Fr Aelred Grugan OSB

Eulogy by Roddy Igoe – A former pupil of Fort Augustus Abbey School

Born : 10 July 1951
Solemn profession: March 1978
Ordained Priest: 21 March 1980
Died:  Dunoon 27 January 2019


Fr. Aelred was born David Grugan on the 10th of July 1951 to Patrick and Miriam Grugan in Ayrshire. His Father was a teacher and his mother a housewife.  He was educated at Glengarnock Primary and then Carrick Academy before the family moved on to Perth.

Father Aelred always loved Railways, steam engines and locomotives and took a job with British Rail on the Royal Highlander Perth to Inverness service. His passion for railways, paddle steamers, military history and military music stayed with him throughout his life.

He entered Fort Augustus Abbey in early 1974 at the age of 21 and his mentor for the priesthood was Abbot Nicolas Holman a man he held in the highest regard. He gained a B.A in Art History from the Open University. He travelled widely in Europe and often recalled one very memorable or, indeed very frightening, journey with Abbot Nicholas to Rome, spent at rocket speed through the Alps with Father Andrew at the wheel.

He had various rolls in the monastery and the school during the late seventies and early eighties including being MC (Master of Ceremonies) and guest master. He was ordained priest on the 21st of March 1980 in front of his family and assembled Abbey school.

During his time as Brother Aelred, he was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Brigade based in the Abbey grounds along with other members of the community and locals from the village. He was present at many fires and road accidents including one terrible fire in an old hotel in which he was second man on the upper floor search when the floor fell into the flames killing the lead man. Although injured himself, he took time to care for the other members of the crew and police. His Brigade service lasted for many years and he was awarded a medal for his service.

In 1985 he was appointed Housemaster of Lovat House, a post he carried out for nine years with great humour and patience!  In 1992/93 he was appointed as the last Headmaster of the Abbey School during the very sad closing down years of the school. During the next 5 years he took on various rolls including Novice Master and then finally Prior of the Abbey before its closure in 1998.

The next part of his priestly life took him first to the small Catholic church in Glenridding and then finally to his last destination of St Marys, Kells. He described his time as Parish Priest here as some of the happiest of his life. As Chaplain to West Cumberland Hospital he attended the sick at all times regardless of weather and his own health. As a great supporter and life governor of RNLI, he was appointed Chaplain for Workington Life Boat.

Registered partially sighted in later life it became was difficult for him as he was a prolific reader. It also meant that he could no longer drive. Having suffered poor health in the last few months of his life Father Aelred passed away peacefully on the morning of 27th of January 2019 in Dunoon Hospital. A much loved priest and friend to all who knew him both in the North England and the North of Scotland.

Pax in Virtute

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