The rain has fallen in copious amounts. It did not run off the ground as was widely forecasted and the grass began to grow here after four days.

Now, we have to be patient and treat that recovery with reverence and manage it carefully. It will be crucial to be properly set up for spring grazing with an adequate closing cover.

Meanwhile, it is September, we are back in school and approaching routine with optimism. We’ve had our first staff meeting and some specific, smaller ones.

In a special school, there is always big change as pupils with additional needs have to be accommodated into everyday school life.

Teachers put their heads together to deliver the best possible education for students that sometimes find it difficult to even be in school. It’s always challenging and I find myself wondering how it can possibly be so different each year.

Chatting in the staff room, which is always a treat, teachers expressed their enthusiasm about organising the programme for the individual pupils. They expressed their love of September and of the still new Junior Cycle programme that has brought so much to special education. Junior Cycle Levels 1 and 2 are particularly geared for students with learning disabilities. Every pupil will now leave our school with a Junior Cycle Certificate. In time there will be a Senior Cycle one.

The rhythm of school

School brings a certain rhythm to many households and is greeted with a mixture of love and hate.

Another week or two and the new shoes will have stopped squeaking. The first pulled threads will begin to appear in the new jumpers. Parents will scratch their heads and wonder “how could this be?” They will sigh and say that the quality of the uniforms has deteriorated over the years.

The real story is probably that Mary-Jane has been silently pulling a thread here and there while Johnny can’t be waiting for time to make that jumper look old. He may have taken his pen knife and started a little hole just along the cuff edge.

In no time at all he’ll have beautiful scraggy threads hanging down. In fact, he might even be a trend-setter.

I remember the shock I got when Colm was finished his Leaving Cert. I opened a box on his desk to find four turquoise and white shirt pockets.

Perplexed, I had to ask. I was told that they were trophies. The lads had a competition between them to see who could gather the most pockets clean off the shirts.

I also remembered when a new shirt had to be purchased in a hurry because some individual had ripped off his pocket and torn the front of the shirt beyond repair.

I didn’t know there was a competition then and thought there was just one villain.

You’d go daft if you knew everything that they were up to and you are crazy if you actually think you know everything.

Believe me, you don’t. All you can do is your best.


Meanwhile, my darling grandson Ricky started playschool locally at Shournagh Childcare. Robin and Claire Lyons run a fabulous playschool, crèche and after-school service.

On the first morning, I went with Julie and David to show them where to go. It was a good excuse to witness his first day.

Ricky Helen, Katherine's grandson, on his first day of preschool / Katherine O'Leary

Not, yet three, he took it in his stride and went in without a bother.

I was shocked to see so many children crying and very upset. Ricky was a bit taken aback too.

Teachers are putting it down to lockdown as children missed mixing with each other and became dependent on their parents.

As the first week ends, nearly all of them have settled.

Ricky loves it. I take him on my way to school in the mornings. He is a tonic for the day ahead.

This morning, on entering, he announced “I’m here!” Three little girls with high pigtails stood by. Turning to them he said, “Ye waiting for me?” They nodded in unison.

Isn’t that confidence and sense of self so lovely. I ask myself again, how do we damage that as children grow?

Ricky’s school life and routine has started and will define his life for the next 16 years. I hope it continues to be a good experience for him.