Oct 05 2014


Published by at 7:24 pm under News

Finbars School Feb 06 IMG_1504_1


Do you know, I remember one time in school and it was on a Monday morning, that my Master turned up late with a massive hangover and a puncture in the back wheel of his bicycle. The old Headmaster was running between his own class and ours trying to keep us all in order. He had told us that he would wait until ten o’clock to call the Roll and then disperse us throughout the other classes for the day. That was the usual way things went if your teacher didn’t turn up at school. We were all delighted because whenever this happened we never got any ‘Ecker’ to do. On most occasions like this we would have an easy day because we didn’t really have to pay attention too much to what the other teacher would be doing.

Anyway at about five to ten in comes our own teacher with a face on him like a beetroot. His hair was all over the place and he had loads of little pieces of toilet paper stuck to his face where he had cut himself shaving. The headmaster was none too pleased to say the least. They eyeballed each other and then my teacher says ‘Sorry about that, I got a puncture in the bike as I was passing the Bogies’. ‘Right…’ says the headmaster reeling back a bit from the smell of alcohol ‘…well I suppose it could happen anyone’. As he walked out of our classroom my teacher closed the door and gave a great big sigh of relief.

He looked over the class of young boys as he took out his comb to fix his hair. ‘Now…’ he says ‘…I need someone to go down and get me a cup of tea with plenty of sugar…’ at this he points the comb at me. Then he nods his head at Tony Groves and Eamonn Cunningham and says ‘Will you two ever go out and bring in the bike for me and whatever you do don’t let the headmaster see you’. The two lads hopped up with delight at their chance to be like two commandos out of the Victor comic. ‘Bring it around through the yard’ he said to them. So off I went in one direction to get his cup of tea while the two lads went the other way.

Now I have to say that our teacher was great and especially on a Monday when he had a hangover because he’d usually tell us to take out our English Reader and to sit quiet. Well eventually I arrives back in the classroom with the tea and there he was sitting there with his tongue hanging out and gasping for a cuppa. And do you know what? He was walking around for the rest of the day with his bicycle clip still around his ankle. I think he was afraid to bend down to take it off in case his head rolled across the classroom floor.

At last the two lads arrived with the bicycle and the flat wheel on the back. ‘Good lads…’ he said ‘…sit down now for a few minutes and let me think’. So there he is sipping on his sweet tea and his thinking cap on his curly head. Then he stands up and taking out his pipe proceeds to light up. ‘Alright lads…’ he says with a grin coming out of the side of his mouth ‘I think it’s time to go down to the toilet with you all’. So with a clatter of seats being lifted up and the shuffling of feet on the floor we were all marched out of the classroom. Once again he nodded to Tony and Eamonn and asked them to quietly carry the bike with them. He got the two lads to fix his puncture for him. They took off the wheel and brought it into the big toilets so that they could shove the damaged tube down into the toilet bowl and watch for any bubbles coming up. And where was our teacher? He had us lined up outside showing us how to do a Hornpipe and he now in great form altogether.

And so it was for the rest of the day and he telling us all about his father being in the Old IRA and he even took out his tin whistle and played a few tunes for us. Well in next to no time at all the bell went for us all to go home. I can still see our teacher cycling along Kilkieran Road singing to himself. Sure we all knew he was heading up to Cummiskey’s pub to finish off his weekend but we didn’t mind at all because he gave us no Ecker to do that night. And do you know what it is? I still think of him anytime I drive up along Blackhorse Avenue and pass that pub. He was one of the good ones…

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