CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS UPDATES RECORDED IN THE WEBSITE DIARY
Yesterday, an email arrived from Kees Neeft, who spent his Noviciate at Broome Hall 1962/3. Following up his opening comment, I discovered several more photos on the internet. See Page 198 of the GALLERY section.
If you knew Kees during that period, he would like to hear from you.
I have withdrawn the offer from the front page. (No takers, to date)
If you keep hearing clicking or tap-tapping noises, it's me I'm in the attic, typing up the index for the GALLERY section, as promised many moons ago.
Have you ever noticed the comment at the bottom of the GALLERY index ? It says :
"Apologies If the download time are slow at times for people who do not have a broadband facility."
and then refers you to the following site to compare performance, value for money etc : http://www.adslguide.org
It's a most helpful and up-to-date guide, whether you are about to decide to
change to broadband or whether you are already using this superior connection
to the internet.
The Pelicans' website has to cater for both 'dial-up' and broadband users, of course. Consequently, I have to be careful about the amount of information that I display on any website 'page'. Too many photos per page, for example, makes downloading time unacceptable for dial-up visitors whereas a broadband system is almost instantaneous.
If you are a complete novice and want to read a simple introduction to broadband, why not go to the PASS-IT-ON Appendix and choose the topic entitled "Broadband for the uninitiated".
If you want to check that I have kept all past promises, you can trawl through old UPDATES. (see above)
These started in April 2001, quite some time after the birth of the website in Summer 1999.
Apart from acting as a useful reference for me, they also serve as an interesting reminder of how much things have progressed over the months and years. This time last year, for example, the transcription of "Leaves from a White Father's Diary" had just started and we were up to Page 160 of the GALLERY. The Appendices have doubled in number and, sadly, quite a lot of old friends have died.
I have just had a quick look through the record for 2004 and am impressed by the amount of material that I have been sent during that time. Astonishing, really, that even after 5 years people are still sending me photos etc
There was a short period during the year when I thought that the well had dried up, but this was short-lived and the in-tray soon began to swell again.
Time for me to say a heartfelt THANKS, then, to all those contributors who have taken the trouble to send things to me over the past year.
Time, also, to wish you all a Happy Christmas and the sort of New Year you would wish for yourself.
If you look at Olivia O'Dolan's contribution in the Reminiscences Appendix again, you will see that I have added some more material which she sent me on Sunday evening.
This may run and run I'm pleased to say because she is remembering things that a lot of you will have only just forgotten.
Those of you who went to Blacklion will be delighted to hear from Olivia O'Dolan, who sent me an email today.
Her memories of St Augustine's are on display in the Reminiscences Appendix and her email address can be found if you look at the recent message she left on the Message Board.
I am pleased to say that she has been downloading pictures from the GALLERY to add to her own collection, and hopes to write again, now that she has started to re-visit those memories.
If you knew Olivia, I'd be grateful if you contacted her AND let me know of the connection.
Eugene has circularised the thank-you letter from Brother Trevor Robinson and this can be viewed in the APPEALS section.
If, after reading this item, you want to find out more about solar cookers, why not have a look at "Science in Africa Africa's First On-line Science Magazine". Here is the link for a page entitled "Solar Cookers for Africa" :
December 2004 (almost)
Thanks are due to the sterling efforts of Frances Murphy, Pat McHale, Eugene MacBride and Tony Smyth who have been identifying people in the latest GALLERY photos for us. This 'labelling' greatly improves the quality of the photos on display so please keep an eye out for any further people who can be identified. (For example, someone must recognise the altar servers at Fr Gerry Wynne's ordination on Page 192 of the GALLERY).
December 2004 (on Planet 'Ex')
David Walker has gone to great lengths to track down the recording made by the 'Pueri Cantores' in 1960 and his efforts
are revealed on Pages 196 197 in the GALLERY section. (It has taken him 4 years to find a copy). He has transcribed
the original on to cd, so contact him immediately if you would like a copy. He is also trying to identify each member of this
St Columba's choir. Are you able to help ?
THANK YOU DAVID, for this superb effort on our behalf.
I will work with David to see which items can be included in the "Familiar Sounds" Appendix.
Also, we have one more entry in the Rimenscinscens Appendix. (Thank you, Eugene).
Robbie Dempsey found an obituary for Thomas Quirke in the Guardian microfiche library.
He copied it and kindly sent it to me today. Robbie wrote : ". . . . I thought I would pass it
on to you since I wouldn't like 2004 to pass by without remembering Tom Quirke's untimely
death 10 years ago in 1994."
It is now displayed on Page 8 of the OBITUARIES section.
Please email me if you knew Tom and would like to add something personal.
The tribute to John Peel that I promised some time ago is now on Page 8 of the OBITUARIES section. I'm hoping that many of you now have a broadband connection and can enjoy the music I have included that was played at his funeral.
Question : do you have a webcam ? I've been wondering whether to get one for my grandchildren, whom we hardly ever see because they live so far away. If you have had any experience with these things, would you kindly let me know whether you think they are worthwhile or if you think that they will just gather dust in the cupboard, once Christmas is over?
