Former Headmaster
A Man of Rare Gifts


By courtesy of the Harrow Times

Present and past staff and pupils of the Salvatorian College gathered at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in High Street, Wealdstone, on Saturday for a service of thanksgiving for the life of former headmaster Father Dominic Crilly.

Father Dominic, who was head of the boys' grammar school in High Road, Harrow Weald, for 21 years, died in January at the age of 86. The parish priest, Father Peter Preston, a former teacher at the school, told the congregation: "We have come together not to be sad, but in joy for Dominic's life and work, for what he meant to us and for what he achieved in this community."

Father Dominic was remembered as a teacher, a colleague, a gifted academic, a friend, a sports fan, a smoker, a poet, a cook, a passionate lover of the English and Irish languages and a someone who performed impressions of Norman Wisdom, wearing a school blazer and cap. He was a traditionalist, but not a conservative, who, thanks to his powers of persuasion, played a major role in the borough's transition to comprehensive education.

Among tributes was one from Harrow councillor Keith Toms, who served as a governor of the school for nine years. In a message read out by Father Peter, Councillor Toms, who is visiting America, said he counted Father Dominic as a friend for whom he had a great respect. He had a great sense of humour and no time for pomposity.

"He would tell me jokes about the Soviet Union, and I would tell him jokes about the Vatican," Councillor Toms said. "He was an immensely approachable man with a firm commitment to what he believed in and had a rare gift for putting people at their ease as soon as they met him. His departure from this world has made it a lesser place."

Father Dominic was born in Belfast in 1916, one of eight children of an iron foundry worker. He left school at 14 and held a number of jobs before becoming an apprentice chef at a hotel.

After qualifying, he joined the Passionist religious order as a lay brother, working as a cook in its monastery in Enniskillen. But he felt a strong vocation to the priesthood and joined the Society of the Divine Saviour, the Salvatorians, a German order which had just established a presence in Dublin.

While training for the priesthood, he took a correspondence course for entrance to London University and later earned a BA degree. He was ordained in 1949 and three years later was appointed a teacher at the Salvatorian College.

After a break of four years, teaching new recruits to the order, he returned to the college as headmaster in 1960, retiring in 1981. He then travelled the world before settling in Dublin the following year, working in a parish in the south of the city.

He was taken ill while on holiday in Belfast last summer and stayed with his sister until his condition worsened in the new year, when he was taken into hospital, where he died on January 18. He was buried at the Dublin church where he had spent most of the last 21 years.


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