John Robson: A Slice of Military History

Wednesday 4 November 2015: Probian John Robson: A Slice of Military History

John Robson
John Robson

John’s knowledge of Naval History is such that he has been called upon to speak at meetings of the club several times because of the interesting way in which he approaches each topic. His topic on this occasion was the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at the end of the First World War. As part of the armistice of 1918 Germany was made to surrender her Navy to Admiral Beattie at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. In all 74 German warships were laid up with their guns spiked – navy speak for the removal of their firing mechanisms. However each ship was allowed to maintain a skeleton crew to keep the boilers stoked and the ships seaworthy. But the Germans became suspicious of British motives and scuttled their own fleet as it lay at anchor. Mr Robson described how in the years which followed many of the ships were salvaged for scrap. In fact salvage operations continue to this day because of the high value of the steel in some of the hulls. John was thanked for for his interesting talk by probian Alastair Orr.

Tributes: Probians Remembered

Wednesday 28 October 2015: Tributes: Probians Remembered

Speakers 28.10 15
L – R: Dr Haldane Mitchell, Paul Gallagher, John McCandless

The sudden death of Michael Pollard on 21st October, following on so quickly from the deaths Cecil Brown at the beginning of the month and Andy McAleer in September made members pause for thought. Although Probus was well represented at their respective funerals and condolences conveyed to each of the three families it was felt that time should be made in the Club Programme for members to pay their own tributes to each of these gallant gentlemen. Tributes were led by Dr Haldane Mithchell who had a fund of stories to tell about the many times he and Michael had gone off together to research aspects of local history with particular reference to trams and railways. Those club members who had worked profssionally with Michael in local government spoke with warmth and affection about their former friend and colleague. Andy McAleer and Cecil Brown were also remembered with reminiscences about their conributions the club and the wider community. The common theme for all three was the way in which each had lived life to the full and in doing so had become an inspiration to those who follow in their wake.

 

 

Col Declan O’Carroll: Finnar Camp

Wednesday 21 October 2015: Col Declan O’Carroll: Finnar Camp

Col O'Carroll
L – R: Eamon Cunningham, Col Declan O’Carroll, Paul Gallagher

Colonel O’Carroll began by explaining that the bit of the camp which can be seen from the road between Ballyshannon and Bundoran is only a small part of a site which stretches back to the coastline and in total covers 731 acres. The site was purchased by the British Government from local landowners in the 1890’s as a training ground on which to prepare soldiers for the Boer War. In 1914 it was greatly extended as a training base for troops destined for the trenches of the Western Front. In the run up to the First World War 3 battalions of the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers were stationed in Finner Camp, housed under canvas in conditions which in winter were far from comfortable. Most were volunteers, patriotic young men who enlisted to fight for King and Country, buoyed up by the belief that the war would be over by Christmas. Four years later the vast majority of them would lie in Flanders fields having died gallantly at the Somme, Messines and Ypres. With the passing of the Home Rule Bill in 1922 Finner Camp was handed over to the IRA. On 22 February the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the tricolour raised by an honour guard led by Lt Jack O’Carroll, father of the guest speaker.

Mr Billy Gallagher: Omagh Shirt and Collar Factory

Wednesday 14 October 2015:  Mr Billy Gallagher: Omagh Shirt and Collar Factory

Billy Gallagher
Billy Gallagher [Left] with brother Paul, Probus President

Billy started his talk by giving a short history of the Gallagher family’s involvement in the shirt making business having established factories, at various times, in Lifford, Strabane and, in 1948, in Omagh.. The Gallagher family had started in shirt making in 1888 when Paul Gallagher took over Porter’s factory in the Derry Road, Strabane. The acquisition of a factory in Lifford followed and in 1948 the factory in Kevlin Road, Omagh was established in conjunction with the well-known firm of Austin Reed. Ultimately there was a board room coup and the Gallagher family were ousted retreating to their sole remaining factory in Lifford. Since the factory had only been valued at £2,900.00 the business was no longer viable and had to be sold off to Austin Pierce with Billy being offered the post of Managing Director. In 1969 Billy went to London with a suitcase full of samples and successfully tapped into the flower power/Carnaby Street market. Billy paid warm tribute to the people of Omagh in keeping the factory going for nigh on 50 years. Following members comments the vote of thanks was given by Bob Lingwood who thanked Billy Gallagher for his interesting and quite hilarious talk

Capt Mike Dale: A Life at Sea

Wednesday 7 October 2015: Capt Mike Dale:  A Life at Sea

Capt. Mike Dale
Capt. Mike Dale [left] with Probus President. Eamon Cunningham
Capt. Dale shared with members that in the course of his career in the merchant navy he had sailed over 1,500,000 nautical miles. His interest in the sea took hold when, as boy age 7, he had travelled to South Africa on a passenger ship with his parents. Back in the UK he enrolled as a pupil in HMS Worcester, an English public school for boys who wanted to go to sea. Despite his 2.5 years in a prestigious naval college he still had to serve an apprenticeship at sea, scrubbing decks and keeping watch in dense fog in the North Atlantic. An early posting was as Second Mate on the Cruise Liner  a job in which the novelty of putting on a fresh uniform three times a day and being nice to old ladies quickly wore off. Thereafter he stayed with the merchant fleet, gradually gaining rank as he gained experience. Capt Dale illustrated his talk with photographs of the many ships on which he has served – mail packets, car ferries, coastal tankers, bulk carriers, supply vessels to name but a few. His final posting before retiring in 2014 was a Master of a Diving Support Ship in the North Sea where he was required to keep his vessel on station within 10 cms of the spot on the seabed where the divers were working. He was thanked for his fascinating talk by Probus Vice-President, Paul Gallagher.

 

Probus Inter-Club Quiz

Ladies who took part in the Probus Inter-Club Quiz
Ladies who took part in the Probus Inter-Club Quiz

Ladies Probus took part in the Probus Inter-Club Quiz hosted by Omagh Probus Club in Omagh Golf Club on Wednesday 15 April 2015.   For the third year running the Ladies No1 team won the McCrory Cup for the best Omagh team.