Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

 School Days

There are a few stories I remember fondly that are worth repeating from those days:

  • There was one small yard where everyone hung around at break-time and a couple of times a week enough space would be cleared to have a soccer match in the middle. I was picked once in my whole 3 years at that school to play for one of the teams. I might have scored a goal but it was a huge gesture from the real soccer players. You see, it was my first day back at school after we'd buried my dad.

  • Every May a little altar was constructed at the back of the classroom. In the middle, a large statue of the Virgin Mary was placed with two net curtains hanging down each side. Fresh flowers were placed there everyday. Not tulips or roses. Our Lady didn't need that kind of showing-off. Just a regular bunch of daffodils or something.

    "When all at once I heard a shout... Get off those bleedin' daffodils"

    A couple of night lights (small round candles) were placed on either edge at the front and lit at the beginning and end of the school day; when we said prayers.

    On this particular afternoon towards the end of lessons, someone was sent to light the candles in preparation for us all to turn around and thank Our Lady for seeing us through another day of education at the hands of the Christian Brothers.

    The "child of Satan" who was given the responsibility of lighting the candles placed the aforementioned curtains carefully on the burning wicks, so that as we turned around to offer thanks we were faced with Our Lady of the Towering Inferno. She was framed by two rapidly disintegrating slips of curtaining.

    Our teacher ran to the altar and dragged the curtains to the floor and stamped them out. We cheered but inside we killed ourselves laughing.

    The teacher liked to think that there was a reasonable possibility that the wind from the open window had blown the curtain over the open flames but we knew the truth!

  • Round about Halloween, someone threw a "Jumping Jack" firework behind the teacher as he closed the door when he came into the classroom. He jumped out of his skin while the firework chased him and we went mental. It was absolutely crazy! We all had to stay late after school and write the name of the guilty party on a piece of paper. The word spread quickly to write "I don't know" on the piece of paper before folding it carefully and placing it on the teacher's desk before being allowed to leave. It had all probably taken 30 seconds but it was well worth it!

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