Following a very enjoyable lunch provided by the Shrigley Hall Hotel in the main Dining Room, where we were joined by numerous relatives of those lying in the Cemetery, those gathered to celebrate the publication of the book returned to the Cheshire Suite.
As members and guests assembled, Ted Carless and Ruth Dark projected a slide show of some of their pictures of Shrigley on a large screen. During the speeches the projection on screen was a still of the large cross in the Cemetery.
Eric Baggaley introduced Mike Kilduff and Peter Roebuck, mentioning their earlier publications: one a photographic record of the College’s history by Mike, the other a detailed treatment of the first decade by Peter; both published to mark the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of the College in 1929, held at Shrigley in the summer of 2004.
Mike spoke first. After thanking members and relatives for attending and for contributing to the content of the book, he said that the book was what he had always wanted it to be: ‘a testimony to the affection the Association feels for its Shrigley dead’. He felt that the book was a fitting memorial to those buried at Shrigley; and that it would ‘enhance and inform our conversation and thoughts about those thirteen people whose diverse experiences and fates led them to lie together’. The dead, he felt, were a small, representative sample of all who passed through the College.
He moved on to say that we should feel grateful that Shrigley was now a Hotel, as otherwise our access to the place we all love would have been much curtailed. He thanked Louise Davenport, PA to the General Manager of the Hotel, for the warmth and welcome we always receive, and for her intuitive understanding of the feelings we all have about the place that figured so significantly in the lives of all who passed through Shrigley in its years as a Salesian House.
Peter treated the audience to an account of the highlights of the writing of the book. Being a historian by profession, he relished the chase, the hunt for detail and the tracking down of family and relatives, particularly of the boys buried at Shrigley. The first two boys to be buried came from Northern Ireland, where he has lived for many years. His intimate knowledge of communities there made it possible to find their families, members of whom had travelled from Northern Ireland to be with us.
Making contact with 92-year-old Maurice Sheehan, himself a former Shrigley boy, brother of Desmond, the fourth boy to die at Shrigley, in 1937, was a cause of particular satisfaction. The other Dublin pupil, Patrick Wosser, was the only one whose family we could not trace.
The highlight of his work, he said, was tracking down and contacting the surviving brother of Emile Hevia, the Cuban Theology student who drowned in the lake at Shrigley in September 1961. Bro Emile was on holiday from his studies in Italy, improving his English by working with Salesians and boys during that unusually hot summer. Swimming in the lake became a regular relaxation for staff, and for boys who lived near enough to the College to visit during their vacation.
A colleague of Peter’s from the University of Ulster had visited Cuba at Christmas 2006 and had met a Salesian who confirmed the whereabouts of Todd Orestes Hevia, Emile’s younger brother, now a priest in Florida.
Mike had earlier expressed his gratitude to Peter. These examples bore out the truth of what he said and showed that Peter’s enthusiasm and historian’s skills had made the book into a much more substantial entity than it would otherwise have been.Peter ended by saying that he idea for the book was Mike’s alone; that he had been delighted to be invited to join him; and that it had been a fruitful and most enjoyable collaboration