I challenge you to read the article by Felicite Holman about children in Zambia and not be moved
to open your wallet yet again this Christmas.
Felicite is the Office Manager for Street Child Africa ; you'll find her story in the APPEALS section,
along with links to SCA's own website and up-to-date information about this important charity.
(Founded by Fr Pat Shanahan WF).
There is such a pressing need for regular contributions that involve quite small sums of money :
as always, just £1 a month can buy a huge amount more in Africa than it does in the west.
Eric Creaney is your main contact for Street Child Africa. Click here to go straight to his appeal.
PLEASE would you go to the APPEALS section and have another look at "A Plea For Help From East Congo" ?
Robbie Dempsey has sent me an update of the situation out there. Things are looking very grim and your help is needed.
He has sent me some photo shots from a television report that was made earlier this year and a recent news item.
The courageous Pere Valentijn WF and his team are hanging in there, against all odds.
11th December 2004 in some countries
Have you ever been asked to speak
at a funeral and been stuck for something to say ?
The older you get, the more you seem to get 'volunteered' for this role and all too often the mourners include a wide range
of churchgoers and non-believers. If you find yourself in this situation, take a look at the topic entitled "Births, Deaths and Marriages"
in the PASSITON section.
added some more material which has been waiting patiently on my hard
disk for some time now.
Who knows ? You may just find something here which fits the occasion perfectly.
Eugene has come out fighting with one of his excellent Newsletters. If you are not on his mailing list, you may wish to go to the NEWS section to read it. I have asked him if I could steal part of it for our Rimenisensces section (doh!). You can spend months panning for gold, then all of a sudden a nugget like this comes along.
THANK YOU, EUGENE let's hear more from you, please.
December 2004 (already!)
As promised, John Fowles sent me a second batch of photos that he and Carole took while on holiday in Europe, visiting old W.F. friends. Go to Page 194 of the GALLERY to see the first of two pages on which they are displayed. The first one might make some of you a little sad . . . (I know that "all things must pass" but that doesn't make it right).
(Robbie's photos next)
I hope that you haven't been keeping a record of my attendance over the past few months. We have had one of those ridiculously busy times that families enjoy from time to time. Hopefully, I will no longer have to travel down to London at the drop of a hat, now that my father-in-law has moved to one of our local residential care homes. (They serve excellent meals, so we're hoping that he won't keep asking to go home).
With a lot of help from Mrs Frances Murphy, the set of photos that she contributed are now on display and carefully annotated. (Pages 188 to 193 in the GALLERY section) A big THANK YOU TO FRANCES for this unique record of her brother's ordination (etc). She even printed off each page and sent me a carefully labelled copy.
Thank you, also, to Eric Creaney, for drawing our attention to the latest appeal for Street Child Africa.
Eric tells me that he has had a very good response so far from various 'Pelicans' and hopes that more will follow in good time for Christmas. (http://email@example.com will take you to the website).
(More to follow soon)
Pages 191 - 193 of the GALLERY section are now ready completing the unique collection of photos contributed by Frances Murphy. She hopes to find more at a later date, taken during her time as Secretary of the WF Parents' Association. In the meantime, many thanks are due to her for what we have received so far.
My bag is packed for another trip but on my return I hope to show you the second package of photos that John Fowles sent recently AND (wait for it) photos that Robbie Dempsey sent me such a long time ago that I am too embarrassed to even mention.
News : Fr Patrick Fitzgerald (over on Long Island) is, amongst many other things, promoting Fair Trade products to raise funds for Africa. Also, he and a group of dedicated volunteers have adopted AIDS' victims from Kenya and Zambia. Details to follow, just in case you would like to lend him your support.
Page 190 of the GALLERY section is now ready. This is the first of several pages devoted to the ordination of the late Fr Gerry Wynne.
There's a stack of faces for you to identify. PLEASE I need your help with this. You'd be shocked if you knew how little I know. Help a guy out and email me the answers NOW, please.
You'll be pleased to see that two new pages of photos have just appeared on the website Page 188 of the GALLERY section contributed this time by Mrs Frances Murphy, sister of the late Gerry Wynne who died in July of this year. There are a lot more to follow from Frances, who also hopes to find some pictures from her days as Secretary to the White Fathers' Parents' Association in the fifties. THANK YOU FRANCES : this is going to fill in some important gaps that have been missing so far.
Note: where possible, I will in future provide a 'quick-click' link to fresh material so where something is underlined (as above) you can click and go straight to that item.
Pages 184 - 187 of the GALLERY section now contain photos sent to me some time ago by Peter Fenlon (St Columba's 1959 - 1961). Like most of us from that period, they were a bit crumpled and faded, but I hope that you find the end result acceptable. Peter has given us a couple of particularly evocative pictures. Click here to go straight to the first Page. (Thank you Peter).
I'm afraid that the service has been a bit hit and miss during the last few months. As I always say, things should get better in a few weeks' time and there's a lot of new stuff in the pipeline, so keep the faith.
