Old school friends in search of classmates

Sean McCloskey saw an old photograph of himself in the Journal two years ago.

The photo was of Sean and 53 of his classmates making their First Communion at Waterside Boys’ School, Chapel Road in the early 1950s.

The photograph had been sent into the Journal by one of the other boys in the photo, Edward (Gus) Kelly.

Sean, now 72 years-old owns a bar in Glasgow but after his sister Evelyn posted a copy of the Journal on to him, he saw the photo and managed to get in contact with Gus Kelly.

Coincidentally, Sean and Gus, are sat side-by-side in the photograph but the pair are keen to hear from more of the people in the photograph and perhaps organise a re-union in Derry.

“I really enjoyed going to Waterside Boys’,” said Prehen man, Sean.

“It was a great wee school - there was never really any bother there.

“I vaguely remember the picture being taken and I can’t believe that myself and Gus are sat beside one another.”

Like Sean, Gus Kelly, no longer lives in Derry. Gus now lives in England and he started at Waterside Boys’ School in 1949.

There are 54 pupils in total in the photograph and as you would expect Gus can’t recall all of the names of the boys in the photo.

“However, some names to do spring to mind,” Gus told the Journal.

“I can remember Gerry Hamilton, Brian Spellman, Sean McCloskey, Michael Morrison, Lawrence Pimley, Jackie Scoltock, Johnny Nichols and I also think there’s an O’Hara, a McDonough and McLucas in there too.”

“The priest’s name is Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty. Sadly, I suppose many of those who are in the photograph are no longer with us,” added Gus.

Turning to his time at the Chapel Road school, Gus recalls: “I started there just as my uncle was retiring as headmaster. The time I spent at the school was a rewarding one. They seemed to be ahead of the other establishments because when I went from there to St. Columb’s College, they were teaching stuff there I had already done at Chapel Road, i.e. Maths and Science.

“It was a very nicely laid out place and it had a very good staff of teachers. Most of the pupils were fine, too, not many bullies I can recall.”

Echoing the sentiments of his former classmates, Sean said although times were different back then, his memories of Watersides Boys’ School are mostly positive.

“I remember there being any bullies and the teachers at the school were great.

“When I look at that picture now I think about how much things have changed since then. It’s been over 60 years but there’s just no way a school would allow for a class of that size to exist now.

“I also enjoyed looking at the clothes we were all wearing back then. I think we all looked really smart.”

Despite living in England and Scotland respectively, Gus and Sean, have kept in touch for the last few years and have tried tracking down some of the other boys in the photograph.

However, they have decided to make their appeal public as they would like to organise a re-union in Derry as soon as possible.

“It would be amazing to be able to come back to Derry to meet up with some of the people in the photo,” said Sean.

“I am sure we would all have plenty of good stories to tell,” he laughed.