night when I lay down inside my tent to sleep, with just a ground sheet beneath me. I never realised how big my hip bones are. Every time I turned over on my side, I felt my hip grating against the hard ground and my body out of sync. A possible solution is to make a hole in the ground, so that my hip will fit comfortably into it, when I lie down to sleep. I look forward to the result of this experiment tonight. So far, the boys have behaved reasonably well, though their language is bad, if not awful, and no subject seems to be taboo in their conversation. However, they irritate one another more that they do the staff, and I am glad there are no other visitors near us to disturb the boys - or vice versa! 22 September, 1977 >Last evening, at 6.10 pm, as I was coming out of the oratory, I ran into two senior members of staff who were trying to restrain a very angry Negro boy, George Henry, who had a blood-soaked left shirt sleeve. George had been stabbed with a penknife during a dispute with a white boy, Mark ORegan. The bad blood between the two had been simmering for some time. Both were big strong, brawny fellows. Fortunately, I had a relationship of sorts with George, since we both played the organ and, on occasions, I would arrange organ practice for him. While he could not read a note of music, it was obvious that he had talent and was a natural musician. Though I was off duty that evening, I volunteered to >babysit George. He kept screaming about Mark, vowing that he was going to kill him. The police had to be called and they took ORegan away, while I drove George to the local hospital, where he was given an injection to relax him and two stitches in the cut in his upper arm. Since he was still upset, I could not return him to his own dormitory, in case he would cause further
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uproar, so I arranged for him to sleep in a separate room that night. It was late by the time I got to bed myself. 2 May, 1978 >This evening, I drove Elroy, a delinquent black boy, to his music tutor for his flute lesson. When I learned that he was good on the tin whistle, I arranged that his social services would pay for the cost of a concert flute and regular lessons for him. His tutor tells me that he is gifted, though not always biddable. Nevertheless, over the past year and a half, he has made excellent progress and, if he continues practice, there is a real chance that he will win a place in the local youth orchestra. I have had hints that he appreciates what I have done for him. 20 July, 1978 This afternoon, Elroy, the boy, for whom I arranged the special lessons on the concert flute, came to me with a farewell gift. It was an ash tray that he had made during his pottery classes and inscribed with my name. It was an excellent job, with a beautiful glaze on it and, arguably, good enough to go on the shelf of a gift shop. He also gave me a card, and expressed his thanks for what I had done for him at St Vincents. It would appear that he had heard that I was finishing work here tomorrow. I was touched by Elroys gesture. Though he is no angel, and can be a handful at times, he has shown gratitude and appreciation. I asked him to stick at the flute and that I hoped to see him playing with the London Youth Symphony Orchestra in the future. I did not tell Elroy that I had given up smoking, but I will, nevertheless, keep the ash tray as a memento of my time in St Vincents. I feel that it is a reminder of the possibilities for doing good, in what are sometimes the least promising situations. Intimidation Techniques Britain defines a child as a person under eighteen years of age. Every boy at St Vincents School, Dartford, and at similar institutions, came under that heading. All advertisements for staff were classified under the heading of Child Care. The management of St Vincents always tried to have a gender balance in the staff looking after the education and care of the boys. In this respect, many of the women, who applied for work, especially when care duties were involved, were young. Moreover, they were generally idealistic and enthusiastic young women, in their early twenties, who had been attracted by the ideal of child care. They usually envisaged their future work as caring for younger children, and, at least sometimes, had hopes that these same children would be appreciative and grateful for tender and loving care. Though we had an interview and initiation system in the school, nevertheless a significant number of these girls were unable to reconcile the reality of working at St Vincents with their prior expectations of care work and many of them left within a year of taking up employment. It always made me sad to see these idealistic young women leave the school, disappointed, after failing to find fulfilment in the work. Part of the problem was that the boys were adept at intimidating staff. In the case of female staff, the process of intimidation often began by shocking them. Boys would deliberately recount stories, which were often fantasies, of their sexual exploits within the hearing of female staff. The boys would watch carefully for a reaction and if the female staff member showed signs of embarrassment, they would immediately know that such talk was a potential weapon of embarrassment and ultimately of intimidation. While such talk seemed to roll off older women, especially those who had teenaged children of their own, like water off a ducks back, it often had an adverse effect on younger women. Of course there usually was a male member of staff on duty with
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each female, but any attempt to openly shelter the female member from such embarrassment was not a long-term solution. They had to learn how to cope with it themselves. One could also occasionally see instances of some boys intimidating others, secret beatings being the usual technique used. Of course, members of staff were always on the look out for any indication of bullying, and there would be few, if any, open instances of this. But there was no doubt that there was some secret bullying. And the perpetrators seemed to quickly master the techniques required to achieve this. The net effect of bad behaviour from the boys sometimes made one doubtful about the efficacy of any education or treatment that would cure or eliminate what appeared to be inherent viciousness in some teenagers. I expect that Fr Edward Flanagan (1886-1948), founder of Boystown in Nebraska, USA, would disagree that any child could be >inherently vicious, since he is reported to have said that there was no such thing as a bad boy. But not everyone would agree with him. I often came back to what I considered a basic tenet in child care: if the parents, who love and intimately know a child from infancy, fail to effectively manage and control him/her, then the chances of anyone else doing it are slight. Of course, an extremely gifted person could achieve this, but, even with this person, perhaps, not always. Taffy and Tom Overall, I was very impressed with the loyalty and dedication of the staff at St Vincents. In addition to the professionals, who made a career of working in schools like St Vincents, there were also idealistic people that came for a short period to lend a hand in the rehabilitation of young offenders. I remember two people in particular. One was Taffy Williams, a middle-aged Welshman, who, after spending most of his life running his own business, came to us saying that he wished to take a job where he could >do some good'. An honest, generous and obliging man, he had one weakness that was very difficult to correct. All his life, he seemed to have made his own decisions and solved problems his own way. Teamwork, however, was new to him and long experience had shown that teamwork was the only way to manage the boys at St Vincents and survive. An operational procedure was laid down by the House Warden, after consultation with staff, and everyone was expected to stick to every detail of this procedure. Take, for instance, getting boys out of bed in the morning and getting them down to breakfast at a specific time. When Taffys turn came to call the boys in the morning and get them down to breakfast, some boys would be inclined to linger in bed, mainly out of sheer cussedness. Of course, they would try this with most members of staff, but especially with a new member. The normal staff approach was something like that of the typical mother: keep calling in a cheerful and confident voice and the culprit usually gets our of bed, even if reluctantly. Taffy's solution, however, was to bring up a cup of tea to these boys. Of course, this was absolutely taboo and infuriated other members of staff, because a concession given by one member of staff would immediately be demanded of the others. When I, as supervisor, discussed this matter with Taffy, he found it very hard to accept that his random acts of kindness to the boys would have to be done within the context of a detailed policy designed to maintain discipline and good order in the House. He was convinced that little acts of kindness, like an early-morning cup of tea, would bring out better qualities in the boys and help to counteract their random cussedness and, according to some, their inherent viciousness. Another idea Taffy had was to save his change and to give it to the boys. This, of course, was worse, in fact it could, metaphorically speaking, be dynamite. Much attention was given in each House to collecting money from the boys when they returned from home leave. The money would be kept for them in their account, but they were not permitted to have money in their possession, since it was a vital factor in any boys preparation to
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abscond. So, again, I had to ask Taffy to cease this practice. Finally, he came up with something that seemed a workable suggestion. As a Welshman, he was a great rugby fan, and said that he had played this game in his youth. So, all the staff in the House approved his plan to take the boys out for rugby practice. Unfortunately, none of the boys ever played rugby before, so the first practice on the field was chaotic. The boys seemed to think that rugby was a game where you both crashed and lashed into anyone on the opposing team. Taffy blew his whistle and got the boys to face one another in groups of eight for a >scrum. The first attempt was another disaster, ending in copious punches being exchanged. Taffy blew his whistle again and said that he would demonstrate how the hooker should operate in a scrum. The two eights got down again and the boy, playing as scrum half put in the ball. Poor Taffy yelled >push! to his pack and suddenly seemed to go lifeless. The boys pulled apart and went to help Taffy up, but he lay on the ground without moving. I called a doctor and an ambulance, but Taffy was pronounced dead. A subsequent post-mortem revealed that he had died of a massive heart attack, probably brought on by his efforts in the scrum. Taffys death had a sombre effect on the boys and they subsequently came to me to request a Mass for the repose of his soul. This I arranged and I do not think Taffy, though a life-long Methodist, would have objected, as long as it made the boys happy. Another character I had to deal with was Tom Cunningham, a university-educated young man in his early 20s, who was a past student of our college in Reading. Tom, a practising Catholic, was very idealistic and asked if he could come and work for free. After a week or so, I found that he was quite useful and could relate well with the boys, so I employed him for the summer holidays. When the end of the month came, Tom did not want to accept his wages, like everyone else, but said, 'Give me a tenner and keep the rest!' He was very unworldly and told me he was trying to detach himself from the use of money. He neither drank nor smoked and all his clothes were purchased in charity shops. When he had to travel, he thumbed a lift. We could not, of course, keep Toms wages, so I had to persuade him to accept his monthly cheque and, afterwards, do what he wished with it. He had a good effect on the boys because nothing seemed to faze him and he was always cheerful. At the end of he summer, Tom drifted away and I later learned that he had entered the Carthusians, a semi-hermetic religious Order outside Paris. This order, founded by St Bruno of Cologne in 1084, was first established in the Chartreuse Mountains of the French Alps. The famous drink of that name was, in fact, first made by these monks. The monastery is a community of hermits, each monk living alone in his own little apartment with access to a communal garden. As far as possible, the monks strive to have no contact with the world. Some years later, I learned that Tom had found his true home with the Carthusians and was very happy with them. I was glad that a young man as idealistic and generous as he had found his true vocation. Farewell to St Vincents In June, 1978, my two-year contract with St Vincents Community Home came to an end and the former Vice-Principal (Care) returned from two years of study leave. St Vincents struggled on for a further four years and then closed in 1982, like several other similar institutions. The entire site, amounting to about 25 acres, excepting one acre for a new Catholic church, presbytery and car park, was sold to a developer. He knocked all the buildings connected with St Vincents school to the ground and built a new housing estate there. The little cemetery at the corner of the field, where staff and boys were buried from 1876 onwards, was excavated and the interred bones transferred to a new communal grave near the new church.

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There is little doubt that, as a Certified Industrial School and as an Approved School, St Vincents was of immense benefit to a large number of mildly delinquent and needy boys, giving them a sound education and the opportunity to learn the basics of a useful trade. Its redesignation as a Community Home with Education, and the new caring approach to the treatment of delinquent children promoted by the Department of Social Services, seemed to fail the generation of boys that attended it in the 1970s. Coming from a permissive society, and from homes that failed to provide appropriate care and discipline, they were adrift when they arrived, did not significantly change while they were in residence, and continued adrift after leaving. My fear is that a significant number of them re-offended and came before the courts again. Their most significant characteristic to my mind was not their low educational attainment, which the school generally remedied, but the absence of any determination to learn a useful skill or trade, as a means of earning a living, and a conviction that, no matter what they did, the state would always make provision for them. Since these residential institutions were arguably no longer fulfilling the purpose for which they were envisaged, it was inevitable that social planners would look elsewhere, especially to community projects, in their quest to help juvenile delinquents. Strawberry Hill After summer vacation, I transferred to the Presentation Brothers house in Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, to continue my studies for a PhD degree. This house was virtually across the road from St Marys College of Education, now St Marys University College. The original Strawberry Hill House and property, around which the college developed from 1925 onwards, at one time belonged to Horace Walpole, son of Britains first Prime Minister. In the second half of the 18th century, Horace (1717-1797), who had a great collection of objects dart, built the Gothic castle to house his treasures. Even in Walpoles own life time, it was a tourist attraction, with pinnacles, battlements and a round tower. It prompted Horace to write his own Gothic novel, Castle of Otranto, which, in turn, inspired Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. My visits, 21: JMF, King's College, London, at PhD however, were more often to the St Marys College graduation, 1983 library than to the Walpoles restored gallery nearby. There was a great choice of parks around Strawberry Hill. Across the river was Richmond Park, with its 2,360 acres, the largest royal park in the country. Red and fallow deer roamed freely through the woods. There were two interesting houses in the park. The first was Pembroke Lodge, the home of Lord John Russell, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the middle of the nineteenth century. Whenever I come across Lord Johns name, I remember two things, in which he played a leading part. The first was the Great Irish Famine. The second is of particular interest to Roman Catholics. Following the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850, Lord John instigated the controversy known as the Papal Aggression. As part of the latter, Lord Johns Government passed the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, which imposed a penalty on any non-Anglican bishop (in practice Catholic bishop) who took a territorial title. This act was repealed in 1871. Another interesting building in

