Most people think lies were invented when Twitter and Facebook came into our lives, but the story that went around every year around this time when I was a young lad was the story about the school burning down. We loved it.
p through the shortcuts we ran to see the blaze. A new building would certainly take a long time and the summer holidays would extend well into the autumn.
But there the school was, unburned, and our hopes were dashed.
The schools will open soon. The children and young people should be able to take longer vacations without having to resort to extreme measures such as burning down their classrooms.
Our schools always stayed closed until the first week of September, but then a bright spark decided to shorten the summer holidays. That was about 10 years ago, and the decision ended the tourist season early.
The idea was to get teachers to work harder. Now I come from a family of teachers that goes back more than 100 years. The recording takes place. I think the teachers are doing a great job, but the public always complains about the long holidays.
The plan to bring the teachers back a week or two early was well received by people, but the plan wasn’t well thought out.
Children were collateral damage. The unintended consequence was that the high season ended a week early and does anyone really think that having young children back to school in August will make their lives better or result in better adults or a better Ireland?
There is some leeway for schools to remain closed until September, but days must be made up later in the year.
The solution is to reduce the number of days children go to school each year.
Let’s go back to when I was a boy and bishops were kings of subjects living within the borders of their dioceses. The bishop was about five meters tall when he donned his hat, which was not unlike the headgear worn by Dumbledore, the headmaster of Coláiste Hogwarts Harry Potter. The sorcerer’s attire and fine clothing made the bishops look powerful and regal.
The bishop visited the school every year and gave us half a day. I was all for bishops about the half-day rule until I discovered how aloof most of them are.
I suppose you could call me an ungrateful puppy because I’ve been ranting here about popes, cardinals and bishops all these years when the upper echelons of the hierarchy were giving us half days. Her attitude toward women priests, the LGBTQ+ community, and the divorced, to name a few, was unchristian and dogmatic.
The local priests, on the other hand, are much more understanding. But they, too, are governed by archaic man-made laws that date back to the days when logic fell off the edge of the flat earth and witches were burned to curdle milk.
Here’s a weird one. The Church has solicited public opinion and the research will be presented to a synod in Rome. But there’s a catch. The Pope and the boys sought our opinion but insisted that there would be no change in Church doctrine.
I’m sorry now that we didn’t tell them to keep their half days. The Catholic Church at the top may not have changed any of its unfair rules, but Ireland has, and mostly for the better. However, the school children are still cooped up when they should be outside, enjoying the last nice weather.
It’s like catching a butterfly in your fist. Little did I know that I would be walking the same road to that first day of school for the next 14 years. Yes, there were great teachers and happy days, but also hard times. Mick Carey was a house painter and stood on a ladder near the school. I can see his face now and he’s full of compassion for the innocent boy who was really yours. Sentenced to 14 years, I was four years and a day old when I started baby class.
Our teacher, Ms. Scanlan, was nice to us. I was restrained and thus spent two years with babies who are now known as Junior Infants. I must have failed mala, the modeling clay. One day I came home with a man from Mala and the mother was so proud. You would swear I was after the sculpture of David.
Seven years after that first day of school, Moira Ryan was teaching us boys art classes at Scoil Réalta na Maidine. She was commissioned by my father to paint the last scene of his play, sive, on the wall behind the counter at John B’s. Moira never got around to autographing the mural known locally as “Muriel.” Girls named Muriel must be delighted to have painted walls named in their honor.
I was in touch with Moira this week and she is coming from Galway to be signing her iconic artwork on August 25th – 53 years from the date of her painting sive on the bar wall.
Moira was a nice teacher and the students had a crush on her. It is a good reason to open the schools at any time. I suppose another conflict of interest is that as a host I want and need a longer tourist season. Millions have been spent to increase Fáilte Ireland’s tourist time, which for the most part is doing a good job.
Marketing the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East was just brilliant. There is an excellent nightly arts support program created by Tourism Secretary Catherine Martin. Her brilliantly thought out plan received little or no credit, but millions have been lost by sending students to school when they were supposed to be having fun.
Norma Foley is the best Secretary of Education in a long time. The Covid Leaving Certs were completed and Norma was always firm but friendly. She listens and she cares.
My hero, Michael Collins, was killed 100 years ago this week. Our family sided with the Collins in the Civil War. I can hear the ancestors marvel at the idea of one of their own praising a minister of Fianna Fáil.
Well, Norma, maybe you’ll reciprocate and free the school kids.
Here’s plan B. Perhaps if a humble bishop could give half days, the pope could give schools a week off. But is there any point? Sure, their opinions aren’t already made
and if the government were run on the same principles as the church, Norma would never have become a minister.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/this-early-back-to-school-lark-is-killing-tourism-not-to-mention-the-summer-fun-had-by-children-41924411.html This early back-to-school lark is killing tourism, not to mention the kids’ summer fun