The Breastplate

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St PatrickThe Breastplate was the official school magazine of St Patrick’s (Boys’) Academy, Dungannon, Co Tyrone; the first issue appeared in 1961 and the title disappeared in 2002 when it graced the cover of a comprehensive history of the school. 

The founding editor of The Breastplate was Owen Quinn, a Dubliner who was appointed to the teaching staff in 1959.  An inspirational teacher, his contacts in the world of the arts included Brendan Behan and Richard Burton.  His successor as editor was Aidan Corrigan, a man of wide interests in the fields of education, literature, sport and politics.  His preoccupations are evident in the pages of the magazine from the mid 1960s onwards.  Following Aidan’s retirement Sean T Hughes assumed the editorial role for a short period before the final volume appeared in 2002. 

In The Breastplate 2002 editor Aidan Fee set out to record a history of the Dungannon school from its origins in 1891 until its transformation into a coeducational grammar school at the beginning of the new millennium. 

Of course, the really important names associated with The Breastplate are those of its student contributors.  Many may blush or blanch at reencountering their juvenilia; the intention of this site is certainly not to disconcert anyone.  The contributions of scores of students through the decades; the accounts of battles lost and won on muddy pitches and in draughty sports-halls; the grainy photographs of boys smiling or squinting at the photographer’s lens; all these are included as they appeared in that other country: the past.

Footnote: Aidan Fee, being the editor of the final edition of the magazine in 2002, was invited by the developers of this site to write this introduction to The Breastplate on line.  In doing so a link has been created between the past and present forms of the magazine, and between the various types of printed media used to produce the magazines then and the digital forms of electronic production in use currently.           We wish to thank him for his contribution.

Keenan's Milk 


'The Breastplate'  Editorial Written By Owen Quinn - 1961

The launching of a magazine is somewhat intoxicating. Pioneers, however, we cannot properly claim to be. Sounder-than-rumour has it that the heady stuff of earlier Academy magazines enlivened the times. But if one door is shut by Providence, a massive gate is often opened to make up for it. Thus the same historical fact which deprives this paper of some of the panache associated with innovators, confers on it the romantic mystique of the phoenix - an Irish symbolic bird if ever there was one. The Breastplate, then, is rearing itself up out of the ashes of precursors. We hope it will sing
gan fhuigheall, gan easbhaidh, gan locht fénics eile lan d’éifeacht
and that our bird may never come to nest in death or flames.

Speculation on the uses of a school magazine can hardly be separated from consideration of the general benefits to be derived from attendance at a college of the Academy’s kind. The more obvious advantages come to mind immediately. The Academy equips its pupils to wrest from modern economic circumstances a decent livelihood later in life; independently of bread and butter, the subjects taught here drill and excise the wits of students and so build them up intellectually; most important of all, the Academy gives its boys something to lean on as they take their first steps towards integrating religion with other aspects of living.



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