Reunion will recall memories of time spent working in South Africa

A 25th anniversary reunion party and Mass for people who emigrated to work in South Africa in the 1980s will be celebrated in Clonmel this Christmas.

A 25th anniversary reunion party and Mass for people who emigrated to work in South Africa in the 1980s will be celebrated in Clonmel this Christmas.

The get-together of former emigrants, many of whom worked with Clonmel’s home grown multi-national MF Kent, will take place in Chrissie’s Bar and Restaurant on Queen Street on Wednesday, December 28.

One of the organisers, Larry Donovan, said many people from South Tipperary, Waterford and especially Clonmel travelled to South Africa during this period, mainly due to MF Kent’s successful experience there. The company was one of the largest mechanical and electrical contractors in South Africa in the 1980s.

“At the time, Ireland was in a major depression much like it is today and South Africa was one of the many outlets for the army of Irish emigrants at the time,” he recalled. “Most of them were young guys and girls fresh from completion of degrees, diplomas and apprenticeships but with no ready jobs to go to. Like emigrants in other times and places they all stuck together, meeting as regularly as work dictated in the main cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Many marriages took place amongst those who met there but at the same time a few tragedies occurred as well,” Larry said.

“Over the years most returned to their native soil or to the UK, some moved further afield to Australia and America but all have memories of their time in South Africa.

Over the years contact with the friends made in South Africa was lost. However there is always the chance on a return visit to Clonmel, especially during the holiday period, that you will meet up with a friendly face from those times in South Africa.”

Larry said it was at one of these chance reunions with some old friends earlier this year that it dawned on them that it was 25 years since those heady times.

“It was decided that we should try and make contact with as many old friends and work colleagues as possible for a reunion party over this Christmas period.

If you were one of the many who were in South Africa 25 years ago we would love to hear from you, or if you know anyone who was there please pass this message on to them,” he said.

He appealed to anyone planning to attend the reunion to send on photos of their time in South Africa, as it’s planned to upload them to a web page.

“We also plan to hold a Remembrance Mass before the reunion so if you know of anyone who has passed away since please pass on the details so they can be remembered as part of the evening.”

Anyone wishing to find out more information on the reunion should contact larry.donovan@vinciconstruction.co.uk or Joe Conway - joeconway@jre.ie or check www.chrissiesbarandreataurant.ie web page for updates.