John Peel's funeral was a wonderful send off. More of a memorial service at times, with some excellent tributes from his family and Paul Gambaccini. I've downloaded and converted these recordings and will make them available during the coming weeks to anyone who might be interested.
Sorry about the delay in getting back to the website. We have been preocuppied with looking after my elderly father-in-law who was taken ill. Now that I am back from my nationwide travels, I hope to get on with the backlog of photos etc that await me. (And deal with several emails that deserve a reply - for which, many thanks). If the car is willing, and my wife gives me time off, I hope to attend John Peel's funeral in Bury St Edmund's next Friday. Will anyone else be joining me?
I'm having to disappear for a week so Page 183 of the GALLERY is 'up there' but not quite finished. Have a look now and see if you can add any information about the wine that is featured.
Have you listened to the Message Board background music yet ?
See you soon.
Page 182 of the GALLERY now displays pictures of Blacklion, starting with a photo that was kindly contributed by Robbie Dempsey. ALSO, Robbie's contribution to the REMINISCENCES Appendix is now completed another fine addition to the 'memory bank'.
He also sent me a cutting from The Irish Times (12th October 2004)and here is a short extract :
car daubed with anti-British slogan
The actor Tony Booth, father of the British Prime Minister's wife, Ms Cherie Blair, had a "Brits Out" slogan daubed on his car while he was away from his Co Cavan home at the Labour Party conference in Brighton. Christine Newman reports.
Mr Booth and his wife, Stephanie, were returning on the ferry from Britain when they received a call from garda?to say their car had been vandalised with the slogan daubed on it and the tyres slashed.
|As Mr Booth talked to The Irish Times yesterday, he remained good-humoured about the incident, although he has now lost his no-claims bonus. He said he and his wife had moved to Ireland and had lived in their house near Blacklion since February. His antecedents came from Ireland. He loved it and never had any trouble before. "People here have made us very welcome and are very upset about it, but there's always one idiot, isn't there," he remarked.|
We need to talk in private about an important issue.
John Morton has written a tribute to his friend Sister Mary of Walsingham (Mary Potts) who died recently. This is now displayed on Page 8 of the Obituaries section.
There's another anecdote from Eugene in the Reminiscences Appendix and another to follow soon from Robbie Dempsey. To those of you who are hesitant to contribute to this section, may I inform you that the 30-year Rule has passed and there is no longer any fear of prosecution. Feel free to spill the beans.
There's an account of Eugene MacBride's first days at St Columba's in the Reminiscences Folder (doh!) which will bring on the rheumy eyes. These anecdotes capture bits of our history as effectively as looking through the old Pelican mags. PLEASE let's have some more!
I've just popped by to tell you that Peter Briody remembered a Jimmy Tolmie anecdote which can now be seen in the Reminiscences Appendix. (I wish I hadn't called it that : I keep having to check that I've typed it correctly).
Also, something to look forward to : I've got about 45 photos on my desk awaiting my attention. Frances Murphy and Peter Fenlon sent them to me last week, and I've just started work on them.
Pat Gritton and John and Margaret Morton travelled down to attend the funeral of Sr Mary last week (down in Cornwall). These were the only 3 attendees who had a link with the White Sisters, albeit tenuous, and I believe that there was no mention of her 30+ years in the Society as a missionary. John is going to put the record straight by writing a tribute to her for the website.
Since last speaking to you, there have been several changes made to the website:
1. We now have 190 slots/ Pages in the GALLERY section, and on Page 181 some photos from John Fowles' recent UK/European trip with more to come when he has time.
2. The REMINISCENCES Appendix is slowly expanding. Read the latest entry from Pat Southall, who has paid a tribute to the WFs for his time at St Columba's and the Priory.
3. Maurice Billingsley has sent me some material which I hope you will see displayed over the weekend, once he has proof read it for me.
4. Robbie Dempsey, the ever-vigilant, patient, lifelong supporter of the website, has jogged me into finding a solution to the problem of displaying email addresses on the website. (details, next time)
THANKS are therefore due to John, Pat, Maurice and Robbie and also to St Jude, who singlehandedly recovered my hard disk when it disappeared mysteriously from my screen for several days this week.
You may have been surprised and pleased to receive a memorial card for Fr Tom O'Donnell this week.
My brother and I were puzzled to receive ours because we weren't personally known to him. John's wife, Mary (hot from reading the da Vinci Code, no doubt) eventually worked out that TOD must have arranged to have these sent to everyone on the WF/WS magazine mailing list. Whatever I thought that it was a lovely touch.
By coincidence, today I came across another tribute to Fr Tom and have gleaned some further facts about his ministry (along with another photo). These have now been added to the original tribute on Page 8 of the OBITUARIES section.
You may have noticed, also, that Page 180 of the GALLERY section now contains a group photo from 1937, sent in by Eugene MacBride, who got it from Basil Dilworth. Our thanks to them both for this little gem.
