from "St Michael's College and Academy - A Celebration 1921-2007",
published June 2007

hosted on www.irvineburnsclub.org

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Some former pupils and some class photos (below)
Achievements of former pupils
We hope that all our pupils achieve success in one way or another, however great or small. For magazines of former years, Mr L Walsh and others gathered much news of former pupils. We cannot emulate that achievement, so this section mentions only a few former pupils – in the same serendipitously random order as the articles in this book.

Our well-known sports alumni are on other pages, and one, Bobby Lennox, has recently published his autobiography “Thirty Miles From Paradise”.

Other FPs who became professional footballers include Eddie Monan, Joseph Murray, John Murray, Jim Clarke, Hugh McKellar, Paul Clarke, Dougie McGuire, Derek Wells and Vincent Rae.

Making her name in the theatre is Simone Lucas. After prominent roles at school in drama club productions and the musicals, Simone has appeared in many shows at the Glasgow Pavilion.

Lauren Guazzelli recently gained 1st class Honours in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt.

Robert O’Donoghue gained 1st class Honours in Electronics and Micro-computer Systems at Dundee. His career started in United Biscuits, and included working for the Royal Mail advising their opposite numbers in Argentina; he currently works for NACCO in Milan.

Paul McGeown, with Law degrees from Glasgow and Oxford, is now a partner in the Brussels office of Linklaters. He has a French wife and three children.

Local professionals and former FPs include solicitor Martin McAllister, dentist John Foran and dentist Stephen McKinlay.

Angela Tennant, hairdresser in Stewarton, now has her daughter Natalie in her business, so they trade as “Angela’s and Natalie’s”.

Anthony (‘Tony’) Hayter took the Young Achiever of the Year award at the Prince’s Trust in Scotland ceremony in November last year.

George McGrattan, PT Computing at Garnock Academy, was made an MBE in the 2007 New Years Honours List for services to Education. His contribution to ICT teaching has been immense.

“On a Distant Prospect of St Michael’s College”

Below are three verses of a 1957 school magazine poem by Bill Nolan, as he pondered his future and imagined looking back to his schooldays. His P R career included looking after and managing the Tennent’s Lager Can girls. Bill now represents Scottish rugby on the International Rugby Board. He is also a popular after-dinner speaker around the world, and is actively involved in social events in Irvine. His aunt was one of the first 7 pupils in 1921; his wife Mary taught at St Michael’s, and his daughters were pupils. His prophetic verses are:

The pupils come from near and far
To try to earn their fame,
The teachers do their best to make
Them realise this aim.

Perhaps, in distant future time,
Remembered one may be,
As he who first did reach the moon,
Or coined gold from the sea.

Or else in sport, or other sphere,
Their names one will recall,
And so the College, small in size,
Will be well-known to all.

William A Nolan, IVth year, 1957

Desmond H Browne,
Secretary of State for Defence

A pupil from 1964 to 1970, he started his legal career in 1974 and entered Parliament as Labour MP for Kilmarnock & Loudoun in 1997. He was appointed Secretary of State for Defence in May, 2006.

Desmond was known at school for his debating skills – in 1970 he and John Duffin were runners-up in the final of the Daily Express Scottish Schools Debating Competition and were presented with a gavel which is still on display in the school.

He had a surprise meeting recently with another former pupil in a somewhat unusual place. The pilot who flew him to Afghanistan was David Tully, a pupil in 1980-86.

Baroness Ford,
Chairman of English Partnership

Margaret Anne Garland was a pupil in 1970-76. Chairman of Lothian Health Board in 1997-2000, and made a Labour Life Peer in May, 2006, she is the Chairman of English Partnerships, the regeneration agency which has bought the site for the first eco-town, and the non-executive Chairman of Irvine Bay Regeneration Company. Baroness Ford presented the prizes at the final St Michael's prizegiving in 2007.

Andrew O’Hagan, journalist, critic, and author

Andrew joined the staff of the London Review of Books, and published “The Missing” (1995), “Our Fathers” (1999), “Personality” (2003) and “Be Near Me” (2006), two of which were nominated for the Booker Prize. Controversial as ever, when asked (Radio 4, November 2006) what he thought the Government should include in the Queen’s Speech, he said: “I’d love the Queen to announce a universal ban on the school run – the idea of kids being driven to the school gates is an outrage and should stop right away. Also a 25% tax on fizzy drinks, chocolate things and bags of crisps just to stop kids thinking that that’s a normal way to live”.

This graphic featured on the editorial page of each of the St Michael’s magazines of the 1950s and ’60s, introducing the literary efforts of our pupils, and the news of events and former pupils, with the exhortation “Now, Muses, throw Helicon wide open, and move us to song.” With this line, Virgil (Aeneid VII, 641; inspired by Homer) invokes the Muses as he prepares to list the Italian forces lined up against his hero.

In 1964, under this graphic, the editor wrote “May former pupils recapture herein the essence of the ‘happiest days of their lives!’” Thus it is appropriate for our book also. It is doubly so, as the 1964 editor continued: “This will be the last drafted and edited in our ancient precincts of Irvine. Will the School Muse forsake us when we move, or will she find some quiet haunt in the new domain?" What did the school Muse do when St Michael's finally closed in 2007?

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