Wednesday 22 May 2019

Nazareth House boys band survivor returns

Willie McGowan, Paddy Baker, Michael Porter and William Walsh
Willie McGowan, Paddy Baker, Michael Porter and William Walsh

Sorcha Crowley

The last survivor of a 1934 Nazareth House boys band is returning to Sligo for the first time in 82 years.

Michael Laurence Porter (97) was sent from his original home in Galway to Nazareth House when he was just four years old in 1925, two after his mother died of TB.

He was told he was an orphan and never knew until he was 20 years old that he had an older sister Sadie who was sent to an industrial school in Ballinasloe or that his father was still alive.

He left the former Boys Home in 1936 for a new life in England and never returned.

This coming Saturday, 6th October, he will return to Nazareth House for the first time since then, to formally launch a new biography on the lives of the Brass Quartet.

The greatest triumph of Michael Porter and three pals' childhood lives was winning first prize for their brass band Quartet in the Sligo Feis of 1934. The boys were taught music by the well-known Sligo bandmaster Josie Cummins.

Michael sought to expunge the memory of being a 'Homeboy' - the term used by Sligo 'Townies' of the Nazareth House boys - for the rest of his life. He never told his late wife or children about Nazareth House.

With the help of historian/social worker/teacher friend Michael Murphy, Michael did extensive research into his time at Nazareth House and the photo of the Quartet was found (above). Michael Murphy wrote about the Quartet's time in Nazareth House in his first book, 'The Quartet: Care Lives of Irish Catholic Homeboys'.

He has now written a second book about their adult lives, 'The Quartet: After-Care Lives of Irish Catholic Homeboys' ,which he is launching in the Old Church at Nazareth House at12 noon this Saturday. Michael Porter is making the trip from England to Sligo especially for the occasion. Members of the public are most welcome to attend the launch and talk.

Sligo Champion