On Saturday March 9th, Blackrock College RFC had the honour of hosting a 70th Birthday Tribute Dinner for Fergus Slattery, with the Concert Hall at the RDS providing an intimate setting for 430 family, friends, former teammates and special guests.
A great celebration commenced with our emcee for the evening, BBC commentator and sports presenter, Northern Irishman Jim Neilly, a long-time friend and colleague of Fergus. Jim regaled the audience with many nostalgic stories about Fergus throughout his career and post rugby career as a pundit.
The room was littered with an incredible line-up of former international players and teammates of Fergus, including rugby greats Willie John McBride, Mike Gibson, Ray McLoughlin, Hugo MacNeill, Alain Rolland, Job Langbroek, Niall Brophy, Leo Cullen, Ollie Campbell, Neil Francis, Michael Kiernan and Johnny Moloney.
One of those fellow greats and ex Rock alum, Hugo MacNeill, eloquently spoke about Fergus. Hugo reminded us how frequently the word "legend" is used to describe people these days, but how in fact it is a most appropriate description for Fergus Slattery, a true legend on the rugby pitch as well as being a fierce advocate for Blackrock College RFC and club rugby in general. Hugo described a dedicated, passionate Fergus, who has always offered to lend a hand, whether it be emceeing a local charity function or a rugby club dinner in rural Wales, presenting match day jerseys to the 1st XV team, or driving around town to gather signatures for an auction item. A selfless, willing individual like Fergus is hard to find, but someone who is always supported by his friends, family and former teammates as was most evident by those in attendance.
Later in the evening, Club President Pappy Burke presented Fergus with a piece of custom artwork of the famous image of Fergus leading the British & Irish Lions out onto the pitch. And what would a birthday celebration be without a cake and rendition of "Happy Birthday"? The custom birthday cake was created by long-time member, Joannie Langbroek, who added a very personal touch, combining the colours from Fergus' 3 jerseys from Rock, Ireland & the Lions to commemorate a remarkable career.
The evening concluded with an auction and true-to-form, even at his own birthday celebration, Fergus insisted on running the auction.
The admiration for Fergus was evident right from the start of the night and guests were delighted to say that they were present to celebrate a true legend, someone who has given us amazing memories throughout his career.
From all your friends at Blackrock College RFC, we thank you once again, Fergus, and we hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration.