Sep 04 2014

‘Let’s go back…’

Published by at 10:04 am under News

Martin Coffey June 1959 sm -1

September is here again and it reminds me of when we used to start back in school after our ‘Holliers’. I remember the day I started in the boys’ school in the Convent, I think I was about 4 or 5 years old at the time. I always remember before leaving the house that morning and the Ma’ spitting on her apron and rubbing it into my face to make sure I was clean for the nuns. I had a sheet of white paper that the Ma’ got from the Butcher’s shop and a broken pencil in the little schoolbag on my back. It was great excitement altogether and the Da’ telling me I was a big boy now. I wore little brown corduroy short trousers and a zip up jacket and the shirt I had on me was too big because it was hanging down the back of my trouser leg, the Ma’ got out her best scissors and cut it up around my waist. And the gas thing is the piece she cut off she shoved it into my trouser pocket for a hanky.

I remember running up the road with Willier Kavanagh and the Ma’ telling us to hold hands so we wouldn’t fall. Straight across Fassaugh Avenue we ran because you could do that then because there was very little traffic, maybe some Oul Fella on his bike and he late for work. And there he’d be ringing his bell and roaring at us to get out of his way. I mean who did he think he was anyway, did he not know that we were the new kids on the block, we were starting school after all.
And then it happened, we finally arrived at this gigantic pair of green gates outside the school and that’s when I hesitated in going in. Of course that only lasted a nanno second because the Ma’ didn’t hesitate as she gave me an extra gentle shove in the back. ‘Now here’s your new school…’ she says ‘…you’re going to love it here’. ‘But Ma’ what about me soother and me bottle…’ But by then it was too late, I was in and there was this really tall nun standing in front of us and she dressed in black and cream and smelling of carbolic soap. ‘What’s the name? In there he goes’ and that was it, I was in the system and would remain so for a very long time.
I remember standing in the middle of the classroom bewildered and none too happy. And there was the Ma’ and her pal looking in the window at us and she smiling and she probably thinking to herself ‘Thank God, there’s another one out from under me feet’. But I eventually settled in and loved it and Miss Courtney was my teacher and I also had Sister Mary Oliver. From then on I never missed a day from school and even today I still love learning…so there you are now, that’s my story of starting off in school…

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