Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Young Historian's Notebook : 6. ‘We can’t all be kings and queens’

     6. About People 

     I’ve been very fortunate over the course of my studies from secondary school to third level to have met so many great people interested in the subject of history. When sitting my Leaving Cert in Mount Sion, there were only 5 students to take the Higher-Level paper. Two of those are friends of mine to this day. Bogdan Chaus from the Ukraine had a passion for young men in search of power such as Napoleon and Michael Collins.
He always sought to be precise and pursued perfection which has stood him in good stead as he now plays in a band Deep Foxy Glow with Ailise O’Neill. Now known as Dan, it would be fair to say he loves Irish history far more than anyone I’ve ever come across. The other stalwart of Billy Doherty’s class was Michael Murphy, whose love of history led him to pursue criminal justice. He was always interested in the injustices of society and how law worked and was intrigued by cases of the past. Michael is a hard man to defeat in a debate as he is eloquent in making his points and has the facts retained to back it up. I hope one day he becomes a history teacher. 

     My greatest friend through a shared passion for history is a man named David Robson. Members of the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society would know David for his excellent talk on the making of Barry Lyndon a few years ago. The Limerick Junction native is a warm and kind spirit, and there is no friendlier person in the world. David’s passion is Irish history during the years 1912-22 and he consumed it like people watch soccer or the Kardashians. His enthusiasm for the subject is being utilised in Kilmainham Gaol as David enlightens visitors from all over the world and of all ages about one of our country’s most historic and to some scared places. Though we both disagree on a wide array of issues from De Valera to Mel Gibson, I’ve always enjoyed listening to him over a pint. 

      From people we have special moments too. I’ve been fortunate to work with Bartek Gozdur in the King of the Vikings virtual reality experience in the Viking Triangle. Bartek is a heavy metal obsessed Polish marauder who brings the story of these Norsemen to life. He doesn’t "work as a re-enactor"; he is a Viking. Anyone who has talked to Bartek for even 10 minutes would know he loves Norse mythology and scaring people as a Viking.

A couple of years ago we were invited by Dara Cunningham’s teacher to visit St. Mary’s National School where Bartek would tell nearly 60 primary school students the history of Waterford and the Vikings. The kids were engrossed in this living, breathing Viking talking of daily life making combs from cow bone and various battles he survived. 

     The best moment was when a young girl asked him the last question of the day. It was like something from the cornflakes Christmas ad, this little girl asked the Viking did children back then have toys with particular reference to teddy bears. If John Mullane was a wreck after the 2004 Munster final, I wasn’t too far behind him after witnessing a really special moment. The child asked a really pertinent question to her because she was captivated by the subject. If we were able to get one child interested in history, that hour in Ballygunner was more than worth the effort. That moment was priceless to Bartek as he was encouraging the students to see history as it related to them. 

     We’ll all have ups and downs in life. We can’t all be kings and queens. But we have to try and appreciate our experiences and the people we meet. This is where the stories begin and our love for history starts. It has been a subject that has been good to me. I hope more people will fall in love with it. 

The end... or is it?

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