by John Byrne

in the late Summer of 2005
50 years after the opening of St Augustine's


Later on, back at Mairéad and Olivia’s home, the old Belcoo & Blacklion station house, we were invited to explore the old station. To me, as a lifelong railway enthusiast, this was ‘icing on the cake’. I’m sure that those who were in St Augustine’s during 1955, 1956 and 1957 would instantly recognise the station, and with this in mind here are a few nostalgic pictures: -

Click on picture to enlarge it.

Belcoo and Blacklion

Station as it is today

We spent a thoroughly enjoyable and totally memorable evening with Olivia, Mairéad, Charlie and Bud, enjoying a good fry-up, compliments of Charlie and chatting about people (too numerous to mention) and about old times. We even managed to get tee-totaller and Pioneer Bud to pose with a glass of Powers in her hand! It was amazing how many memories came flooding back.

One thing that had never struck me before was the way in which the local communities viewed the White Fathers, priests and students alike. From my perspective, we ‘parachuted in’ and after a couple of years as ‘guests’ of the local community, ‘flew’ back out. What I was told was the lasting memory of what we had contributed to our host community – something which escaped me, at least.

Bud Greene and Mairéad O’Dolan

Olivia, Bud (yes – with a whiskey) & Mairéad

Olivia, Bud and Mairéad

Bud with John Byrne

We agreed that in these sad days when the grave harm done by a minority of clerics in the 1950’s, 1960’s and beyond is so much in the news, it might be a good antidote to tell the story of the White Fathers in Blacklion, and the relationship between St Augustine’s and the local community. This is a project to be undertaken.

All too soon tiredness overtook us all. Margaret and I brought Bud home, then retired to The Olive Grove B&B in Blacklion (to be recommended by the way). Mairéad loaned Margaret a booklet from the Clogher Historical Society, to read about St Patrick’s Well and Temple Rushin Church in an article she had written, (I read it too).

After a good night’s sleep, I strolled over to give the book to Bud from whom Mairéad would collect it, and say a fond ‘goodbye’ – for now. I promised we’d return before long and expressed my feelings about the great friend she was to us all. I also quoted, to her embarrassment, what I wrote in my piece on Blacklion and posted on the Pelicans’ website; “Anyone who was ever in St Augustine’s and did not remember Bud Greene was never there.”

The entrance to Loughan House

The Rainbow Ballroom, Glenfarne

With that we headed off to Sligo, passing the entrance to Loughan House and ‘The Rainbow Ballroom’ in Glenfarne, where as a member of ‘The Blacklions’ I had played (not many former clerics can claim to have sung in ‘The Ballroom of Romance’), en route – we’ll be back ‘ere long, deo volante!

Our visit was over for this trip. We have returned to Dublin with much to reflect upon, not least friendships renewed, and golden days relived, and above all, the wonderful hospitality we were greeted with. Words fail me at this point. That we will return, God willing, is sure, but there is unfinished business to be attended to, and on that, I will make a start as soon as time permits.

To the Pelicans, all I can say is that a new chapter has opened in my life, and to our dear friends in Blacklion and Belcoo, a heartfelt thank you, for a memorable and cherished weekend.


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Page 1 of "Return To the Black

Page 2 of "Return To the Black

The main 'BLACKLION' Pagen)