I was sorry to hear that White Sister Mary Potts died this week. She was 87 years old and her health had deteriorated since she suffered a major heart attack a while back. John & Margaret Morton, who have been friends of hers for many years, hope to attend her funeral (down in Cornwall) and will be sending more details of the arrangements later this week. (I'll keep you informed of this).
You may remember that she contributed many photos and facts for the section devoted to the history of Heston Parish Page 31 of the HISTORIES section. ( Click here to view this )
PS I'll be changing the background music on the Message Board soon. Any personal requests ?
Pat Gritton and Chris Campbell have given me copies of Missa Luba and (at long last) I have managed to include a full version of it in the "Familiar Sounds" Appendix. The quality is greatly improved, you'll be pleased to hear. (Previously, my recording system produced rather poor results).
A link has been provided to a page which is dedicated to the Missa Luba from which you can play any 1 of the 5 tracks. It explains some of the background to the music and gives details of the original recording. If you are interested, you might use this information to search the internet to find a copy for yourself.
This improved and complete recording has been a long time coming and I am very grateful to Pat and Chris for their help and patience.
We have already had an enquiry about Missa Luba from Sao Paulo, by the way.
Fr Peter Smith, UK Provincial, sent me the homily that was delivered at Fr Tom O'Donnell's funeral this week. It is included, with his photo, on Page 8 of the OBITUARIES section. If you have anything personal that you would like to add to this tribute, please email it to me asap.
9th September 2004
Maurice Billingsley's photos are now displayed on Pages 178 and 179 of the GALLERY a Blacklion pantomime (Page 178) and some up-to-dates shots of Gap as it is today. You might also want to look at page 130, where you will find Robbie Dempsey's photos of Gap as it was in 1969. It would seem that only a handful of people enjoyed the benefits of attending Gap. Names, please!
THANK YOU Maurice, once again.
7th September 2004
You may have noticed that I have provided a link in the APPENDIX section for "Reminiscences". I have a feeling that this area will gradually become a popular feature, and am particularly encouraged by what has been submitted so far. If this proves to be the case, I shall remove it from Page 39 of the HISTORIES section. Maurice Billingsley's contribution has just been added, by the way.
7th September 2004
Fr Peter Smith (UK Provincial) has sent us a photo of Fr Thomas O'Donnell WF, who was buried today. You will find this on Page 8 of the OBITUARIES section, awaiting tributes from friends and colleagues.
Maurice Billingsley has sent photos etc of GAP which I am about to process AFTER I deal with something submitted by the ever-patient Robbie Dempsey , which has been long outstanding. Sincere thanks to these two for keeping the faith.
If you have read the da Vinci code you will know why I've been hiding for the past two days with my nose in a book. It's all a pack of lies of course, (he said, hedging his bets).
6th September 2004
This is just to let you know that I am back in the driving seat after a short break, hoping that during my absence the battery has been charging up. On my return last week, I wasn't able to make a proper start replying to the emails and packages sent whilst I was away so apologies if you are still waiting for a reply.
Today, we begin with a moving letter of thanks from Fr Dave Cullen. Please go to the APPEALS section and see if there is anything that you can do to help. Pat Gibbons (Pelicans' Treasurer) tells us that the Pelican coffers are now empty.
More news (and replies) tomorrow.
15th August 2004
Eric Creaney's photo collection now stretches form Page 173 to 177 of the GALLERY section. And he tells me that that there is more to come! Thank you, Eric, (yet again).
On Page 176 you will find our 4th photograph of (the late) Archbishop Kiwanuka and a link to a short biography of his illustrious life by Sarah E Dahl. As you may know, the Archbishop was the first indigenous African to be ordained as a White Father.
Just between ourselves: I am taking a break over the next 2 weeks to visit family in the London and Norwich area and, hopefully, catching up with John Fowles before he returns to Canada.
7th August 2004
The "Reminiscences" Page that I promised has got off to a flying start on Page 39 of the HISTORIES section, with 9 very interesting contributions recorded so far. This looks as if it's going to be a very effective device for uncovering a lot more of our history.
When the numbers start to build up I will provide an index at the top of the page so that you don't have to scroll right through everything again, each time that you visit this page.
So, let me have YOUR reminiscences as and when they come to mind, please.
Surprisingly, Eric Creaney has found some more 'Priory pictures', so I have opened a new Page 175 in the GALLERY for them. Thank you, Eric !
4th August 2004
Eric Creaney's second page of photos can be seen on Page 174 of the GALLERY section. This time, they are from his days at The Priory.
THANK YOU ERIC it's great to see pictures from my era for once, though I'd never has guessed that anyone would have been able to afford a Brownie box camera. (Not true: I remember that Gordon Rutledge kept a box of Sobranie cocktail cigarettes in his locker very sophisticated, in all sorts of pastel shades.
And I've just remembered Geoff Bickers and the jar of olives he always kept to hand. I used to think that this was how he achieved his great strength. Having said that, you never saw Charlie McLaren eating olives and he was someone that you didn't mess with. (Has anyone heard of Charlie's wherabouts, please ?)
