WITHOUT transition year in those times, my five-year term at St. Mary’s ended in 1990 with graduation through a modest Leaving Certificate, consisting of two higher paper honours.
I, along with everybody else, but particularly Edmond and Michelle Madigan, the Stokes’, the Maune Family, all cycled to school, and I mostly left my bicycle at Eamon and Maura Paurcell’s house, adjacent to the school. In those non two-car days, on an odd occasion Mrs. Madigan (Edmund’s mother) would give a fair share of us a lift if the weather was broken, which wasn’t as much the case now as back then, or so it would appear.
Only a handful of students arrived daily with their parents, it was mostly by foot, bike and public transport.
John Egan, Mary Meade and Mary Garvey were deputy/deputy principal during my stint at St. Mary’s. Others I recall are Michael and Marie Long, Peggy Dooley, Eileen O’Brien (Fitzgerald), Maura O’Brien, Rose McElligott and Sean Curran, who arrived from the west to take up teaching on the very same day that my own father, Malachy, first arrived for his job as a Garda, circa the mid-1960s.
Nora Hawkes, I recall, only taught briefly in those years, and was more of a manager.
A new sport, volleyball, was introduced by Anita Hawkes and Carmel Plant, and a major fundraising effort went into to building the now demolished court. I and Mike Walsh cycled on Saturday mornings to Aughinish Sports Complex for training, and the various teams made some long journeys to play matches. GAA and soccer were played too, with a 1989 County Minor win over Hospital at the Gaelic Grounds an obvious highlight.
Barry Sheahan, Pat Fitzgerald, Tony Gammell, John McGovern, Dermot Madigan, Edmund Madigan, John Downes, Shane O’Shaughnessy and Tom Hayes RIP are just a selection of those stars. I was introduced by Mr. Egan with a minute to play and we up 15 points, presumably as I couldn’t possible jeporadise the situation at the late stage. Team announcements were made through a white paper notice penned onto the side of the timber woodwork room.
In class, we mostly were in the upper tier of the lamented old school house, where front-row students included Susan Fitzsimons, Edel O’Keeffe, Fiona Ruttle, Ann Carney and Orla Moran, and at the back were myself and a selection of imports from Kilcornan like Noel Mulcair, Donie Giffin and Barry Madigan.
A treat came once with the screening of the award winning The Field in the Science Room.
We had no canteen just an outside small shed, functioning toilets and a rough green/brown patch for playing.
The tragic loss of Jacqueline Harte so close to one Christmas was a terrible blow to everyone.
She would laugh at how I really passed my French oral exam – Mrs. Meade made me put back on a shoulder sling from an old injury and, with her help, I was fluent on what happened and how the recovery was etc. To this day, I’m not even sure if the examiner questioned me on this but I just rattled along without a breath taken, to avoid disruption.
A summer earlier I gained employment with Maurice Fitzgerald on the extension to St. Mary’s, although I wouldn’t have rated as his most valuable member of staff.
Debs came to St. Mary’s at a later stage. In my time dancing during school term was forbidden.