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Richmond Park was the White Lodge, which was the headquarters of the British Ballet Association. Bushy Park, the second largest park in London with over 1,000 acres, was another wonderful facility. I often walked down its mile-long Chestnut Avenue, the formal approach to Hampton Court Palace. My memories of Bushy are usually of beautiful sunshine, children fishing in the artificial ponds and of sitting on the grass under the shade of a tree. I rarely went into Hampton Court Palace nearby, for the simple reason that any visit to this architectural jewel and repository of English history, required more time than I was prepared to steal from my studies. Two of the most tragic historical personages, whom I associated with Hampton Court, were Cardinal Woolsey, who built the palace, and Anne Boleyn, whose family had landed estates in county Clare. Irish Club While I was on study leave and residing at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, I became involved with a group of Irish expatriates in setting up the Thames Valley Irish Club. Most of the executive committee came from the Twickenham area and meetings were usually held in a pub, >The Cabbage Patch, in Twickenham. The general aim of the organisation was to provide social support for Irish immigrants and, in keeping with this objective, the initial emphasis of the club was on social activities. We were fortunate to have the use of the parish hall in St Margarets parish, Twickenham. This room could accommodate about 150 people and was ideal for a medium-sized group like our club. Since I played the piano accordion and my colleague, Mike Rooney, played the guitar and sang, we were >roped in to provide music at some of the sessions. Jack Lynam, who was stationed at St Vincents, Dartford, at the time, also joined us when his duties permitted. Jack played bowran and tin whistle. The preferred music was Irish Country and Western, with occasional Irish Set Dances, such as The Siege of Ennis, thrown in. We, musicians, greatly enjoyed the sessions, which were interspersed with occasional songs from members of the audience. Provisions had to be made for a bar, since the male section of the audience would gradually melt away to the nearest pub, if alcoholic drinks were not on offer. Our chairman was Jack Condon from Westmeath and we had a good sprinkling of immigrants from Mayo. Jack christened our 3-man combo the >Presbro Trio, since each of the three musicians was a Presentation Brothers. When we wanted to make provision for a larger crowd, we rented a large room in the pub, >The Cabbage Patch in Twickenham and, for even larger crowds, >The Winning Post, in nearby Whitton. During the summer, we organised a family-orientated sports day, with a combination of athletic, novelty and sporting events. I remember that, one year, I volunteered to organise a >Throwing the Wellington novelty event. By evening, I was exhausted from running around and gathering Wellingtons after they had been thrown enormous distances by brawny Irishmen. What especially surprised me was the huge distances some men could throw the Wellington and how seriously they took the competition. I subsequently got into a serious discussion with an Irish-born priest on the benefit of Irish Clubs in England and the validity of such a ministry for a Catholic priest. This priest, Father Jack, came to me seeking my advice, following a complaint made to him by a Methodist clergyman in his parish. The Methodist clergyman had his Meeting House near an Irish club. The Methodist said that he was disgusted and scandalised to see the clergy of the Catholic Church condoning, if not encouraging, the consumption of alcoholic drink in these clubs and this not infrequently in the presence of children. He argued that the Irish Club in his area fostered a culture of alcohol use and abuse and that a significant number of patrons behaved in a drunken fashion, especially when leaving the premises late at night. He also pointed out that it was not unusual for the entire Irish nuclear family, father mother and children, to adjourn to the Irish club, especially after a
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late Sunday morning Mass. The usual pattern then seemed to be that the men would adjourn to the bar, while the women had tea and chatted and the children played. If the club provided lunch, the entire family would stay to eat their midday meal and delay their departure home until evening. He also questioned the wisdom of the strategy of providing Irish clubs for expatriate Irish people, especially since it seemed to have the effect of slowing down, if not impeding, the integration of the Irish with their English-born neighbours and their absorption into the local community. Moreover, the Irish Club provided indirect encouragement to its members to continue to listen to Irish radio, to purchase and swap Irish newspapers and it also provided a stage for Irish entertainers when they came to tour Britain. All this was delaying, if not hindering, their absorption into the English society in which they lived. The campaign of the Methodist clergyman was so animated that the poor priest wondered if he should take steps to sever, or at least weaken, the connection between his church and the local Irish Club. While I could understand the feelings of the Methodist clergyman, especially in the context of the historic advocacy of teetotalism by Methodists, I felt that the matter was complex and deserved careful consideration. In the first instance, there could be no objection to an Irish Club per se. Clubs for groups of like-minded people were part of the fabric of British society and prominent British citizens advertised their membership of prestigious social clubs, such as the Garrick, the Athenaeum, the Carlton, and so on, in the Whos Who listings. At the other end of the social scale were the British Working Mens clubs, which began and spread widely during the nineteenth century. Though initially these had a strong emphasis on education and culture, the social and entertainment components were there from the beginning. The Irish Club in Britain was a form of Working Mens Club, though, obviously, the membership consisted largely of Irish working men. Moreover, the supply and sale of alcoholic beverages had historically been a feature of virtually all British Working Mens Clubs. There could be no suggestion, therefore, that the Irish Club, as an instrument to promote the general welfare and entertainment of its members, was other than rooted in a very British tradition. It could not be denied that, occasionally, a member of the Irish Club overindulged and took a drink or two too many. It would not be generally true, however, to say that the management of Irish Clubs encouraged this behaviour. In fact, my experience indicated that the officers of the Club did not hesitate to ban individuals whose behaviour fell short of a minimum standard. Moreover, I was doubtful that the incidence of drunkenness was significantly higher in Irish Clubs than in ordinary working class pubs. The Irish Club could be a great support for Irish individuals or families who had limited self-confidence in a foreign country, and who, consequently, had limited social skills, especially in mixing and playing their part in the body politic. The Irish club provided opportunities for making contacts for Irish people seeking a job or information about employment or social security entitlements. It provided useful opportunities for women to acquire and exchange information about schools and child rearing. It also provided a safe environment for lonely Irish people, still struggling to come to terms and feel a part of a new culture. Moreover, the membership of the average Irish Club in Britain was supportive of the Catholic Church and was a place where potential volunteers for church-related charities and activities could be recruited. And it could not be argued that the average British pub would achieve all, many, or even any, of these objectives. Moreover, many Catholic commentators had stated unequivocally that there was a growing hostility to the public profession of faith in contemporary British society.48 The Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev Vincent Nichols, made the same point recently when he stated that, >Such perspectives, as religious belief and every horizon of eternity, are not readily given their place in our public culture, whether in the form of prayer or religious symbolism.49
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At the end of our discussion, Fr Jack turned to me and said, >Im glad I discussed the matter with you. I was more or less bowled over by the vigour and zeal of my Methodist colleague, but now I may be able to help him see another side to what he considers a problem. >Fair enough, said I. >You will usually find me at The Thames Valley Irish Club in St Margarets Parish Hall, Twickenham, if you want to discuss the matter further. So much for plans! Soon, real life intervened. My study leave came to an end and I left Twickenham and moved to Grove Park SE 12, near Lewisham, which was too far away to continue my association with the Thames Valley Irish Club in Twickenham. Moreover, my budding musical career slowly ground to a halt and was soon only a happy memory. Destitute Children in London While I was reviewing the history of St Vincent Community Home, Dartford, as part of my research for the production of the schools centenary record, I got an insight into the enormous challenge of providing education for Catholic orphan and destitute children in London during the nineteenth century. I must confess that, as I read some of the great Victorian sociologists, like Henry Mayhew, 50 I began to have great compassion for these poor Catholic children and I decided to make them the focus of my PhD research, under the direction of Professor Kenneth Charlton, at Kings College. Mayhew has given a vivid picture of the crowded tenements, like the >Rookery of St Giles, which were teeming with Irish immigrants. In 1861, the Catholic population of the metropolitan area of London was estimated to be a quarter of a million. While the Catholic Poor Schools Committee provided schooling for the upper layer of the Catholic poor, the very poor parents could not afford the clothes or books which their children would require to benefit from this excellent system of schooling. These children, from the lower layers of the Catholic poor, worked on the streets from the time they could walk and talk at tasks such as helping at coster-monger stalls, street selling and hawking and acting as porters for the transportation of lighter goods. 51 Even temporary illness or unforeseen financial difficulty meant that these poorest of Catholics would have to enter the Workhouse. A Father William Kelly, pastor at the Catholic Church, Commercial Road, made a very revealing statement in 1864, when he wrote that the greater proportion of his 15,000 parishioners had, at some time, to enter the Workhouse.52 For decades, the ultra-Protestant Poor Law Guardians of some London boroughs insisted on bringing Catholic children up as members of the Established church. In 1868, however, a Poor Law Amendment Act was passed giving the Poor Law Board power to order the transfer of Catholic children to Certified Catholic schools. Some Guardians, however, sought to evade the provisions of this act and openly stated that they had no intention of releasing Catholic children. Moreover, they tried to take legal steps to nullify the relevant provisions of the 1868 Poor Law Amendment Act. As has been noted above, in 1869, the St Marylebone Guardians persuaded Mr Thomas Chambers MP to introduce a resolution in parliament with the intention of depriving the Poor Law Board of the power to order the transfer of Catholic children to schools of their own denomination. 53 In spite of this opposition to placing Catholic children in Catholic schools, Archbishop Manning pressed ahead with what was tantamount to a campaign to provide a place in a Catholic school for every Catholic child. In 1859, he founded the Catholic Rescue Society, which raised funds, acted as supervisory agency, and provided financial aid for the many Catholic Children Homes in the archdiocese. The bishop of Southwark founded the Southwark Catholic Rescue Society in 1887 to perform a similar function in the diocese of Southwark. My research took me to a great variety of places around London, including all the major Catholic archival collections, the Public Record archives and the archives of some
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Evangelical bodies. The bitterness and persistence of the anti-Catholicism of some of the Evangelical groups came as a shock to me. As the nineteenth century progressed, more and more Anglican clergymen turned to Evangelicalism. Dean Close, writing in 1879, said, In 1822, when I was a curate, there were not above a dozen clergymen in London who would own to the name of Evangelical....clergymen not ashamed to call themselves Evangelical may now be counted by hundreds. 54 What might be termed the cutting edge of anti-Catholicism in London was a well-organised network of Protestant defence associations. The co-ordinating body for these was the Protestant Alliance, which had Lord Shaftesbury for President and John MacGregor, a Scots barrister, as general secretary. All important Protestant organisations in the country sent representatives to its meetings in London. It published a monthly newsletter, the contents of which were republished in The Record .55 Many of the Protestant organisations had their own publications, of which a random selection would include, The Protestant Magazine; The Protestant Annual; The Bulwark or Reformation Journal; The Ragged School Union Magazine; The British Protestant; The Record. Apart from journals and periodicals, Evangelicals also published many books, as well as a plethora of cheap pamphlets. This topic has been brilliantly researched by Professor Sheridan Gilley and his findings published in some seminal articles. 56 I very much enjoyed my research into the education of delinquent and destitute children in the London area and was awarded a PhD by Kings College for my thesis on the subject. Though I did not publish the thesis itself, I did, however, publish several articles using material from it, notably in the British Journal of Educational Studies (1983, XXXI, 2); Irish Historical Studies (1983, xxiii, 92); History of Education Society Bulletin (No 35, 1985); The Clergy Review (1982, LXVII; 1985, LXX); Recusant History (1984, 17, 1); Studia Hibernica, (1984). Grove Park At the end of August, 1979, the Presentation Brothers opened a new community in Grove Park SE 12, in the London borough of Lewisham. We were given accommodation by the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy, who had a convent in Sommertrees Avenue, off the A2212 road. The convent was situated on about an acre of ground and contained nice lawns and gardens. The quarters we occupied had formerly been used by a girls orphanage, which had closed. There were ten sisters, of various ages, in the community. Nearby was a Catholic church, in which Mass was celebrated on Sundays and Holidays. We had Mass every morning in the convent oratory. There were two other Presentation Brothers, Barry Stanton and Owen Harnett, with me in Grove Park. Owen worked with the Southwark Catholic Childrens Society, while Barry was a teacher at Bonus Pastor Comprehensive School, nearby in Downham. In January, 1980, I also joined the staff of Bonus Pastor school, teaching mainly science. When I joined the staff, the enrolment was about 800, spread over two campuses, about a mile apart. Both staff and students had to travel from one campus to the other, throughout the day. The school was coeducational and the children were not very academic, with only a tiny fraction having the desire or the entry qualifications to go on to sixth form and GCE Advanced level. Since it was always a challenge to hold the attention of the students and to prevent chatting in the classroom, teachers tended to use a lot of written work, even during class time. This meant that most teachers arrived in class with a bundle of questionnaires, which, after a brief explanation, would be given out to the students to be completed there and then. For junior classes, the student textbooks were very simple, really along the lines of a Fools Guide. Thus, for instance, if the lesson happened to be on magnets, there were two
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pages in the book, with excellent illustrations, about the characteristics of magnets, the two poles of a bar magnet, the pattern assumed by iron filings when dusted over a sheet of white paper, with a magnet beneath, and the magnetic nature of the poles of the earth. This material was taught and explained by the teacher, after which the students would be asked to complete a questionnaire, with questions like, >what are the two poles of a magnet called?. Of course the answers to all the questions were contained in the book, which the students had before them, but, even with this resource, some of them could not answer all the questions correctly. Many students left school immediately they reached the minimum school leaving age. If their birthday happened to be in the middle of the week, they would not even continue attending until the following Friday. Soon after arrival, I formed a folk choir to sing in church. Though I had hoped for a majority of young people, I found that it was the older people who were most faithful in attending both rehearsals and performances. There was also a traditional choir and it and the folk choir took turns in performing for religious services. While most people welcomed both choirs, there was also an occasional worshipper, who disliked folk music, desiring a more conservative ambience. I should add that during Mass, in the period after communion, I often introduced an instrumental solo in place of a reflective hymn. As regards choice of instrument, I usually used what was to hand. Thus, at different times, we had violin, organ, flute and clarinet solos. The clarinet solo, featuring an attractive teenage girl, playing Bachs Joy of Mans Desiring, was, for one devout elderly lady, the straw that broke the camels back. After that performance, she never again came to the folk Mass, but, instead, rose early on Sundays and took a train to London to attend a Mass with greater gravitas. The epilogue to this story is that the same lady had a son, who later became a Jesuit priest. He has developed into a liberal, even avant garde, theologian, who advocates changes in the Catholic Church, such the ordination of women. I see his name mentioned occasionally in The Tablet. Cultural Facilities There are many advantages in living in the London area. Among these advantages, are the intellectual and cultural facilities to hand in what some feel is the centre of the civilised world. Even in the matter of Irish theatre and drama, I found that every major Irish theatrical production, even if first presented in Ireland, subsequently came to London. It was the same with popular music. At the time, folk music was in the early stages of revival and all the major Irish folk and traditional groups played at some time in London. Apart from the Irish shows, which were usually in large theatres/ centres, I sometimes attended the performances of smaller folk groups and I have vivid memories of sessions by Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. It was easy to get chatting with Ewan because, being an inveterate smoker, he always went outside during the intermission to smoke a cigarette. In his later years, when singing, he always held his head sideways and put his right hand over his right ear. During his performances, he would accept requests for specific songs, but he sang only his own compositions. Return to Ireland In June, 1982, I was elected a delegate, representing the Brothers in England, to attend the General Chapter of the Presentation Brothers in Cork. As things worked out, this Chapter was to effectively bring my residence in England to an end. But, more on this later!

