The most important news item was the closure of St Benedict’s Abbey, Fort-Augustus. Here is a short account of this tragic event.
The closure of the Abbey after 120 years was marked by a solemn high mass on Tues. 29th December 1999, which was concelebrated by Bishop Mario Conti, Abbot President Francis Rossiter and Father Superior O.B Francis Davidson. The Abbey church was packed and most of the priests from the Highlands as well as the Abbots of Scotland and Archbishop Keith 0 ‘Brien attended. The church was in it’s glory, it was such a pity that the mass was to mark a very, very sad occasion.
It was decided by the monks, after much deliberation, to close the Abbey. The O.Bs through Matt Tykinsky even wrote to the Abbots of Portsmouth and St Louis in America, who have connections with F.A, for help, but only got negative but friendly replies. However, the major cause for the closure was the insolvency of Abbey enterprises. This replaced our school in 1993 and ran up substantial losses going into liquidation.
Since the closure, the Abbey building and grounds have reverted back to Lovat Estates. They were given by a past Lord Lovat to the monks on a nominal rent for as long as there were monks in attendance. The buildings are now locked up and boarded, they will probably be sold. The contents have been auctioned off in Glasgow and Perth and have raised about £200,000, there will be a further sale of the monks library on 22nd May at Fort-Augustus. This sale will not include the valuable books on loan to the National Library in Edinburgh.
Regarding the monks, Fr Francis is staying in the lodge, the bottom floor of which has been converted into a small chapel. Fr. Benedict is parish priest at Brora. Fr. Andrew is with the Sisters of the Poor at Wellburn Homes, Dundee. Fr. Edward is with the nuns at St Mary’s Colwich. Fr. Aelrid has a parish at Penrith. Fr. Gregory has gone to Ampleforth. Fr. Stephen is working in the Plymouth Diocese. Fr. Paul is in Rome for three months and Fr. Mark is in Edinburgh.
On the 11th Feb. the Old Boys Committee met in Perth. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed that the Old Boys Association should continue even though we no longer have a school and, now, no Abbey/Monastery. In fact, we hope to continue for many years to come, until the last Old Boy drops!
The next important item discussed was this year’s Reunion/AGM which was generally held on the last weekend of May at Fort-Augustus. It was decided that this year we will hold the AGM prior to our annual Old Boys Dinner at the holiday Inn, Glasgow on the night of Saturday 2nd October at 7.00pm.
With the closing of the Abbey, the committee were concerned that our heritage and memories would disappear forever. Therefore we decided to approach Old Boy Mike Turnbull (1950’s) to write a book about the history of Fort-Augustus Abbey and school with pictures of Old Boys over the years. Mike Turnbull graduated at Cambridge university and then became a lecturer and successful author. We think that the book will probably cost just over £10. The first chapter has been drafted , this takes us up to the first closure of the school in 1894 before it reopened again in 1920. In a small way Mike Drummond and Ralph Giulianotti are assisting and have found the old Corbies fascinating reading, full of interesting and historical facts. We hope it will be completed for the Millennium, anyone wishing a copy of this limited edition should contact Ralph Giulianotti on 01738 624674.
Annual Golf Outing.
The 1998 outing was once again very popular. The two main prizes went to James Stephenson, winner of the Scratch Quaich and to Peter Murphy who won the Handicap cup. Once again this event will take place at Old Boy Pat Barron’s lovely Strathmore G.C on Sunday 8th August 1999. The tee is booked from 1330 hrs and the price is £28 which includes High Tea (same as last year thanks Pat!). Limited places, so book early by calling Ralph G. on 01738 624674.
Annual Dinner & AGM
This year’s dinner will again be held at Old Boy Maurice Taylor’s Holiday Inn, West Nile St, Glasgow on Sat. 2nd October 1999 at 7.45pm. It will be proceeded by the AGM at 7.00pm
Timbale of Atlantic Prawns & Cured Salmon bound in Creme Fraiche with Chilli & Lemon Scented Olive Oil.
Cream of Cauliflower and Sorrel Soup
Roast Rack of Border Lamb with a Mustard & Parsley Crest, Fondant Potatoes, Turnip Dauphinoise, Green Beans wrapped in Bacon.
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hot Chocolate Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream.
