independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Diary of a Schoolteacher: Poo do you think you are? The aristo, her dog, the teacher . . . and Frank

As part of the Transition Year programme, I've been selected to take them out on 'cultural' outings.

Last Friday being Culture Night, I thought if I booked the class a tour of a castle or anything with An Taisce or an OPW 'Fogra' sign on it, I might be free of them by lunch time and so get an early start on all that culture on offer.

It seems that Mrs McCarthy, she of the absurd fake posh accent and wife of the principal's best golfing buddy, has not retired, which comes as news to me. I would swear I haven't seen her for at least two years, but on reflection it's probably thanks to the golf connection that she only gets the best classes.

She has beaten me to it and booked a full tour of the gardens and house at Killanally Castle which is a good three counties away.

Apparently Mrs McCarthy is a 'friend' of Lady Killanally and we can expect a warm welcome.

As expected, only 10 of the 30 pupils who had put their names forward turned up for the 90-minute trip to Killanally Castle, and mercifully they're all relatively civilised.

I'm surprised but delighted to see Frank has come as the last three years have been hard for this overweight, spotty, red-haired kid.

Always the butt of the bully elite's jokes, on occasion I have to withdraw him from class so he can wipe away his tears.

Today, along with his classmates, Frank enjoys the sham lake, the huge lawns, stuff that looks like giant rhubarb and laughs along with the others at the poorly endowed nude male statues in the gardens.

In the castle we see the suits of armour, the rare Meissen crockery and portraits of various Earls since Norman times; but it is what we don't see that defines the whole day.

Afterwards, Mrs McCarthy informs me that it is 'de rigueur' for the Irish aristocracy to give their dogs a fee run of the house and that is how poor young Frank happened to step in that giant dog mess in the library and then leave stinking brown footsteps all over the castle.

"How ghastly!" I shriek when a furious Lady Killanally tracks us down in the kitchen, leaving me wishing there were a secret passageway leading to the conservatory.

"You'll have to pay for the cleaning!" snaps her ladyship, glowering at Mrs McCarthy.

Mrs Mac endeavours to smile: "My goodness, Olivia, how embarrassing to meet again like this . . ." but she's cut off by the angry aristo with a: "Sorry, madam, but I have no idea who you are. Please take these children away before they do any more harm!'

And there's poor Frank, caught brown-footed and holding up the poo-encrusted trainer, in tears as usual.

He hops out behind my mortified colleague and his sniggering classmates.

For the class the dog poo incident has been the highlight of the day.

Frank is their new hero.

E GRADE

Irish Independent

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