There was no talk of any 1916 room when I was in Coláiste.
In fact, I never knew that there was any physical connection between the school and the 1916 Easter Rising.
I left in 1963 and I suspect that the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1966 made people more aware of these sort of connections. Sean O'Donnell, who came in 1965 and left in 1971, tells me that his class were made very aware of the connections and of the room.
One of the school buildings in Dublin's Parnell Square (No. 25) had been the headquarters of the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) and the League allowed one of their rooms to be used in September 1914 for a meeting between those organisations which were working towards the ending of the British presence in Ireland
That room contained the Gaelic League's library and was also the office of Seán T O'Kelly, who was the General Secretary of the League at the time. You can read his full account of the meeting in his witness statement to the Bureau of Military History.
The extract illustrated above is the critical paragraph relating to what ultimately became the 1916 Rising.
Steven Powell has drawn my attention to this article which fills in some further background.
The above plaque was not on the school's front wall in my day. As I said we were oblivious to the 1916 connections. It was put there as part of the 1966 fiftieth year celebrations. In fact, in that year the whole geography of Parnell Square North changed with the opening of the Garden of Remembrance directly opposite the school.
Joe Ó Muircheartaigh and Pádraig Yeates checking out
a picture of those purported to have been at the meeting.
I had tried to get access to my former school some time back for purely nostalgic reasons. My intention had been to take some photos. Anyway, I was refused entry and that was that.
Sean O'Donnell & Pól Ó Duibhir in Seomra 1916
recalling memories of the Coláiste for posterity.
Photo: Shelagh Honan
Until today, when Joe Ó Muircheartaigh, who is compiling a feature on the school in the context of its connections with 1916, invited me and some other past pupils to come in to talk about our experience in the school.
I was very taken aback at the state of the place. I knew the school had moved out many years ago when the building was found to be unsafe. But I had passed it many times since and in more recent times, following the decision to relocate the central city library there, I had assumed that people had been beavering away inside and that the place must nearly be ready for occupation.
In fact it is falling apart and absolutely nothing seems to have been done with it since the school left in 2003 except for a few very minor safety precautions.
I took the opportunity to have a look around while others were being interviewed and I have to say it was a sad perambulation indeed.
Not that the place had ever been in great nick or looked in any way classy, but it had been relatively clean and functional.
At the moment it would put a squat to shame.
The Halla (Hall/Theatre) was built soon after I left. In my time we had our annual school concerts/pageants in various halls around the city but mostly in the Francis Xavier Hall in Sherrard Street.
I don't know how this building fits in with the current plans but it would be a shame to see what was such a magnificent achievement for the school bite the dust.
The yard is a mess. The area top right used to house the science building but I gather it eventually proved a problem for the Hugh Lane Gallery next door and was demolished.
The photo above is looking towards what was the (small) hall in my day where we did drill and dancing and viewed films. The area above it, added after my time, is presumably the passageway which connected the existing hall directly to the front door in Parnell Square.
I thought I'd check out as much of the Mainistir (Monastery - Brothers' Residence) as I could get at while I was there, starting with the séipéal (chapel). I suppose I should not have been surprised to see that it had apparently been turned into another classroom. The number of brothers in the school towards the end of its stay in Parnell Square must have been rapidly diminishing and giving way to the vast majority of lay teachers.
Have a look at the two chapel windows above and spot the difference.
Well, it's just under the star. I had noticed, when passing outside over the years, that one of the windows was actually broken. I then noticed that it had been sort of fixed to the point of not being too noticeable just before Queen Elizabeth's visit to the Garden of Remembrance opposite.
It's amazing how noticeable the break was, particularly in bright sunlight.
As I entered the next room, the one with the wallpaper, a word shouted at me from somewhere deep in my subconscious - An Parlús.
This was the parlour, into which illustrious visitors, including parents, would be ushered by the brother in charge. Your whole life could change as a result of one of these visits.
The school consisted of a series of joined up Georgian houses. You can get a sort of an idea of it looking down the corridor from the Mainistir towards Seomra 1916.
I had been warned not to go up any stairs, and having had a look around the ground floor, I decided that was good advice and I heeded it.
Still, I took a peek from below and it might give you some idea of the place's former "glory".
And then when I saw this, I decided that it was time to go.
Hope they invite me to the opening if I'm still around then.
Related post: Coláiste Mhuire