A night to remember

Some 300 people turned up for Friday night’s Digital Gathering in The Ardilaun hotel and everyone I spoke to thought it a tremendous success. To quote one attendee “the atmosphere was electric” as old friends met up again after a gap of many years.

While most of those present keep in touch regularly with their own small group of Digital friends, and fail to see the aging process in each other, on Friday night we were all meeting other ex-DECcies after a gap of up to 20 years, in some instances even longer. In these circumstances it was often a case of hoping to recognise a face, then hoping to remember the name associated with the face and, failing that, hoping that our sight was good enough to read the name on his or her badge. Actually Kathleen and her team had the foresight to use a large font, thus ensuring that those who brought their glasses or remembered their contact lenses could read all the names. I might add that Mike “The Snake” Hughes put his badge in his shirt pocket, but that was no loss as he was easily recognised by both sight and sound.

The event was due to start at 7:00pm and as I had some items to place on the memorabilia table I thought I would get there on time, before everyone else, and found that the tradition of arriving late had passed and the hotel foyer was already buzzing with excitement.

There were few formalities to the evening – the emphasis was on catching up on the news and reminiscing about the past. The bar was kept busy, finger food and coffee were served, a few brief speeches were made, and a minute’s silence observed for those of our colleagues who had passed away. Most people spent time at a memorial table dedicated to our deceased colleagues – some 86 names were included and, of course, some names came as a shock to those who had been out of the loop.

Musicians Colie Mullen, Gerry McNamara and Harry Ruane were reunited to entertain us for a time and were joined by Frank Grealy (guitar). We had songs from Gerry Warde and Geraldine Flannery, and Pat Ridge resurrected his famous Elvis impersonation. Two large screens beamed footage from a DVD compiled by Jimmy Walsh from videos of Family Days in the mid-80s, old television ads and video taken inside the Ballybrit plant. This generated huge interest but it was not an evening for watching videos and there were many requests for copies. I hope to make it available on YouTube.

Fred Bowers was one of those who travelled from the States, and he spent the evening video recording comments about Ken Olsen and Digital for inclusion in an exhibit in Gordon College, MA. Around 40 people took time out to acknowledge the impact Ken and Digital had on their lives.

At around 2:00am, when the numbers were thinning out, someone said to me that the only difference from 20 years ago is that back then the place would still be crowded – the years are taking their toll. There were still a few stragglers reminiscing when I left at 3:00am.

As I said it was a fantastic night and credit for that must go to the organising committee of Kathleen Glynn, Geraldine Mangan, Gerry McNamara and Frank Henry. They have been working hard for months and the organisation on the night, with the help of a number of enthusiastic volunteers, was impeccable.

I would receive requests for information from time to time but I was copied on all their emails. I just checked and I have 496 emails in my Reunion folder which will give you some idea of the level of activity that was required to make the night a success.

I’ll take it upon myself, on behalf of all those present, to thank the committee and their helpers, Jimmy Walsh, the musicians, and the staff of TheArdilaun for a memorable evening.

I should also be thanking Seán (John Boy) Burke and Tommie O’Connor who organised the associated golf tournament on Friday morning, and Brendan Smith for hosting visits to the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland on Friday and Saturday. By the way the golf tournament is to become an annual event.

Liam Ferrie