Herself was in Cork at the weekend for a conference. She stayed in my parents’ house and her uncle and aunt ferried her around. It was reasonably successful. She says that her grandfather is unused to having teenagers in the house and when she failed to materialise for breakfast by 9 on Sunday morning he rang my sister and got her to drop round to check that the Princess was alright and not lying in the bed at death’s door. She was alright.
Me: How did the history exam go today?
Herself: Not great.
Mr. Waffle: Chronologically speaking, she is the latest victim of Hitler’s foreign policy.
There was no sign of herself when I rose from by bed at 10 last Saturday morning. She sent a message to the family group chat saying that she was gone in to the Trinity Open Day with her friend E. They had an interesting enough morning. She was shocked how many people were there with their parents. I felt a bit bad that not only did I not accompany her but I didn’t even know she was going. She on the other hand was delighted not to have me there.
She discovered that she could get €2,000 off accommodation, if she stayed in an Irish speaking student residence in Rathmines. She would still have to pay the balance and be further away than if she stayed at home but I think she was gratified to discover that membership has its privileges. Trinity apparently has an exchange arrangement with Stellenbosch and she is keen to go with the money we will save from having her live at home while she’s in college. As there are quite a few hurdles between her and operation Stellenbosch, I decided to let that go but my reservations were in no way addressed when Mr. Waffle said, “Quite dangerous, no?”
There were a couple of lectures on various subjects and since her friend E is keen to study law, they attended that one. There was an enormous queue and the students on the door announced that it was only open to school children as there wasn’t room for all the parents. A [very old – probably about my age] woman did not move from the queue. When she got to the top and the student at the door asked her not to go in, she was very cross and said that she was a mature student. This misfortunate student at the door apologised and berated himself saying, “I am so sorry, we should be more inclusive.” Aren’t the young people lovely all the same?
Herself ended up sitting beside this woman and her daughter. It became abundantly apparent that the mother was not, in fact, a mature student but a pushy mother. Herself was outraged. The lecturer said, “I’m sure some of you are the first people from your families thinking about going to college.” Pushy mother was heard to hiss audibly, “No one in this audience, I’m sure.” As it happens, the Princess’s friend E, sitting two seats away from pushy mother will be the first person in her family to go to college. I say will with complete confidence as she is clever and organised; found out about the college open day herself; and dragged my daughter out of bed to attend.
Anyhow, the welcome upshot of this is that my daughter now believes that I may not, in fact, be the worst mother in the world.
Michael (sarcastically): Oh yes, no one in this family is known for ped-ant-ry.
Herself and myself in unison (immediately and unthinkingly): Pedant-ry
They had a tea for the former principal in the school today. Herself made a cake for it, organised the collection and made a speech. Daniel sang a song (very good his sister tells me and she is not one to praise him unnecessarily). Michael sat in the hall waiting for it to end.
“Did anyone else make a speech?” I asked. “Well, I gave the main speech for the students but we gave everyone on the student council something to say except one guy from second year who always misses the student council. He missed when we were giving out the speaking parts and he turned up on the day insisting on speaking but we said no,” she explained.
When all of the speeches had ended the little forbidden second year bounded on to the stage and said, “I have no notes but what I say comes from the heart…” As herself said bitterly to me, “He made the event and he made the rest of us look bad with our notes.” He is officially her nemesis.
The principal of our children’s primary school retired at the beginning of September. There was a big party for him and parents of past pupils were invited to attend so we went along. It was a lovely evening and I was impressed by how all the teachers remembered us and asked after the children. We said to the principal how happy the children had been in primary school and what a great operation he ran and he said, “Oh yes, even herself though she was in one of the most difficult classes we ever had in the school.” This was news to us but she got on fine anyhow, I suppose.
The former principal is from the Kerry Gaeltacht (his mother was a great friend of Peig Sayer’s – of course she was) and he went to secondary in St Brendan’s in Killarney. The principal of the children’s secondary school was at the retirement gig also having retired himself this summer. He went to St. Brendan’s as well, in fact the primary principal was a prefect when he started there. All of the clever boys in the Gaeltacht got scholarships to go to secondary school in St. Brendan’s (this was before free second level education was introduced in 1967). A former colleague of mine went there also and he described to me how, the boys from the Gaeltacht never spoke Irish to each other in school (even though the school taught Irish and was very supportive of Irish) but only started speaking Irish to each other again on the bus home at the end of term. There is something very poignant about this.
The new principals of the primary and the secondary school are both fluent Irish speakers but both of them learnt their Irish in school. There are fewer and fewer native speakers and it’s not quite the same, is it?