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"The Career Officer"
O'C. M., Dublin, Ireland.
523 in 2nd, p. 517 in 3rd editions.)
Lost Nearly All
British officer, this Irishman - that is, until brandy 'retired'
him. But this proved only a temporary setback. He survived
to become a mainstay of A.A. in Eire."
attended his first A.A. meeting on April 28, 1947, and never
took another drink. He was a "retired" major from the British
Army, in which he served for twenty-six years. He had been
discharged on medical grounds. This meant, of course, alcoholism.
In a talk he gave in Bristol, England, in 1971, he said
he received a letter from the Army saying they had accepted
his resignation. But he didn't remember having sent it in.
was living with his parents in Dublin, existing on his retirement
pay. His long-suffering mother finally ordered him to pack
his bags. He then remembered seeing something about A.A.
in the Evening Mail, and told her he would try A.A. His
parents agreed that if A.A. could help him he could live
at home. But he would be on probation. He arrived at his
first meeting that night, drunk on gin and doped up on Benzedrine
first meeting was at the Dublin group. It was the first
A.A. group in Europe, founded by Conor F. in November of
1946. Conor had got sober in Philadelphia three years earlier,
and was on vacation in Ireland.
was known as the First Dublin Group or The Country Shop
Group, the name of the restaurant where they met. Sackville
found what looked like a large group when he went to his
first meeting. But it was the big Monday night open meeting,
to explain A.A. to newcomers and their families as well
as doctors and social workers.
off to a shaky start, the secretary and a dozen others got
drunk in the summer of 1947. Three remained sober, among
them Sackville, who had joined in April. They re-formed
the group in August with Sackville as secretary.
was a good organizer who had clear and definite ideas of
what they should do. He suggest they switch the open public
information meeting from Friday to Monday, the better to
catch men coming off a weekend drunk. He also worked hard
to get information about A.A. to the newspapers.
the vast majority of the Irish population was Roman Catholic,
Sackville knew it was important to win the goodwill of the
Catholic clergy. He convinced a professor of theology at
St. Patrick's College, Mayhooth, to publish an article favorable
to A.A. in the college paper The Furrow. Bill W. later referred
to the publication of this article as an impressive step
forward in A.A.'s relations with the churches.
W. visited them in 1950, and held a press conference in
the Mansion House (Lord Mayor's house). Many years later
Jimmy R. took great pride in showing the kitchen sink in
his basement apartment into which Bill had knocked his cigarette
ash as they sat around and talked for hours following the
press conference. Sackville, in his 1971 talk, spoke of
what a great man Bill W. was.
1948 Sackville began a small paper, The Road Back, which
did much to give the group a sense of identity. A bi-monthly
group newsletter celebrating birthdays and group news, it
also carried recovery sharing in a simple unpretentious
five-page format. He edited it for more than twenty-eight
updated his story for the March 1968 Grapevine. It was titled:
"Living the Program In All Our Affairs."
hoped that what he wrote would not be taken as the view
of an Angry Old Man. But he complained of those who give
only lip service to the slogans and the steps.
urged realism, with its frequent reminders of humility;
faith, anchored to some unchanging norm of goodness (God,
as I understand him); atonement; patience; and thinking
with spiritual discipline.
complained of those who tell a newcomer that he only has
to stay dry for today and to come to meetings. He said the
meetings were necessary, but would not practice the Steps
for anyone. Even the most meeting-minded member has to pass
many hours of the day when he is alone and must depend on
his own inner strength. These are the hours when practice
of these principles in all his affairs must cease to be
a conventional, superficial acceptance of them and become
a master of the heart and the will.
also wasn't fond of celebrity speakers. He urged that we
take every speaker, silver-tongued or tongue-tied, at his
real value of being another alcoholic who is doing his best
to stay recovered himself and trying to help us to do the
he thought that the increasing numbers of conventions and
the like were diverting time and effort from our primary
added, however, that these dislikes of his were "very slight
ripples in a sea of contentment."
died in 1979.
thanks to Louise H. of Belfast, and Ann P. of Spokane, Washington,
for information on Sackville and A.A. in Ireland.)
from Malcolm K., Saturday, November 8, 2008
"I love the archival
material on your site. I'm sending you a photo my sponsor
gave me, it is the original and I thought you may like to
put it up on your site. My sponsor, Colraine G., is 37 years
sober, and a founder of most AA in Northern Ireland. He
counted both men among his friends. He now lives in the
Republic, and I spend most mornings with him, playing him
recordings off the net. He's a big admirer of Chris R. and
Bob D. among many others."
is a photo that contains both Conor and Sackville O'C. Sackville
O'C's story appeared in the Big Book of Alcoholics
Anonymous as "The
Career Officer" in the Second Edition
Big Book until it was removed for the 4th edition. If you
would like a copy of this photo, simply send
an email with your request for the photo.
photo originally came from the Irish
AA site: (http://www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie/opencontent/default.asp?itemId=12)
was started in Akron, Ohio, U.S.A. in 1935. In 1943, it
spread to Australia and an A.A. group was formed in Sydney.
In the same year, an Irishman, Conor F. from the West of
Ireland, joined A.A. in Philadelphia. Those two happenings
led to the start of A.A. in Ireland and the formation of
the first A.A. group of native Europeans, run by themselves,