Anthony Brogan: Teaching in Uganda

Wednesday 21 March 2018: Anthony (Tony) Brogan: Teaching in Uganda in the ’60’s

Paddy Anthony
Probus President, Paddy McGowan [left] with guest speaker, Anthony Brogan

Shortly after graduating from the Queen’s University in 1965 with a degree in English, Tony, a former pupil of Omagh CBS, got married.  Part of his honeymoon with his new wife, Mary, was a flight to Uganda on a BOAC VC10 airliner en route to a teaching post in St Edwards CBS in Mubende.  He recalled that the first part of the journey from the airport to the school was on a paved road which became an increasingly bumpy dirt track as they penetrated deeper and deeper in to rural Uganda.   The school was soundly constructed from baked red earth bricks but otherwise rudimentary. The bigger surprise was that he and his wife were the only white people on campus, all other students and staff belonging to local tribes.   Tony began his talk to Probus with a Geography lesson, holding up a map of the world to show where Uganda was and sketch map of Uganda to show its location in East Africa.   Back in the 60’s most Ugandans were peasant farmers bartering their produce in the local markets in what was largely a cashless economy.  During his interesting talk Tony touched on local culture and customs including the influence of witch doctors and tribal chiefs.   After 6 years in the tropics he returned home to take up a teaching post in his old school.  His final anecdote was about an old country woman in rural Ulster who imagined that his three children would be black because they were born in Africa.

Hugh Ward: Family Trees

Wednesday 14th March; Hugh Ward: Family Trees

Hugh Ward
Club Member, Hugh Ward [left] with Probus Vice-President, Oliver Loughran

Club member, Hugh Ward, stated that his purpose was to encourage those who had aspirations to fill in a family tree not to be deterred because there was plenty of help and practical advice.   Various pro formas were available on-line including one published recently by the Belfast Telegraph.  He distributed a simplified construct with spaces for three generations that would likely cover the first 100 years of family history.  But where to start?  He recommended talking to the oldest members of the family and using photograph albums to write down as many names as living memory provides.    Church and parish records in many places go back to 1864 providing records of births, deaths, and marriages.  The Griffith Evaluation, commissioned in the 19th century for purposes of rural taxation, today shows who owned or rented every field and farm in the country.  It is available on-line.   The first census in Ireland was conducted in 1821 and every 10 years thereafter except the record is not complete due in part to the burning of the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922.  Old school roll books, many now housed in the Northern Ireland Public Record Office are worth examining as are back copies of local papers, now available in microfilm in local  libraries.  Tombstones in graveyards can also be revealing as can local histories.  The most recent aid to researching family trees is DNA testing which reveals not just your genetic composition [e.g 4 parts Irish, 1 part Norse] but also how many members of your extended family are already on the DNA database.  Hugh’s talk was very well received and gave rise to much discussion.

Oliver Loughran: The ’50’s Music Scene

Oliver and Paddy
Oliver Loughran [Left] with Probus President, Paddy McGowan
Wednesday, 7 March 2018.  Oliver Loughran: The ’50’s Music Scene

Probus Vice-President, Oliver Loughran chose as his topic his involvement with the Music Industry in Ireland in the days of his youth. Much of what he recalled resonated with members and evoked their own memories of listing to Radio Luxembourg.   As a teenager growing up in Ballygawley, attending Omagh CBS, opportunities to go to dances listen to live music were limited.  The annual Music Carnival organised by the parish in Ballygawley to raise funds was an exciting event in the late ‘50’s, especially if the Melody Aces were playing. He recalled a Fordson tractor parked behind the hall to power the generator for the amplifiers and hearing the tractor between the numbers.  The local music scene in those days was dominated by early showbands such as the Clipper Carlton and the Quigley Band.   On arrival at Queen’s University in 1961 Oliver and some friends formed their own band in which he was the drummer. Their reputation on campus grew and memorable gigs included rag week concerts compered by Bob Monhkouse and Des O’Connor.   In their final year at university the band appeared on stage in the Ulster Hall supporting big name bands such as the Royal Showband and the Capital Showband. After his talk others were keen to add their own reminiscences of the showband era and the meeting ended with humorous anecdotes of loves lost and won at dances in Tyrone and Fermanagh.

Paddy John Chain
Probus President, Paddy McGowan [Left] with Immediate Past President, John McCandless, receiving former Presidential Chain framed for display in the Club.

