From the Archives

“That” English Essay

I managed to write this as a 17 year old. Sorry to say that not much has changed with Ireland since 2000…

When you think of Romantic Ireland, what comes into you mind? Leprechauns, fairy forts and mystical castles in the fog of folklore? Sorry Bord Failte to burst your bubble. But the nearest that you’ll get to that is Westlife doing a jig on the BBC, Boyzone singing she moved through the fair (and so badly, you would feel like legging it out of the building!) and Riverdance talking over the Radio City Music Hall by storm. Romantic Ireland has become the stuff of legends and probably was the whole time!

Ireland was never a romantic place. We have Hollywood and Maureen O’Hara to thank for that. Does anybody even want to remember a little film called “Darby O ‘Gill and the Little People”? Here we had the works, little Leprechauns doing their jig around the place with the banshee wailing on lead vocals and the headless horseman on the drum kit! Unless you were so mental scarred by that film that all trace of it had been erased from your memory, you will have noticed that the Ireland of mists and mystery was back, and with a vengeance. Moreover, according to Frank mc Court, Ireland at the time was about to be twinned with Venice for all the rain it got, thanks to Angela’s Ashes.

We must remember that while Mr. O’Gill was doing his merry little jig, unmarried mothers in Ireland were sent to live out the rest of their days in the Magdalene laundries. Their babies snatched from them the moment that they were born, they didn’t even get to hold them before they were snatched from them for life. The adoption papers forged by the so-called “saintly” nuns of the day so they would find it even harder to find their child in future years. Rampant child abuse in the church run orphanages. Women legally raped by their husbands in the home while a crooked arm smuggling government looked on. Hush – Hush murders, which to this day haven’t been solved. A Taoiseach who blatantly stated in the constitution of a “civilised” country that a woman’s place was in the home and that there they should stay. Students were beaten senseless by over bearing teachers who enforced the rule of Home Economics on female students and kept the high maths and technical subjects the preserve of the males of this country.

Politicians in this country were and still are as crooked as they come, Brown paper envelopes going here, there and everywhere. We are only finding the true extent of the corruption, greed and lies that kept the pockets of most of our civil servants well lined. Thanks to Mr. Charlie Bird, major banking institutions in this country have been brought to book over their conduct in the D.I.R.T. scandal and the Cayman Islands Affair.

One can only laugh at the blatant smugness of one Charles J. Haughey who was distinctly heard telling the people of Ireland to tighten their belts in the face of high taxation. While he himself was stashing away all of his money in the Cayman Islands, he had the cheek to go of and ask other people for extra money. But, to rub the salt in the wounds and insult to injury, he didn’t bother paying any tax on it at all. Just for the sheer laugh of it all. For a man who got away, and by the skin of his teeth may I add, from an IRA guns smuggling wrap with buddy Blaney. He’s gotten away with a lot. By the way were not talking about some big Hollywood story just something that happened when Ireland was supposed all innocent and romantic!

The year 2000. “Opency” and “transparency” the buzzwords of the new generation. Especially when bureaucratic supergrass, Mr. Frank Dunlop, former government lobbyist, revealed in shocking evidence that he was recently threatened by a number of Messirs. Big Anonymous Politicians & Co. That was just some of the mind- blowing evidence to come out of the flood Tribunal in recent weeks. It’s only now that we, the public in general, are learning of the deeds of the bloodless, moneygrubbing freaks that were in charge for so long.

Now the image of Ireland that’s being flogged wordwide is the image of the happy fun loving criminal. According to the latest films The Irish party image has been so well advertised that soon the world people will thing that the Irish people are mad party animals. We’ve already had Puff Daddy and Chris Evans fighting it out over who gets the Penthouse Suite in the Clarence Hotel during the St. Patrick’s Weekend

The picture isn’t so bright if you happened to hear about the poor misfortunate who, because of them being dependent on a defunct blood board were left unshielded from aids, hepatitis C and HIV. Fathers, mothers sisters and brothers dead, all because of blatant bureaucracy and naivety. The Lindsey tribunal has been the stage for tales of the most heart rendering.

As far as I can see, and my vision is being blurred by history book bias, and the biggest lie of the millennium, that Celtic Tiger, Ireland is just the same as it always was. The west, an economic desert always in want of money and proper attention. The politicians, as happy as Larry Goodman in a tribunal sitting, always up to trickery and defrauding the public consciousness. We the people, sitting there, wondering were did it all go so wrong.

From the Archives

Ode to a Bad Teacher

I may as well confess this. I had a terrible English teacher for my Junior Cert. Now, we have all had bad teachers; unfortunately all education systems have their bad teachers along with highly gifted teachers. I have had some wonderful educators that have influenced my life profoundly for the right reasons. I have had some teachers who were just bad at their job. But one teacher takes the award for the worst teacher I have ever endured.
This particular bad apple left me with a terrible wound in my self confidence; a wound that has yet to heal fully. See the thing is due to her, I have absolutely no confidence in being able to write. Even though I managed to get 95% for my English Leaving Certificate Essay, a first class degree in Law and I am currently writing a Ph.D. in Law.
You would think that these facts alone would be cause for comfort in my ability to write as Law revolves around the ability to write and communicate clearly and effectively. But alas no, I still have one particular voice in my head that constantly replays doubts that were created by her.
Also at this point, I must state that I am borderline dyslexic. This fact was not diagnosed until my Masters in Trinity College. This fact should have been easily spotted by this teacher in first year of secondary school as one of the exercises involved re-arranging misspelt words to their right spelling. This was something that I just could not do for the life of me and still can’t do at this stage.
However the day that scarred me involved some trivial written work. I’m not even sure what we were doing exactly but it ended with the teacher shouting at me in front of the whole class that I was so bad at English that I would not be able to pass pass grade English.
I was slow at writing stories. I found it hard to string a pointless narrative about some biddy going to the shop together. I was weak at this and I will admit it. But I always tried my best. My parents were aware that something was wrong and even asked the teacher for names of extra books so they could work on these problems at home with me in addition to the school work. She told them at a parent teacher meeting that there was no point as I wasn’t any good at English to begin with.
Anyway, between the jigs and the reels of it, from that outburst when I was 15 I have always had her outburst about “not even being able to pass pass English” as a repetitive voice in my head whenever I write anything. Maybe I’m oversensitive; maybe I just need to get over it but it’s still there like a spectre haunting my path.
Therefore to anyone in the teaching profession dealing with young minds please be cautious of the way to criticise students. You never know what damage you may cause…