St Patrick's College, Armagh. Me and my father both?

I attended an Ulster GAA course last night in St Patrick’s College in Armagh.

It was highly interesting stuff and the content alone made the hour and a half drive entirely worth it, though it was the last thing I felt like doing on a wet Monday evening.

As I walked in that strange front door in the corner of St Pat’s, understated, facing out diagonally towards the wall of the cathedral I had strange rememberings of having been there before. And I had. My late father was a pupil there in the late thirties and early forties.

Our course took place in the Geography room. My da’s subject was Geography. It was a pleasant coincidence.

Of course I had been there before with him. During the ten years of my life when he was alive he must have brought me there on some outing or other.

I remember that door, going in through. Nothing else though. Strange how we remember these comings and goings. No doubt last night at all in my mind, I walked corridors that he ran many times some eighty years ago. Conscious.

Maybe the Geography room was then as it is now. Our tutor, Roger Keenan from Gortin. Himself a fella my father taught in Omagh CBS. His elderly relative Tom Rodgers was an old man we regularly took to mass and on other outings. Most famously my da took him to the Cinema to see Ben Hur. Me, my dad and Tom. Tom was uttterly enthralled by the spectacle. It was about 1977 and the new cinema in Omagh had just opened. My father decided that Tom, then aged about 88 and from Rooskey up in the Sperrin foothills beyond Cranagh, should share in the enjoyment of the new cinema.

As the credits rolled we got up to leave. My da asked Tom what he thought. He answered ‘An’ Dammit, they must have some stables and fodder out the back for them there horses.”

Next time I’m back in St Pat’s I will take a minute to scour the fading wideangle images of the pupils of St Pat’s  taken over the years in the lea of the Cathedral. As I search looking for my father, I hope to see him as a teenager gazing back at me.

And I’m sure I’ll learn something while I’m there. As he did before me.

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