Mr Donald Pottie: Effective Legacy PLanning

Pottie and Co
[L – R] President. Paddy McGowan, Mr Donald Pottie and Vice-President, Oliver Loughran
Wednesday 21 February 2018.  Mr Donald Pottie: Effective Legacy Planning

A D Pottie & Co is a firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors based in Fintona, specialising in Effective Legacy Planning for farmers and all who have property to pass on.   Effective Legacy Planning is about getting good advice, considering everything that could affect your wishes and being aware of all your options, so that you can make your own informed choice.   Using members of the club as an imaginary family he introduced a Mum and Dad, a Son and Daughter, a Merry Widow and a scurrilous suitor.  This set-up allowed a lighthearted look at some serious issues regarding wills and inheritance.  Having touched on matters such as Probate, Trusts and Powers of Attorney he then invited questions.   Club members were prompt to use the opportunity to check out their own understanding of Inheritance Law  and glean more information.   This opened up other avenues of inquiry such as how to prevent sideways disinheritance, what happens if beneficiaries die prematurely and preventing successful challenges to wills.  It was Mr Pottie’s opinion that using a Trust is the most flexible yet robust method of ensuring that your assets are protected during your lifetime, your wishes respected when you are gone and your loved one’s inheritance will not be lost or reduced.   He was thanked for his interesting and informative talk by Probus President, Paddy McGowan, seconded by Jim McBain

Mr Philip Faithful: The Abington Collection

Wednesday 14 February.  Mr Philip Faithful:  The Abington Collection

Oliver and Philip
Probus Vice-President , Oliver Loughran [left] with guest speaker Philip Faithful

Philip opened his talk by explaining that he began collecting at the age of 14 and 50 years later is still at it.  He has now over 7500 items in his collection, including classic cars, motor cycles, Raleigh Choppers, juke boxes and radios, die-cast models and rooms filled with militaria from both sides of the conflict in both World Wars.  His collection is open to the public by appointment and attracts some 2000 visitors each year.  There is no admission fee but contributions are gratefully accepted in aid of Cancer Research.  To date he has raised over £30,000 in memory of his father who died from cancer in 1988.    Philip brought with him a number of items from his collection including a rare bayonet from the Boer War.  He has over 500 bayonets most of which were designed for the Lee Enfield rifle on the First World War.  From the same period of history he has several military medals including a World War I “Death Penny”.    Philip researches each piece carefully to establish its provenance.   However a photograph of a young woman in World War I uniform remains a mystery.   The name on the frame is Miss Ella Laird, 2 Dergmoney Place, Omagh and Philip would love to hear from anyone who can provide more information about her. Tel 028 8224 3373

Mr Dominic Pinto OBE, Consultant Surgeon

Wednesday 7 February.  Mr Dominic Pinto OBE, Consultant Surgeon, Tyrone County Hospital

Mr Pinto
Mr Pinto OBE [left] with Mr Patrick McGowan MBE, JP, Probus President
Mr Pinto provided members with an enthralling talk on his background in medicine and his time as a Consultant Surgeon in Tyrone County Hospital.   A native of Goa he studied medicine  in London and at Cambridge and upon graduation embarked on a career in academia.   Having set up a post-graduate course for surgeons in Uganda he returned to Britain to do pioneer work for the Medical Research Council on transplant surgery and CAT scans – both at an early stage of development.   After eight years in this role he felt drawn back to “hands-on” surgery and applied for the first hospital post advertised.   It was in a place he had never heard of, in country he had never visited – Omagh, Northern Ireland.  Encouraged by a colleague in Queen’s University, Belfast, he applied for the post of Consultant Surgeon in Tyrone County Hospital and [as they say] the rest is history.   Mr Pinto then charted the development of medical services in TCH from the time of his arrival until its closure in 2017.  During that time A & E services were up-graded, new specialisms introduced, new wards added, new theatres constructed, a new sterilisation suite  commissioned, new staffing structures introduced and post-graduate centre erected.  While he regretted the closure of Tyrone County Hospital he was positive about the new hospital and its focus on day procedure surgery . It had, he noted, already acquired a reputation for the sort of clinical excellence that had been the hallmark of Tyrone County Hospital.

Mr Philip Marshall, Omagh Academicals

Wednesday 31 January.  Mr Phil Marshall, Coach, Omagh Academicals Rugby Club.

Phil Marshall
{l – R] Probus Vice-President, Oliver Loughran, Phil Marshall and Paddy McGowan, Probus President

Philip shared his love for the game of Rugby, which developed at school in Belfast and continued throughout his playing career. Deciding to something give back to the game he studied and became a level 4 coach.

