Dr Haldane Mitchell: Video Memories

Wednesday, 27 January 2016: Dr Haldane Mitchell: Video Memories

Dr Haldane Mitchell
Dr Haldane Mitchell

Dr Mitchell gave a video presentation of material he had gathered over the years of two of our most cherished members, now sadly deceased, Andy Mc Aleer and Michael Pollard. Michael was shown on an old steam engine where he talked about the construction of a railway system to accommodate the moving of farm produce from rural areas circa 1780. Other topics touched upon included the tramway in Victoria Bridge, community relations in Coalisland, and the effects of the Omagh bombing in 1998. Footage of Michael at the vintage car rally in Drumquin and saying grace at the Probus Christmas lunch was also shown.

Andy Mc Aleer was videoed in 2008 when he spoke on his life and times. One of a family of six he attended Castletown Primary School. On leaving school he worked with local farmers before being employed by Northern Ireland Railways at Ormeau Road, Belfast. Shortly after this he moved to the health service where he was to spend 40 years in various jobs. On night duty up to 100 patients were left in the care of three members of staff with Andy now promoted to Charge Hand. Andy was a great communicator with a lively sense of humour.

Mr Tom Bratton: An Inspector Calls

Wednesday 20 January: Mr Tom Bratton: An Inspector Calls

Mr Tom Bratton
Mr Tom Bratton

Having started out as a primary school teacher in New Buildings, Mr Bratton, went on to become a Senior Inspector in the Department of Education with responsibility for all the Primary Schools in Northern Ireland. In this role he had to advise successive Ministers of Education on education policy and recalled working with Martin McGuiness and Catriona Ruane. He shared with his audience that he had observed over 15,000 lessons and while it had ever been his pleasure to praise excellence he had a duty to highlight instances where there was room for improvement. School inspections include conversations with pupils and he entertained members with anecdotes about some of the things said to him by children during his visits. He recalled his own school days at Foyle College where he excelled at athletics and gone on to captain the Northern Ireland Cross-Country Team. Mr Bratton told how he had very much enjoyed his time at Stranmillis Teacher Training College and the early part of is career as a classroom teacher and Head Teacher. In retirement he had visited visited Dubai as a government adviser helping to improve teaching and learning in a country keen to maintain high standards of Education.

Annual General Meeting

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: Annual General Meeting
Omagh Probus Club held its Annual General Meeting in Omagh Golf Cub on Wednesday 13 January 2016 with 29 members present. In keeping with established practice, Vice-President Paul Gallagher, was elected President for 2016 and received the Chain of Office from outgoing President, Eamon Cunningham. In his final address to the club Eamon thanked all those who had helped him in 2015, saying that he had thoroughly enjoyed his year in office. On taking the Chair, Paul Gallagher thanked members for electing him as President of Omagh Probus, which he described as “a very gentlemanly group in which all get on very well” He congratulated John McCandless on his election as Vice-President and thanked him for the varied programme of speakers he had engaged for the start of the year. He was delighted that Gerry McGonigle was continuing in his post a Secretary and thanked Sam Bullock for taking over as Treasurer from Brendan Donnelly. The indefatiguable Bob Lingwood, who looks after the Club’s public address equipment welcomed the installation of a Loop System in the Golf Club because it will greatly help those with hearing aids. The Club is now well set for another good year.

Paul Gallagher receiving his Chain of Office from outgoing President Eamon Cunningham
Paul Gallagher receiving his Chain of Office from outgoing President Eamon Cunningham

John McCandless invested as Vice-President for 2016 by President Paul
John McCandless invested as Vice-President for 2016 by President Paul

Mr Erskine Holmes: History and Heritage.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016: Mr Erskine Holmes: History and Heritage.

Mr Erskine Holmes
Mr Erskine Holmes

In a wide-ranging talk Mr Holmes touched on a variety of topics deriving from his interest in history and politics. His love of history had drawn him into genealogy and he engaged his audience with an account of his roots in Donegal where his family had owned 2 scutch mills. At Queen’s he read history under Professor J C Beckett, the eminent Irish Historian. This led Mr Holmes into a reflection of the centenaries to be celebrated in 2016 – notably the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme. Student politics confirmed his commitment to socialism and he went on to describe how he had become leader of the Northern Ireland Labour Party. Many present would have been keen to hear more of his views on the current state of politics in Northern Ireland and Westminster, but he moved on to talk about social housing in the shape of Garden Villages before addressing the campaign to reopen the Lagan Canal from Belfast to Lough Neagh.. He saw this ambitious project as part of the grander vision to restore Irish waterways to the point where it becomes possible to cruise the length and breadth of Ireland in leisure craft. He was thanked for his presentation by Probus Vice-President Paul Gallagher.

Spring Programme 2016

Date Speaker/Event
6 January Erskine Holmes OBE:   “Housing, Heritage and Waterways 1976 – 2016”
13 January Annual General Meeting
20 January Tom Bratton:  “An Inspector Calls”
27 January Dr Haldane Mitchell: “Video Memories”   Meeting held in the Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park
3 February Paddy Magowan:  “Councillor on Call”
10 February Shirley McCay:   “International Ladies Hockey”
17 February Business Meeting
24 February Clement Kennedy:  “Dog’s Abuse”
2 March Jim McBain: “Keeping our churches safe”
9 March Inter School Debate
16 March John Colhoun: “History of Omagh Rugby Club”
23 March Albert Allen: “Mapping Ireland”
30 March Michael Cooney:  “Sacred Heart Church”
6 April Annual Inter Club Quiz
13 April Anthea Owens, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council: Recycling:
20 April Billy Pollock: History of Omagh Tennis Club
27 April Dr John McClure: Red Cross Week – What’s that about?
4 May Janice Porter & Emma King: Grove Animal Trust
11 May Ian Humphries: Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful
18 May Shane Rolston: Game Angling in Omagh
25 May Brendan Hegarty, Chief Executive Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
1 June Derick Rainey: Managing a Post Office
8 June Annual Club Outing