Which reminds me : I am putting together a page of REMINISCENCES for the HISTORIES section. Many people have memories of events / people that they would like to share and this will be the place where they will be recorded. So, however small or daft, please send me your stories for inclusion on that page (which will be ready by the end of the week, starting with contributions from Peter Collyer and Mike Mearns).
1st August 2004
You may have seen the recent message left by Frances Murphy, sister of Gerry Wynne :
"I have photographs of the Silver Jubilee of St Boswells and Gerry's Ordination"
I emailed her immediately and discovered that Gerry (Ged) died in Dublin on 13th July.
Gerry was a contemporary of Eugene's and is part of a group photo that Eugene sent me just a month ago (taken 48 years ago to the day on which it was featured). See Page 172 of the GALLERY section.
Frances was Secretary of the White Fathers Parents' Association in Edinburgh for many years in the 50s and has promised to send us some material relating to that period when she feels she is able though this is hardly a priority at this sad time in her life.
Peter Briody (St Columba's 1953 - 55) has supplied us with some more information about Fr Antony Hames WF, a very popular parish priest at Heston from 1951 - 57. Peter was a fellow parishioner of John Morton's and mine, so he may be able to fill in some of the missing parts of the history of Heston at that time. We have already had substantial contribution from people such as Sister Mary Potts, David Rose and Mrs Sheila Steggal, which is very encouraging. See Page 31 of the HISTORIES section.
These WF parishes were an important part of so many of our young lives and certainly worthy of remembrance and celebration on our website. We've yet to hear more from the parishioners at Bishop's Waltham and what we have so far which is currently displayed on Page 38 of the HISTORIES section.
And there's been nothing so far from the parish at Sutton Coldfield.
Have YOU any connections with a WF parish and are able to move things along ?
Breaking news : John Fowles and his wife Carole are coming over from Canada this month. Any messages ?
31st July 2004
Eric Creaney has been waiting patiently for 2 months for his photos to appear on Page 173 of the GALLERY. (Sorry Eric I'm gradually catching up). You will see that Eric has included a picture of "Ma Mere", whom many of you will remember from their days at Blacklion. THANKS ERIC (and for not complaining to the management).
29th July 2004
Grateful thanks are due to Fr Gerry Murphy, the Provincial for Ireland, who has sent me a copy of his tribute to Brother Paddy, along with a collection of emails / letters received at the time of Paddy's death.
Go to Page 7 of the OBITUARIES section to see all these items displayed to which I have added some of the photos from our collection. If you have any further photos or stories to recount, please let me have them asap so that I can complete this long-awaited tribute to the great man.
27th & 28th July 2004
The start of Eugene's latest batch of photos, taken at Broome Hall and s'Heerenberg in the fifties : Page 171 of the GALLERY section. I notice (with rising panic) that these pictures are 50 years old so if they look a bit faded and woolly around the edges you'll understand how I feel this morning. THANKS EUGENE
25th July 2004
1. Some good news today : Luis Henrique Camargo from Sao Paulo sent me a recording of the "Te Rogamus Audi Nos" response for Rogation Days liturgy. This bit of plainchant has stayed in my head since the fifties when we processed round The Priory grounds in the early summer morning, 'beating the bounds', with this refrain wafting over the fields. THANK YOU LUIS for responding to my request so quickly. (I left a message at his website (www.christusrex.org) and he took the trouble to track this down for me).
will find the recording in the FAMILIAR SOUNDS appendix
if you wish to re-visit the experience.
2. A few weeks ago, in the eye of the storm, John and Margaret Morton sent me a copy of "Maurice & Therese" by Patrick Ahern. It is described on the front cover as "The Inspiring Letters Between Therese of Lisieux and a Struggling Young Priest". Maurice Belliere was a White Father, in fact, as some of you will know. Once I've read it, I'll see whether an extract or two might be of interest.
I'm very grateful to John and Margaret for their continuing help and support. I've still got several things of theirs to look at and decide whether to reproduce some of it for the website.
PS Have I got the date wrong ? At my age I can no longer afford to lose the odd day.
24th July 2004
Well, courtesy of Tony Smyth, the GALLERY is filling up again. He has been scanning the slides that he took when he was at Blacklion and elsewhere, so we now have some interesting shots of people and locations from the early 70's. You'll find the product of his labours and mine on Pages 164 170 of the GALLERY section.
THANK YOU TONY. Tell me, was there anywhere that you didn't take your camera in those days ?
There is a new item in the Pass-it-on section, for those of you who would like to take advantage of free recordings from the BBC. I have homed in on just one of the set of archived programmes that you can listen to again, and leave it to you to investigate the other free goodies that are now provided by our National Treasure.
Next up, as they say, is a set of photos from Eugene, which should be ready for his return as long as I don't decide to hit the road myself in the next week or two.
If I don't hear from you, have a wonderful summer. If you don't hear from me, don't worry. I'll be back with more of your contributions asap I'm sure.
It has not been possible even to visit the site over the past 6 weeks or so, so thank you for your patience. Regular visitors will have noticed that I have slowly re-started the process of updating the website with fresh material.
