Curiosity and regret driving Limerick classmate search after 60 years

Henry Lyons' quest to track down his former industrial schoolboy classmates

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Search for Limerick classmates continues as curiosity drives search

The class of 1958. Henry Lyons is back row, second from left

CAN we make it three in a row? Glin man Henry Lyons certainly hopes so.

Henry, a retired lecturer in science at Tralee Institute of Technology, began the search for three old school pals back in May.

And he used the Glin notes in the Limerick Leader as his springboard. Within a few weeks, he got information on two of them.

Unfortunately, he learned, one man, John Glynn, had died in the meantime. Then came news that the second man, Paddy Baggott,  was living in England.

But Henry hasn’t given up hope of finding out what happened to a third classmate, Joe Hayes.

“The story is very simple,” Henry explains. He started  secondary school at St Patrick’s in Glin, better known as Dore’s, in 1958. About 30 boys and girls started out that year and among them were three boys from St Joseph’s Industrial.

“Two of them stayed on and one left after first year.”

Only about eight of the initial class stayed on to do their Leaving Cert in 1963. 

“We never met again until 2013, 50 years after doing the Leaving Cert,” Henry continued. For the re-union, nearly everyone from that class was tracked down. But nobody knew what had happened the three lads from St Joseph’s Industrial School. 

“Then I read a book by Tom Wall (The Boy from Glin Industrial School) and I was quite shocked by what I read,” Henry explained. “I found it very very hard to take it in. We had no idea of what was going on there.”

The book stirred up  memories of his three classmates.

“They were very quiet fellows. They came in the morning. They didn’t mix much. We didn’t know much about them,” recalled Henry. And he began to wonder how they had  made out in life.

Following his appeal in the Limerick Leader, a first cousin of one man got in touch to say his cousin had died. He had become an actuary. Then a man from Pallasgreen made it his business to track down a relation of the second classmate, Paddy Baggott,  to get his telephone number and pass it on to Henry. 

“I spoke to Paddy,” Henry said. “We had a great chat. He had very sad memories of his early days. But he has done very well since.”  And they are now planning to meet up. 

So far, however, Henry has had no luck in tracking down Joe Hayes.  “I was very happy to get two out of three,” he said. But he remains hopeful.

What drives him on, he explained, is  a mixture of curiosity and regret. “Curiosity was a big part of it but I also felt a small bit of guilt that we didn’t know what was going on there,” he told the Limerick Leader. 

“If we did, we would have tried to help them,” Henry continued. “Even a kind word might have helped.”

If anybody has information that could help Henry, he can be contacted on 087-2608482.