Greendale - Faoi Ghlas
"Things are changing at a furious pace. But in reality things are disappearing in society that were working. And Greendale was working." - Paul Mercier, Artistic director, Passion Machine and former teacher.
Greendale Community School in North Dublin is to close on 1st June 2007. After 32 years serving the community of Kilbarrack, the final 57 students will pass through its gates. A school which started with the same headmaster, will finish with the same headmaster.
Anton Carroll sees this as more that just the passing of a school, but of a way of life.
He and other members of the staff, including Betty the dinner lady, have been there from the very beginning. He has travelled the same road, and seen pretty much, the same faces during his working day over the lifespan of the school. From the very beginning, its ethos took into account that they were being put in place for a young, newly created community. His work has involved including not just the parents, but the entire community in school activities; the magnificent sports hall was as active through the years when in use by locals and Killester Basketball club as it was by the students. Packie Bonner, Technical Director of the FAI is part of the campaign to keep this important community asset open after the school closes.
Catherine Buckley is the home economics teacher for many years. She used to get upset when approaching her summer holidays each year. Before she had a family of her own, the kids and teachers in Greendale were her family. With less than 20 days left before the school closes she and the other teachers still don't know what's to become of them. Will they be given new positions and if so where? Or will they be made redundant. For three years they've been slowly watching their students move on to other schools, slowly seeing the classrooms grow smaller and smaller, and still they have no idea of what the future holds for them.
Paul Mercier says that when he joined Greendale in 1982, "it was like the wild west"? He learnt straight away from Roddy Doyle, another teacher at the school who knew the community well, that you had to treat the kids with respect to earn respect. As far as he was concerned the school had everything - a state of the art gym, magnificent cookery, science, woodwork, metalwork and horticulture facilities and a wonderful way of getting the best out of their students. He saw and heard so many stories that the one thing they were missing was the means in which to tell those stories. And so began a wonderful culture of dramatic productions, everything from Blood brothers to Gregory's Girl, all captured on home video. Paul finds it hard to imagine the community without Greendale and feels angry that just because the school never concentrated on being in the top ten education league, they are seen as less worthy.
Anton Carroll has enjoyed every minute of his time in Greendale. He says that their approach of being non-exclusive and welcoming all comers into the school meant that the mix of students created fully rounded individuals. His anger has been worn down since the announcement of the school's closure three years ago. But he still asks the questions - why Greendale? Why a community school that will be needed again? Could it be that the land the school lies on is just too attractive for developers and it's location on the "Northside Riviera" perfect for apartments?
" It's as if they didn't really think it through. Like going into Iraq. They thought about going in, but they didn't really work out how to get out. They thought about closing the school but not about the future." - Anton Carroll, headmaster Greendale Community School
Greendale - Faoi Ghlas takes a look at a remarkable school and the end of an era for a community. Present and past pupils and teachers are part of her final soliliquy.
Producer / Director Michael McCormack
Presenter / Reporter Garry Mac Donncha