We have had further contributions from Tony Smyth and Eugene MacBride for which you must turn to Pages 164 of the GALLERY onwards. There, you will also find the start of a Page devoted to the parish at Bishop's Waltham. Mrs Anne Butler gave me 2 photos to start us off when we met up at the Priory reunion in May. Fr Buckley kindly gave me a few minutes to make an appeal for memorabilia / reminiscences etc to the congregation. As yet, there has been no response, but life has a habit up dumping surprises on the doorstep, so I'll wait patiently before having another push.
People were delighted to see Chris Cooper (from Sandhurst) at the May reunion, though he was the only new face who made it. We all had high hopes that there would be a swell of people from 'the south' this year, but apart from Chris there was/were just the regular few : Eugene and Zelda (from Grantham), John Morton and Margaret (from Sutton Coldfield), Tommy Kelly and his own Margaret (from Maldon), Bernard 'The Kid' Melling (from Blackpool), Mike Byrne (from Reading) and me (from North Wales). Mrs Verna Burdett and her daughter Paula (Yeomans) joined us at the Mass celebrated by (the ever-welcoming) Fr Buckley on the Sunday morning.
The size of the turn-out was a disappointment to all, but particularly to Eugene, who has been trying to keep this old engine from stalling for over 12 years now. He is beginning to get tired of the effort involved and wondering whether to give up. He didn't feel able to write his normal Newsletter this time and has gone off on holiday to think about things.
Now it might be a bit unrealistic to expect to have two reunions in a year that are well attended and your response to Eugene's reaction might be "get a life" but you cannot deny that whilst most of us can have a take-it-or-leave-it approach to "the Pelicans" someone has to give it their all in order for that to be possible.
And Eugene has done us proud over the years. As many of you will know, he is a very generous man. On the first night of the reunion, for example, he paid for everyone's meal ! And it wasn't a cheap place to eat, either. Over the years he has spent a fortune in time and postage writing to people, maintaining contacts, sending out regular Newsletters, organsing reunions, comforting the bereaved, collecting and annotating huge amounts of memorabilia which we now all enjoy, etc.
As a relative new boy, I only have half an idea of all he has done to keep it going this long. I also have no right to speak on his behalf or yours. Even so, I hope that you will join me in asking him to keep manning the helm and thanking him for his past efforts.
Let me know if you want an up-to-date list of contact details of all Pelicans and I will append it to an email.
27th May 2004
The SOUNDS FAMILIAR Appendix now has several more items added. I have had no feedback about this new section yet and I am hoping that people have had some success with it. A broadband connection is obviously a great advantage in this situation but I hope that dial-up visitors are not discouraged by the file sizes. I'll be gradually reducing these soon, once I have an efficient compression system which will lose the bytes but not the sound quality.
Have you tried "Ah, sweet mystery " yet ?
23rd May 2004
All I have managed to do recently is to convert a cassette tape track of the Missa Luba recording and add it to the SOUNDS FAMILIAR Appendix for which we must thank Pat Gritton, who has waited many months for this to happen.
Now that I have worked out how to 'rip' from any source, more of this Mass will follow. It has taken an inordinate amount of time just to jump this hurdle but it will mean that the website now has a very flexible sound component so, for example, we can include recorded voices etc
You are all being very patient. Thank you. (All things must pass even self-imposed deadlines!)
See you all at Bishop's Waltham next weekend. Eugene writes : "We are booked into Bankses in the town, 10-12 of us. 8pm Friday 28 May and Saturday 29.?John Morton has arranged this."
6th May 2004
It has not been possible to add any new items recently but things will hopefully start to roll again next week. In the meantime, something that has been ready-in-waiting : an appendix for our burgeoning music collection. It has been a long time coming and several items are still in the pipeline (such as Pat Gritton's Missa Luba) but I'm on the cusp, as they say.
Click on the FAMILIAR SOUNDS appendix to see what's on offer to date. Some pieces will load almost immediately and others will take as long as a tax refund (particularly on a dial-up system) but it's worth the wait.
Apologies to those of you who have recently sent me emails : replies by the weekend, I hope.
21st April 2004
An item has been added to the Appendices : Maps and Accommodation which may be of help if you intend to visit Bishop's Waltham or Newtown St Boswells. The accommodation listed is purely a selection of what's on offer and should in no way be considered as a 'recommended list', of course. If you have any suggestions about what else could be included, please let me know.
Sorry that things are so slow at the moment 'work' work calls.
14th April 2004
Mike Mearns, who is always ferreting around on our behalf, has kindly sent us a photo that dates back to 1954/55 at St Columba's. See Page 163 of the GALLERY section. I really appreciate it when someone bothers to send a single photo (carefully annotated) all the way from Canada typical of the effort that people have made over the past 4 years.
In the pipeline : Robbie's appeal (soon!) and reminiscences from Peter Collyer, Peter McMurray, Mike and others. (I'm just tackling the small things at the moment).
