"On Monday 10th Sept. 2018 Pat MacDermott and myself drove from Sligo via Manorhamilton, passing the Ballroom Of Romance in Glenfarne, and arrived at Loughan House to meet up with Robin and Pat Russell and their son, Paul. None of us knew what to expect, but we had heard of the tea & coffee shed that was set up and opened to visitors. The location, with a view of Lough MacNean, was very charming and so were the friendly guys tending to the cafe and also to a couple of polytunnels with plants for sale. Anyway we were able to enter the compound itself on requesting to visit the Chapel. One of the warders brought us in and, in passing, we said Hello to the Governor, herself.
It was indeed surprising to be allowed in at all - and then to find that the chapel had hardly changed in 50 years. Then I asked a passing resident - "What's down there ?" knowing it had been our recreation hall all those years ago underneath the chapel. It is now The Laundry. The warder brought us down for a tour ! New walls and partitions, and machines made it unrecognisable - at first. Eventually we exited onto a path outside and veering round the back saw a clearer view of the rooms we once occupied on the first and second floors. Again, you could only admire the wonderful Upper Lough MacNean.
We have a couple of photos of the Front Porch - note the 1953 "NISI" cornerstone and I'll leave that for another day. Next we met John Greene, a warder at the House for almost 26 years. I think he was as surprised as we were to recollect times past and names of students and fathers from the 1960's. John has very kindly posted a message up on the Pelicans.
Finally, to note that the [Gallery] page 167 shows the newly decorated Rec Hall, and [Histories] page 39 has a picture of the Chapel, as seen in 1966 when built.
We would like to thank the Governor very much for allowing us visit the building we knew as St. Augustine's College.
Addendum from Pat MacDermott:
We were shown round by the Prison Precinct Security officer from Mayo
and introduced to the Governor, Ms Connolly, who told PPSO to continue our tour of the main building. As we prepared to leave we were introduced to John Greene (Nephew of Bridgit "Bud" Greene, who had passed away some years earlier at 84 yrs old. John, who lives locally, as a lad, remembered the 'plays/pantos' that the Students put on and had been a 'Warder' at Loughan House Prison for the past 26 years and was now Senior Warder (Super Intendent). He was pleased to make a contact with any of the past students whom, when a boy, he remembered seeing at Bud's on many an occasion in the late 60's. He retires in 2019 & we said we would try and stay in touch.
The fact that there is an album of old photos of the White Fathers Seminary on the Magazine rack in the "Cafe" was a nice move by Olivia O'Dolans' connection with the 'Interns Rehabilitation programme'. Those who were in the Cafe were very impressed that the place had such a history as it dawned on them that WE were a part of that history and the whole camp showed a sense of purpose as to why it was built. (It simply has some prayer power still left in its consecrated walls!)
Robbie goes on to add, in reference to the photo in Gallery 167:
"I guess we omitted to state the obvious that there is no trace of the MONDRIAN painting. In fact you would lose your bearings on account of the new layout of the Laundry facility and find it - at first - hard to point out the original WALL ! The spaces between half the side pillars, once windows, are now filled in. Vertical hairline cracks in the plaster reveal that these pillars are still there. Outside it still looks the same as in olden times - but a little tatty."
|L-R: Robin Russell, Pat MacDermott, Robbie Dempsey|
|(photos courtesy of Robin Russell)|
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