History Lesson

There has been lots of thinking of times past, of a time not so long ago when everything was different…attitudes …loyalties…knowledge…views on life!!

When I was growing up we were surrounded by the Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers. They were omnipresent in our lives. A monastery right behind our house for the Christian  Brothers surrounded by well maintained gardens. Over the road an old boarding school that was run by the Presentation Brothers. They were an everyday part of our lives as we grew up. Because of our close proximity to such a monastery we were on first name terms with a lot of the younger brother s who were lodging in the monastery. A magnificent building that could house up to 30 brothers at a time. In its heyday it must have been heaving with activity and people. They grew their own vegetables ..potatoes..cabbages.. strawberries..turnips..they even had their own gardener to supply them with fresh produce each day. Local women did the cooking for them in their state of the art kitchen at the time. A building the likes of which would not have been built today with the limited resources on offer but back then their was no expense spared. The best of everything…marble floors throughout..little chapel…herring bone floors…quality stuff. The christian brothers knew how to do things back then. They didn’t hold back when it came to luxury. Take a look at the property portfolio that they possessed back then and still do till this day.

These places created an air of  royalty. They are indeed magnificent buildings and give the impression of a higher power. However, within the course of 10 years all this changed forever. The building was donated to the Saint Vincent de Paul to house the poor and homeless and all traces of what legacy the brothers did leave was only to be seen in the black and white photos in old pamphlets left lying around or missals left in the old chapel. A powerful organisation crumbled so quickly. Why was that? It just goes to show how things can change so quickly.

What legacy did they leave? I’m not saying that I was treated badly in any way. There were some really nice guys who came through that place. Some of them have moulded me into the person that I believe I am today, but there are always those few who leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. Nasty bitter narrow minded backward holier than thou control freaks!!! Luckily I was young enough to witness this change at such a young age.  Even the Presentation bothers building that housed or caged young children in its earlier days…later on boarders…this was torn down! This was surely a listed building. How could they tear it down for a few houses. A magnificent work of architecture…no no no …tear it down…erase it from our subconcious.

Overall, my school days were happy enough, nothing to write home about…ordinary you could say, but these brothers did shape a lot of people…some in a tragically horrible way…for me it was just a battle of the minds. These people had too much influence and power over young people. This has now changed…for the better?… Who knows? It will take a long time for all this controversy and horrible truth to find its way. Lets hope that people will learn a valuable lesson from all this. Always question…never let it lie…Analyse your situation….and we cannot fail!!!

I have left my home place now and each time I return to the area I grew up in, there has been change. The familiar buildings of the past and fields that I played in as a boy have all but disappeared. New faces on the streets…old neighbours have passed on. The streets that I knew as a child were now being seen through older and perhaps more wiser eyes. I suppose that is what life is all about… a constant change for the better. But at what cost I hear you say…..


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