Thoughts for May 17 from Fr Willie Doyle

You would throw up your hands in horror were you to see my room at the present moment. It is a scene of chaos and disorder that would discourage and frighten even that patient and persevering arranger of confusion and disorder, the Little Mother (Fr Doyle’s nickname for his mother). For the past week examinations have been in full swing. Now it is a comparatively easy task to sit down and set an examination paper that will keep a couple of hundred boys hard at work for three hours; but it is quite a different proposition to wade through and correct the output of the said boys during these hours. Can you wonder, then, that my pale and emaciated countenance grew still paler and more emaciated, and that my hair, usually so well behaved, stood on end, as day by day I watched the pile of examination papers rise higher on my table? But gazing would never reduce that pile, so with a cry to heaven for help I plunged at it and fought my way through to the last sheet. 

COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote this letter to his father while he was a seminarian. Between 1894-1898 he was stationed in Clongowes school as a teacher and prefect. It is interesting to note that he never lost his good humour in writing to his father. In fact, it seemed to intensify over time. His letters written 20 years later from the war show an even more exuberant joy. 

I cannot personally identify with Fr Doyle’s cheerfulness at the prospect of exam correction, but I can identify with his hair standing on end. The photograph below show the exam papers on my desk that I have to correct over the coming period. The bottle of water is for perspective… 

So, apologies that posts have been a bit sporadic over the past week and apologies in advance if they will be a bit sporadic over the next few days. Like Fr Doyle, I will cry to heaven for help, and hopefully business will eventually return to normal…