Old Dalgan Revisited.
Invited by the Shrule ParishCommunity, eleven Columbans returned to the site of the Old Dalgan for what turned out to be an historic and memorable occasion on Sunday September 15. 2002. Nothing remains of the main building, but the memory and spirit of the local people was as obviously genuinely true as it was tangible.
The eleven Columbans were warmly welcomed back to where we had started in 1918 and departed in 1941. After a light lunch we were brought to the site of the Old Dalgan, where a temporary notice board contained maps and photographs of the Old Dalgan, and a printed list of all the Columbans who were ordained there. Thoughfully three golf buggies were an hand to transport those who needed a lift to the still surviving ball alleys, the old tomb and on down to the Black river.
The Davins and Sheridan families who occupy the well kept two surviving buildings, in the area known as Bobbio where formerly the ordained 4th divines lived extended an obviously heartfelt welcome, interspersed with tears, emotions sandwiches tea, and brandy. to the visiting Columbans , in particular to the four of our group who had studied in the Old Dalgan: Tommy Comerford, Michael Donoghue, Oliver Whyte and Paddy Connelly.
Paddy Sheridan had built a beautiful grotto of Our Lady which the Columbans were requested to bless.We invited the Sheridan clan to join us in blessing the grotto with holy water.
Back under the famous ‘Monkey tree’, directly behind the now non-existent main Old Dalgan Building, we celebrated Mass with a crowd of a few hundred people, who had gathered for, what was clearly for them, an emotional and historic occasion.Some of the participants were people who had worked in the Old Dalgan . I met three people who, in 1941,had moved up to work in the new Dalgan in Meath for a few years to help in the transition. Many of the participants were the children or relatives of those who worked in the Old Dalgan, and who were proud to be associated with their ancestors involvement in the Columbian project.
Some had returned from England for the event. There was a particuarly poignant moment when it was observed that Mrs, Teresa Blowick a sister-in-law of John Blowick was present, sitting quietly in the congregation in the middle of an open and normally deserted field , invited by the local parish priest, Fr: Michael Crosby. His brother Ned Crosby, worked as an associate priest with us in Peru.All were invited back for an evening meal in the parish hall.
Many of us Columbans felt overcome and embarrassed at the amazing welcome extended to us by this local community who had never forgotten us but who may have been forgotten by us Columbans in the new Dalgan.