Summer in Beare

It is the fifth week of the school holidays for Irish secondary schools, depending on the school in which one teaches, there now remain six or seven weeks. To be honest, a return to the routine and laughter of a classroom in the south Dublin suburbs would be attractive, there have been moments in the past year that have been among the happiest of my life.

While there is leisure to ponder the passage of the days, schools in England continue to while away the summer days in the classroom.  The voices of children from the village primary school are clearly audible through the kitchen window.

It is hard to discern when it was that the English decided that the summer did not begin until the best days of the season were past.  Even at primary school, there was an awareness that Midsummer’s Day was 24th June, which always seemed a depressing thought when summer holidays were still a month away.

Certainly, in the past, there was a sense locally that June was the month to celebrate summer.

Beare is a hamlet below Turn Hill, at the western end of the ridge on which the village of High Ham stands.  Perhaps its physical detachment from the village always allowed an independence of spirit.

In 1598, the German Protestant evangelical rector of High Ham, Adrian Schaell, wrote disapprovingly of the Midsummer celebration of the feast of Saint John the Baptist.

Neither shall it be impertinent to say somewhat of a certaine obscure chapple at Beare, destroyed within these fifty yeares, which chapple as I thinke (being moved by this conjecture) was dedicated to Jhon Baptist, because, never but uppon the eveninge of the nativitye of Jhon, the parson of Pitney was wont to mumble over eveninge prayers, that on the night after they mighte play at wrestlinge in Sedgmoore, and the holy day followinge he was wont solemly to celebrate masse before many youthe at that time there assembled in great multitudes that after dynner they might try masteries in runninge for ramme appointed for the course, which whoso excellinge others by runninge could take, compted it his owne, as the reward and recompense of his obteined victory.

Some five centuries on from such rustic sport, there seems an attractiveness in young people gathering for a church celebration and a sporting competition.  (Undoubtedly, there would have ensued drinking, drunkenness and carnal activity, but those things now happen anyway). It seems a memorable way of marking the summer.

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2 Responses to Summer in Beare

  1. Doonhamer says:

    Methinks that your pupils appreciate you and learn well from you.
    67 years ago I had a final class primary teacher who inspired me.
    Then in High School I was blessed with a Rector who was a true Christian and gave a prayer every school day first thing before classes. He retired, fortunately near the end of my time in secondary education, and was replaced by a wee nyaff who stopped all that nonsense, including the revered name of Rector.
    I was also fortunate in having, two dedicated science teachers, one of whom took a Scripture Union meeting during of our “playtimes”. The other was a chain smoker of Passing Cloud, and had a lovely daughter.
    An English teacher who taught us how to write neatly, appreciate local history in relation to local geography, appreciate the Scots dialect and Rabbie Burns as well instilling in me, at least, a love of English literature – Shakespeare, Conrad, Bunyan, and the poets.
    A history teacher who came late to teaching, probably served in War, and also had a lovely daughter.
    And a maths teacher who taught me to think, not just spout the formulae.
    My only regret now is that I never expressed my appreciation to them after I moved on from Secondary Education and left my wee toun.
    May your pupils think the same of you long after you have passed.

    • Ian says:

      Your teachers sound wonderful.

      The esteem in which the profession is now held would probably discourage such people from becoming teachers.

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