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Chapter 6 Return to Cork

returned to Cork for the General Chapter of the Presentation Brothers in July, 1981. As in the case of the previous General Chapter in 1975, I was elected secretary. In addition to recording the minutes of the proceedings, reading them out and making amendments, I also had responsibility for tabulating the various information documents distributed to the members of the chapter, as well as preparing summaries of chapter proceedings for subsequent circulation to communities. The chapter lasted about three weeks. The Chapter elected Brother Jerome Kelly as Superior General, with Brother Bartholomew Browne, Vicar and first assistant, Brother Simon Sullivan as second assistant, myself as third assistant, and Brother Terence Hurley as fourth assistant. These five were termed the General Council of the congregation, a term subsequently dropped in favour the present name, the Congregational Leadership Team or CLT. General Chapters The General Chapter of the Presentation Brothers is, in the words of the Constitutions, the supreme extra-ordinary authority in the congregation. It meets every six years, or more frequently in a crisis, such as the death of the congregational leader while in office. At the General Chapter, the congregational leader and province leaders and other officials deliver reports, which are discussed and considered. Resolutions dealing with the lives or mission of the members are placed before the Chapter and either passed or rejected. Finally, elections are held for the office of the congregational leader and his four assistants. During the chapter, a secretary and a deputy chairperson is appointed to assist the congregational leader in the day to day management of the chapter. Under existing arrangements, the congregational leader, his four assistants, together with province leaders are ex officio members of the chapter. Other delegates are elected, each province sending delegates in proportion to the number of professed members in the province. So far, I have attended seven General Chapters (1969, 1975, 1981, 1987, 1993, 1999 and 2005). I have also been secretary for five of these chapters. General Chapters usually last for three weeks and an attempt is made to create and maintain an atmosphere of prayer, reflection, discernment and calm decision making. This atmosphere, of course, cannot be achieved without careful preparation, including the circulation of necessary information to delegates in advance of the chapter. However, circumstances, at times, force the pace and members can reach the end of a chapter in various stages of tiredness, if not exhaustion. One of the most pressurised General Chapters was the extra-ordinary one in 1967, summoned for the express purpose of revising the constitutions to bring them in line with the documents of Vatican II. Though I was not present at this chapter, I was active in the preparatory work and I found this also exhausting, since the West Indian province, to which I was then attached, tried, like other provinces, to rewrite the entire constitutions at its local province chapter. There was also a good deal of work to be done at the 1969 General Chapter, at which I was a delegate, because the draft Constitutions, written in 1967, had to be re-examined and confirmed, amended or rejected. One of the principal issues to be decided at the 1975 General Chapter was the question of Brothers seeking entry to Holy Orders, while continuing to retain membership of our congregation. A number of Brothers of excellent character and reputation felt called to the priesthood and also felt that they would like to remain members of the congregation. The question before the chapter, therefore, was, could the congregation accommodate both priests
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and Brothers, or would ordination of even a small number destroy the lay nature of the congregation. Though I had no personal wish to be ordained, I was indirectly involved in so far as one Brother, who was not attending the chapter, had approached me beforehand making it clear that, while, he felt called to the priesthood, he would prefer to remain a member of our congregation. He did not ask me to vote in favour of the motion, but did ask me to ensure that the topic got a fair hearing. Since he was somebody whom I greatly admired for his character, qualities and achievements, I felt a good deal of sympathy for him. After lengthy discussion in the chapter, during which different aspects of the matter were considered, the resolution to allow ordination was defeated. The majority felt that our congregation was intended by our Founder, Edmund Rice, to be a lay society, and that the ordination of any members would strike a blow at this basic characteristic of the congregation. I must admit that I supported this view. At the end of the 1975 chapter, an abstract of the minutes, together with all resolutions passed were circulated to the different provinces. My friend was very disappointed when he learned that the motion in favour of ordination had been defeated, but he felt that he had to travel his own road. Though he was nearly fifty years of age, he packed his bags and entered the seminary and was duly ordained. He invited his former Brother colleagues to his ordination, but I was unable to attend. In a little speech at a reception after the ordination, he said that part of him still was, and always would be, a Presentation Brother, and that he, personally, had no intention of allowing ordination to separate him in spirit from his former colleagues. Retreat Centre One of the challenges facing the new General Council in 1981 was finding a valid and appropriate use for the buildings and grounds at Mount St Joseph, Blarney Street, Cork. The land was acquired in 1891 and the main building was opened in 1894. It served as a Generalate since its opening, as a novitiate for many years, as a preparatory school for some years and as a Teacher Training College for about a decade after opening.

