Mick McCarthy – Captain Fantastic

It’s been an emotional few months with the changing state of the restrictions brought about by the Cornovirus. We’ve been given the opportunity to relive some great sporting moments. In June we saw repeats of games from Euro ’88, Italia ’90 and USA ’94 on RTÉ. Then with the death of Jack Charlton in July we got the chance to reflect on some of the enormous achievements we made during this time – beating England in Euro 88 in Stuttgart, beating Romania in Italia ’90, a gallant performance against Italy in Rome. It still brings a tear to my eye when I watch the footage or hear the late Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma.
Captain Fantastic Cover
It struck me how much of a bond the players had with Big Jack. None more so than Mick McCarthy. He talked of his last chat with him back in May. “I told him I loved the bones of him that day – and I always will.” Two men from the North of England. But they had more in common than that. Many players spoke of Jack’s ability to bring out the best in them. Jack did this for Mick, making him captain, inspiring a sense of pride in playing for Ireland in his team mates.
In his book, Captain Fantastic, Mick outlines his football career and the how Jack played such an important role in it. This book is particularly interesting as it is a snapshot in a time of innocence when the biggest controversy was Éamonn Dunphy’s throwing of his pen, in disgust, at Ireland’s performance against Egypt in Italia ’90, a time when the whole nation united behind the manager and the team, a time where each victory or draw was a bonus.
Mick outlines the thrills and disappointments the squad faced during this momentous World Cup, some inside stories from the camp in Italy and of course the momentous homecoming which finished in the Bank Of Ireland in College Green. Will we ever see the likes again?
As Mick steps down from his role of Ireland manager we look forward to Stephen Kenny taking over as manager. We hope he can lead the Irish team to equal or surpass those glory days.

Lech Walesa

Lech Walesa

For thirty years Poland, like the other countries of eastern Europe’s Communist bloc, had not been free. Attempts to oppose the power of the Communist Party had been met with police repression, censorship and imprisonment. But then in 1980 came Solidarity, the first free trade union in the Communist bloc. Solidarity’s leader, Lech Walesa, was an ordinary, rather scruffy and bumbling electrician. In front of the world’s television cameras he led his followers in non- violent opposition to the state and its police. He calmed his people and kept them from grasping at freedom if it would provoke violence. In 1981 Solidarity was banned. But the people had tasted the hope of freedom. In 1989, when the food shortages and hardships were too much for the state to deal with, they turned to Lech Walesa. Once again Solidarity scored a first when the eastern bloc’s election showed almost total support for Solidarity.
To many people Lech Wales is an inspirational figure. He has won many honours for his work. You can get a biography of his life, suitable for your children, here.

A Significant Irish Educationalist’s views on education are relevant to this day

Padraig Pearse

Padraig Pearse

I was listening to Marian Finucane’s podcast interview with Mark Patrick Hederman, the Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, this morning. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a teacher and I find the topic of educational reform quite interesting. The Junior Cert is being reformed by the Department of Education and Mr Hederman had some comments to make about it.

He was lamenting the fact that to this day the primary focus of secondary education is rote learning.

He recalled Patrick Pearse’s description of the education system – a murder machine: a machine that creates fodder for industry and kills creativity in children. Its ironic that the economy is now calling for creative individuals to step forward and help us find a way out of this recession – while at the same time students are being rewarded with college places for their ability to memorise.

A significant Irish Educationalist

Pearse’s progressive writings on education

This debate has been going on for a long time. From Dickens’ critique of the education system in Hard Times to Pearse’s writings on education as shown in A Significant Irish Educationalist – The Educational Writings of P.H. Pearseto the current debate. In this book you can see the devotion Pearse showed to the topic of

educational reform. He was a progressive thinker and prolific writer. Pearse will always be remembered for his leadership of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. But primarily Pearse was an educationalist.

What would he think now of today’s reforms of the Junior Cert? Would he laud Ruairi Quinn’s efforts

to boost literacy? Or would he see the compromise in the Junior Cert reform in the same way as Mark Patrick Hederman – doomed to failure?