The History of The Old Boys’ Association.
According to the Easter 1932 edition of school magazine, “The Owl”, the 1st Annual Dinner of “The Old Boys’ Society” was held in February 1903 and a “Menu Card” was printed for the occasion. Anecdotal reports suggest that dinners in those days incorporated at least ten speeches, which may have something to do with the fact that there is no evidence that any further dinners took place until 1929 when the Annual Dinner was revived.
Perhaps because of an abbreviated number of speakers, the 1929 dinner encouraged the Old Boys and in 1932, The Old Boys’ Association was established. Mr. Justice Hanna became its first President. The objects of the Association were to promote good fellowship among former pupils, to support the school and to maintain links with The Board of Governors, teachers and pupils. These have remained the guiding principles of The Association.
The Association continued and in 1945, at the end of the second World War, it backed the formation of the Belfast Royal Academy Former Pupils’ Rugby Football Club which subsequently acquired grounds at Hydepark. Later, a former pupils’ Cricket Club and an Old Boys’ Golf Society were established.
All of the sports clubs have continued to grow and prosper and now operate as open clubs. Rugby and cricket are played on the school’s pitches at Roughfort and celebrated in Clubrooms at Hydepark. Golf Society members compete in June for The Picken Cup at Malone Golf Club and in September for the Ferguson Trophy at Royal Belfast. The Old Boys’ Annual Cricket match against the school takes place in late June.
The business of the Association is managed by a Committee under its President, officers and members who are elected annually and meet regularly during the academic year. They are responsible for key events such as the Annual Dinner held in November in Belfast and Dinners held each Spring in London and Edinburgh. In addition, the Association in conjunction with The Old Girls’ Association, runs a periodic Business Breakfast in Belfast to provide opportunities for business networking and support.
Membership in the Association is currently free and school leavers are encouraged to join and maintain their contacts with their friends and colleagues. Each year the Association provides financial support for the school and members are encouraged to participate in fundraising efforts and to insure that the tradition, spirit and fellowship of Belfast Royal Academy continues and grows.