22: Mount St Joseph, Cork, built 1894

Including some later acquisitions, there were about forty acres of land in the property. It was no longer regarded as suitable for a novitiate, and apart from three members of the General Council, there were only five Brothers in the community. It was decided to turn the house into a Retreat and Conference Centre and I was appointed Director. It was clear to everyone
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that this change would involve major physical changes in the layout of the house, as well as changes in personnel to operate the Retreat Centre. One of the first challenges was to secure the boundaries of the grounds. Over the years, fences had either decayed or been knocked down and, in places, there was easy entry for juveniles bent on mischief. It was not unusual for young people to steal ponies, put them into one of our fields and ride them almost to the point of collapse. A more dangerous activity was to chase cattle into a corner and to try to get on their backs with the intention of riding them. Yet another adventure was climbing the giant Monterey Pines around the house or suspending flimsy swings from their branches. All these were dangerous activities, likely, sooner or later, to lead to injuries to the young adventurers. Our insurance company kept reminding us of our liability for any injuries occurring on our property and it was in part at their insistence that we gave attention to improving the security of the boundary fences. One part of the property, the north-east corner, was particularly vulnerable to intruders and I decided to erect a secure block boundary wall. A contractor was engaged and he began building the wall, but came to me the next day to say that the section he had built had been deliberately knocked down overnight by intruders. He said that, while it was easy to knock the wall while the cement bonding was still soft, if it were given a few days to harden, then it would be virtually impossible to knock down by pushing or kicking. He recommended some security personnel to keep watch over the wall for a couple of nights. Later that day, I engaged a security firm to do the night watch. After the first night, the security people came to me the following morning to say that, about midnight, a group of about twenty youths, armed with sticks and hurleys, materialised out of nowhere and knocked down the bit of wall that had been erected the previous day. I called the contractor for consultation. He told me that he knew a couple of >boys from Northern Ireland who, for undisclosed reasons, had recently taken up temporary residence in the western suburbs. He assured me that they were >hardy boys and would take care of the security. He added that, as far as he knew, they had no criminal record and had done security work for friends of his. I told him to engage three of these men to take up security duty that night. Next morning, the wall was standing and everyone was in a better mood. I asked the >boys to continue providing security until the wall was completed. There was no more trouble from nocturnal visitors. Later, I learned that the word had gone out that the Provisional IRA had taken on security for the new wall. This, of course, was not true, though it was undeniable that the >hardy boys in charge of our security had Northern accents. >Bonfire Night on the eve of the feast of St John, 23 June, was always celebrated with local bonfires in Cork. The English equivalent would be Guy Fawkes Night. Children and young people from different streets would work assiduously in advance, gathering combustible materials for their own bonfires. Nor would all the materials be honestly acquired, and to guard against this, some householders would keep a watch on combustible materials around their property. A favourite item for a bonfire was an old car or truck tyre. Now old tyres are used in great numbers by farmers to hold down the outside covering on silage pits and, since we had both silage pit and accompanying tyres, we were conscious of the possibility of a raid and, in the days leading up to the bonfire, we kept watch on the tyres. However, as the following entry in my diary notes, we were caught flatfooted in June 1983: 23 June, 1983 This morning, our farm manager, Maurice, reported that about 40 used tyres had been stolen from off the silage pit in the farmyard. This had happened last night and was obviously in preparation for tonights bonfire. Since 50 tyres had been stolen last year for the same purpose, and had later been found stashed in a corner of the western field, we were initially hopeful that the hiding place for the proceeds of this years
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raid might also be discovered. A search was accordingly organised but, though we covered all possible hiding places on our own property, we found not a trace of our 40 tyres. I fear that all we will ever see of them will be the black smoke stealing skyward tonight. I engaged Mr Harry Wallace RHA as architect and soon it became obvious that alterations would have to include a new heating system, electrical rewiring and changes to the plumbing system. While there were excellent medium-sized conference rooms, there was only one large one, capable of seating about 100 people. In the kitchen, scullery and dining rooms, the main input was new equipment to make it possible to cater for large numbers, while all areas had to be redecorated. The alterations and renovations took about one year to complete and we were not able to begin our retreat programme until September, 1983. While the refurbishing was going ahead, I took the opportunity to visit a number of Retreat and Conference Centres in Ireland and England. These included Ennismore, Cork; Mount St Annes, Portarlington; Myross Wood House, Leap, Co. Cork; Ardfert Retreat Centre, Co. Kerry; Marianella Pastoral Centre, Rathgar, Dublin 6; Avila, Morehampton Road, Dublin 4; Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin 3; Retreat House, Ballyvaloo, Co.Wexford; Grace Dieu Retreat Centre, Waterford; Bellinter House, Navan, Co. Meath; St Cassians Retreat Centre, Kintbury, Berks; Cold Ash Retreat Centre, Thatcham, Berks. When I visited these other centres, in addition to examining the facilities for clients, I also had interviews with directors and members of staff, all of whom were generous in sharing their experience. I also visited some Retreat Centres for young people in the Chicago area of the USA. I found that several of the latter specialised in catering for groups of young people in the summer months, when dry warm weather generally prevailed. The school retreat programmes in Ireland, however, were nearly all held between September and May, when most of the retreat work had to be done indoors and out-of-door activities required special clothing and facilities. It was decided to put a retreat team together and to this end, Sr Beatrice Blaine, a Sister of Jesus and Mary congregation, together with Sr Anthony, from the Bon Secours congregation, joined us. Two new Brothers also joined the community, Barry Stanton, from the English province, and Plunket Browne, who had recently retired from school work. During the first year, though the retreat work went extremely well, we were all trying to find our feet. There were really three communities in the house at the time: the members of the Generalate; the former community, headed by the Superior, Brother Fabian ODonohue, and including retired Brothers, and the new retreat team. Though we all dined and prayed together, we worked in different groups and, at times, there were apparent conflicts of interests that had to be sorted out. Though there were very generous parking facilities, cars were not always safe and special attention had to be given to security of cars. There were also several dead elm trees along the boundaries of what we called the chapel field. These lovely trees had fallen victim to Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s and, in the interests of safety, had to be taken down. I found an excellent contractor who did the job quickly and efficiently. Before he started work, he asked me if there were any trees with nails or wire in them and I assured him there were not. One day, he came to me to complain that, while cutting a tree, he encountered bits of wire, which would blunt his chain saw. This came as a surprise to me and I promised to inquire into the matter. I then discovered that, thirty years earlier, there had been chicken runs in that area and that some of wire was nailed on to the elm trees surrounding the field. Apparently, thirty years later, these bits of wire and nails had been covered over and completely hidden by new growth. I had to apologise profusely to the contractor. There was also a nice row of horse chestnut trees that I had to take down. These had also become a
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hazard in the autumn, because children came in and began to throw missiles at the chestnuts in an attempt to knock them down. In the course of so doing, however, the falling missiles damaged cars parked nearby and constituted a hazard to passersby. School Retreats If school retreats were of two days duration, we usually had opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Mass on the second day. If the duration were one day only, everything had to be fitted into one day. In general, school retreats, involving a single class are a very effective way of building a good class spirit and breaking down divisions. Classes were usually divided into groups of ten or less and much of the work was done in these groups, where the students soon got to know one another well and trust was built up. Mass, the last item in the programme, was scheduled to end a little before normal school closing time. Before Mass, there was a period of preparation, during which different groups worked on the preparation of either, readings, hymns and music, bidding prayers or an offertory procession. One particular evening in the middle of February, on a bright sunny day, we had a group of Leaving Certificate girls from a school in West Cork. I was in my group room with my ten students, who were cheerful, charming and biddable girls. I was feeling very satisfied with the way the retreat was going, especially the good class spirit evident in the group. Before working on the bidding prayers, I suggested that we take 10 minutes for quiet meditation and, to provide atmosphere, I played a track from the >Lonely Shepherd by Gheorghe Zamfir. The girls closed their eyes and sat cross-legged on cushions. You could feel the relaxed atmosphere as Zamfirs Pan pipe, with backing from James Lasts orchestra, wove an almost-perceptible curtain, that cut off the mundane sounds of the outside world. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a mouse emerge from under a central heating pipe and make her way slowly and tentatively towards the centre of the room. One of the girls, who looked into my face at that moment, evidently saw something strange in my riveted gaze and turned around to see what I was looking at. She spotted the mouse and screamed, >look at the mouse! This announcement produced instant chaos, with every girl, attempting to get off the floor, up on tables or chairs or presses. I tried to restore calm by saying that there was only one poor little mouse, that was not going to interfere with anyone and that was probably more scared than any of us. Unfortunately, at that very moment, three little baby mice emerged from their hiding place and began to follow their mother out into the middle of the room. On seeing the procession of mice, another girl screamed, >Look! More of them! The place is full of mice! Another girl shouted, >Im getting out!. With this the room emptied in seconds, the girls running out on the walkway. After attending to the mice, I joined the girls outside and explained that Mass was about to begin and that we need not go back to the group room again, but go straight to the Oratory for Mass. >No, no!, they chorused. >We will pray out here or attend Mass out here, but we are not going back into the house again! Meantime, other members of the team were wondering what had happened to me and my group when we did not turn up for Mass. Since my group had responsibility for the bidding prayers, and the members failed to appear, others had to hastily extemporise in their place. However, when the Mass was over, we reunited the class and got them all, still excited by the mouse incident, into their waiting coach to travel back to their homes in West Cork. I remember another school retreat, also with a group of girls from a Cork City second level school. They were well-behaved and biddable and had a great class spirit among them. Since they were staying overnight, I invited their class teacher, an elderly nun, to stay the night, thereby giving the girls reassurance. There were two beds in each bedroom and girls could choose their partners. However, in the interests of health and safety, girls were asked not to go visiting other bedrooms during the night. Sister Mary, who insisted on leaving her
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bedroom door open, all the better to supervise, was equally keen to see this house rule obeyed. Sister Mary allocated the bedrooms and put the two girls most likely to roam during the night in the bedroom next to her. These two girls were Chrissie and Anne. Now Anne felt sleepy that night and refused Chrissies invitation to visit some of the other girls in their rooms. About midnight, with Anne asleep, Chrissie got out of bed and, as quietly as she could, opened her bedroom door. But Sister Mary was alerted by even the slight noise and, as Chrissie emerged from her room, Sister Mary confronted her with the question, >What is wrong? Why are you out of bed? Chrissie, however, though not a great student, was quickwitted and replied, >Sister, Anne cant sleep and I was coming out to you to get a sleeping tablet for her. >Very well, replied Sister Mary, >I will bring one to her. On hearing this, Chrissie returned to her room and woke up Anne, who was already asleep, by rubbing a wet cloth across her face. Sister Mary came in and administered the sleeping tablet, together with a drink of water, and Anne sank back to sleep. After another hour, Chrissie attempted another excursion, but, again, Sister Mary, who must have been on the watch the entire night, again met her at the bedroom door with the query, >What is the matter now? >Anne still cant go to sleep, lied Chrissie and Sister Mary administered another sleeping tablet to Anne, who had been hastily awakened with another wipe of a wet cloth. After this, Chrissie gave up and went to bed also. Next day, I had both Anne and Chrissie in my small group and was greatly perplexed by Annes behaviour. She seemed to be falling asleep, while the other girls were discussing and sharing. I inquired if Anne were feeling ill and the other girls laughed and Chrissie told me the story of the two unnecessary sleeping tablets that Anne had to swallow the previous night. While the ministry of youth retreats, including those for school goers, was not only valid and worthwhile, but also needed, the fact was that it did not pay its way and had to be subsidised. Part of the reason for this was that some parents felt that anything to do with religion should be free and were reluctant to contribute to the cost of the retreat, which was generally fixed at ,5 per day, including morning coffee/ tea and soup and sandwiches at midday. Most schools, on the other hand, would be glad to pay on behalf of their students, but, could not afford it. Some schools also provided retreats within the school, but this arrangement had obvious disadvantages, especially the fact that it was difficult to generate the atmosphere of prayer and reflection that were usually part of the ambience of the retreat centre. Moreover, within the school situation, students tended to associate and behave in a certain way, something which made it difficult to guide them to new experiences and new ways of managing their lives. As long as active, even if retired, religious were available to help in school retreats, they continued. But, by the end of the 1990s, active religious became fewer and lay people had to be engaged to do the retreat work. With the additional cost of salaries for retreat staff, the shortfall between the cost of school retreats and the income generated from them became larger and larger. This fact, when combined with a fall in the number of religious, mainly nuns, registering for adult religious courses, finally led to the closure of several retreat centres. Adult Courses During the 1980s, there was a steady demand for courses and workshops for religious. The majority of those attending these courses were middle-aged or older and among the topics of special interest were those dealing with the future of religious life, new directions in religious life and the inner nature of prayer and religious life. Among the popular lecturers and course directors which I managed to engage, some were from Ireland, while others came from the
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United Kingdom and the USA. They included Rev Gerard W Hughes SJ, author of the popular book, The God of Surprises; Rev Raynor Torkington OFM, author of the book, Peter Calvay, Hermit; Rev Len Koffler MM, Director of the Institute of St Anselm, England; Sister Joan Chittister OSB, author of The Wisdom of the World and numerous other religious books; Rev Sylvester OFlynn OFM Cap, author of The Good News of Matthews Year and other similar books; Rev Jack McArdle SSCC, author of Twelve Simple Words and other books; Rev Loughlan Sofield, author of Building Community and other books; Rev Michael Hollings, author of Its me, O Lord. New Prayers for Every Day and other books; Nick Harnan MSC, author of The Hearts Journey Home and other books; Rev Michael Paul Gallagher SJ, author of Clashing Symbols and other books; Rev Peter McVerry SJ, author of The Meaning is in the Shadows and other books; Rev Gerald Arbuckle, an Australian, author of Grieving for Change: Spirituality for Refounding Gospel Communities and other books. A summer school, organised by Retreats International, at the University of Notre Dame, which I attended, was very helpful in identifying potential lecturers willing to conduct workshops in Ireland. I found the Retreats International course, involving a series of simultaneous workshops, each ten hours in duration and spread over a week, a wonderful way to meet world-famous authorities on different aspects of spirituality and to attend some of their lectures. Through these contacts, I was able to arrange for some of these experts to come to Ireland for the first time. I remember that, on one occasion, I booked Sister Joan Chittister OSB for a weekend and the number of applicants was so great that I did not have lecture room space for all at Mount St Joseph. So I hired the Cork Opera House, where we had plenty of room. Altogether we had 250 people, the majority of them nuns, in the Opera House. Mount St Joseph could only provide overnight accommodation for about fifty, but others found their own accommodation in convents, hotels and guest houses. Like many other directors of Retreat Centres, I was keen to extend the facilities for courses to lay people, but, unfortunately, most lay people were either unable or unwilling to devote an entire weekend to a course concerned with religious or personal development. Shorter courses, one days duration or less, seemed to be better able to answer the needs of lay people. As we came into the 1990s, the numbers of religious attending courses in retreat and conference centres declined, mainly owing to increasing age and lack of vocations. There was, however, a demand for residential and conference facilities for non-religious courses, especially those relating to management and leadership. The groups organising these latter workshops, however, were seeking a higher standard of accommodation and facilities than what was required by religious doing retreats or attending religious workshops. The main requirements of the religious were accessibility, cleanliness, adequate heating, good food, comfortable beds, a prayerful and reflective atmosphere and good facilities in the grounds for strolling in the open air. The people organising conferences, while desiring many of the previous qualities, also looked for a standard of comfort equivalent to that to be found in a four star hotel. Closure of Retreat Centre While there was no doubt that the provision of conference facilities in retreat centres would attract conferences, and thereby significantly improve occupancy rates, some religious congregations hesitated to do this. Their problem centred around the concept of ministry. With dwindling personnel resources, they had to answer the question, was this involvement an appropriate ministry for them or would the available resources, both personnel and material, be more validly and appropriately employed in meeting some other need of the >people of God? The answer of the Presentation Brothers to this question, in respect of Mount St Joseph, Cork, was that, over the previous decade, they had already made their contribution to both youth retreats and adult religious education and that the time had come to
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make a contribution to SHARE, one of the charitable organisations, with which the Brothers had been associated for the previous twenty years. SHARE (Schoolboys Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly) was founded by the late Brother Jerome Kelly in 1970. It was a youth training organisation which aimed to provide housing and friendship for the aged homeless in Cork at that period. It was confined to fifth-year students in second level schools and the founding group was located in Presentation College, Cork, of which Brother Jerome was principal during the years 19691981. Over the years, SHARE had proved remarkably effective in tackling the problem of aged homeless people in the city. By 1990, it had built almost 200 apartments for the elderly and had succeeded in recruiting Cork City Corporation to take responsibility for the maintenance of these apartments. In 1991, the General Council of the Presentation Brothers agreed to hand over the major part of the building at Mount St Joseph, together with seven acres of the surrounding ground, to SHARE. The school retreats and adult religious courses were terminated in June, 1991, and renovations began to prepare the building for SHARE residents. When the renovations had been completed, the new SHARE complex at Mount St Joseph was formally opened by President Mary Robinson in November, 1993. Casual Callers Religious houses have always had casual visitors, down on their luck, seeking food or money. In addition to providing this help, I have always taken an interest in the stories and personalities of these people, most of whom I met being males. Several of the callers I have known have been long-term clients and one of the ways in which I have tried to help them is by bringing some regularity into their lives. In the following examples, I will use fictitious names for real people. One man with whom I have had a long relationship was Seaneen. He usually came to Mount St Joseph at least once a day for a meal. Later, he would also request some financial help. I agreed to this latter request, but insisted that money would only be paid once a week. Moreover, I told him how much per month I was giving him and divided this figure by four to arrive at the weekly amount. After some experience of this, I insisted that payment would be at the end of each week, either Friday or Saturday. If Seaneen asked for money early in the week, I would refuse, saying that he would have to wait until his next instalment was due. Gradually he got accustomed to this system and, with the finance under control, we had a pleasant relationship. Now at Mount St Joseph, we had two dogs, who had a nice sleeping box between them. Every night they would go into their house and be quite snug. I got quite a surprise, therefore, when Maurice, the farm manager, informed me that Seaneen was coming every night after dark, putting the two dogs out of their house and making himself comfortable therein himself. In the morning, he went to the tap, washed himself and then presented himself for breakfast. The dogs were quiet and knew Seaneen well, so they never complained when they were evicted. Though one of the friendly staff at the Simon Refuge had specifically attempted to get Seaneen to sleep in their refuge, he had resolutely declined this offer, taking pains to avoid meeting any visiting member of Simon staff, when possible. Another regular caller was Senan, who had overcome alcoholism, but had fallen victim to compulsive gambling. He was married and had a grown-up family but, largely because of his personal problems, had become separated from his wife and children. He always dressed neatly and spent his days >touching people for money and then spending it at the book makers. As a compulsive gambler, it was impossible to keep him in money. One day, after a win, he would have hundreds of Euro, while the next day, he could not afford a cup of coffee. He was well-spoken and would fit the description of Henry Mayhew, when he
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described one of Senans counterparts in Victorian London, as >an eloquent beggar. After some experience with him, I decided to try an experiment. I sat down with him and explained my plan. I would give him 50 every year, payable in two instalments. The first moiety of 25 would be due on 1 January each year, while the second would be due on 1 July each year. Senan was delighted and suggested my giving him the entire 50 at once and promised that he would not trouble me for a year. I knew him too well, however, to believe this and said that it had to be two payments and nothing in between. After this, whenever I met Senan in the streets of Cork, he would greet me warmly and ask if he could get an advance on his next moiety, but I smiled and said that we would have to stick to our agreement. This agreement lasted seventeen years. When the Irish punt was replaced by the Euro, I raised the annual allowance to 60, again payable in two equal moieties of 30. The agreement lasted until Senans death in 2010. I found the arrangement very satisfactory because it helped to avoid any arguments or disagreements with Senan. On the other hand, I think that it gave him a tiny bit of security. Presentation Studies From the time of my election to the congregational leadership team in 1981 until I retired from it in 1993, I held the post of secretary to the team. For a time (1981-1983), I also acted as secretary general of the congregation, looking after property and archives and other odds and ends. As the work of the Retreat and Conference Centre at Mount St Joseph increased, I was forced, however, to limit my secretarial work to keeping minutes of the meetings of the General Council and providing general supervision of the property portfolio under its direct control. I did, however, issue a number of General Council Newsletters and, in 1982, I founded a new journal, Presentation Studies. The first issue made it quite clear that the journal was not a newsletter from the General Council and went on to spell out its purpose: This journal specifically aims at fostering research and new writing on the history, traditions, spirit and work of the Presentation Brothers and disseminating the fruit of this among the Brothers. Initially, mainly because of the expressed need at this point in time, the history and traditions of the congregation will be emphasised. 57 In the editorial of the first edition, I also mentioned some of its predecessors, each of which had a short life. The first was The Presentation Record, edited by Brother De Sales Mehigan, which appeared between January, 1916, and April, 1920. The cessation of publication of this valuable journal was due to the transfer of De Sales to England, where he was appointed Superior and Headmaster of Presentation College, Plymouth, Devon. The next attempt at a journal was in 1945, when Timthire na Toirbhirte, a bilingual journal, was first issued. There was, however, a total of only three issues of this journal (1945, 1946 and 1947), before it also ceased. One cannot escape the conclusion that neither of these journals received much support from the leadership of the congregation. Presentation Studies has had the longest life of any
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journal issued in the name of the Presentation Brothers, being now 30 years in existence. In the early years, the contributors were drawn mainly from the ranks of the Presentation Brothers, but, in recent years, I have been able to recruit contributors from the larger Presentation Family. Challenges in Leadership As a member of the congregational leadership team for twelve years (1981-1993), I, like my colleagues, had to grapple with some important questions, including, will the congregation of the Presentation Brothers survive or will religious life, as lived in active apostolic congregations like ours, virtually cease to exist? In the 1990 edition of Presentation Studies, I tried to express some of my thoughts on these questions. I will use some material from this article to put the present discussion in context. The idea of religious congregations generally having a limited life span, seems to have been first clearly articulated by Raymond Hostie SJ in his book, The Life and Death of Religious Orders.58 The main thesis of the book was discussed in relation to the future of the Presentation Brothers by Rev Cassian Yuhaus in a workshop at Mount St Joseph in 1984. The life span of religious congregations, according to Hostie, is usually about 250 years. This 250 year life span can be broken up into five well-defined periods, the first of which is the foundation phase, lasting 20-30 years. After this comes the expansion phase, generally lasting a minimum of 50 years. This is a period of grace, when the founding charism is vibrant and when there is a strong sense of integration and cohesion, centred on the founding person. During this period, the founding charism and inspiration is institutionalised. General Chapters are also summoned. After this comes a stabilising phase, lasting about 100 years, during which a feeling of great success pervades the group. Then, comes the breakdown phase, lasting about 50 years. During this period, disillusionment sets in and doubt and stress begin to be widespread. At the same time, institutional structures and belief systems begin to unravel. Finally, the transitional phase comes. During this latter phase, there are three possibilities. The first is total extinction. The second is low level minimal survival. The third possibility is what is known as re-founding. Re-founding The idea of re-founding religious congregations was popularised by Rev Gerald Arbuckle SM, who presented several workshops in Ireland, including Mount St Joseph, Cork, in the 1980s and 1990s. Arbuckle states that, in the plan of creation, new growth and new systems come out of chaos. He also insists that there can be no constructive change, even in the Church, without dissent, which he defines as simply proposing alternatives. (1993, Refounding the Church, 1) Open organisations encourage people to propose alternatives because they know that all organisations age and produce dead wood. In my 1990 article, I pointed out that, because of the lack of vocations and the increasing age profile of the members, all evidence pointed to the likely demise of the Presentation Brothers within a generation. There was little, if any, discussion of this important matter within the congregation, though there was obviously great need to mention it. In the article, I suggested a number of possible reasons why the topic of the death of the congregation was not openly discussed. Among these reasons, I listed the following: it was a painful topic, since everything it implied - closing houses, handing over schools, withdrawing from charitable and benevolent projects - was painful; it was a possible sign of God's displeasure with us; it could be viewed as adverse criticism of the people in leadership; it could be viewed as a sign of disloyalty to our congregation; being an awkward question, it could lead to the marginalisation of the questioner.
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Patricia Wittberg (1996, 9) suggests that, in considering the life and death of any religious congregation, we must recognise that religious events are inextricably bound up with societal events and conditions. In other words, though the reasons for the decline or growth of an individual congregation may be unique to that congregation, a corresponding decline in other similar congregations is a consequence of changes in society. No congregation can survive if it is divorced from its environmental context. Some people believe that, through unusual efforts, religious congregations can go against the normal currents of society. Thus, for instance, though religious vocations to apostolic congregations have dramatically fallen over the past two decades, some vocation promoters believe that there are still many potential vocations to be found, if only a greater effort were made to locate them. Though more vigorous recruiting may succeed for a limited time, the fact remains that, in plain language, there is little point in fishing in pools were there are few, if any, fish. Though the theory of re-founding is both attractive and convincing, the great challenge is to put it into effect. I doubt that it ever got going in the Presentation Brothers. This was not only due to failure on the part of leadership to experiment, but also due to the shortage of re-founding people within the congregation. As the number of new entrants fell and the age profile of existing members rose, there was a great shortage of suitable younger members, from whose ranks the re-founding people usually come. Moreover, the younger and abler members were gradually involved in the administration of the congregation and refounding people should, almost by definition, be free from administration and available to respond to the inspiration of God, as mediated by the world in which s/he lives. In summary, I must say that I have failed to discern any re-founding experiments in our congregation. To put any discussion of the future of the congregation of the Presentation Brothers into perspective, it is necessary to point out that my previous remarks refer to the first world, specifically to Ireland, England, North America and the British Caribbean. Our congregation, however, has had a steady influx of vocations over the past three decades in Africa, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria. The challenge for our congregation in the future, consequently, would appear to be how to support areas of growth in the third world. This, moreover, is a challenge facing many congregations like ours and is one that now exercises the attention of many leadership teams. Associate Movement In the possible, or more likely probable, event of the congregation of the Presentation Brothers ceasing to exist, the 1987 General Chapter suggested the formation of groups of 'associate' members, who could inherit the ethos and spirit of Blessed Edmund Rice, and possibly continue his ministry of Christian education. Groups of associates, including men and women, each one attached to an existing community of Presentation Brothers, came into existence two years later. Associate groups generally met once a month in the community house and spent between one and two hours together. Part of the time was devoted to the study of the life of Blessed Edmund or of the history of the congregation and the rest of the time was devoted to prayer. Initially one of the Presentation Brothers acted as leader of the meeting, but, subsequently, the members themselves were asked to take responsibility for the organisation of the meetings. In 1994, the Director of the Edmund Rice Office in Cork, was given responsibility for the overall direction of the associate movement. About this time, the concept of the Presentation Family, including associates, but also involving other groups working with or associated with the Presentation Brothers, such as SHARE, CLEO, Presentation Brothers schools, ERAC etc.