He described how, when appointed to Omagh Academicals eight years ago, in addition to developing the senior teams, he wanted to take rugby to children who would have no opportunity to play the game in the Omagh area. He now goes into local schools, to provide an alternative for pupils who have never had the opportunity to play rugby and do not fit into the established GAA or Football Teams. Under the auspices of Ulster Rugby he is able to offer free coaching in schools. He has been made very welcome in all the schools he has visited and hopefully has helped to break down barriers.

Rugby he strongly believes is good moral development for young people. Players can be competitive on the field but at the end of the game they have respect for each other, for the laws of the game and for referees. Members added their own thoughts and reminisces about the game and there were questions about sponsorship of stadiums, the world cup, payment of players and the wellbeing of players.

Probus A.G.M. 2018

Wednesday 24 January 2018: Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting was well attended with 26 members present.  At the start members stood for a moment in silent tribute to Paul Gallagher and Drew Clements who had passed away in 2017.  Those unable to attend through illness or incapacity were also remembered.  Thereafter the meeting followed the usual agenda for an AGM, beginning with the reading and adoption of the minutes of the previous AGM held on 11 January 2017.  The Treasurer’s Report showed a healthy balance for the calendar year 2017, while the Secretary’s Report highlighted significant events during the year.   Before vacating the chair out-going President, John McCandless invested Bob Lingwood as Honorary President 2018 in recognition of his long service to the club and in celebration of his 100th year;  Bob will be 100 in September.   As is the custom in the Probus Club, the Vice-President, Mr Paddy McGowan was elected President and the 2nd Vice-president, Mr Oliver Loughran was elevated to 1st Vice-President.  Mr Micheal Cooney will be the 2nd Vice-President in 2018.   Mr Gerry McGonigle returned to the top table as Secretary, following the decision of Mr Felim O’Neill to step down from that office.   Since the remaining officials in the club were happy to remain in post, the Club can look forward with confidence to 2018.

Probus Presentation to PHAB

Wednesday 17 January 2018: Kathleen McLaughlin, Chairperson, Omagh PHAB Club

PHAB Presentation
 President. John McCandless, presenting a cheque to Kathleen McLaughlin, Chairperson of PHAB accompanied by Rosin McConnell, founder member of Omagh PHAB

The Probus meeting arranged for Wednesday 17 January 2018 was cancelled due to weather;  heavy snow had fallen across the Province making travel difficult.   The AGM was postponed until the following week and Kathleen McLaughlin advised that the cheque for PHAB which she was to have received at the AGM would be presented at a later date.  PHAB stands for Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied and was the local charity chosen by Probus President, John McCandless, to receive the proceeds of the raffle held at the Club Christmas luncheon in December.   In the event the presentation took place a few days later in private when Kathleen met John to receive a cheque for £300 from the Club.   In a note of thanks and appreciation Mrs McLaughlin explained how useful the money would be to PHAB whose funding comes entirely from  community organisations such as Probus and local businesses.  Omagh PHAB has a membership of approximately 40 persons of whom 15 -20 are able to attend regularly, meeting once or twice each month.   PHAB inspires people with and without disabilities to make more of life together and as a club is very proud if its achievements. Over the years club members have travelled widely to share in adventurous outdoor activities with visits to Germany, Belgium, Spain and Moscow.  However for many in the Club their most memorable holiday experience was a visit to the Holy Land achieved through co- operation between Omagh PHAB and the Order of Malta.

New Year Message

Wednesday 10 January 2018:  Rev Robert Heron and Fr. Kevin Mullan

[L – R] Rev Robert Heron ,with Probus President John McCandless and Fr Kevin Mullan.

It is the custom in Omagh Probus Club to invite a member of the local clergy to the first meeting in January to deliver a New Year message.  This year members welcomed Rev Robert Heron, minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Omagh and Father Kevin Mullan, parish priest of Drumquin Roman Catholic Church.   Their message took the form of a conversation in which they reflected on events in the year that had passed and on the challenges of the year ahead.   The conversation began with a reflection on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.    Both agreed that an event which for centuries had been a cause for division in the Christian Church was no longer an obstacle to good relationships.   In the years since the Omagh bomb in 1998, concerted efforts to develop community relations  had been very fruitful, helped in no small measure by the work of the Churches’ Forum.  Rev Robert and Fr Kevin felt strongly that in 2018 the Church should continue to speak up for truth and speak out for moral values such as respect and responsibility.   Throughout, the conversation was enlivened by the sort of good-natured banter that can only take place between close friends.  The session ended with a reading by Rev Heron and the blessings of both men on the club and its members for the year ahead.