The Meal is £25 and there are the usual discounts on rooms for the night if required. This event was fully booked last year and by popular demand we have doubled our booking so that Old Boys can bring along their female partners! To book, phone early to Ralph G.
Next year, to mark this event we have booked the Holiday Inn for Sat. 7th October 2000 for a Dinner Dance, with, I assume, a swinging band booked by Mike Drummond. You will be notified of this event nearer the time but put this date into your diaries as well.
Finally, the Committee would once more like to thank Mike Drummond on behalf of all the Old Boys for the sterling work he does keeping our web site up to date – so keep watching :- www.corbie.com
The 57th A.G.M of the Fort Augustus Old Boys Association
Held in the Cloister Room at 11am 24/5/98
Fr. Prior Aelred Grugan ,who chaired the meeting, opened the proceedings with a prayer.
At the start of the meeting Fr. Superior Francis Davidson, who has taken over responsibility of the resignation of Fr. Abbot Mark Dilworth, welcomed all present. He said how happy he was to see the O.B Association strong and was delighted that the community could still provide the hospitality for the reunion. Fr. Francis then proceeded to give the community news. Fr. John the Baptist died and was buried at the Abbey after being well cared for at Ampleforth. Fr. Benedict will return in July dividing the week between Fort Augustus and the weekend at Brora where he looks after a parish for the Aberdeen Diocese. Fr. Stephen has left to join the Plymouth Diocese and three novices will start in September.
The A.G.M was then formally started and in the absence ofFr. Benedict and Fr. Stephen, Ralph Giuhanotti adopted the position of Minutes Secretary.
Roles and Apologies: There were 17 members present and apologies from 15 others (list attached)
Minutes: Copies of the May 97 A.G.M were circulated and adopted, proposer Chris Stephenson, seconded by Mike Drummond.
Matters Arising: Fr. Aelred, past Housemaster and Headmaster of the Abbey School was voted in as an honorary member of the O.B Association. Fr. Francis felt in view of Fr. Stephen leaving the Benedictine order it was inappropriate to make him an O.B.
Internet and E-mail: This exciting new development has been up and running since the beginning of the year. Our web site on the Internet is www.corbie.com ,it includes photographs, extracts form old Corbies and all our latest news etc. The web site has been seen all over the world and through it we have added more O.B addresses and 4 life members. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet we welcomed matt Tyksinski all the way from the U.S.A for the AGM. The hard work and ingenuity in setting it all up was done by Mike Drummond, ably assisted by Chris Stevenson to whom we give our grateful thanks.
Golf Outing: After last years very successful outing at OB Pat Barren’s Strathmore G.C we have booked this year for Sunday 9th August. Cost- £28, including High Tea , first Tee off at 13.30, contact Ralph Giulianotti on 01738 624674.
Annual Dinner: This year will be at O.B Maurice Taylor’s Holiday Inn, West Nile St. Glasgow, Sat. 17th October Price – £25, including wine, courtesy of Maurice, and Benedictines, courtesy of Ralph.. Special Room rates £30 a single. Contact R. Giulianotti. Limited Numbers.
Ties/Hockey: Still ties left @ £15 each, only one large shirt left, price £29. The Committee will be looking into other merchandising especially for the Millennium.
Treasurers Report: was presented by Joe Dunn Sen. Our assets are at £4,577 which shows an increase over the last year of £739.
Committee Update: The Committee of Chris Stevenson, Brian Caulfield, John Edgar and Ralph Giulianotti were re-elected with the addition of Mike Drummond who has worked so hard on the web site. Proposer John Maclellan, seconded by Chris Dunn. All other office bearers were re-elected.
A.O.C.B: It was suggested that Summer School Students become associate members of the Old Boys. This would give them no OB rights but would allow them a presence on the web page and to join the Millennium Celebration. The Committee will look into this.
It was decided that due to the expense of sending out to over 400 addresses this will be the last epistle to non paid up members. If you have not paid, it is £10 annually of £100 for a life membership. The rest of the time was spent discussing the Millennium Celebrations, some novel ideas were put forward so please give any ideas to your committee. Fr. Francis reminded us that the Millennium was really celebrating 2000 years since Christ’s death.
Finally Matt Tyksinski who gave us some new ideas on how American Associations work was made our man in the USA. Proceedings ended with a vote of thanks to the chair and we adjourned for sherry and lunch with the ladies and community in the Monks Refectory.