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There were annual reunions of members of the Presentation Family, usually in Cork, which associates attended. This arrangement lasted until 2011, when the Edmund Rice Office was closed. In recent times, especially since 2010, there has been a decline in the associate movement. Associates have grown older, to the point where there are few if any members under 60. Moreover, some groups have folded up, altogether, partly from closure of houses and partly from lack of leadership from the congregation. Perhaps there is also an underlying lack of energy in the movement as a whole. The Presentation Brothers Associate movement, as it survives at present, could arguably be described as little more than a series of prayer groups for elderly friends and lay colleagues of the Presentation Brothers, who meet once a month in one of the houses of the Brothers. As a strategy for recruiting lay people, with whom the charism and spirit of Blessed Edmund could be shared, the movement, however, would seem to have failed. Refounding the Catholic Church Though several of the proponents of re-founding suggest that the concept would be particularly suitable for the Catholic Church, such an idea is abhorrent to leaders of that Church, which sees itself as 'semper reformanda' or always reforming and renewing itself. Moreover, acceptance of the need for re-founding would be contrary to the cherished belief that God, especially the Holy Spirit, is always watching over and guiding the Church. However, some would point to the fact that the Catholic Church is also an organisation, one of the largest organisations in the world, and, as such, is subject to all the weaknesses of organisations. Moreover, in its present format, it is the ultimate hierarchical organisation. In contrast to the re-founding theory, the official Catholic Church believes that all that is required is renewal. And it believes that this renewal is best achieved by going back to attitudes and practices of a former period. While I do not intend to indulge in a critical evaluation of the Catholic Church here, I must point to some urgent challenges facing it at present. Not least of these are the demand of 'the people of God' for greater transparency in the Church, the need to implement the principle of collegiality, highlighted by Vatican II, and the urgent need of a new cosmology. This latter might arguably be begun, if not fully achieved, by exploring ways in which Church teaching could be brought into harmony with the theory of Darwinian evolution. Courses for Teachers In 1984, Brother Jerome Kelly, Superior General, prepared a paper on evangelisation in Catholic schools in Ireland. The paper was initially discussed with his council, of which I was a member, and then shared with the local branch of the Conference of Major Superiors (CMRS), now the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI). It was published in Religious Life Review (vol. 23, no. 106, 34-51, 1984). Four years later, at Brother Jeromes suggestion, a committee of the CMRS, known as the Southern Network, came into being, and, again at Jeromes suggestion, began to organise conferences in Catholic education. I offered Mount St Joseph as a venue and one of the first such conferences was directed by Michael Boville, then assistant director of the Catholic Education Service in England. Because of the large number of teachers and principals who wished to attend, the one-day conference, first held on 8 November, 1990, was repeated on 9 and 10 November, 1990. Altogether, 237 teachers, including principals, from second level schools in Cork, Kerry and Limerick attended. Following the success of this conference, the subject of evangelisation in second level schools began to occupy the minds of the trustees of the 60+ Catholic second level schools in Cork, Kerry and Limerick. At Jeromes request, I prepared a paper for members of the Southern Network, in which I set out plans for a possible organisation that would support
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teachers and provide overall leadership in efforts to promote Catholic values and religious education in the network of 60+ Catholic schools. This paper was discussed by members of the Southern Network and a decision was made to adopt my suggestion to set up an office to co-ordinate evangelisation in these schools. The post of director of this office would be parttime and the office would also have a part-time secretary. I was asked to apply for the post of Director and I was duly appointed. I secured the services of Sister Nora Buckley PBVM as part-time secretary. Nora had worked with me as a member of the retreat team at Mount St Joseph for some years before it closed in 1991. My suggestion that the office be called the Christian Formation Resource Centre (CFRC) was accepted and office accommodation was obtained at the South Presentation Convent, Cork, with an entrance from Evergreen Street. Sister Nora and I began work in January, 1992. The religious congregations participating in the CFRC venture included the Sisters of Mercy (Cork, Cloyne, Kerry and Limerick), the Presentation Sisters (South Western Province), the Daughters of Charity, the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Christian Brothers (St Helens Province), the Presentation Brothers (Irish Province), Faithful Companions of Jesus and Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Altogether, more than sixty second level schools, with 1,500 teachers and several thousand students, were involved. The Christian Formation Resource Centre (CFRC) subsequently evolved into the Christian Leadership in Education Office (CLEO) and I was destined to spend the next two decades of my life in this ministry, but more about this in the next chapter.

