Back in the 1970’s Tony Mangan attended school in Dublin. Often, back then, young girls wore skirts and young boys wore short pants as they attended even the foremost Irish educational establishments of the nation. At the end of each day, they skipped home and diligently attempted a couple of hours of homework – designed to make them more worldly for the years ahead.
On the north side and other parts of Dublin city a lot was happening.
In Ballymun the infamous flats were built and motions were made to establish a Gael Scoil in the area.
In Foley Street the corporation flats known as ‘The Cage’ had a plethora of social problems meaning there was a high failure rate for those that sought out educational attainment. There was even an official experiment by the Department of Education which paid attention to the Bernard Van Leer Foundation in Holland – having a bright and informal school surrounding designed for 3 to 5-year-olds in order to irradicate the social problems that were so prevalent in inner city Dublin.
In those times, glass milk bottles were used and Aran sweaters were seen aplenty, not to mention, the child in the duffle coat who crossed the street with the lollipop lady for safety.
They were different times in Irish schools and far from the computerised classrooms of the modern day.
In that same decade, attention was given to the old Irish Industrial schools. At the beginning of the decade the Kennedy Report found that the residential care system, as it was, should be abolished and replaced by group homes in a kinder effort towards the children of those centres.
By 1972 the Marlborough House in Dublin was closed down along with Galway’s Letterfrack. The Daingean Industrial School in Offaly also ceased operations.
Although there were a lot of changes for Irish schools back then, it wasn’t all bad.
School children were a lot fitter and mobile than many of the current school-goers appear to be. Present-day obesity levels in Irish schools are at an all-time high. Street games for children were very popular, whereas now, there is often a reluctance by parents to let their children play outdoors, such is the changing views by many of how things should be done.
Other changes were aplenty in that decade too. For those a little bit older, the new fashion was flared trousers.
Still, that was a time when Tony Mangan was a little bit younger and from then until now he remains unchanged in so many noble ways.
Then he was a fit young boy, now he is a fit man.
Then, when he wasn’t playing street games for entertainment and exercise with the other children, he learned the geography of the world. Now, he continues his unique walk around the world with a message to educate – life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives’.
Yet the young boy is still there in Tony as he continues to wear his short trousers and visit schools around the globe to tell them of his remarkable feat of helping other people. That’s his work right now.
Away from home, still busy representing home and doing the greatest of work.