The distinguished historian Gerry Hayes McCoy, a graduate of the Bish, once wrote of his alma mater: “Going to school is the greatest emotional experience of a lifetime, the greatest and least forgettable. Do you remember how the sun shone through that wire-meshed window, shone in on your childhood, the bright sun of long ago? Do you smell again the smell of school-warm varnish, leather, bread and butter, ink, powder, books, boys? Do you remember the flinty yard, tree-shaded; the speaking river; the screaming seagulls on a frosty morning? How cold could it be! Do you remember the lighting of the fire — how it smoked without heat, how it smouldered. Do you remember the wonderful morning when the key of the school was lost and who-was-it was sent up town to the shop where — how unsporting — they kept a box of keys to thwart just so delirious a possibility.”
Walter Macken, another graduate, had different memories: “Let’s face it, we looked on the brothers with an eye on their health. It is a fact that if a brother dies you get three days off from school. Not that we wished them any harm. After all they were religious and when they died where else could they go but to Heaven? So it was really no harm to wish for sudden death — say one every term. The trouble was that all the brothers I knew were very healthy men. They never seemed to even get sick so that you could get a few exercises off. I remember the railings by the river in the old school and the way we fed the seagulls with the remains of our lunch. Those seagulls were very adept. I remember the new school. Nice classrooms, central heating, tennis court in the yard, all grand, but there was something about the old school, even if the floors were a bit dangerous….”
I am not sure what kind of memories these boys in our photograph might have had. They were the Leaving Cert class of 1960. They are, back row: Pierce Murphy, Serge Bruzzi, Bertie Lynch, Gay Cahill, Seán Conneely, Seán McMenamin, Tony Sherlock, Séamus Donoghue, Mixie Glynn, Michael King. Middle row: Paddy Roe, Jarlath McDonagh, Tom Furey, Richard O’Flaherty, Brendan Shaughnessy, Steve Cunningham, Harry Anderson, Michael O’Flynn, Bernard Diviney. In front are Michael Maguire, Gus O’Gorman, Harry Warner, Canice Kennedy, John O’Connor, Tommy Hynes, Gerry Forde, Seán McNamara, Dermot Nestor, Conal Duffy, and Mark Heneghan.
Our thanks to Séamus Donoghue and Steve Cunningham for their help with this photograph.