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Chapter 7 Leadership in Christian Education

n the previous chapter, I noted that, following the closure of the Retreat and Conference Centre at Mount St Joseph, Cork, in 1991, I became involved in organising conferences for teachers of Catholic second-level schools in Munster. Early in 1992, under the general direction of the Southern Network of Major Superiors, I set up the Christian Formation Resource Centre (CFRC) in Cork. I was employed on a part-time basis, but, in practice, I devoted most of my time to the job. Sister Nora Buckley PBVM joined me as secretary and general assistant. She was a talented woman in her mid-sixties, with a Masters degree in religious education, and a good deal of experience in teaching and conducting school retreats. We had already worked together for five years as members of the retreat team at Mount St Joseph. CFRC Management committee The Southern Network of Major Superiors appointed a management committee from among its members to oversee the work of CFRC. The initial committee included Br Jerome Kelly, FPM, chair, Presentation Brothers; Br Michael Murray CFC, Christian Brothers, St Helens Province; Sr Brid Power PBVM, Presentation Sisters South West; Sr Clare Stepleton RSM, Mercy Sisters, Limerick; Sr Mary ODonoghue RSM, Mercy Sisters. As Director and recording secretary, I attended all meetings. When members went out of office, other members of the Southern Network were appointed to replace them. The management committee was emphatic that I should have close contact with individual schools and, in an attempt to ensure this, we sought and obtained congregational representatives, whose function was to liaise between the CFRC office and individual schools. Among the services provided by the CFRC office were the following: professional support for Principals and Boards of Management; staff days: a) for school secretaries; b) for Heads of Year c) for Class/ Form Tutors; Newsletters (on school matters); Conferences/ Workshops on e.g Pastoral Care, School Leadership, Government Green Paper in Education (1992), Government White Paper in Education (1995); Education Act (1998); for parents and teachers (e.g. in Castleisland, Milltown, Clonakilty and Cork City). Survey of Needs One of the first things the CFRC did was to conduct a survey of all second-level schools in the network to ascertain the needs of the teachers in these schools. There was an excellent response to this postal survey (which was co-ordinated by the Principals of the schools concerned). These responses were analysed and a list of topics, on which the teachers requested in-service, was formulated. These topics were then grouped into modules and became the subject matter in the post-graduate courses subsequently offered by CFRC. Another initiative of CFRC was the organisation of courses for teachers, including Principals and Boards of Management, of Catholic post-primary schools by prominent education experts from Ireland and abroad. Thus, in November, 1992, I brought Dr Kevin Treston from Brisbane, Australia, and he gave stimulating courses for large numbers of teachers in Killarney, Blarney and Limerick. The numbers attending the four Workshops were quite large, totalling about 300. The titles of the workshops included Leadership in the School Community; Pastoral Care in Schools; Developing the School as a Community. Other Workshops presented by CFRC included one on School Retreats. This was held at St Dominics Retreat Centre, Montenotte, Cork, on 16 September, 1992. About 25
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teachers interested in facilitating school retreats attended. Another workshop, in November, 1992, was designed to meet the needs of Principals and Congregational Co-ordinators. This workshop was offered at two venues, first on 19 November, 1992, in Blarney, and, second, on 20 November, 1992, in Killarney. About 25 people attended each workshop. On-going Courses As Director of CFRC, I was well aware of the fact that, though the ad-hoc occasional courses, such as those provided by Dr Kevin Treston, were very helpful in stimulating the school community and helping its members re-focus on their work of Christian formation, these courses would have to be supplemented by on-going courses at post-graduate level. The area chosen for special attention was leadership in Christian education, and, with this in mind, and using the suggestions that came from teachers in the 1991 survey, I organised topics into modules, which evolved into the CFRC (later CLEO) modules, which, in turn, eventually became part of the MEd programme. In addition to the students who were intent on working towards a post-graduate degree, there were others who wished to attend the CFRC lectures, without working towards a degree. An audit system was introduced for these latter students. Moreover, in the MEd programme, three options were available: a) the postgraduate Certificate (3 modules) b) the postgraduate diploma (6 modules) and c) the entire 3-year course leading to MEd degree. The Search for Validation My discussions with teachers made me aware of the fact that there was a significant number of them in our catchment area (counties, Cork, Kerry and Limerick) who would welcome a system that would enable them to accumulate credits from the short courses leading, eventually, to a Masters degree. When, in 1992, I began the search for an academic body that would validate our courses, we were five years ahead of the Irish state, which did not set up this system until the Universities Act was passed in 1997. The present FETAC and HETAC then came into existence. Nevertheless, I was well aware of the fact that if I could offer a simple route to a Masters degree, it would be an incentive to teachers to register for my courses. This made me determined to work with the resources I had to hand. In seeking university validation for the course offered by CFRC, I approached our two local universities, University College Cork (UCC) and University of Limerick (UL). I suggested two possible methods for the validation of CFRC courses. First, the integration of the CFRC modules into the UCC or UL post-graduate diploma in educational administration course, or, second, accreditation of the CFRC modules so that, by means of credit transfer, the credits attached to them would count towards a post-graduate diploma or MEd. I offered to provide the tuition for these modules, under the general supervision of UCC or UL. Extracts from my Personal Journal Note: In these notes of meetings, I will use initials to conceal the real identity of the officials involved in the discussions. 9 May, 1992: Visited University of Limerick by appointment and met G, Acting Head of Education, who was in charge of proposed MEd in Education, and OD, from the Deans office. I received a favourable hearing. OD tried to be supportive and affirmative, while G seemed to concentrate on the difficulties likely to be encountered. There was general approval of some of our draft CFRC modules, though how they were to be included in the University of Limerick MEd was left for another day.

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16 May, 1992: I had another meeting with G at University of Limerick, which M also attended. At this meeting we tried to go into the details of how the CFRC modules would be incorporated into the University of Limerick MEd programme. The fees arrangement presented difficulties: what proportion of the fees would go to CFRC for providing lecturers for its modules and units. There was also the question of lecturers being approved by University of Limerick. I suggested that I could be an approved lecturer of the University of Limerick, and this was considered a possibility. G reminded the meeting that all arrangements would have to go before the academic council and were unlikely to receive approval from this body, since, he suggested, there would be resistance to what might be seen as an attempt by the Catholic Church (through the Director of CFRC, as its representative) to get special arrangements/ concessions to suit itself. Conclusions It was obvious to me that the Department of Education at the University of Limerick (UL) had no enthusiasm for the CFRC proposal. The MEd degree at UL was only at the planning stage and the UL representative from the Universitys infant Department of Education was, at that time, only acting as Head of Department. As far as I could see, he was struggling to get the UL MEd course up and running and viewed the CFRC proposal as an unwelcome complication, perhaps, even a threat. At the same time, he did not wish to appear negative, though he did appear to concentrate on pointing out possible difficulties. The ultimate difficulty, according to him was the academic council, the approval of which was alleged to be necessary before any collaboration was possible. The academic council of UL was represented as a short-sighted, prejudiced, negative body, unwilling to welcome any new arrangement which would contribute to the professional training of teachers in the area. The Director (of CFRC), consequently, determined to approach University College, Cork, on the same matter. University College, Cork JMF Journal Entry: 11 May, 1992. I had a meeting, by prior arrangement, with W, Ag. Head of Education Department, UCC, together with OS and H, both senior members of staff. W listened to my proposal that UCC include some of CFRC modules in its Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Studies, but pointed out that this would have to receive approval from the UCC Academic Council. This body had just given approval for the Diploma in Catechetics to be raised to the status of a Postgraduate Diploma, a status, which it hitherto did not have. W felt that it was unlikely that the UCC Department of Education would receive approval from the UCC Academic Council for the incorporation of CFRC modules in a UCC post-graduate Diploma in Educational Administration. W, however, was ready to cooperate and facilitate CFRC as much as possible at a personal level. OS was sceptical about the inclusion of some of the CFRC units in the Diploma in Educational Administration programme. He also reminded me that UCC, by charter, was prevented from including material of a religious nature in courses such as the Diploma in Educational Administration (DEA). He also felt that the UCC Academic Council would almost certainly block a proposal to include such material in the UCC DEA. The impression I got of the UCC Academic Council was that it was an unwieldy group, comprising members with disparate personal agendas, which found it difficult to evaluate any proposal on its own merits, especially taking into account the likely benefit to the community, which the university purported to serve. OS also seemed more hostile to the proposal to include CFRC modules in the UCC
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DEA than W. H was unable to remain for the entire of the meeting and had to leave after half an hour. In the course of discussing how the CFRC modules could be included, I suggested that I could arrange for occasional lecturers for the different units and the venue could either be UCC or another suitable place. W pointed out that any lecturers engaged by CFRC would have to be approved by UCC. W also drew attention to the problem of financing the arrangement. I suggested two ways: UCC could pay the occasional lecturers directly or by grant to CFRC, or UCC could let CFRC have part of the University fee paid by the students. W and OS saw great difficulties in any of these arrangements. The meeting ended without any decision being taken, but with a vague intention of the parties having a subsequent meeting. No subsequent meeting took place. (Feheney, 1992) Conclusion It was obvious to me that the UCC Department of Education, as constituted in June, 1992, was not enthusiastic about collaborating with CFRC in the provision of additional modules at post-graduate level in the area of leadership in Christian education. While I did not rule out the possibility of bringing pressure to bear on the department, thereby persuading the staff to collaborate, I felt that there was nobody in the department at the time, with the experience, independence and vision to initiate a promising collaboration with CFRC. As things turned out, UCC lost considerably from this failure to collaborate with CFRC, which was a potential opportunity to expand its education department. University of Hull Once I saw that both UCC and UL, the two universities in the area, were hesitant, if not unwilling, to collaborate with CFRC in providing post-graduate courses with a Catholic ethos, I began to look to other universities. I had known Professor Alan McClelland personally from my time in England. We had often met at conferences organised by the History of Education Society, of which we were both members. Moreover, he was the external examiner for my PhD (Kings College, University of London, 1982), He had formerly been professor of education at UCC and was now Professor of Education and Head of Department at the Institute of Education, University of Hull. I rang him at the University of Hull on 15 September, 1992, and explained my plans. He asked me to fax him a copy of our draft programme. On 16 September, 1992, I faxed him a copy of the CFRC course outline, with a covering letter. He replied the same day by fax, saying, Your idea interests me very much and I wonder if you would contemplate coming over here to discuss it in greater detail. So much can usually be done in a face-to-face meeting and details ironed out. We already have a modular system in operation which builds into an Advanced diploma and MEd degree pattern and your proposal looks as if it would fit nicely into that form. You probably know we already validate similar courses elsewhere, Maryvale for instance. 59 On 18 September, 1992, I received a letter from Professor McClelland suggesting 9 October as a date for my meeting with him and his senior staff in Hull. I accepted his invitation. I left for Hull on Tuesday, 8 October, and, the following morning, met Professor McClelland and his staff (including Ian D Marriott, Secretary, Dr Brian Spence and Dr Brian Gorwood, both senior lecturers) in his office. During this meeting, we finalised arrangements for CFRC to offer the University of Hull Advanced Diploma in Applied Educational Studies (ADAES)
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leading to MEd, starting October, 1992. All our modules were accepted, though two additional ones, chosen by ourselves, had to be added to our draft programme to bring it in line with the ADAES programme being offered by the University of Hull. It was understood that our revised programme would go before the Academic Board of the University of Hull, but Professor McClelland offered to pilot it through this process. Neither Mr Marriott (the expert on University regulations and procedures), nor Drs Spence and 23: JMF with Prof. Alan McClelland, 2007 Gorwood, saw any problems in the affiliation of CFRC to the University of Hull. The fact that I was directing the course, and that I had a doctorate in education from London University and had also formerly been a part-time member of the teaching staff of Avery Hill Teacher Training College, University of London, helped considerably in establishing the academic credentials of the programme. After the meeting, we all had lunch together in the staff dining hall. The only changes to the CFRC programme to be made were the addition of two modules: the first, a Summer School, taught by staff from the University of Hull Institute of Education, and the second, a 5,000-word school-based research project. That is broadly the arrangement that still obtains, twenty years later. Lectures Start Lectures started in Limerick (FCJ Secondary School, Laurel Hill) on Monday 7 October, 1992, and in Cork (South Presentation Convent, Douglas Street) on Wednesday 9 October, 1992. Gradually, we compiled a list of visiting lecturers for both venues. From the outset, we emphasised personal academic supervision of and support for students. Almost from the beginning, progress was steady and feedback from the students was positive. I was assisted by Sister Nora Buckley, CFRC secretary, who provided wonderful support and established good relations with the students. Initially, numbers attending lectures were quite large, with 42 registering for the first module in Cork, while the corresponding number in Limerick was 25. Some students audited the course and opted not to do assessment. This offer, though still available, was taken up less frequently in subsequent years. Eventually, all students attending lectures opted to submit course work, thereby making them eligible for the award of University of Hull postgraduate diplomas and Masters degrees. Initially, classes were held in Cork at the South Convent, Douglas Street, but we subsequently moved to Presentation College, Mardyke, where there was more parking space. Eventually, however, classes moved to Mardyke House, where we had both parking and lecture facilities. Happily, the courses are still being accommodated there. In Limerick, classes were initially held in Laurel Hill Secondary School but, later, it was found more convenient to hold them at Mary Immaculate Teachers College, South Circular Road. MEd classes After the students had completed the first two years of the course and had obtained the Advanced Diploma in Applied Educational Studies (ADAES), they became eligible to register for the Master of Education (MEd) degree. This part of the course involved research which had to be incorporated in a 20,000-word dissertation and which was usually completed in one year. Both CLEO and the University of Hull provided close supervision at every stage
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of the dissertation. The first MEd class, comprising twenty students, submitted dissertations on 1 August, 1995. The results were as follows: 7 Distinctions or First Class Honours; 13 Second Class Honours; 3 passes, no failure. From 1995, there was a continuous flow of MEd graduates: 1996: 12 ; 1997, 18; 1998, 12; 1999, 14; 2000, 10; 2001, 14; 2002, 13; 2003, 11; 2004, 4; 2005, 13, 2006, 12; 2007, 12; 2008, 12; 2009, 10; 2010, 4, Up to 2010, 191 students have obtained the MEd degree through CFRC/ CLEO. Nagle-Rice Project The Nagle-Rice Project was set up in 1993 as a special educational initiative to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of Edmund Rice. The project, which operated from 1993-1998, was confined to selected schools under the trusteeship of the Presentation Brothers, Christian Brothers and Presentation Sisters and concentrated on students who did not seem to be benefiting adequately from the programmes on offer in these schools. Though the project was separate from CFRC, I worked in close collaboration with the Director of the programme, Anne Fleischmann. Since Anne had an office in the CFRC suite, I was also able to avail of her expertise for some of the CFRC workshops. Anne, herself, introduced the teachers in the selected schools to action-research and multiple-intelligences methodologies. 1995 Evaluation When CFRC was set up in 1992, it was agreed that the initiative would be evaluated after three years. In 1995, this evaluation was done by Scott Boldt of the Marino Institute of Education. Boldt submitted his final report at the beginning of May, 1995, and it was immediately circulated to schools. Boldt Report On the whole, the Boldt report affirmed the work of CFRC and the vision of those who set it up. It concentrated on three aspects of CFRC: its role and effectiveness; the role of Congregational co-ordinators; and the appropriateness of staff development as a long-term strategy for developing Christian leadership in schools. The Boldt evaluation was very thorough and the methodology met the highest academic standards. Over 100 people in the counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick were directly involved. These included the Director, his assistant, two course tutors, seven congregational co-ordinators, seven trustees, five members of Boards of Management, fourteen principals and four parents. Interviews and focus groups were held with 23 primary and post-primary teachers and with 20 students. There were five case studies. Findings Modest Trustee Investment It was evident that the investment of the Southern Network of Major Superiors in CFRC was modest. The Director was approximately half-time and his assistant quarter-time. The total financial contribution from the Trustees of all sixty schools amounted to only approximately half the annual salary of one teacher. The Congregation co-ordinators all had other full-time appointments and the school representatives, who succeeded them, were also in full-time teaching employment. Whatever was achieved, therefore, was done at minimal cost. Conclusions As stated above, the evaluation focussed on three related issues in the CFRC initiative. The findings in these areas were as follows:

