Celtic Illumination, part 30, Saint Malachy’s, Saint Coleman’s and Garron Tower
Many of you reading this blog have asked that I go into detail about why I was expelled from Violent Hell. I have no objection to describing the nitty gritty details of my expulsion; however I must warn you that although the incident lasted no more than five minutes it took years to build up to. So I suppose if I am to tell this story well, I can only start at the beginning. But please, do not subject your own offspring to these experiences; if they are meant to be Master Candle Makers in their own right, then they shall already be on their own special path.
I remember that it was a Saturday sometime during the late 1960’s. I can’t be sure of the exact date but I do remember that it was a Saturday. We were all at the breakfast table and the cleaning lady brought the post in and gave it to my father. He inspected the envelopes, handed me one and told me to open it. It was a letter congratulating me on passing the eleven plus exam. It also confirmed my IQ score which then was 148. My parents were very pleased with the result as it meant something to them, I however was chuffed that my IQ was higher than my sister who’s recorded IQ was 136. At least now I could officially call her a thicko.
One by one the other letters were handed to me and I was told to open them. Each was a letter inviting me to attend various schools each of which I had undergone the entrance exam for. One was Garron Tower, just north of Glenarm, a place that will always be very special to me, another was Saint Malachy’s in Belfast and of course another was Saint Coleman’s College, Violet Hill in Newry.
I did want to attend Saint Malachy’s in Belfast with my friends from primary school but Belfast was becoming more dangerous each day, even for an apprentice Master Candle Maker. We had a small cottage near Lough Neagh which we would occasionally use. It was on a beef farm owned by the Byrne family who ran a butchers shop in Lurgan. Their son was a priest and the Dean at Violent Hell. I often cleaned the chicken shed out with this man and he was a nice fellow so I decided that I would attend Violent Hell as I had a friend there. The very next day, a Sunday, I was in an Aunts house in Warrenpoint having a private fitting for my new school uniform.
Along the main corridor in Violent Hell was a collection of photographs of students attending the school since its inception. I was able to view a long line of relatives, on one side in their respective sporting teams, while on the other side were pictures of the cast of each years Gilbert and Sullivan production with all of my uncles dressed as girls, even the pervert priest. Tradition was a very important factor at Violent Hell. I once met a cousin in Glasgow and it was so interesting to discover that he too had been through many of the rituals and experiences that I had faced. Somehow I felt that I was a member of a very exclusive club.