Portora Royal School
Portora Royal School
|Motto: "Humanity can enter into a phase in which its true potential as a co-operative socirty of free, creative individuals can be realised." Marx|
|Anthem: Abide With Me|
|Official language(s)||English, French & German|
|National hero(es)||Oscar Wilde|
|Established||King James the lad, 1608|
|Currency||Record Cards, Saturday Morning Detentions, Referrals|
|Religion||Err... let's skip this one|
|Ethnic groups||People of Fermanagh (Subgroups: Townies and Culchies), Foreign Nationals|
|Major exports||Writers, Playwrights|
|Major imports||Wee Kesh Chavs|
|9:00am sharp. Exponential decay of young minds will commence from 9:10am, and detentions will be joyfully and hastefully fired about the place|
“That puff Gary Donaldson went there.”
“In Soviet Russia, YOU get educated at Portora!”
What was Portora?
Portora Royal School was a left-wing indoctrination facility on a barren windswept mountain in the backwaters of Ulster. It was founded by the good King James in 1608. Incidentally, the modest monarch declared on his deathbed that it was his only mistake. In 2016, the school was colonised by the Collegiate, who endeavoured to impose a new way of thinking upon the institution, while allowing it to retain symbolic tokens of its past heraldry and glory. The Collegiate carried out this colonisation with great reluctance but great efficiency. To the delight of the rowing community, the new institution was given the name of 'The Enniskillen Royal Grammar School' (ERGS). The following article provides a summary of salient events in Portora's history, before faithfully chronicling the chief events which led to its ultimate downfall in 2016.
The classical era of Portora
Oscar Wilde and others were unfortunate enough to be exiled there, when Portora was a boarding institution which rivalled Eton and suchlike. Actually poor wee Oscar was shunned, insulted, and condemned by the cruel school-masters of his day, but due to the gentle breezes of changing social mores drifting up Fermanagh's loughs, he is now fondly remembered. Evidence of this about-turn can be seen in the unusually shiny lettering of Wilde's name on the school honours board, as it was repainted after a period of censorious removal. The school also overlooked and indeed actively disliked the unfortunate Plebian locals, particularly those from Kesh and Lisbellaw, preferring to educate the children of stinking rich would-be sponsors from Dublin, England, and the British Empire, until someone decided this was a bit harsh. Some of the older school-masters will speak of these idyllic days of class discrimination with a hint of guilt in their eyes, as they no doubt now recognise the savage, elitist underpinnings of their merry boarder banter.
Portora subsequently evolved into a wonderfully tolerant and all-inclusive place. Some past-pupils, however, still bore a slight grudge, most notably in the 1960s when Portora castle was mysteriously damaged by dynamite. Past pupils become famous poets, bankers, soldiers, concrete bunker designers, petty criminals, Bulgarian envoys, TESCO employees, pop-singers and last but arguably not least, unionist politicians of both the Ulster and democratic variety. Portora embodied a wonderful diversity of interest and its alumni enjoyed success in their endeavours around the globe. Distinguished members of the alumni are rumoured to periodically gather in London for dinners of a jolly and possibly slightly masonic nature, however, as your humble editors have never yet been invited to such an event, they are unable to verify if these rumours are true. Should any of the chosen alumni wish to invite us, please leave the invitation with Gary Donaldson, he'll know who it's for.
A Day in the Life of a Portoran
Portora boys were met by gates which appeared to have been styled by the creators of Auschwitz. After a long and hazardous climb up the 35-degree incline(with the chance of being driven over by a crazy bus driver), the boys were often met by the authorities asking them to "do up their top buttons" which would be undone as soon as the authority is out of sight. Despite claims of 'Grammar School' status, Portora's classes were very regular and quite typical which made a change from its unusual mannerisms. The school decor was often confusing for Portorans as it varied drastically throughout the school. The front end had a historical feel and was built by men with body odour and hammers, whereas the modern and slightly tacky back end of the school was built by graduates of the Duke of Westminister with tools they bought from Asda and stuck together with cellotape, hence the lack of insulation. The promise of school lunches provided succour for many Portorans going through often disturbing lessons, however it tended to lack taste, seasoning and whatever was supposed to be in the dish. In a list of the 5 most rubbish things in the world, the author would venture to say that US foreign policy should be number five. Aids at four. Iran's nuclear programme at three. Prime Minister Gordon Brown (remember, the boring one) at two, and finally, towering above the rest, Portora's school lunches at number one. Like many things, Portora's annual 'Christmas Carol Service' became entirely pointless. People even suspected that the choir were boys who ordered special seats for the service as they were unable to distinguish them as choir boys because of their distinct lack of singing. If the sound produced by the choir of 80 boys were to be compared to an animal, it would not be a lion, or an elephant it would be a wasp, both harmful and irritating in equal measure.
