My School Daze

My school daze were exactly that, dazed as opposed to days.

Old school daze in IrelandI was bashed in school. I was prompted to write this article by the title for the August monthly contest on InfoBarrel, which I found to be amusing because it included the word bash. And bashed we were, by the so called Christian Brothers (Roman Catholic Order). Not so strange as it sounds because in the late 1960's the Christian Brothers were still held in high esteem by the politicians and people of Ireland (and perhaps other parts of the world). I have always considered the Christian Brothers to be the best example of an oxymoron because Christian they were not. I am not bitter about my school experience but I have very little respect for these original Men in Black. As it has since transpired, their counterparts, the holy Catholic priests of Ireland were ten times worse.

The bad old school days in the care of Christian Brothers

They hit you a lot and they could walk soundlessly through the classroom so the first indication you had that the brute was near to you was a thick ear. The first time I went home and complained to my mother about my sore ear she promptly whacked the other ear and told me that "You now have one to match the other". Ah! The joys of school life in poverty ridden Ireland at that time. The assumption of many parents, at that time, was that you most likely deserved the thick ear. Strange times, indeed, and school days are the best time of your life? I didn't think so at the time. 

Hurling through the good old school days

Hurley stick and sliotharI played for the school team in hurling which is the national sport of Ireland. It’s a bit like ice hockey, but played without the protective clothing. Hurling is extremely fast and the ball (sliothar) is struck by the hurley (hurl) which is made from ash. Each player on the team has a hurley stick to strike the ball, which is smaller than a cricket ball. The All-Ireland-Hurling-Final is played every year on the first Sunday in September. Studying literature and math came a long way behind hurling as far the CB were concerned. 

Back to school again

As I mentioned, I was a member of the school team and one of the privileges was that the Christian Brothers didn’t hit you as much or as hard as the other boys. The reason for this was because you needed all your fingers and thumbs to be in working order to hurl properly.  When they hit you with their leather strap they hit the palm of your hand rather than the much more painful finger slap, or the worse thumb slap. They may have known what love was but they never practiced it.

School finals

Our school team reached the final of the Dublin hurling championship and the whole school was promised a day off if we won. This was so very odd because we never got days off and if we did, the directive seemed to come from the Pope himself (we are still awaiting a female Pope). The team members were promised, by the Brother in charge of the team, that they would not have any homework for a week. Other enticements from the tuck shop were also offered as an incentive. The entire school was marched to Croke Park for the final so we had hundreds of supporters cheering us on (and relishing the prospect of a day away from the Brothers). Losing was too awful to contemplate. Suffice to say, we won. Years afterwards, I wondered how the 15 players on the other team fared, as they also attended a Christian Brother’s school. 

Song of the raggy boy

The Christian Brother way of teaching

First Christian Brother

Edmund Rice and the First Christian Brothers
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