Sunday 25 February 2018

Denise Calnan: As that Junior Certer fell onto the footpath it was time to step in

Many celebrating results last night had no interest in official events

Teenagers out celebrating their junior cert results in Dublin
Teenagers out celebrating their junior cert results in Dublin
Teenagers celebrating their junior cert results in Dublin

SHE must have spent hours shopping for her outfit, styling her hair and perfecting her makeup, but the girl couldn’t join her friends in celebration.

It was not yet 8pm and she tottered up and down the footpath alongside the queue, pleading with the security for entry.

It was outside just one of Dublin’s organised underage events for the Junior Cert night, all with a strict no-alcohol policy.

And this is where the girl had failed. Although the majority of 15 and 16-year-olds were necking off plastic bottles of fizzy alcohol concoctions before they joined the queue, this girl had quite clearly consumed too much and far too early.

Her skimpy dress left nothing to the imagination in her drunken stupor - and she didn’t have the self-awareness to cover her modesty.

As she fell backward onto the pavement, I felt it was time to step in and give her the ‘big sister’ treatment.

With her eight inch-high platforms removed, her dress fixed and the prospect of a sandwich and possible later entry into the club, she joined her friend in a nearby newsagents and I relinquished custody of my surrogate little sister.

I had suggested she call her parents to drive her home, but she replied that she was “a VIP”.

It has only been nine years since my own Junior Cert night and, I’ll say it, I was no angel as a teenager either.

But it’s a sign you’re getting a little bit older when these 16-year-old girls suddenly looked very young and vulnerable.

Bystanders at a nearby bus stop on their commute home were finding it tough to tear their eyes away from the sight of a girl on her knees vomiting onto the ground in front of her.

Surrounded by her three girlfriends, she cried as she realised she had ruined their night out, not to mind her celebratory floral dress.

Joined by the Gardai and a member of St John’s Ambulance service, her plans of a night out with the girls came to a swift end.

Although the queue was moving fast, it was evident some Junior Cert night revellers had absolutely no intention of entering the underage, security-managed venue. 

Sitting on the cold footpath, dodging pedestrians and wandering the capital’s streets seemed like a far more exciting prospect.

Outside another club, some students were left with no choice but to enter the venue.

Three cars were parked across from this particular club, their radios on and passengers leaning back in the seats – clearly they were settling in as they were going to be there for awhile.

It occurred to me that these must be parents who were set on dropping their kids to enjoy some well deserved fun, but they were getting door-to-door transport, with absolutely no opportunity for them to do otherwise.

Nearly 60,000 students collected their results yesterday and the majority of them wanted to celebrate their success or, equally, relief with a night out on the tiles.

According to a quick Twitter search and a similar search on a few online forums, some of these students celebrated with a family meal, a FIFA marathon on their PlayStations or a takeaway pizza and a group of friends, as the majority of schools are in session tomorrow.

Are the kids who wandered the streets of Dublin with their alcohol-filled disposable coffee cups as happy as those who spent the night playing video games with their friends today?

Sometimes these nights out are put on the pedestal, so to speak, and the pressure is on from peers for these Junior Cert students to “have the craic”.

Judging from tonight, the pressure to have this “craic” could be the very reason for the majority of the plastic bottle concoctions, entry refusals and ruined floral dresses.

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