Remembrance Day Trip to Portora Royal School, Enniskellen
At the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, Steele Hall in the Royal school Portora Enniskillen stood in silence as three wreaths were laid at the historic school’s war memorial. Continuing a tradition that dates back many years a Clongowes wreath was among the three laid. However, this year was something special as the names of the Old Clongownians who gave their lives in the Great War are now inscribed on a beautifully simple, yet elegant board, which was blessed and installed at the service.
This is a powerful act by our friends in Portora and the Old Portora Union, who have honored the dead of Clongowes in an historic moment, further cementing a deep and meaningful relationship between both schools. Speaking at the service, former Headmaster Mr. Robert Northridge spoke movingly of the Old Portorans who died in the war – young men who joined the ranks of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Inniskillings and other regiments that answered the call to fight. Alongside them were men from Clongowes who also gave their lives in the same regiments. The futility of war was evident in the names recalled.
The commemoration held in Portora was poignant and moving, and spoke of the deep relationship that exists between us. Whenever Clongownians travel to Portora we are greeted as friends, colleagues and true companions. The common language that exists is that of friendship. It’s a language that has broken down unreal barriers that should never have existed on our island. It’s a language that transcends politics and division, speaking to two communities who share a great deal in common.
While the above may seem formal and ritualistic, the day is always filled with fun. For the 20 or so boys who travel, it’s an opportunity to make new friends with the Portora boys. Schoolboy stories are exchanged and laughed at. Yet, Portora always get the upper hand when it comes to rowing. The Clongowes Eight will never be echoed in Kildare judging by the quality of the rowing from the Lilywhites!
Thank you to our friends in Portora who share their story with us over the meals, the chats and the banter. It’s a true friendship and one that Clongowes values. The presence of two former Union Presidents as well as our Rector Fr Sheil and Headmaster Fr Moloney is a fitting tribute to the generous act by Portora and the Old Portoran Union. We wish them well and we continue our journey in the spirit of Fr John Sullivan.