By Jon Kavanagh
On an early September morning in 1972 I climb aboard the iconic yellow and white school bus in the village of Oldtown. The driver Mrs Scully does battle with the unyielding beast (no power steering or automatic gears) as we wind our way around the narrow roads of North County Dublin. Eventually, we enter Swords from the north end, alight from the forty-five-seater outside Mary’s O’Grady’s shop and begin the physically short but emotionally long journey down Seatown Road to Swords Technical School, known locally as The Tech. Coming from a two-room country national school, I initially fit in about as well as Crocodile Dundee on the streets of New York. My contemporaries have long hair, denim jackets with a STP sticker on the back and a rabbit’s foot luck charm hanging around their necks. I have short hair and a Val Donagan style jumper. Having to move to a different classroom every forty-five minutes proves problematic as I constantly get lost in the seemingly unending maze of corridors and prefab buildings. Subjects include science, woodwork, technical drawing, art and civics. We see an overhead projector as state-of-the-art technology. Our teachers are an eclectic bunch, ranging from a Sherlock Homes lookalike, complete with deer stalker hat, cape and bent smoking pipe, to a man permanently engaged in a failed attempt to keep his combover in place. Unable to pronounce my R’s, my worst nightmare comes true when my English teacher Miss English (believe it or not!) asks me to recite Robert Burns ‘A Wed Wed Wose.’
Although half a century has ticked by, I never pass my old Alma Mater, which I grew to love, without remembering the heady days spent in the great local institution (now Fingal Community College) that was The Tech. I guess it helped make those of us of a certain vintage who we are today.