Jim Lockhart: ‘I was the only student left in school. The silence was extraordinary’

My Leaving: Horslips man went on to study economics and politics at UCD

Jim Lockhart says  philosophy and logic should be added to the Leaving Cert curriculum. Photograph: Dave Keegan Photography

Jim Lockhart says philosophy and logic should be added to the Leaving Cert curriculum. Photograph: Dave Keegan Photography

 

Jim Lockhart is a multi-instrumentalist with Horslips and a radio and television producer. He went to James’s Street CBS in Dublin in the 1960s.

Most vivid Leaving Cert memory?

I was the only one in the school doing music as a Leaving Cert subject, and it was the last one in the schedule, so I kept the school open an extra day and sat in the middle of a huge room in total silence with the supervisor up at the front while I grappled mentally with harmony and counterpoint.

The silence was extraordinary. Surreal experience.

Your most influential teacher?

Peter O’Driscoll, English. He opened doors and broadened our horizons during those critically formative adolescent years, introduced us to writers and ideas, tirelessly challenged and chivvied and encouraged us on.

Most difficult subject?

Art. It was desperately formulaic and joyless, with no reference to any actual art and certainly none of this expressing-yourself business. Chemistry was a bit of a challenge too, as I recall. Those formulas.

How many points did you get in the Leaving?

I did the Leaving a very long time ago, and points hadn’t been invented!

Did your results impact on your future career?

I was leaning towards pure English in UCD, but opted instead for economics and politics.

I went on to do an MA on environmental economics, as I reckoned the theoretical framework on externalities was going to be central to the political argument.

I started on a PhD in the same field but by then Horslips was taking off and I ran away with the circus. No record company exec ever asked about my Leaving results.

Is the Leaving Cert fair?

Hard question. Continuous assessment probably takes some of the pressure off the intensive exam period, but I’d have hated it. You’d be on trial all the time. Dossing’s important.

What subject would you add to the Leaving Cert?

Philosophy and logic. Clear thinking, construction of an argument, spotting false logic: these are basic life skills, and they’re even more needed now than years ago.