400th Anniversary of the Royal Schools in Ireland

This is a kind of time travelling experience. I went back to St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen, to preach at the service which commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the Charter which established the Royal Schools in Ireland – as part of the Plantation Settlement. In this case, the school was Portora Royal School, Enniskillen. I became a Choirboy in the Cathedral in about 1957 but I hadn’t really been back since 1967 when we moved to Belfast.

Portora was a kind of Glenalmond, set in the beautiful lakeland scenery of Co Fermanagh. I have pretty mixed feelings about all the schools I attended. But I can’t get away from the fact that my grandfather, my father, my uncle and I were all pupils at Portora Royal School. My father and mother both taught there.

But as always this is a time of change. The boarding school that Portora was is no more and a merger has just taken place with the Girls Collegiate School at the other end of town. The merger has been something of a bumpy ride but it will sort itself out in time.

The picture is with Dean Kenny Hall of the Cathedral – and the sermon honours among others former pupils Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Henry Francis Lyte – whose hymns we sang yesterday.

I met old friends, more from my Primary School than from Portora – but it was extraordinary