Terry Wogan – Belvedere’s unique past pupil

February 1, 2016 in 201602, Featured News, News

Much-loved broadcaster Terry Wogan was Jesuit-educated, attending Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick, his native city, and Belvedere College SJ in Dublin. He was always supportive of Belvedere and made his last visit to the college for the Union Dinner in November 2009 where he memorably addressed a gathering of past pupils. Since news of his death on Sunday 31 January warm tributes have been paid to him at home and abroad. Gerry Foley, the present principal of Belvedere College, crossed paths with him on more than one occasion and was the better for it each time. He paid him this tribute on behalf of himself and the school.

Sir Terry Wogan R.I.P

The entire Belvedere community, students, staff, parents and past pupils, is shocked and saddened at the unexpected news of Terry’s passing. We offer our deep condolences to his beloved wife of 50 years, Helen, their children and the extended family including his brother Brian.

The flood of international tributes naturally focuses on his amazing broadcasting career but here in Belvedere – and particularly amongst his mates in the ‘Class of ‘56’ – we remember a great friend, a great wit and a unique member of our past pupils. Even as a student, his special talents were clearly in evidence – whether performing with distinction in the school opera or simply keeping his friends continually entertained quite effortlessly. The photograph of him in his school desk, captures that “Ta da” moment of a young man entertaining his classmates.  He attended the class 40th reunion in 1996 and he continued that tradition at their  50th Reunion Dinner in 2006 where he was the Guest Speaker.

It was a wonderful evening and his sharp but gentle wit, entertained the gathering. He was at ease and unassuming in company and in the banter with his classmates it was obvious that he enjoyed a great relationship with them. It was an evening of funny anecdotes and fond memories of his friendships in the college. His friends said he was ‘the same Terry’ on or off air, and that he was a gentleman in the very finest sense of that word. His classmate and  close friend, Mr. Frank Young, who was the President of the Past Pupil Union in 2009, commented, “On a personal note, he and I were friends for over 60 years. We ‘shared the  boards’ in The Gondoliers in 1956 and cycled home together after school through 5th and 6th Year. On these trips we would replay together the previous night’s comedy shows on the BBC – including the much loved Goon Show. Little did I know that within a few years he would be interviewing and co-starring with those same BBC ‘greats’ and indeed the top names of film, stage and sport from around the world.”

His last visit to the school was when he memorably addressed the past pupil’s Union Dinner in November 2009. Again, he entertained us all with his humour and mischievous wit.   He remained interested in how Belvedere College SJ was developing. Even as a young man, when he was well known in RTE, he helped the Belvedere Ladies Committee when they were fundraising in the 1960’s by acting as the presenter for the event. Recently he supported the college Bursary programme, which assists 10% of the students, who come from a socially disadvantaged background and he introduced the video promoting the fundraising for the Social Diversity Programme.

Like many Irish who lived in England during the IRA bombing campaign, I appreciated Terry’s role as an Irishman who was proud to be Irish in very difficult circumstances.  Others who lived there through the most violent times during the troubles, have said that Terry did a lot in promoting tolerance. He has inspired so many, including past pupils, who went on to be broadcasters.
As the clips from his career are replayed, we will smile and undoubtedly laugh at his witty and intelligent humour.

No doubt, his family and friends will mourn the loss of a great man who has been such an ambassador for his country. His classmates will remember a friend and fellow past pupil, proud to be associated with the college. All of us express our sincere condolences to his family on their sad loss. May Terry rest in peace.

Gerry Foley.

Belvedere College SJ
Sir Terry Wogan (OB 1956)