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The Role and Effectiveness of CFRC The report noted that within a short period of three years, the Director had put in place a fully-developed University-accredited course leading to MEd and established a regional structure for training teachers for leadership in Catholic education. Moreover, the CFRC courses had a specific Christian orientation and, as such, were unique, not only to the region, but to Ireland as a whole. The fact that CFRC had established strong ties with a prestigious university meant that these courses had a high academic and professional standing and that the programme could be adapted and expanded as needs arose. Given also that the period was one of great educational change in Ireland, CFRCs flexible structure offered great possibilities for the on-going professional training of teachers in the future. Within this context, the report found CFRC to be very effective in promoting Christian leadership in education among teachers in the region. On the whole, participants found the courses offered to be excellent and considered them to have contributed significantly to their professional development. The main area where CFRC was seen to be less effective was not in the organisation, content or presentation of its courses, but, rather, in promoting them and making attendance at them more accessible. Here, distance between school and course venue was considered an obstacle for some people. Both Cork and Limerick, the two venues where these courses were offered, were considered far from areas such as Kerry, west and east Cork. Schools also expressed a desire to have more direct contact with the Director of CFRC. Role of Congregational Co-ordinators The report found that the system of congregational co-ordinators was not working satisfactorily. Its recommendation was unequivocal: The data suggest that the role of the congregational co-ordinators needs to be addressed and reformed immediately. The survey found that co-ordinators were not sufficiently briefed and trained for their role, many of them were responsible for more schools than they could reasonably be expected to serve, and, in almost every case, co-ordinators had full-time jobs. This meant that the main link between CFRC and the school was not functioning. The report recommended that an attempt be made to have, on the staff of every school in the CFRC network, a contact person who would liaise with the Centre. Staff Development and Christian Leaders in Schools The report found that, while those teachers who pursued the CFRC course in school leadership gave evidence of developing skills that would enhance their subsequent performance as school leaders, the total percentage of second-level teachers in this category was small compared to the total number of teachers in the 60 schools being served by CFRC. The report concluded, ..it appears that the strategy which CFRC has adopted has been having an impact in schools, and, from the perspective of most of those surveyed, is the best way to create Christian leaders and promote and maintain a Christian ethos. (Boltd, 1995, 42) Conclusions of Boltd Report The report concluded: There are solid grounds for continuing and expanding the work of CFRC. In the light of the changing nature and structures of Irish education and voluntary secondary schools in particular, it is essential that lay personnel receive proper training and professional development. The Centre (CFRC) has established a unique system of Christian staff development, provided support for schools in promoting and developing their Christian ethos and structured itself in such a way as to allow for expansion and accommodation of new needs and changes. (Boldt, 1995, 4)
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End of CFRC A meeting of the executive committee of CFRC was held at Presentation College, Glasthule, Co. Dublin, on 3 Dec, 1996, 2.30 pm. Those present were Sisters Bride Given pbvm, Marie Carroll rsc, Kathryn O'Flynn fcj; Margaret OBrien rsm, representing Ena ODonovan rsm; Brs Michael Murray cfc, Bede Minehane fpm and Matthew Feheney fpm, secretary and Director of CFRC. Apologies for unavoidable absence were received from Sr Catherine Mulligan dc. At this meeting, I signified my intention to retire as Director of CFRC as from July, 1997. I also indicated my intention to continue the staff development courses, leading to MEd with the University of Hull. For this purpose, I stated that I intended forming a new organisation, to be accommodated by the Presentation Brothers at Mardyke House. I recommended that, if the Southern Network wished to continue the work of CFRC in supporting the management and teachers in Catholic second level schools, they should appoint a new Director of the CFRC. The representatives of the southern network, who formed the executive committee of CFRC, felt, however, that other support structures had come into being since the setting up of CFRC in 1992. The needs, therefore, which had prompted the setting up of CFRC were now being met by means of recent initiatives. One of these new initiatives, undertaken by several religious congregations, was the establishment of congregational education offices. It was, consequently, decided to terminate the CFRC and to encourage me to continue my work of providing post-graduate courses in leadership in Christian Education. The members of the management committee were most generous in affirming my work and congratulating me on the undoubted success which I had so far achieved in promoting leadership in Catholic education. In retrospect, I think it would be true to say that, especially in its later years, staff development had gradually become the principal area of concentration for CFRC. I was looking to the future and was concentrating on preparing lay leaders to take ownership of and nurture the ethos of Catholic schools. This objective, however, was too long-term for some Principals and Boards of Management, who preferred to concentrate on their own immediate problems. There was also a perceptible reluctance on the part of some religious, including leaders of congregations, to invest in the preparation of future lay leaders for their schools. They were more concerned with supporting the existing structures than with laying down new structures to meet the imminent challenges to Catholic second-level schools. It was against this background that I not only accepted, but welcomed, the winding up of CFRC and the formation of CLEO. CLEO seemed to me to have two distinct advantages: first, it unashamedly concentrated on preparing future lay leaders for Catholic Schools, through its professional courses leading to MEd in Catholic educational leadership, and, second, it was completely under the management of a group, the Presentation Brothers, who fully supported this policy. Though I regret to have to say so, some of the leaders of other congregations seemed to fail to see that their leadership in Catholic education was virtually at an end and that they would soon be handing over not merely some, but all, their schools, to lay principals. Yet, for some strange reason, some of them refused to take any steps to prepare potential lay leaders for these important future roles. Move to Mardyke House The winding down of CFRC and the setting up of CLEO provided an opportunity to move the Directors office from Evergreen Street to Mardyke House in 1997. CLEOs Mission Statement announced that it was committed to fostering and promoting Christian leadership in education, with particular reference to the Roman Catholic tradition, through advanced training and research (CLEO brochure). Its aims were described as threefold: to prepare and
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develop leaders for Christian schools; by means of post-graduate courses and programmes, which are informed by the values of the Gospel and the Christian tradition in education, to offer in-service training for teachers that meets actual and practical needs while, at the same time, maintaining the highest standards; to build a sense of Christian community among students and faculty. With the formation of CLEO, the main emphasis shifted to the provision of a programme leading to the degree of Master of Education of the University of Hull. At the same time, students were encouraged to continue their studies to doctoral level. This latter led to the formation of a class studying for the Doctor of Education degree, which, at this time, became available at the University of Hull. Enrolment for the EdD course began in 1997 and the first CLEO student to be awarded this degree was Rev Dr Thomas Deenihan, who completed his thesis in 2001. To date, 10 members of the original class have obtained the degree Doctor of Education (EdD). CLEO also facilitated students in studying for the traditional PhD degree in education and, by 2010, nine students had completed their doctoral theses and had obtained their PhD degrees. Academic Standards The academic standards of CLEO students have been rigorously monitored over the past twenty years by external examiners from British universities and have, without exception, been not only complimentary, but also laudatory, of the standards achieved. What Professor Maurice Whitehead, University of Wales, Swansea, had to say in 2008 is not significantly different from what other external examiners also wrote. He wrote: In line with my experience of this programme over the past three academic years, the general quality of the candidates work in the session has been quite outstanding. The standards achieved generally in this programme generally exceed anything with which I am familiar in a UK context. The very high level of first-class marks secured by students involved in this programme is quite exceptional in my own experience... When I took over as external examiner in 2004, this programme was already operating at a very efficient level. The few minor recommendations for improvement that I have made over the past four years (there have not been any instances of major concerns) have all been attended to promptly and effectively. If anything, the thoroughness of marking and feedback has increased, as have the levels of student performance. Common mistakes which were perpetrated by students when I took over as external examiner have subsequently been largely eliminated, thanks to an intervention workshop programme in Cork which highlights such issues before students embark on assessed work. This has had the general effect of further raising what was already a very high standard of student achievement.60

CLEO Graduates The available evidence would suggest that the training in leadership in Christian education obtained by CLEO students is highly regarded in the educational milieu in
24: JMF, back row, with CLEO MEd graduates and John Hurt, 2006

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Ireland. CLEO graduates would seem not only to be articulate concerning Christian education, but also to have personal convictions about it. This would appear to be a reasonable explanation for the fact that, to date, some 58 CLEO students have been appointed principals and 18 have been appointed Deputy Principals of primary and post-primary schools. Moreover, these appointments have come after these teachers began the CLEO course. At the same time, several have been seconded to the Ministry of Education to do in-service courses. The largest second-level school in Munster has a principal and two deputy principals, all three being former students of CLEO. A few past students of CLEO have also obtained University appointments.

