Nobody asks how Katie Taylor did in the Leaving Cert
The failure to organise a proper homecoming for Ireland’s Olympians shows how atomised our society has become
YOUNG PEOPLE of Ireland, there are two points that need to be made today. The first is that you are living in a country that cannot organise a proper homecoming for its Olympic athletes, let alone a rudimentary plan that would aim to have them winning more medals than their sporting ancestors at the Olympics in the 1950s. The second point is that nobody asks Katie Taylor how she did in her Leaving Cert.
The two points are linked by a question that is almost always good to ask, particularly in this country: is this worth getting upset about?
Take the Leaving. The results of our school system’s final examination are out on Wednesday. Tensions are high, rivalries are bitter and perhaps, once the results are out, some people will let themselves and the schools down with their hysterical weeping, adolescent screaming and drunken scenes. There are always the few who spoil it for everybody else.
But let’s not concentrate on the parents here – their day is over.
Let’s just remember that the people who do best in life, and who have the best time, do not tend to have done terribly well in their Leaving Certificate, a crude measuring instrument that should have been scrapped years ago. For the most part the Leaving is a preparation for jobs that no longer exist, either here or in any of the countries to which you may emigrate.
In fact, it may be worth pointing out here that the people who are happiest as adults are often the people who slipped by the teachers and other school authorities (this used to mean nuns or priests) when they were in school.
These people emerge from school feeling greatly relieved, and thrive. Perhaps unsurprisingly they do not have a very high opinion of our education system.
It is too late now to point out the things that you could have and should have learned at school; you have other things on your minds. But when the excitement dies down and the bandages come off – celebrating isn’t a full-time job here yet, but give it time – it might be worth considering that it’s never too late to learn to spell. It does make a difference. Just a thought.
No matter what happens on Wednesday, we won’t be worrying too much about you. It’s the country that is causing us sleepless nights. There are not too many institutions, with the possible exception of the public libraries, that we can recommend to you without a barrage of despair and cynicism. There is no doubt that, even by the standards of Irish history, we’re in a bit of a slump at the moment. It looks like the official nation is breaking up and that Irish life is becoming even more local.