Address for success?


Sir, – I hate to break it to Brian Clancy (Letters, February 28th), but unfortunately your address or school, being of course proxies for family socio-economic background, remain the clearest predictor of future success in life (if we define success in the regrettably narrow sense of making loads of money).

A glance at the annual third-level progression tables in The Irish Times demonstrate clearly that fee-paying schools, and those in affluent areas, send a significantly higher proportion of students to university than others. Deis schools in particular, whose students must battle valiantly against entrenched socio-economic disadvantage, remain badly under-represented at third level. It is neither the quality of the teaching nor the work ethic of the students, but obviously socio-economic factors that at once hold these children back, and give a leg-up to children whose parents can afford fee-paying schools (and grinds), or live in an affluent area.

Ample research from all over the world, meanwhile, shows that there is a significant premium attached to a university degree in future salary earnings.

I agree with Mr Clancy that “attitudes to where people grew up or what school you went to are of too much importance, particularly in Irish society today”. Such attitudes are precisely how those born into privilege stay privileged, and keep as many as possible of those less fortunate out of their club.

So yes, anyone who “grew up in an area of Dublin” (or anywhere else in the country) “seen by many as ‘deprived’ or ‘marginalised’” and who goes on to succeed in life “deserves acclaim”. And the manifestly disproportionate number who do not should cause us to take a hard look at our socio-economic system. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – I’m sure Joe Duffy would have made a successful broadcaster if he had been reared in Foxrock, Neilstown or Castleknock. – Yours,etc,



Co Wicklow.