Jude Collins

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Campbell College: buddy, can you spare €12,500?

With good news you gotta take the bad news. So good news this morning. It appears that Campbell College in Belfast is launching a major drive to recruit boarding pupils from the south. Excellent. The more that people north and south get to know about each other, the less likely they are to believe in stereotypes . The bad news? Well, you’ll have to cough up over £10,000 (€12,500)  a year to send little Sean north of the border. That’s the boarding fees at Campbell. Bad news, eh? But good news: it’s a lot less than if you sent him to Clongowes Wood in Kildare (nearly €17,000 p a) or Blackrock College in Dubline (€17,500).

Not only are the fees cheaper – sorry, less expensive – nothing cheap about Campbell – but  - more good news – you’ll be exposing him to the proud tradition of rugby playing at Campbell – treading in the footsteps of great men – the exquisite Mike Gibson and current international Paddy Wallace, to mention two. The bad news?  Well, Sean will never develop Gaelic football or hurling skills. That’s because Campbell College, in common with all Protestant schools in the north, has not and will not play any part in competitive Gaelic sports.

There used to be something on the NI Curriculum called EMU – Education for Mutual Understanding. It seems in some quarters, on the sporting level, EMU is as dead as the dodo. 


  1. I'm sorry Jude, but it's hard to accept your bias on this particular one (and you know I'm accepting at the best of times...)

    I'm sure I must have missed your earlier post about all the rugby and cricket now being taught in the Catholic Maintained sector? Silly me.

    (Hope you're well!)

  2. Well, Pete, you could start with my old school, St Columb's College, Derry. They've played competitive rugby and, I think, cricket, for around ten years now. I'm pretty sure you'll find a handful of other Catholic schools - usually grammar - playing rugby and/or cricket. Not all of them, agreed, but at least some. Shouldn't there be an equivalence from the Protestant schools?

  3. I'm with Jude on this one. The unionist mindset conforms with the old maxim about change; "it is usually the thing someone else should do."

  4. Jude -

    I stand corrected, and doff my hat appropriately!

    On a broader point, however, the exclusion of Gaelic games from a Grammar's school agenda may be simpler than classic sectarian thinking (though I'm not naive enough to imagine that doesn't factor.) At my dear alma mater, the Rainey Endowed, the only competitive sport in town was rugby. Football, cricket, tennis, golf, short mat bowls - all were mildly available but frankly completely discouraged in favour of the 'one true game.'

    Whilst I believe this mindset has changed slightly since my leaving, with the exception of cricket this seemed to be the case for students in most other grammars I encountered at that time. I would say, however, that this is perhaps even more a Grammar thing than a Protestant or Unionist trait persay; in my time at the Rainey, the demographic was officially in and around 60/40. My impression was that true unionists in town were always seen to be at Magherafelt High (where the top sport was basketball, interestingly, and neither rugby or cricket were taught in the 90s.)

    Jim - that seems a fairly vague and pointless comment, that could be made about just about any group of people in NI, depending on context.

  5. Peter with all due respect for your opinion. I believe my comment to be neither pointless or vague.
    Traditionally unionists regarded it's discriminatory treatment of the nationalist minority as an essential device for maintaining the one-party state; it was even seen as patriotic. And in my humble opinion that unionist mindset still exists.
    I was amused by your comment "any group of people in NI." There's only one group of people that count in any context in the six counties, just ask all those who choose to leave the place by July 12th any given year.
    Excuse my bad grammar and syntax, I have never had the privilege of post-secontary education.

  6. Pete - I think you're right about their being a class element attached to rugby - check how many Protestant secondary schools have a rugby team compared to Protestant grammar schools. And certainly in the old days in Catholic convents (or at least those I knew of), the games were hockey and netball - camogie was unheard of. But my point re EMU is that schools should be proactively attempting to establish sporting links -they're very important and, like it or not, tie into 'school spirit'(yes, yes, I know, that can be a pain in the butt too but it's there). And while schools like St Columb's and St Pat's in Dungannon have made a conscious decision to establish rugby in their schools, there's no echo coming back. Not good.

  7. OMG- that should be 'there', not 'their'. I'll never live it down...

  8. Jim - A final word, and my apologies for the slight.

    I understood the point you were making, but I do think one could accuse any number of social groups on this island of being stubborn when it comes to change; I worked for a short while in a cross-community context and can vouch for all sides being as stubborn and unmoving as each other at times - and to their credit, a lot more open minded than many would accept at others.

    I would pull you up, just slightly, on the "12th of July" comment. I'm from a Protestant faith, and I, like many, find Orangism as alien as I find both loyalism and republicanism. My twelfths are normally spent in sunny Sligo... not too far away from Dr Collins on occasion, as it transpires...

    Originally from a middle class Protestant background in Mid-Ulster (with, it should be said, a mother from deepest Laois), I grew up in an extreme minority in my locality. I certainly would not have felt like I was from the "one group of people who (counted)". I could not identify with the extreme republicanism that was rife among young people locally. I could not identify either with the reactionary, siege-mentality loyalism. I found somewhat of a haven in my mixed Grammar school, where the divide was not significant at all (and, it should be said, the majority were lower-middle/working class folk.)

    I suppose my bugbear is that (a) I am Protestant, (b) I do tend to split my votes between the central parties across the divide, and (c) the gross generalisations many make in political arguments feel like an insult to me and a large percentage of my peers. Hence my reaction to your comment.

  9. Pete - I know you're talking to Jim and not me so forgive me, both of you. But in my, um, senior years I've decided to tell people when they've done something I admire as well as (occasionally) scorching the arse off people when they've done something I detest. So just to say your last posting I find highly admirable. You're an honest thinker and a decent human being. Maith thu - good on you.

  10. Peter, your apology is accepted and let me add i concur with Jude. He put it more elegantly that I ever could.
    It is obvious by your last comment that I ( inadvertently) insulted you. I sincerely apologize for that.
    Let me add that I was brought up Catholic on the Falls Road in the 50's and was the recipient of the state's institutionalized sectarianism, much in favor by unionists at that time.
    Circumstances never gave me a chance to meet someone like you, if they had I would not have developed my tunnel vision. Truth be known I guess I have no right to be that way as I have not lived in that state for over 50 years.
    So for what it's worth I sincerely hope that there will be more people like you on both sides.
    Note; My paternal grandfather was somewhat in your mold, a good upstanding human being and a Protestant. At least that's what I gathered from my late father. My grandfather died before I was born.
    Take care and God Bless.