A very special reunion is going to take place in Rockbrook Park School on Saturday-week, 30 April. This year the school celebrates the 40th anniversary of its foundation. A very happy birthday, Rockbrook.
I will be there for the occasion. In 1994 I ended my 16-year association with Rockbrook. They were great and happy years. I look forward very much to the prospect of renewing contact with as many as possible of the former students and their parents whose lives intersected with mine over for a handful of those 16 happy years. They were certainly happy for me and hopefully fruitful for them – and as happy as schooldays can be for schoolboys.
Over the past few years, courtesy of social media, contact with many of those who rubbed shoulders with me from ’78 to ’94 has been touching and at times lively. Although social media can often be anything but social and might be better described as anti-social, this has never been my experience in these exchanges.
LBR (Life Before Rockbrook) for me, as some of you may know or remember, was centred in a late-lamented newspaper office on the banks of the Liffey at Burgh Quay in Dublin, the editorial offices of The Irish Press group. They were also great years and leaving Burgh Quay to take up work in a school was not without regrets. Moving from being poacher – the group’s education correspondent – to being gamekeeper was how the late Christina Murphy described it in her Irish Times article on the school. Leaving Rockbrook after 16 years was no easier.
But I’m a restless soul and an addiction to the clattering keyboard brought me back to where I started in a certain sense. Now the old media is dying – or dead, as in the case of The Irish Press. But the new media of the internet age, badly paid as it is, is perfectly adequate to feed my addiction. Over 500 posts – or fixes – to Garvan Hill and MercatorNet are evidence enough of that, not to mention Position Papers and other outlets for my hallucinations.
One of the consolations of the new media is its semi-permanence – at least until some cyber-war shatters the edifice to smithereens. In the old days there was something dispiriting about walking home in the early hours of Sunday morning, having put the final edition of The Sunday Press to bed, and finding yourself picking up the early edition from the pavement. There, trampled underfoot, was your by-line on the piece you had spent the earlier part of the week sweating over to enlighten or entertain your fellow countrymen. Rockbrook boys never treated you with ingratitude like that, I like to think.
Occasionally the old life of those years on that hill overlooking Dublin and my present life intersect again, most recently just a few weeks ago. Online I made some reference to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and by coincidence a former student of Rockbrook contacted me to say he had just attended a live performance of the same. He spoke of the feelings of gratitude it stirred in him – which I took, I hope not too self-indulgently, to refer to my faltering efforts inculcate some love for great music in young hearts when we were together as teacher and pupil on that hill in South Dublin.
Enough meandering! To those who read this who are Rockbrookinans, I’m looking forward in hope to seeing you on the evening of 30 April.