12th April 2004
A tribute by Fr John O'Donohue WF to the late Fr Tony Maguire is now displayed on Page 6 of the OBITUARIES section.
10th April 2004
Several generations of ex-Priorians have struggled to find answers to the quiz on Page 5 of the HISTORIES section. Until this week, not one person has felt confident enough to submit some suggestions. Along comes Peter McMurray, a newcomer to the site, and scores 2 out of 12 !
Obviously, these questions were easier than I thought, so a Latin dimension has been added to maintain standards. Enjoy your Easter break, while puzzling over that one.
5th April 2004
You may have noticed that this page appeared very quickly. To achieve this, I have moved the UPDATE records for the period prior to April 2004 to another page which can be accessed as above.
Whilst doing this, it was interesting to look back on the changes and also to see how much we have moved on since the early days.
Things are slowing down, however, and I am beginning to wonder if we are going to get many more contributions to the site. This would not surprise me, in a way, because over the last 3 years we have regularly had a large number of items from a substantial number of people and the photos (etc) have covered much of our history. I hope that the site can no longer be seen as biased towards any particular WF house or period of history, though inevitably some are lightly covered while others have enjoyed a downfall (as in snow).
I shall not be twiddling, in the meantime. There is always the housework to do by which I mean a 'general tidying up', such as collecting up all those old messages from the Message Board and storing them for posterity etc.
And I shall keep the faith, in the full knowledge that someone reading this has just remembered where he left that stuff he meant to send me last year.
4th April 2004
Page 31 of the HISTORIES section has been updated with some fresh items added to "Other Photos from That period".
We have 1 runner up for the prize, but nobody has admitted to having been the 10,000th visitor.
3rd April 2004
Tony Smyth has come up trumps again. He has helped me with converted versions of 2 tracks from a vinyl LP of the Richard Fitzgerald Ceili Band so go to Page 37 of the HISTORIES section to hear them.
Thanks, also, to Mike Mearns for starting all of this with his loan of a cassette tape.
As a postscript : I've emailed a source in Eire to see if he can tell us what the band is doing nowadays. They were still active a couple of years ago, as you may know, and it would be good to see how things are with them in 2004. News to follow, I hope.
PLEASE LOOK AT THE MESSAGE BOARD to see what's on offer for Easter.
Glad you could make it.
For many months now we have not had a proper CONTACTS section because of important security considerations. Previously, you were able to access the Name, Address, Telephone Number and Email Address of anyone who had passed over their details. This became impossible, however, because of the increasing and very real threat from 'spammers' and 'harvesters' people and organistaions that search websites for email addresses (particularly) which they can sell to other nasty people and organisations. You may recall that I had to abandon my previous email address because I was receiving nearly 100 spams a day.
You may wish to stop reading now because the following is slightly technical, but I hope you stay with me on this one.
For a time I just couldn't decide upon which method to use to circumvent this problem. 99% of this harvesting of emails is done by software, i.e. by machine, not by people 'reading' website pages. Therefore, where email addresses feature on a website they need to be undetectable. There are several ways of doing this but because harvesters are aware of each technique, a combination of systems is required to keep them at bay.
With encouragement from Robbie Dempsey, I have firstly split the contacts database into 26 parts allocating a separate web page for each letter of the alphabet. So, Robbie's own details are now stored with everyone else whose surname starts with a 'd'.
Secondly, I have performed a simple 'encryption' on each email address. The giveaway symbol 'at' is now written as '(at)'. (Sorry about 'at'). Also, the classic email ending of '.co.uk/com etc' now has the character '.' actually written as '(dot)'.
So, my own email address is now written as "pelicans(at)paulawest(dot)plus(dot)com".
Thirdly, I have removed the facility for clicking on an email address to open up your email program with a blank email form that is suitably addressed. This facility has a (hidden) phrase which is a tell-tale sign to harvesters that an email address follows.
Finally, where I need to make the email address immediately understandable to anyone, I have turned the address into a graphic which cannot be 'read' by a robot. (see the welcome page where Pat Gibbons' name appears, for example).
I hope that after all this effort you will be satisfied that we now have a 'safe' system for passing on our contact details to our friends. I'd therefore be grateful if you would check that your details are correct and up-to-date.
If you reveal this system to anyone else I'm afraid I will be forced to have you 'taken out'.
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1st April 2004
David Rose, a parishioner at Heston Church, has kindly sent me a further bundle of photos and cuttings relating to the days when the White Fathers ran the parish. These can now be seen on Page 31 of the HISTORIES section which is the starting point for all things associated with the old parish.
This section holds many items which may be of interest to you, surprisingly, because, as I have often said, many of the White Fathers that we knew either worked or studied here for a time or just used it as an overnight b+b before flying to the African missions via Heathrow.
I'm most grateful to David and the parish for this contribution and hope that it will encourage others to send me more material.
24th March 2004
John (Jock) Halloran has also responded to the call : have a look at Page 162 of the GALLERY to see the 2 photos from 1960 that he contributed today. (Can you identify the unnamed person in the group ?) Thank you John.
