Showing posts from March, 2021

An rúnseirbhís

In August 1971 I was given the piece of paper I needed to move from full time education into the world of work. That document was my Leaving Certificate.  Given that the failure rate in the 1971 exam was the highest ever, I should have been grateful for the pass result I managed to scrape.[1] But any sense of relief I felt was due to the fact that I would not have to go to school anymore. That was all that really mattered to me, although I think my mother felt differently. It must have been in 1967, during the summer break, that she mentioned the possibility that I would have to leave school following my Intermediate Certificate exam.  The issue was money. In those days my parents had to pay fees to the Christian Brothers’ school I attended. To this day I don’t know how much my education cost. But given that I went to an inner city school catering for a working class clientele, I suspect it was not a huge sum, maybe £5 a term.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of money but, when every penny


When German-born philosopher Herbert Marcuse spoke to students at Antioch College in Ohio, one member of his audience was not impressed with what he heard. It was the winter of 1971 and David Ghitelman was filled with the revolutionary fervour then sweeping through college campuses across the western world. He was a rebel looking for a cause, and he must have thought this ageing idol of the New Left would supply it. But instead of urging his eager young listeners to rush to the barricades, Marcuse counselled patience. Intellectuals were needed to guide society in the future, he told his audience. The students listening to him should stay the course and pursue the “long march through the institutions”.  Ghitelman felt disappointed and deflated: If was as if he had told us there would be no dessert until we had eaten our spinach. We had come to believe in the politics of instant gratification: If it feels good, do it, do it now. A long march through the institutions, a protracted struggl