Dr. Frank McKenna – an appreciation

The late Dr. Frank McKenna was laid to rest yesterday (21-02-11) after Mass in the Church of Our Lady Queen of Victories Sallynoggin which was packed to standing room. In his first year in UCD he got his colours for swimming and then moved on to rowing. He quickly made the Senior VIII and was selected to row in the World Championships in Vienna in 1938 but Hitlers acute sense of timing took priority. He was a very active supporter of UCDBC in the 60’s. I have very fond memories of sessions in the old UCDBC Boat House (newly build when Frank McKenna was rowing) in the 60s. After various dinners (mainly in the Clarence or West County) or celebrations the stalwarts of OC including Ronan Bannin, Jim Meenan, Joe Hanly, John McDermott and Frank McKenna would bring dozens of bottles of Guinness to the Boat House where the plaque erected in the memory of Dr. Arthur Cleary who funded the building of the boat house in 1929 was covered with the first available towel, before a bottle could be opened. The party was generally opened by Frank McKenna who had a very good voice singing Ach von de musica and getting everybody join the Chorus. The party would continue into the small hours with various contributions from Jim Meenan including Sweet Angelina and other ditties from the 30s before descending into more robust and racous singing. Pat O’Sullivans classical tin whistle would be called upon several times to restore musicality which Tom Kirby would follow and sometimes accompany with an off beat jazz version. It was an opportunity to mix with the then remote gods of the 1960 VIII and the remoter gods of, as it then appeared to an 18 year old, ancient UCD history such as the 1948 Olympic crew. Frank McKenna’s bright wit and intelligence made him the life and soul of the sessions and he is the main reason they remained so vivid in my memory. His passing has marked the passing of a great era in the history of UCDBC. In his own words Oiche mhaith codladh samh.

Jim Heney

(F McK) Ach von de musica.
(all) Ach von de musica.
(F McK)) Ach von spieler.
(all) Ach von spieler.
(F McK)) Ich-en-bee-en-zumba-za.
Zumba, zumba, zumba-za (four times)
Other Verses:
Vio, vio, viola,
Picco, picco, piccola