Coming next : background to the 'Pere Valentijn appeal' from Robbie Dempsey.
13th March 2004
It was TONY SMYTH up there ! He has sent us 3 items to add to the Richard Fitzgerald 'Caeli' Band story that Mike Mearns started.
Have a look at Page 37 of the HISTORIES section.
(Thank you, Tony, for taking the trouble yet again).
12th March 2004
An INDEX to the first 50 pages of the GALLERY section is available, though some refining will be done over the next few days to ensure that it is accurate. You will then have the choice of just selecting a GALLERY page or reading the INDEX. There will eventually be a separate INDEX for each 50 pages. Obviously, this will take some time to complete but I will keep you up-to-date on progress.
Lately, I keep imagining that someone is up there in the attic. Was it you, looking for some photos of the old days ? Or have you just parcelled them up but don't know where to send them ? Here is my address : 5 Carlton Villas, Sontley Road, Wrexham, LL13 7EH.
8th March 2004
Eugene's latest Newsletter (45) can now be read when you access the NEWS section.
He's a little worried that no-one has contacted him yet about the reunion at Bishop's Waltham (29 - 30 May) or Dryburgh (1 - 3 October). Personally, I'm just waiting to see how the year pans out before I commit myself (like many people, no doubt) but I'm definitely going to make at least one of these reunions because I have enjoyed them a lot in the past.
8th March 2004
Two more web addresses have been added to the LINKS appendix : one that gets you every Scottish newspaper (thanks to Mike Creechan) and a comprehensive tour of the Vatican (complete with video / sound footage)
4th March 2004
The PUBLICATIONS Appendix has been a little out-of-step lately, so I am currently updating it with new information. This has led me to re-organise "Planting the Faith" and "Leaves" so that they are much faster to download. In both cases I have allocated a separate webpage for each chapter. This will be particularly helpful to those of you who are still enjoying the heady thrills of a dial-up system. (Always hold the cat whisker firmly against the crystal to get the best reception).
I'd be grateful if you would check that all the links work, by calling up random chapters to see if the system delivers the correct one. "Planting the Faith" can be accessed by going to Page 29 of the HISTORIES section and "Leaves" is on Page 36. Thank you for this help.
Is the new HISTORIES INDEX an improvement ?
3rd March 2004
The ever-expanding HISTORIES section has needed a proper INDEX for some time. This is now ready to use though I will be adding some further 'author information' during the next few days. Please test it out by clicking here and let me know if you spot any anomalies.
2nd March 2004
"Leaves from a White Father's Diary", on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section, is now complete. If you have been a little sceptical about some of the success stories that Fr Howell has described, you will find some pretty convincing statistics and counter arguments provided in the Appendix (written at a later date).
It just remains for me to thank John and Margaret Morton and Tony Smyth for the loan of the book and Robbie Dempsey for all his kind help.
I hope that some of you will download all or some of the 15 chapters and enjoy it as much as I have done.
1st March 2004
Chapter 15 is now ready on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section.
Only the Appendix remains to be transcribed. (Hopefully by Wednesday)
29th February 2004
Chapter 14 is now ready on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section.
27th February 2004
Chapter 13 is now ready on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section.
25th February 2004
Chapter 11 is now ready on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section. And Chapter 12 . . .
Please note: For your convenience, I have added some small maps to recent chapters.
24th February 2004
The final chapters of "Leaves from a White Father's Diary" have been scanned and are undergoing the next preparatory stageso watch this space.
John and Margaret Morton have sent me an article which contains a tribute to Bishop Walsh another endorsement of the great man this time from Archbishop Gray. You will find part of it on Page 3 of the OBITUARIES section and more which has been added to his biography on Page 10 of the HISTORIES section.
We are indebted to John and Margaret for yet another contribution to the site plus one to come which might astonish you.
22nd February 2004
Chapter 10 of "Leaves" is pret a lire on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section.
21st February 2004
Hot on the heeIs of yesterday's offering, I bring you Chapter 9 of "Leaves" on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section thanks, once again, to Robbie's good efforts.
20th February 2004
Chapter 8 of "Leaves from a White Father's Diary" is now displayed on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section.
This is such an inspiring book ; I am wondering why I only found our about it last year. Surely it would have made
excellent material for Spiritual Readings at The Priory ? Or didn't they want to get us too fired up, knowing that only
a small percentage of us would make it to the wire?
19th February 2004
The SEARCH facility is all but finished now. Please test it out and let me know if you find any anomalies. This is a very simple 'search engine' when compared to others that you may have used. It's very keen to please but not over-endowed*, so don't include any words that might crop up in dozens of pages. If you were searching for the name 'Mike Mearns', for example, don't include 'Mike' because it will throw up every page on which the word Mike appears.
I am indebted, again, to Robbie (Dempsey) for transcribing Chapter 7 of "Leaves from a White Father's Diary", which is now on Page 36 of the HISTORIES section. This is a lot of fiddly work (as I keep saying!) and I'm very grateful for the help (as I will keep saying).
*I think that I read something similar on one of my Priory reports.