Showing posts from November, 2021

Ceacht na toirtíse

My childhood experiences as a pet owner were not particularly happy ones. I have previously related the story of my goldfish and his sad demise. I was apparently given a second chance by my parents because, at age 11 or 12, I was once again the owner of an animal, this time a tortoise. I remember very little about that tortoise. Was it male or female? What was he or she called? I have no idea. So I guess I’d better just refer to it as the “tortoise”, and use the male pronoun throughout. It must have been early spring when I found my tortoise in our back garden. I had not seen him for a long time. When he turned up again I guessed that he had been hibernating for the winter. Now that the sun was warming up our north Atlantic island again, it made sense that he had emerged from his long sleep.  I recall lifting up my pet to have a closer look at him after his lengthy absence. However he must have been alarmed by my action because he defecated on my hand as I picked him up. I was so alar

Cuimhní níos fearr

During the Jubilee commemorations of the Rising more than a half-century ago we learnt a lot about the role of Patrick Pearse in leading that rebellion. On Easter Monday 1916 he marched his troops into the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, thus launching a military struggle against British rule that, six years later, resulted in the establishment of the Irish Free State.  What we did not hear much about, at least in my school, was Pearse’s prior role as a teacher and his interesting views on the education of children. Perhaps there was a good reason for that omission. Until I was 18 I attended Primary and Secondary schools run by a Roman Catholic religious order known as the Christian Brothers. The Christian Brothers were celibate males who wore a habit of black soutane and stiff white collar - just like Catholic priests. It was not only their outward appearance that made priests and brothers look alike in my young eyes. Together they formed a religious caste that dominated Iris