Mon, Mar 25, 2019

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Memories From a Past-Pupil

A selection of memories from a past pupil who travelled The Wine and Gold Road from '83 to '88

 

September 1983, as a nervous first year student, in my De La Salle College Churchtown black-crested blazer (at that time, first years had to wear them), along with about 120 others, I walked through the gates for my first day in 'The College'.

Every morning for the next 6 years, I tried to make sure I wouldn't be late. As, I'd tear past the HB factory & Premier Diaries, then at the next corner I'd pass the 'Brothers' house' on my left (where the De La Salle Brothers lived) down to the crossroads, turn right at the junction, 'legging it' to hopefully get in before ten to nine.

After official school start time, stragglers would be watching out for the Headmaster, Br Christopher (aka 'Banger'), if you were late he'd take your name. If he wasn't there it would be the V.P. 'Mick' (Mick Daly).

'Banger' was a great character (who sadly passed away in '84). He was fierce passionate & proud of the College, something he passed onto most of the students.

Seeing him and the other Brothers walking around Churchtown was a common sight in their black tunics and distinctive white collars, as they walked between the college, the prep and the national.

Blessed with Gestapo-like skills, 'Banger' would also find pupils who weren't wearing their full uniform, especially those who didn't wear ties! If caught not wearing your uniform or you were late twice in a week, there was only one result: detention Saturday morning from 10am-12pm!

David Lillis

In the early years it's true to say that I often attended (as an invited guest of course). Those early Saturday mornings were a killer. Even worse was that you had to get your parents to sign your detention slip. Although the fact that I had similar handwriting to my Dad did come in useful at times!!

Did it work, I hear you ask? Well, today (nearly 28 years later), I make sure I leave the house for work with my tie on and on time! So the answer is yes.

A huge staff looked after nearly 700 students. Full of characters, nick-names like: Arnie, Kev, Pos, B.A., A.J., B.J., Paddy (to name a few) and 'Dermo' - this was Dermot Keely, who was playing for Shamrock Rovers in Milltown at the time, if you stood at the shed end in Glemalure Park, you were in awe.

There was also Louie the caretaker - a legend amongst the smokers, word had it he kept sketch for the lads - surely just a rumour!

At lunchtime you'd head to the Borza, Reillys, H. Williams or in later years, Nutgrove Shopping Centre, the largest shopping centre in Ireland at the time, which had the first McDonalds drive-through restaurant in Europe in it.

One thing for definite, for all those that joined the College, was that rugby was to play a big part of all our lives.

In first year EVERYONE had to play and in '83 we were to witness history first hand, as De La Salle College Churchtown won the Schools' Cup for the first time ever. Going to all the games, you wore the WINE AND GOLD, with pride.

The impact it was to have on the locality and the College's reputation and profile could not be underestimated. People shouting out car windows when they saw you wearing your jersey on the way home from Donnybrook - 'Did you win? What score?' Local priests encouraging parishioners to go to the game and support us, surreal stuff.

Before all the cup games, we'd be called into the state-of-the-art Sports Centre & taught the words of all the songs to sing and told to 'bring your biscuit tin lids' to bang and make noise. Our half of the stand in Donnybrook was always full.

One memory after our famous win over Castleknock in the '83 Final, was the captain, Michael Mc Ardle, brining the cup back to the college and standing on top of the old bicycle shed and holding it aloft with pride as 600 proud past pupils sang "WE ARE SALLE, WE ARE SALLE!" below him in the yard. The Cup win of '83 made the front page of The Irish Times, The Irish Independent and the game was broadcast live on RTE 1.

If as an innocent 13 year old, I thought that was a special day, imagine how I felt 3 years later when the '85 team, captained by Brian Glennon, beat the mighty Blackrock.

I certainly will never forget our half of the stand singing 'We knocked the rock!', back at the Blackrock crowd, who had taunted us all during the game with 'You can't knock the rock!', they obviously didn't know how much the wearing of the Wine and Gold jersey meant to us!

To put it in the context of its time, the two winning captains Brian Glennon and Micheal McArdle, became our Brian O'Driscoll!

Other sports were catered for and the College excelled at these too, in particular badminton, squash and basketball. At this time a 6th year student Jim Stynes also won the All Ireland Minor Football Championship with Dublin (his brother Brian - also a past pupil, would later win the Sam Maguire with the '95 Dublin team).

The DLS Orienteers was also very strong and ran very well by Mr Brendan Cryan (himself a past-pupil), a fantastic sport and very popular, with some great trips to the Jan Kellstrom Festival at the time.

But Rugby was OUR sport, it always came first (and rightly so). It played a part in all our lives (even those who later stopped playing) and thankfully still does to this day - the long and proud tradition continues. No wonder the Wine and Gold colours have held their respect in Irish Rugby to this day.

For those who were not into sport, the College had a strong debating team, photography club, Young Ireland Group and an active musical society - no surprise then in 2006 a past pupil by the name of John Carney wrote the Oscar-winning film 'ONCE'. Legendary film-maker Steven Spielberg is quoted as saying, 'ONCE gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year'.

And now ... 28 years after those nervous 120 first years walked into 'the College', a recent reunion with the class mates found that amongst us there was now: pilots, Gardai, accountants, male nurses, journalists, vice-presidents of banks, local politicians, air traffic controllers, a turf accountant, researchers in RTE, chiropractors, photographers, lecturers, sales men, printers, house dads and teachers - a true reflection on the way in which De La Salle College Churchtown catered for everyone.

 

David Lillis, Past-Pupil


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