Nicknames: I’ve had a few (deserved and otherwise) but there have been some great ones.

Willow Park where I earned my first nickname: The Bishop


His detractors call him “Veruka.” Some English tabloids call him the T-shirt.

Boris is Bo-Jo.

Trump is The Donald –Complete Self-obsessed Dangerous Crazy mightn’t be as catchy, it might be more appropriate!


I first came across them primary school.

We had all heard of Stanno before we entered the doors of Willow Park back in 1960. It wasn’t the most imaginative of nicknames, he being Fr Stanley, the dean.

Cockeye, Fr Coughlan wasn’t any more imaginative but there was some thought given to Miss Donagh’s name, she was universally known as Ma Donagh because of the way she went on and Fr O’Connor was Paddy Fart because, well, because he was notorious for lifting one cheek of his bum off his chair during class and farting. Mr O’Byrne was Billio – I presume his name was William or Bill. Mr Curtain, the Holy Ghost prefect was JC.

The names in ‘Rock itself, secondary school, big school, were a bit more grown up. Well, a tiny bit.

Echo, Mr Irwin, was so called because he was quite short, the “echo” of the other teachers. The Major earned his name because he walked around like an army officer, papers under his arm like a swagger stick. Another military name was Little Hitler, Fr Lodge – but that was more to do with his authoritarian attitude. His alternative nickname was Piss Lodge. Sneaky Jones was actually Fr Ryan and earned his moniker by falling from a small height and damaging a leg whilst spying on the boys in the Jubilee Hall, scene of the college musicals. Speaking of which, the dean Fr Corless was known as Bing, after Mr Crosby, because of his love of singing.

John Waldron drove an MGBGT which and so was called Flash. Buddy did nothing to earn his name, other than to be Fr Holly and Dickie Powell was simply called Dickie after an American actor who had passed on long before our group hit his classroom. Brother Bones was thin. Samson was a big man. Birdie O’Hanlon was called after the character in the Kennedys of Castleross, RTE’s daytime, radio soap. And Sandy was strawberry blond. Structure used that word quite a lot in biology class and Glen Ford was, for reasons none of us thought obvious, named after the movie star. Mr McDonald was, of course, Farmer, Rinse had a grey streak in his otherwise black hair, Pop was a father figure in our final year and Buts seemed to begin every sentence with the word but, much as people use ‘so’, these days.

Grown up nicknames.

Oh. Other than that given to a young female teacher in our final year.

It is sufficient to say that her physique shared nothing with the Kardashians.

She was very pretty, but slight in all respects.

But her nickname suggested otherwise.

No. I’m not going to tell you what it was!

She took over from Benji who earned that nickname simply for being from rural Ireland. His name came from the character in The Riordans on RTE.

That replacement English teacher was brilliant and saved a lot of us from a bad result in the Leaving Cert ensuring, in fact, that many of us got the Honours we wanted and in some cases needed.

And when we walked out the gates of ‘Rock for the last time, we finally began to grow up!

As for me, well when I went to Willow Park Stanno aksed me what I’d like to be when I grew up.

Apparently, I said “The Pope” before adding thoughtfully “though I’d like to be a bishop first.”

And so for my entire time in Willow Park, he called me The Bishop.

My elder brother John was in the school scout troop before me and, due to not being the tidiest of scouts, was known as “Scruff..”

That meant, that when I joined, I was called Scruffín.

In Irish college in Ring I was known, for some obscure reason, as Murky Cow.

As I approached my twenties I was given the moniker “Binge” though I can’t imagine why.

Now? Now I think it’s probably just That Eejit Who Used To Be In The Sunday World or something less polite.

One of my favourite nicknames came from Clongowes where a gentleman called Eoin O’Mahony was a student many years ago.

He beat me to my ambition!

Because when O’Mahony was a student in Clongowes where the priests nicknamed him “The Pope.”


Well, one story suggests that when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he gave the same answer as I gave in Willow Park many years later.

But I prefer the story that he earned it because he had flaming red hair.

And when the priests looked down at all the boys in assembly his was the Visible Head!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: