I thought I’d expand on my memories of Mount Sion seeing as though it brought back a lot of memories for some folk…
This is going to be sporadic so please excuse the total lack of any structure or composition.
I’ll start off with the mount sion silver band. I’m the spotty one below.
I joined the band when I was 7 years of age. That almost seems hard to believe and I could be telling you lies, but I really think I was just 7 or maybe 8. Anyway…myself and Lorcan Power (Who I think must be dead now cause we were best friends in school and I think the lad hates me now. Or ya know…he’s dead – i haven’t seen him since the 90s like…) Anyway…we also spread a rumour that the statue of Edmund Rice outside the band room moved…that caused quite a stir back then. Nowadays it would be trending on Twitter.
Anyway…Brother Devitt, the slightly older gentleman from the picture above handles all newcomers to the band. I’m not going to make any christian brother based comments…you can do that in your own spare time!
Everyone started on the cornet (see below)
This is a particularly nice looking cornet. The ones we had in The Mount Sion Band looked like they fell off the back of a lorry and down Bunkers Hill.
Before I carry on, let me tell you that Lorcan and I joined the band after a particularly exciting time, and before a particularly boring time. They were on the late late toy show, they went to Geneva for a competition, they were local celebrities – and then we joined. Lorcan was a natural at blowing the cornet (quiet down the back), while I couldn’t quite master it (I could play the theme to superman, without actually pressing anything). Br Devitt saw a different skill in me though. He sat me on his knee (if it was today he’d be serving 15-20 in Portlaoise)and asked me to bang on the table to some kind of tune he sang. I was a natural at keeping the beat, thus, I became a drummer. Or to put it another way, a percussionist. I went from playing the triangle, to the Big Bass Drum and then a drum kit after a while. I lugged that Bass Drum around about 10 St Patrick’s Day Parades and neither Liam Walsh (conducter) or Br Devitt (Old man) were ever dragged in front of any kind of child labour committee. The Mind boggles.
Here’s me holding said Bass Drum. Notice how you can barely fucking see me. The things they got away with then. Inconceivable. (You can see Liam Walsh to the left there looking a bit like Columbo. He didn’t give me permission to publish this picture. But he never gave me permission to have a longer “big lunch” so I could see the end of neighbours. So things even themselves out over time.
The band was a great excuse for everything in school though. “SKELTON!!! WERE YOU ON THE DUCK YESTERDAY???” Mr Crowe would shout. “No sir, I was with the band”. “THAT’S OKAY SO”
It was worth it for that alone.
I was looking through google for pictures of the band and another thing I noticed was that as soon as Lorcan and I joined, they stopped taking group photos. Go figure.
I loved the band though and I genuinely loved nearly all the people that were in it during my 10 years there. Including our two sensai.
Let me first try and think about what teachers I had. Mrs Power and Miss O Connell were probably lovely people but I somehow remember them as being sadistic tyrants. I am genuinely sorry if they have internet access in Prisoner Cell Block H and they somehow stumble upon this…I am prepared to believe that you are lovely people now and I don’t wish to be sued. You probably thought me how to spell using this book, so I’m grateful for that at least.
I recall a Mr Flynn. Was he a bald lad? I can’t really remember…did he run a library? My memories are hazy. I never had Mr Byrne and he was supposed to be hilarious. I also never had Mr forrestal. Here is a picture of him to jog people’s memories:
Br Griffey taught and trained a lot of the great Waterford hurlers of the last 20 years. He taught me how to sell programs outside Walshe Park.
Mr Walsh was my teacher, and also my conducter in the mount sion silver band. It was a bit like being taught by your father. “DARREN SKELTON! WHERE WERE YOU YESTERDAY MORNING WHEN WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING REHEARSALS FOR THE PIRATES OF PENZANZE??” “I was with the band sir”. “NO YOU BLOODY WERENT! I AM THE BAND!!” “Oh yeah.”
That wasn’t very clever.
Liam was a strict teacher back in the day. I recall desks being flung about the place. But then he got married, and suddenly became one of the nicest teachers, and people, on the planet. So well done, and thank you, to his lovely wife!
A little aside story about Mr Walsh. One day he was driving along the road minding his own business when two fucking lunatics flew passed him on a bike, down bunkers hill at about 60 miles an hour, and straight into a wall. Step Forward, Trevor Hartery and, I think, Darren Firth. Both were tragically killed that day. Or, maybe not, but the amount of blood that Liam had on his shirt after helping them both, you’d think they couldn’t possibly have lived.
Liam, and a few other mad teachers, were also brave, or stupid, enough to bring us all to France on our school tour.
Now, before this, we had gone to some kind of god awful Edmund Rice Museum in Callan. I think, trabolgan…some farm in the back arse of nowehere, and some other place where they had a lot of trains. All very dull, but back in those days there was nothing more exciting than a packed lunch and a school tour. But what on earth were they thinking of bringing us to France? We stormed the beach at Omaha, not knowing the significance of the place at all. We spent about 4 hours in France and about a week on a boat. I remember watching My Girl on that boat. And getting sick. A lot.
The Principal of Mount Sion Primary School was a man by the name of Br. Dowling. He was a firm but fair kind of guy. Called everyone by their surname, pre fixed with MASTER. We never had anyone by the name of Bates come through our school – I’m not sure we would have gotten the joke if we had.
Br Dowling’s office was beside Paula’s stationary superstore. Teachers would often send a swot down to pick up supplies. These were exciting times when you were a child*
*Not as exciting as the day that you saw a teacher OUTSIDE of school. This was extremely weird altogether. Ya see, when we’re kids we think that teachers are there to do just that – Teach us. When we go home, we presume they spend the nights cleaning the boards and preparing for the next day.
Remember when your teacher was out sick? We’d all arrive in at 9 o clock and there would be no teacher. Whispers would circulate around the class.
“They finally sacked him”
In reality it was probably just an irritable bowel.
But, we’d be sent around to all the other classes in groups of 4 like refugees. This was madness altogether, but we got to see how all the other classes spent their days. Sometimes I’d be met with…
“What’s your name?”
“Ah yes,..Skelton. I taught your brother. Leonard. He was a good lad. I hear you’re not following in his footsteps.”
“i’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about sir.”
And somehow I’d get a clatter of a ruler.
Anyway…one day, our teacher was out sick. (Probably Mr Walsh on his honeymoon) and we were taught by Br Dowling. He didn’t really have a flare for teaching and we were all getting a little boisterous. Anyway, one thing led to another and I gave Glenn “bomber” Ryan a flake of a ruler. Dowling decided that this was the culmination of a week’s worth of bad behaviour and was worthy of the dreaded red card. (Paula had red paper and he cut out 4 sides of an A4 page). I wasn’t a bold kid, and I was sure that he was confusing me with someone else. A truly bold kid, like Kevin Aldridge or Trevor Hartery. This was a worse injustice than the Guildford Four. But I was sent home with this red card that had to be signed…they made us believe that this would go on our permanent records. We could struggle to get a job because of these red cards. They were right too. The bastards.
Other snippets of memories from Primary school were:
The Basement. There was actually a class down here. This is where the protestants were taught. We did gymnastics and some shit down here. We also got our communion photos taken here.
The Hall. This is where we would go to get certificates for attendance from the mayor, visits from Waterford hurlers, School plays, and we also did Irish Dancing here. Seriously. Underneath the hall, was the phantom of the Kettle. Eddie. He dished out the cups of tea as we all ate in the canteen.
The Yard. This is where we played football with a tennis ball. And occasionally we would gather in a circle and watch a crap fight. Sometimes the fight would be stopped, the fighters would be sent out to stand at the white wall, and then we would schedule the fight for 4pm, down at the black gates. Fun times.
Losing our ball. And everyone of us running over to the railings and proceeding to shout at passers by to throw the ball back up. The poor bastards never regretted anything more in their lives as they were abused when they couldn’t get the ball high enough to clear the railings.
Projects. We would all have projects to work on. This involved way too much research for kids of our age. Myself and Stephen Mahon decided to do one on Guns n Roses one year. I believe it was Mr Foley who told us that we shouldn’t be listening to such music and definitely shouldn’t be doing a project on it. I’m ashamed to say I walked away from it and did a boring project on the “Walls of Waterford” (not even the viking walls…just the walls outside people’s gardens and shit). I dunno why any of us bothered, cause Thomas Dunphy won the fucking thing every year with his 120 foot project on Bell Lines that stretched all the way out of the hall and down barrack street.
That’s where I’m going to leave it for now…I could go on for hours but I’m sure i’m boring you now. Part two will feature MOUNT SION SECONDARY, so stay tuned for that one eh?