Saturday, August 08, 2015

Michael Judge RIP

Michael Judge playing second fiddle to one of his pupils
Click on any image for a larger version

Michael Judge was my English teacher in school. He taught the only subject that was taught through the medium of English in that school. That must surely be a distinction of sorts.

He had a very healthy attitude to what was the curriculum of the 1950s and early 1960s. While acknowledging the excellence of what was on the course, his attitude was to get through it as fast as possible and then go on to do something more interesting and exciting.

He brought us through Beckett and the War Poets (Owen and Sassoon). He gave us a feel for Owen's para-rhyme and Hopkins's sprung rhythm. While we lacked a context in those days for WWI in the trenches, largely due to rejection of the Irish fighting there, there was no gainsaying the sheer savagery of Owen's poetry.

And not forgetting Harold Pinter, whose writings hot off the press came streaming into Judgie's classroom.

Nor did Judgie exclude music from his own personal curriculum, as you can see above. In fact, he was a bit of an all-rounder and was also our art teacher, which I'm sure he taught through the medium, though I don't remember at this remove.

I never had any contact with his writing for RTÉ radio or television, or for the Abbey, though I gather he was very good at it.

For me he will always remain an innovative and dedicated teacher of English and I hope my own writing over the years bears testimony to this.

Those were the days.

I attended Judgie's final class today - his farewell service at Mount Jerome cemetery.

I was standing outside the chapel, waiting for the hearse to arrive when I sort of felt someone looking over my shoulder. I turned around, and who was it but the bould Sir William Wilde, Oscar's daddy. I smiled, and thought to myself, Judgie would have loved that.

Oscar's Daddy

The service was well attended and the Garden Chapel was packed. Standing room only, or even a space in the porch. God be with the days.

The breadth of the attendance was wide, but the ceremony centered very much on the family - four generations of them. Family members recalled aspects of Judgie's life and character. There was much joy and love in the air, and many tears too. Tiny tots of great grandchildren were carried up to place sunflowers on the coffin. Tributes read out included those from former pupils, many of whom had left school half a century ago but turned up to honour a man who left a lasting mark on their lives.

In keeping with Judgie's love of theatre, as the final curtains slowly inched across to a close, we were treated to a fabulous foot tapping jazz number, which could only make you smile. A lovely script. A writer to the end.

In what was, I suppose, a throwback to the 1960s, I became aware of the absence of any Christian Brother at the service. But I suppose that community barely exists in the modern world. Then it struck me to wonder if Judgie would get a job in a faith school today. An ironic thought about a man who had been one of the shining educational lights of the Coláiste.

He's gone now.

But it was clear from today's service that he is not, and that his legacy lives on, not least in his family and in his former pupils.

May he rest in peace.

Joe Ó Muircheartaigh & Judgie (le déanaí)

Joe Ó Muircheartaigh, Iarscoláire and journalist, recently interviewed Judgie in relation to the Coláiste's connections with the 1916 rising. He expects the material to surface in a radio programme he is currently working on. His extensive comment on the Iarscoláirí Facebook page is reproduced in a comment below.

Today's Irish Times (18/9/2015) carries an obituary which is a great tribute to Judgie, as a teacher, writer and human being.


Póló said...

A tribute just received from a classmate:

He was that rare kind of teacher (and becoming rarer, it seems): an inspirational presence who could open up new horizons for his students, horizons that keep expanding long after his time in the classroom has finished.

That he was.

Póló said...

Two short extracts relating to Michael Judge from the Coláiste Mhuire 50 year commemorative volume in 1981.

Póló said...

The following is a copy of a comment left by Joe Ó Muircheartaigh on the Iarscoláirí Facebook page:

Mo chó-bhrón....bhuail mé le Michéal cúpla mí ó shoin agus chuir mé é faoi agallamh faoi Sheomra 1916... Bá mhór an onóír domsa caint leis agus bhí sceálta den scoth aige faoi thionchar 1916 sa Choláiste agus é mar scoláire agus mar mhúinteoir. Cur i gcás dúirt sé liom go ndúírt Pádráig Mac Piarais lena athair go raibh sé ar an chéad duine a dhoirt fuil sa réabhlóid nua nuair a scaoil ball den RIC urchair i Fairview i 1914 tar éis gunnaí a theacht i dtír ag Beann Éadair ar an Asgard...Agus bhí scéalta eile aige chomh maith.

Póló said...

Tribute from another (short-term) student:

He taught me art for the one year I spent at the Coláiste (1960). I still remember his diatribe against sloppy thinking about what many dismissively called "modern art". He ignited my continuing interest in Jackson Pollock.

May his good soul rest in peace. I never became any kind of artist, but that was not his fault!

Vivion Mulcahy

Colm O'Muircheartaigh '63 said...

An-mhúinteoir ab ea Judgie. Bhí gile agus beocht ag baint len intleacht, agus níor bhac sé le caolaigentacht an lae. Bhí an t-ádh linn é bheith mar ollamh againn.