In or around 2008, Portora invested in officials who cleaned out all the old, dusty teachers who had long expired their sell by date and invested in new, modern teachers were worth a look at, some to such an extent that they had been partakers of local beauty pageants. Unfortunately, this meant that the school was unable to provide sufficient funds to successfully heat the school during the cold winter months. The teacher replacement scheme was remarkably successful with new teachers providing some interesting scenery in the previous dreary classrooms.
It is only appropriate that a serious, considered historical account such as the one you are reading should include a list of teachers who embedded themselves in our memories of Portora, becoming synonymous with the institution and all it stood for.
'The Composer': 'The Composer was without any doubt, a local legend, whose choral compositions combined biblical accuracy and high-testosterone thrills. Anyone who has belted out his masterpieces, including 'The Bethlehem Train', the 'Red Indian Carol' and a 'Mexican Christmas carol' can testify to the fusion of ethnic sensitivity and sound Protestant exegesis found therein. Most importantly, these big tunes sold carol service tickets like hot cakes. Old ladies went wild for the sight of 200 zitty adolescents in hearty chorus, while the Lambeth drums pounded their pulsating tattoos and boys with modified recorders created an ambience of being somewhere between the battle of the Boyne and the Sioux badlands. The Composer's teaching style was legendary. If a pupil was found to be miming in the select Christmas choir, which at one point comprised two fifths of the school, they would be unceremoniously ejected from the cathedral stalls and serenaded down the aisle to the rising chorus of 'You're not singing, you're not singing, you're not singing anymore....' Year 8 classes invariably included some uncultured characters who were ignorant of cinematic soundtracks and so the Composer dedicated entire lessons to analysing the soundtrack in films such as 'Kill Bill', which helped the boys realise that the world was a dark and scary place. The Composer drank his coffee black in great quantities and made some modest side profits by selling the pupils fizzy fruit-flavoured water during lessons.
Administration of Portora
A new law was enforced on the comrades of this establishment, whereby the
peasants students had to arrive before 9:00am for registration, otherwise a late would be given. Two lates in one week meant expulsion to the Gulag.
The reasoning behind the imposition of this seemingly preposterous law was widely criticised, resulting in the mighty hand of the Arch-Viceroy Papa Smurf authorising a repeat of the Red Terror, and therefore a severe lack of students left in the sixth year.
This law was created and is enforced for very good reason. Losing those precious five minutes each morning catching up on the undone homework because of Facebook, or having an intense game of pool in the common room, resulted in a devastating amount of time lost. Failing to arrive at registration before 9:00am tended to result in a loss of around 65820 minutes in the school day. Blatantly unacceptable.
Portora was a very sporting school where many activities would take place, such as Rugby, Rowing, cricket, Pool at Donaldson's, going to the shop during lunch and fighting in the corridors and on the way home. As was the tradition in the UK, Portora felt the need to import "foreigners" to take sports in school. This had mixed results inside school. After initial success, the schools rugby skill level dropped dramatically leading to the consequent disgusting knock-out by the cretins from Omagh Academy. Rowing, however, has continued to develop. The rowing crew had successful indoctrination policies, similar to the policies Hitler used in the 1930s with similar results. It was hoped by some that in the not too distant future, the rowing club would crash and burn like Hitler's Third Reich. Cricket became even more successful by losing every match played in the 2014 season.
The Sixth Form Purges
Inspired by Stalin, the Arch Viceroy decided to eradicate unproductive workers and possible enemies. Anyone with dodgy looking AS levels was generally forced to drink castor oil and transported to Gulag labour camps in the Derrygonnelly vicinity. Theirs was a miserable existence, cutting turf, digging graves, planting spuds, and donating their hair to make pillows for impoverished children in West Meath. However a few lucky vagabonds were deemed worthy of a new, albeit more humble chance in life, and registered in courses at the South West College. Ostracised by their former comrades, they tended to vent their frustration by driving their Peugots and class-looking Corsas in circles around the rain splashed dismal streets of Skintown. This daily regimented display of peasant pride is now something of an institution, like the changing of the palace guard or the belligerent bravado of troops on the India-Pakistan border. The Arch-Viceroy maintained high hopes for his selective guinea pig year, who took their A-levels and with a few exceptions brought glory and honour to the West of the Bann region. Many Belfasters had previously considered this area to be one of deeply entrenched academic ignorance and as a result the Arch-Viceroy was rightly lauded. Buoyed by this success, he encouraged the pupils of Portora to become well-rounded individuals. A proliferation of black-market chocolate dealers, who prowled the corridors in search of profit, had in fact created a large population of substantially rotund, well-rounded youths. Nevertheless, increasing participation in the dramatic arts, including notable performances of 'Waiting for Godot' (a dramatic work inspired by a long conversation on the Pettigo bus ) soon cemented this ideal of the perfect Portoran.
