This was a big big morning for many young people in this Republic.
The results of “the leaving” are out today.
It is an emotional meat grinder that we throw our 18-year-olds into.
This year my son was one of them.
The last week has seen a lad that usually sleeps like a drugged hippo in a crate on its way to a European zoo fitfully get a couple of hours.
He’s not been himself.
It was all about “the leaving” so last night we chatted.
I told the very very worst that could happen to him tomorrow morning was that he might not get the college he wanted when he wanted.
After that worst case scenario, we worked back.
He had decided earlier this year that he wanted to read science at Trinity in Dublin.
For that, he would need around 460 points.
A science degree would allow him then to train for what he’s wanted to be since was staring up at me in wonder not looking me in the eye-a palaeontologist.
I once tried to tell him that there might not be too many job opportunities in digging up dinosaur bones.
As ever he was correct and I was the one in need of educating.
“Dad” he patiently intoned.
“How many museums are there in the world?”
I didn’t know the answer, but I was guessing the answer might be near to “a lot”.
“Well dad all of those museums have teams of palaeontologists, it’s just that you don’t see them. I’ll get paid to go to the coolest places in the world to do what I love.”
I have no idea why I got such a level headed, sensible lad.
When we lived in Glasgow we would ask the three-year-old him: “Where does big boy want to go today?”
The answer was usually: “dyno sawr mizzzeeeeam!”
As he looked at those carefully arranged fossils at Kelvingrove nothing else mattered.
It is a fascination that has never left him.
By age ten he would rhyme off facts about these creatures so much so that when I watched “Jurassic Park” with him he would tell me that the makers had taken a Brave Hearted chunk of scientific licence with re-created dinosaurs.
The points system here is brutally simple if you get enough points you get into the course and college you want.
Plans are afoot to bring in a new system, but this morning that wasn’t helping my first born.
The results are delivered to the school and the young people go in and get them.
He marched down in his bumble bee top to the Gaeilscoil that has been his other home since he’s been 12.
460 points would see him over the line.
Achieving this through his second language (Irish) would be an achievement in itself.
30 minutes ago he handed me the brown A4 envelope.
I had no idea what to expect.
Like Bertie Auld in the stadio nacional he spontaneously broke into the Celtic song and I joined in…
He’s going to Trinity.
Once the symbol of British privilege in West Britain this Dublin university is about to have another smart Fenian about the place. The Gaeilgoiri scene at Trinity today would have horrified the old imperial caste that my son’s great grandfather fought.
We are a river flowing.
His name is Cathal.
He is my son and I love him.
I hope all of you have a good day and that you have people to love, that they love you and that they are well.
For at the end of it there isn’t anything else that matters.