Firstly, may I apologise for my forgetfulness as I look back at my time in St Marys Secondary. Its been all of 38 years, would you believe, since the class of 1980 graduated and there are lots of things I remember but equally lots of things I have forgotten. These are my memories, other people may have different experiences and recollections, so here goes….
I have vague memories of my first day at school, as I, along with the 51 other first years (the biggest class ever in the school at the time), were in awe at the size of the school, but also petrified of the unknown. Mrs. Hawkes came in to lay down the law, which made us worse. The Askeaton boys had come from an all boys national school, as had most from other national schools, so to have girls in the class was like having an“alien species”…But what a joy… any distraction for the next 5 years!!!!!
Our first year was spent in the grey pre-fab nearest the school gates. From there we were able to see what teacher we had for the next class and tried to gauge their mood before they reached the classroom. Most seemed to be cross before they ever reached us. Maybe for thei r part they probably knew what they were facing.
Mr Curran was one of the maths teachers and he, amongst other things, tried to teach us Theorems. We would try in vain to learn these, (12 I think in total for the Inter Cert) off by heart, but most, if not all, made no sense to most of us so we were at a loss before we started. He would have us standing at the blackboard, for what seemed like eternity, writing up the theorem, he suspecting we hadn’t a clue and us knowing, we didn’t!!. You hoped against hope it wasn’t your turn on any given morning. He used to say that most of us would be better off looking into the nearby field than looking at the blackboard. We had him for most of my 5 years to Leaving Cert, and differential Calculus and Dy, Du- Du, Dx still sends shivers down my spine!!
Geraldine Daly and I were elected class prefects as it turned out for the five years, I think simply that nobody else was willing to do it. We were the “go betweens” between pupils and teachers. Sometimes it seemed that it would be easier to negotiate a Peace deal in the middle east than keep harmony between our class and the teachers.
Mrs Dooley (God rest her soul) our geography teacher was once told by one of our class that the hem of her dress was turned up. She took major offence to this, walked out and refused to teach us for 3 days until Geraldine and I had to go and apologise on behalf of the class. I wasn’t even present that day as a few of us had gone to play a football match with Mr. Egan, but it didn’t seem to matter, this was our job as prefects!!
The prefab as everybody will remember were freezing in the winter, and an oven in the summer. Miss McDonnell our English, Accountancy and Business Org. teacher, would have us doing exercises before the class started in the winter to get the blood flowing to try to get us to warm up. She also brought to our attention the stench of BO and dirty socks on those hot humid days facing the summer. She stressed in no uncertain terms how important it was to wash and change our socks every day (you know who you were!!!!).
I Mr McIntyre was our religion teacher, once he put his leg through the floor of the first year prefab, this through frustration more than anything else we suspected. The prefabs leaked when it rained and rotted the floor which probably caused his “accident”…
Mr Egan our Science teacher and football manager always had the threat of the meter stick to get us to learn and keep discipline. If he called you a “Big Fallbo” you know you were in trouble.
Mrs. Meade was our French teacher, who was a brilliant teacher, but through no fault of hers she had her work cut out for her…. She might as well have been teaching Swahili, for all the French most of the boys picked up. Looking down through the class list I don’t think any of us ended up fluent in the language.
Mrs Hawkes, the principle of the school and our Irish teacher was the person we most feared and revered. While Mr Egan had a meter stick, she had the “leather”. We all sat there in fear when we knew the leather strap was brought into class. She loved Irish, and through her time and dedication she strove to get us to learn and appreciate Irish to the best of our ability. I remember most of our class being in the school during Easter Holidays leading up to the Leaving Cert with Mrs. Hawkes. She always wanted us to do our best. “All that you do, do with your might, things done by half are never done right” was her motto. Whether we ended up that good at Irish is a discussion for another day. She also took other classes when teachers were absent be it civics or religion. If these classes happened at the end of the day they always finish with a prayer. “Close your eyes and look into the eyes of God”, she would say. One of our class mates, who shall remain nameless, was just after joining us in 2nd year, thought this was extremely funny and so started laughing. He still regrets it to this day for the attention he received from both Mrs Hawkes and the “leather”.
Most will remember the old building with the timber prefabs beside them. The electricity wires were connected from the second floor level just beside a classroom window to the prefabs. On one or two occasions a pupils bag would be hung out on the wire, as a class prank before class started. When asked for his homework, he stated he didn’t have it with him. He then suffered the consequences of having no homework, even though it was just a few feet away from him in his bag hanging on the wire. In those days, you didn’t rat out your “friends” or culprits….
On the occasion of our History Inter Cert exam, one of our classmates was handed a history paper in Irish. He, baffled, looked around and wrongly assumed everybody had received their paper in Irish. History was difficult to remember and understand at the best of times, in Irish it made it impossible. To this day I’m still not sure how he fared when the results came out.
These are just a snapshot of my many memories of my time in Secondary school, most good, some bad. Other stories are not suitable for print in this piece. Ask a classmate if you want to know more!!!
Subject and relevant Teachers from 1975 – 1980
IrishMrs Hawkes, Mrs. McElligott
MathsMr Curran, Mrs. Fitzgerald
GeographyMrs Dooley, Miss Wallace
HistoryMr O’Gorman, Miss Flanagan
WoodworkMr Long, Mr O’Sullivan
Business Org.Miss McDonnell
GermanMiss Flanagan, Miss McKeown
Home EcoMrs Scanlon
Seanie Kelly, Ronnie Kelly, Cormac Ryan, Edmond Kirwan, Don O’Donnell, John Horrigan(RIP), Bobby Hennessy, Donal Mc Sweeney, Noel Mccarthy(spider), Teddy Fitzgerald, Pat O’Brien, Pat Hickey, Donie Ives, Pat Shaughnessy, Mike Daly, Michael Kelly(RIP), Seamus Ranahan, Eamon McDaid, Willie Harty, Pat Mulqueen, Tommy McCarthy, Michael Murphy, Seamus Guerin(RIP), Colman Walsh.
Joined in 5th year.
Colum McDaid, John Kennedy, Desmond Dundon, Finbarr Duggan