1969 Theft of Leaving Cert Papers

Leaving Certificate students may rightfully be feeling hard done. I’m sure they’re fatigued with the isolation, the new ways of distance teaching and learning and the exam timetable uncertainty. I feel so sorry for them, especially the more disadvantaged ones who without either home or school support might just give up now. Four months is a LONG WAY OFF.

1969

With the news of the extension of restriction because of COVID-19 and the rescheduling of the LC to late July or August, I tried to remember my Leaving Cert. I was part of the cohort of Leaving Cert students in 1969, the last year exam events were taken into state control when an almost complete set of Leaving Certificate papers was stolen from De La Salle School, Churchtown, on June 12th, 1969. (Naturally, the principal at De La Salle said he was “absolutely certain” that none of the boys from his school had anything to do with it.)

DO IT AGAIN!

Because of the theft and to guarantee the authenticity of exam results, I was one if those unfortunate students who had to take their English and Maths exams twice. Amazing that with no such thing as twittering at the time, the papers made their way into other students’ hands at a rapid pace. About 250 students purchased the papers for between £1 and £20 at monied schools all over Dublin before the matter came to the attention of authorities. Goldenbridge did not have a privileged school population and the first we heard was when Sr Anne Philomena announced that the English and Maths exams would be retaken and, to allow supplemental papers to be written for all examinations, there would also be a delay in the middle of the timetable. I remember the tone of “how lucky you are to get extra studying time!!!!”

WHERE WAS NIETZSCHE?

And so when we all expected to be finished and starting summer jobs we were hauled back in to examination halls on Friday, June 27th, and Saturday, June 28th to sit 2 papers each day. I’m not sure how much sympathy was either given or expected. It was a time when you put your head down and ‘got on with it’. For those of us doing the University matriculation exams, there was a further delay as they had to be postponed because of the late completion of the exams.
In an era when very few asked WHY? we had little need for Nietzsche and the context of why. Maybe we were as well off!!!!

OUR 1960’s SUPPORTS

And we had very particular supports: teachers telling us (gleefully) that our results would be in line with our efforts, early morning mass on the day if each exam (having also attended each Lenten morning as a kinda deposit or guarantee of being recognised by the Lord), mothers’ prayers and daily 10 o’clock mass and as the first grandchild to hit this crossroads in life, a grandmother’s prayers and masses. Who needed Nietzsche?

 

Author: Breda Fay

I'm retired since end August 2016 and loving the new life! More time now for family and friends and to explore craft, history, travel and certainly more of a chance for, me-time. To paraphrase Seuss: I've no tears that (teaching) is over; but many smiles that it happened!

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