25: JMF presents copy of one of his books to Michel Martin, Minister of Education

Publications In the 1990s, in an attempt to provide relevant reading material for the CLEO postgraduate students, I have published three books of essays on educational matters. These volumes were: Education and the Family. Dublin: Veritas, 1995; From Ideal to Action: The Inner Nature of a Catholic School Today Dublin: Veritas, 1998; Beyond the Race for Points: Aspects of Pastoral Care in a Catholic School Today, Dublin: Veritas, 1999. As mentioned above, I also published four books on Pastoral Care in Schools. In addition to books, I have also published articles in academic publications, including, Recusant History (2009, Vol. 29, No. 4, 553-569), The Journal of Caribbean History (2007, vol. 41, 1, 2, 92108) and International Studies in Catholic Education (2011, Vol. 3, No. 1, 11-24). International Notice for CLEO Professor Gerald Grace, director of the Centre for Research and Development into Catholic Education at the Institute for Education, University of London, has drawn attention to my pioneering work with CLEO in fostering research in Catholic education in Ireland. He wrote: The Christian Leadership in Education Centre in Cork, under the direction of Brother Matthew Feheney FPM, has become a focus for research studies and scholarly reviews of Catholic education in Ireland and elsewhere. In two recent major collections, From Ideal to Action (1998) and Beyond the Race for Points (1999), Feheney has focussed research attention on schooling and upon the foundational concern of spiritual and pastoral care in Ireland schools. In addition to this, the Centre has provided resources to encourage more research activity among Irish teachers and school Principals.61 My publications have also received notice in recent international publications. David Tuohy, in an article in the International Handbook of Catholic Education (2008), mentions both my books, From Ideal to Action (1998) and Beyond the Race for Points (1999). My work is also cited in the same volume by other schools: by Fr Jim Gallagher, writing about Catholic schools in England; by Aidan Donaldson, writing about Catholic Schools in Northern Ireland, and by Bernard Cook, writing about Catholic schools in Australia.

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Papal Recognition In November, 2009, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to bestow on me the Papal Cross, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Supreme Pontiff), in recognition of my work in Catholic education. The cross, the highest Papal honour available to a religious, was presented to me by Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork, in a ceremony at Mount St Joseph, Cork. At the same ceremony, my CLEO colleague, Dr Frank Steele, was made a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great. On the basis of my historical studies, I was elected first, a member, and later, a fellow, of the Royal Historical Society, London.
26: JMF with Bishop John Buckley, 2008

Presentation Brothers Publications In 1996, I published a book of essays under the title, A Time of Grace (Dublin: Veritas, 1996) to mark the beatification of Blessed Edmund Rice. The title was taken from an article by the late John McGahern, in which he recalled his time as a student of the Presentation Brothers in Carrick-on-Shannon in the 1940s. It will be recalled that McGaherns novel, The Dark (1965) was banned by the Catholic Church for its alleged pornographic content. At the Edmund Rice beatification Mass in St Peters basilica, in Rome, on 5 October, 1996, Cardinal Cahal Daly, Archbishop of Armagh, quoted a passage from Johns article in my book in the course of his homily. The quote was: I look back on those five years as the beginning of an adventure that has not stopped. Each day I cycled towards Carrick was an anticipation of delights. The fear and drudgery of school disappeared without realising it: through the pleasures of the mind. I was beginning to know and love the world. The Brothers took me in set me down and gave me tools. I look back on my time there with nothing but gratitude, as years of luck and privilege and, above all, of grace, actual grace. 62 When I returned from the beatification in Rome, I wrote to John to tell him that he had received the ultimate accolade: his work was quoted by a Cardinal of the Catholic Church in St Peters basilica, Rome, in the presence of Pope John Paul II. Another contributor to this volume was Sean Maher, author of the book, The Road to God Knows Where (Dublin: Talbot Press, 1970). Sean was a member of the travelling community who was placed in St Josephs Industrial School, Greenmount, Cork, in the 1940s. Though he was barely literate, he showed remarkable intellectual ability and was given special tuition to bring him up to standard. Later, he wrote about his schooling in Greenmount: School for me was a Godsend. I enjoyed every day I spent there, mostly for the learning. Reading books was my earthly heaven. Alls well that ends well! Alas, with me, this was never to be. Soon, like a cork, I was tossed on to the ocean of life. I was to be pared - as is the wattle - to support the rigging pole, to become, in other words, a cog in the wheel...To the tober I was born, and to the tober I must return. 63
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On my recommendation, Johns book, The Road to God Knows Where, was reissued by Veritas Publications in 1998. In 1999, I published a collection of short biographies of Presentation Brothers, under the title, Gentlemen of the Presentation (Dublin: Veritas, 1999). These words were used by the Cork priest, Rev John England, in a letter dated, 14 October, 1814, when referring to the Brothers of the Society of the Presentation, recently come to Cork. Fr England was subsequently ordained as Bishop of Charleston, USA, in 1820. In 2009, I published another selection of biographies of Presentation Brothers, who had served in the Englishspeaking Caribbean, under the title, Caribbean Recollections (Trinidad: San Fernando. 2000). As I write this, I am also putting the finishing touches to a book, Biographical Dictionary of Deceased Presentation Brothers. Local History Over the past quarter of a century, I have been deeply involved in the local history of West Limerick. This involvement has resulted in several lectures, numerous articles and the following books: The Ranahans of Iverus (Cork: Iverus, 1987); The OShaughnessys of Munster (Cork: Iverus, 1996); The Naughtons of Ballycanana (Cork: Iverus, 2006); Ballysteen: The People and the Place (Cork: Iverus, 1998); Askeaton Ballysteen Biographical Dictionary (Cork: Iverus, 2007); Adare and the Barony of Kenry Biographical Dictionary (Cork: Iverus, 2010); Stonehall Harriers Centenary Record (Cork: Iverus, 2011). I have also been closely associated with the OShaughnessy Society for several years and the Kenry Historical Society since its foundation. My involvement in local history has brought me into contact with a large number of local history enthusiasts and scholars and has helped me make many new friends. I will, however, leave consideration of this area of my life for another time.

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Endnotes
1

See entries for John, Phineas and William Bury in Feheney, JM, 2010, Adare and the Barony of Kenry. Biographical Dictionary. Cork: Iverus, 9. 2 Feheney, JM, 1998, Ballysteen: The People and the Place. Cork: Iverus, 13-16. 3 Wyeth, Leonard, unpublished papers about Evans family to JM Feheney, 14 Jan., 1995. 4 Ibid. 5 Dixon Davenport was one of the stewards at the Askeaton Races on 22/4/1862. Vide Munster News and Limerick and Clare Advocate, 19/4/1862 6 Feheney, 1998, op.cit., 16. 7 Ibid., 144-145. 8 Feheney, 2010, op.cit., 193. 9 Feheney, 1998, op.cit., 152-153. 10 Feheney, 2010, op.cit., 15-17. 11 Feheney, 1998, op.cit., 140-142. 12 Ibid., 91-95. 13 Curtin, G, 2008, West Limerick: Crime, Popular Protest and Society, 1820-1845. Ballyhahill: Slieve Luachra Books, 80. 14 Feheney, 1998, op.cit., 91-95.. 15 Ibid., 123-125. 16 Ibid., 122-123. 17 Ibid. 18 Feheney, JM, 2003, The Irish Folklore Project, 1937-38: Contribution of Askeaton and Ballysteen Schools. ABC News. Askeaton Community Council, 84-87. 19 Ibid. 20 Burke, Sir Bernard, 1976, Irish Family Records (hereafter BIFR, 1976). London: Burkes Peerage Limited, 1176, 1196.
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Cd 1492: Return of Owners of One Acre of Land and Upwards in Several Countiesm Counties of Cities and Counties of Towns in Ireland. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty. Dublin: Alexander Thom (hereafter Cd. 1492); see also House of Commons, British Parliamentary Papers (hereafter abbreviated to HCPP), 1862 (231). Return by County of Offences committed in Ireland, 1860-1862, 197.
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Whelan, Frank, n.d,, Cappagh: A Sense of History. 82-83. Donnelly, James S Jnr, 2009, Captain Rock. The Irish Agrarian Rebellion of 1821-1824. Cork: The Collins Press, passim. 24 Ibid., 38. 25 Ibid., 26-30. 26 BPP 1822 (423), 14, Papers Relating to the State of Ireland, May 1822. 27 Ibid., 49, 51. Limerick Chronicle (hereafter LC), 18 August, 1821. 28 Barrington to Crown Solicitor 1821, in Chief Solicitors Office, Registered Papers, State of Country, 1821, 201. 29 Hanrahan, M, 1990, The Tithe War in County Kilkenny, 1831-34 in Nowlan, W and K Whelan (eds.), Kilkenny History and Society. Dublin. 30 Ibid. 31 Ferriter, Diarmuid, 1998, A History of Limerick County Council, 1898-1998. Limerick: Limerick County Council, 208-209. 32 Dunraven, Earl of, 1919, Past Times and Pastimes. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 33 McLysaght, Edward, 1996, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 98. 34 Church, RW, 1879, reprinted 2010, Spenser. Echo Press, ISBN 978-1-40685-574-6, 41-44. 35 The Tablet, 19 November, 1994, 1488. 36 ffrench, Richard, 1980, A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. USA PA: Harrowood Books, 139. 37 Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, Chapter 39.01. Port of Spain: Government Printery. 38 Feheney, JM and DOrnellas, GP, 1975, Memorandum (to Ministry of Education and Culture) on Increased Grants to Secondary Schools. Unpublished Paper, 1975. 39 Feheney, JM ed., 1973, Report of Conference on Church and Education. San Fernando: Presentation College. 40 Feheney, JM, 2010, Catholic Education in Trinidad and Tobago. The Twentieth Century. Cork: Iverus, 30. 41 Feheney, JM (ed.), 1971-1973, Catechetics Bulletin. San Fernando: Presentation College. 42 Feheney, JM, 2010, op.cit., 141. 43 OCallaghan, Sean, 2000, To Hell or Barbados. Dublin: Brandon Books, passim 44 Feheney, JM, 2012, Presentation Brothers, Plymouth and Reading. Presentation Studies, June, 2012, 37-52.

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Natale, Lara, 2010, Youth Crime in England and Wales. London: Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society, passim. 46 Ibid. 47 Feheney, JM., 2012, Presentation Schools in England: St Vincents, Dartford. Presentation Studies, 2012, 71-87. 48 Bishop Mark Davies, The Tablet, 8 September, 2012, 33. 49 Ibid. 50 Mayhew, Henry, 1861-1862, London Labour and the London Poor, 4 vols. London. 51 Catholic Poor Schools Committee, 1848, Annual Report, 7. 52 Kelly, Rev William, The Tablet, 26 November, 1864, Letter to the Editor. 53 Saturday Review, 10 July, 1869, 49. 54 The Times, 6 February, 1879, 10d. 55 Saturday Review, 23 July, 1859, 100-101; The Bulwark, 1 July,1861). 56 Gilley, Sheridan, >Protestant London, No-Popery and the Irish Poor, 1830-1860, Parts I & II in Recusant History, 1970, 1971. 57 Presentation Studies, No. 1, March, 1982, Editorial, 2 58 Hostie, Raymond SJ, 1983, The Life and Death of Religious Orders. Washington, DC: Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate. 59 McClelland, VA to Feheney, JM, 16, September, 1992, unpublished correspondence. 60 Whitehead, Maurice, Professor, unpublished correspondence with JM Feheney, 2008. 61 Grace, Gerard, 2002, Catholic Schools: Mission, Markets and Morality. London: Routledge/Falmer, 109. 62 McGahern, John, 1996, Schooldays: A Time of Grace. Feheney, JM (ed.), A Time of Grace. Dublin: Veritas, 135. 63 Maher, Sean, 1996, Discovering a thirst for Learning, JM Feheney (ed.) op.cit., 129.

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