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By Gerry Walsh
The object of compiling this book is chiefly to celebrate the first ninety years since the foundation of the Belvedere Newsboys’ Club and to prepare for its centenary in 2018. It is hoped that as many of the past leaders, or ‘docs’ as we were called, and past members whom we call Old Boys, will get much pleasure from the book as they read and reminisce about the happy times they enjoyed in the club. The present generation will learn how the club evolved and what it was like in the ‘old days’.
Dublin has changed greatly over the past ninety years. Ten-year- old boys in their bare feet no longer stand at their ‘pitch’ on street corners or scamper from one public house to the next or jump on trams or buses and dismount at the next stop trying to sell as many evening newspapers as possible in order to supplement the meagre family income. The club provided a welcome refuge of warmth and friendship for these boys that they and their families greatly appreciated.
On the very day that these boys reached the age of fourteen years they abandoned school and invariably took up jobs as messenger boys cycling heavy bicycles around the city and suburbs. The club provided special classes for the boys to help improve their educational standards. The boys actually enjoyed these classes and benefited from them.
Poverty unfortunately was rampant in Dublin in the early years of the club and most, if not all of the boys lived in overcrowded tenement buildings. The standard of housing has improved tremendously over the years and most of our members now live in comfortable apartments or houses in the inner city.
Unfortunately poverty has not disappeared but it is a different kind of poverty from that which the club members endured in the early years. The drug culture was unheard of until comparatively recently and this has decimated many families. Added to that there is the spectre of unemployment that has been exacerbated because of the present recession. There is still a great need to have a club such as ours for the youth of the inner city and this is borne out by the fact that we have over four hundred members at present – and a waiting list!
Conditions and life styles may have changed but the children of today are just the same as earlier generations when the club started. The young people are, and have always been fun-loving and lovable. The club was built on absolute respect and concern for the well-being of the members which continues up to the present time and hopefully will continue into the future.
Since I joined the club as a leader in 1950 I have made some wonderful friends from amongst the leaders and the boys, and even to this day if I meet one of the Old Boys on the street, it gives me a great feeling of pride and acceptance, when I hear the familiar greeting, ‘How’ya doc?’ and then I realise that all our efforts over the years have been well worthwhile.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gerry Walsh KSG
Born in Dublin, Gerry Walsh attended Belvedere College from 1942 until his graduation in 1950 when he embarked on a successful business career. He joined the Belvedere Newsboys’ Club as a leader in July 1950 and has been involved ever since. He served as director of the club from 1961 – 1966, and as honorary secretary for a number of years. He was elected President of the Belvedere College Past Pupils’ Union for the year 2005/06. He was invested as a Knight of the Pontifical Order of Saint Gregory the Great in 2006.
How’ ya Doc?
THE FIRST NINETY YEARS OF THE
BELVEDERE NEWSBOYS’ CLUB 1918 - 2008
Gerry Walsh KSG
Price:…… € 25.00