Posted by Allan Drummond
on 17 May 2021
Here's a pic of a bloke who had a huge influence on my life. Brother Abban (William O'Riordan) was born in County Cork in 1915, which makes him forty when he taught me at De La Salle Malvern in 1955. He died on 5 May 1981 at Oakhill.
Teaching, these days, is a female dominated profession but I'm surprised, looking back, that I can recall only one male teacher until Year 8.
Abban taught us all day, every day in that Year 8 class and the class size was about 50. If he was exhausted by the task, as some teachers say they are now, it didn't show. A good example of his enthusiasm was an early lesson in French. He told us that the word for brother was 'le frere', the table was 'la table' on was 'sur'. Then he leapt onto the teacher's desk, dominating the room, and cried out: "Le frere est sur la table." I've enjoyed French ever since that moment, and I've always seen the value of a bit of tomfoolery in a classroom.
On the other hand, Abban knew how to pace himself. so that there were times when we had our heads down, working away while he did something else. He could even absent himself from the classroom and we wouldn't dare stop working. Most days, he left us to it at some point while he went out for a smoke!
Were we enthusiastic? We were all desperate to sit in the best row, and to avoid the row of "exterior darkness". We competed to be the most generous row in giving money for the missions, even if it meant us going hungry. There was always a forest of arms to give an answer. Unforgettable was the time that he wanted someone to come to the board and show others how to solve a problem. We were out of our seats with excitement. Billy Rose was picked for the job. He promptly dashed down the aisle, tripped on the edge of the platform and smashed his face on the blackboard.
Perhaps we were too keen!
Many of Abban's characteristics have become mine. I remember him with deep gratitude.