Declining Waters

When I decided to throw in my lot with Ireland and came to live here full time some five years ago after years of living a ping pong existence between the two countries, I decided that my time should be taken up with it’s history and ideally in the explanation of that history i.e. it’s archaeology.

So as soon as I could, I sought admission to an Archaeology Diploma course at Galway University, or NUI Galway as it likes to be called. What qualified me for this course was my point blank refusal to send them my General Certificate of Education results which I had sat some 50 years previously.

What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable two years of mainly thought provoking lectures on Ireland and particularly west of Ireland archaeology, only marred for some by the Head of the Archaeology School telling us towards the end of the first year that the Celts never came to Ireland. This statement did not disturb me, but in a class of Celts it was almost like being called a bastard. So much so that three of the class never appeared again and from the rest there was constant mutterings for the remaining 15 months, so engrained is this Celtic myth in the Irish psyche. In fact a myth introduced by politicians at the end of the 19th century to give some kind of focus to the new and burgeoning state of Ireland. Therefore let me just confirm the fact that THE CELTS AS A PEOPLE NEVER CAME TO IRELAND, however it is true that a few ideas were exchanged with the intermarriage of eminent families in Ireland with their neighbours on the continent of Europe.

The course finished and my examination results were satifactory enough for me to be invited down to the University to celebrate Graduation Day. Now I had already experienced one graduation ceremony with my eldest daughter at Nottingham University some years before and at that time was overwhelmed with the gross waste of time , money and energy expended in the simple task of handing over a peice of paper.

Thousands of students with parents in tow buying gowns, hats and dresses journeying down to the university campus to wallow in their millisecond of fame in front of a stageful of multicoloured academics who should surely be doing something better suited to their intellects. Since that time all my children and I have many, have taken in my thoughts on the subject and refused to expose themselves to this financial legerdemain.

I explained this to the nice lady from the University Graduation Office who rang me wondering why I had not filled in the application form for this gratifying day. Halfway through my verbiose diatribe she put the phone down leaving me unfulfilled. However my diploma arrived by post written in a quasi Latin script, I and at least 20 other people have tried to interpret without success. No wonder doctors and scientists can be accepted for positions of authority by flashing these pieces of parchment illuminated by Book of Kells type illustration and gobbledygook script. No one can translate the document therefore no one can refute the lies in the job application.

However the course was a tremendous success for me personally and I now know more about North Roscommon Archaeology than 99.9% of the natives and it helped me greatly in my understanding of the landscape which is integral in the formation of its archaeology, but I still cannot understand the academics, people of powerful thought, who annually put themselves through this graduation charade.

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