The War with Collegiate
The Arch-Viceroy Papa Smurf launched a of war of education theory with the Empress of the Green Collegiate clones in or around the spring of 2007, when Arch-Viceroys are known to go to war. The Collegiate was a right-wing Conservative brainwashing centre for females on the other side of town. The hapless maidens were fed with incode messages forcing them to work their guts out to get 'A's in order to become lawyers. doctors, and the like. In April 2008, the Arch-Viceroy challenged the Empress to a lightsaber battle with the Empress behind Pat's shed, a legendary stomping ground now rumoured to have been demolished. The valiant Papa fended her off, by hitting her with an in-depth summary of the post-primary schooling situation in Fermanagh, which was enough to make anyone cry tears of despair and frustration. This provided some temporary respite for the Arch-Viceroy, who retreated to his lair before launching a flurry of erudite articles in the Belfast Telegraph. But alas, these twilight years of Portora were hastening to an end, much like the golden era of the central African Banyarwanda kingdom before the arrival of the Belgian colonisateurs, or indeed, the idyllic Mayan civilisation before the arrival of Cortès. As DJ HF 'Lyte' would put it, 'Fast falls the eventide'. By 2014, the eventide had fallen like a big tree in the forest, or something that falls even faster. Furthermore, the Impartial Reporter had made sure that everyone heard this metaphorical tree of eventide falling, so the fact that it had fallen was philosophically undeniable. The colonisation had begun.
The Fall of Portora
The unrelenting colonisation of Portora took place in slow stages, with sixth form females arriving in 'flying columns' to administer the new educational jurisdiction. They soon traded their Christmas-tree regalia for the uniform of the new imperial conqueror, 'ERGS'. It was recognised that the unwavering attention of over four hundred hormone-ridden teenage boys was too much for the brave female Portoran pioneers to weather. One must remember that an exclusively masculine environment produces a peculiar, unique habitat when left to fester for over four centuries. Portorans were known to revel in loud flatulence and competed with one-another to inscribe phallic images on furniture and other physical infrastructure. These customs were perplexing and alarming to the newcomers. Mindful of the hormonal unrest simmering throughout the school, the Arch-Viceroy decided to amalgamate with the Collegiate as soon as possible to evenly spread the attention of the boys away from a handful of victims. He bribed the staff and WELB with a 10% pay rise to support his idea. Of course with the public not agreeing with his ideas and fearing for the virtue of their daughters commenced a "Save the Collegiate" campaign and instigated a riot at Portora's gates which thankfully remained intact after the frantic onslaught of the locals.
Some closing thoughts
In a story replete with political intrigues, the Empress persuaded the locals that it was she who could pull the Arthur's sword of amalgamation from the stubborn stone of Fermanagh's intransigence. In considering this saga, which saw the loquacious and cosmopolitan Arch-Viceroy ousted by a traditional but confidence-inspiring Empress, one is reminded of a campaign that took place some years ago between two tribes in Westminster. One wanted to Leave and the other wanted to Remain. Yet even though Leaving was the chosen path, it was a Remain chief who was chosen to lead the exiting confederation of tribes. As the book of Ecclesiastes puts it 'The race is not to the swift.' Reader, take heed. Take note. Consider. There is much to be learned from this, the story of Portora. Your humble editors do not pretend to be impartial, like the newspaper that most Portorans read, but they were Portorans and have striven to represent his school in all of its eclectic glory. It is a great joy that this informative page has remained open for the past decade or so, bouncing to and fro between the first and second page of Google search results. If you are an old Portoran or Collegian reading this, we hope it has been an enjoyable few minutes away from your busy and possibly successful lives. Yet there no place for excessive nostalgia. Indeed, nostalgia is really a bitter-sweet disease, that corrodes Irish thought like a blight. The future, bright and new and shiny, is to be seized. But it should not be seized so quickly that the grassroots feel unsettled. Fermanagh is a grassy place and its grassroots are particularly vital. If a leader falls out of touch with the opinion of the grassroots, he or she loses their confidence. It falls upon the young to infuse something of Portora's finesse and excellence into its successor.