Staff only: Meeting Henry and the vampire leprachauns
Henry Barry, bestselling Corkonian writer of horror stories for children, has honoured our school with a visit. He is here to see the 1st Years who have been reading his latest opus, The Trainee Lempire, but the whole school is buzzing with excitement thanks to the staff who all arrived this morning with dog-eared copies of Barry's back catalogue.
Barry's visit is for the benefit of Mr Finnegan's 1st Year English class, who have been reading and re-reading The Trainee Lempire, a fantastic tale of vampire leprechauns terrorising Cork city, since last October.
Yes, remember how in school you used to have to constantly reread the same stuff until you hated it? Personally I still feel ill when I see the cover of Great Expectations.
At least Finnegan has had the sense to pick something modern that combines the current vampire vogue and Irish mythology -- what a brilliant formula!
Naturally enough I bring in my own brat's copies of The Green Green Blood of Home and The Douglas Undead and smilingly hand them to Finn for the great auteur to sign.
As I'm heading up to my next class I bump into Henry Barry himself, wandering around the school, lost.
He's unmistakable with his long pony tail, suede jacket and designer scuffed trainers and a look of confusion.
No sign of Finnegan, who has headed off in the other direction to get the library ready for the talk.
Looking like he's about to leave and get back in his car, I hastily approach Henry Barry, hand outstretched in greeting.
The look of confusion evaporates and is replaced by a scowl.
"This is the fifth school I've been to today and this is the first time nobody has had the decency to meet me. I mean, how hard is it to have somebody waiting at reception?" he snaps.
I'm tempted to point out that he is the one who has arrived half an hour early but he's an immensely successful writer and one day I'd like to try to get a book published, so I decide to do some serious licking up.
"I love your books, Henry," I drool. "I was delighted to hear they're making a film out of Satan's Shillelagh -- Colin Farrell is just the man for playing the lempire hunter."
He scowls at me and simply grunts a 'yes'. Obviously not crazy about teachers, then.
Thanks to Finnegan, the kids have loads of prepared questions, although Barry finds it hard to concentrate with a new arrival from the other years every minute or so.
Finnegan shows him some drawings the kids have made of vampire leprechauns riding wolfhounds that fly over the Father Mathew statue. Admittedly Barry is great with children.
As we all pose for pictures for the local newspaper, I realise that our guest must be exhausted and it doesn't seem fair to subject anyone to endless badgering from Irish teenagers without a training course from the SAS.
It's a great thing when successful Irish writers give back something to our schools.