Donal Lynch Twitter. What is it about a private education that still gives such a distinct advantage in Irish life? We pride ourselves on having greater social mobility than the class-obsessed English, on having a more egalitarian school system than the Americans and their Ivy League, and, yet, still the value of an old-boy background shows itself, with a quick glance at any of the major power centres in our society. I t reveals that, despite our stated revulsion for all things rugby-school, we're still suckers for the competence and character that is subtly conveyed by floppy hair, ruddy cheeks and southside drawls.
TDs are more than twice as likely to have gone to a private school than the average Irish person 18 of the male TDs in the current Dail are privately educated - a slight increase from the last Dail. In business, nearly half of leaders of Irish publicly listed companies went to private school. The current governor of the Central Bank is an old Blackrock boy. Even the arts sector, long the province of working-class talents, has lately become colonised by private schoolboys, with all the hallmarks of their ilk: entitled, dapper, and with an iron ambition concealed by velvet manners.
The manners are crucial, because, in Ireland, the most ferocious snobbery is always inverse. Privilege is only an advantage up to a point, and can quickly turn into a liability. If a private schoolboy commits a crime, the school's name is generally emblazoned in the newspaper headline, along with the crime itself and some tutting about the lawyers that he can afford; the Annabel's trials were most memorable in this regard.
In politics, 'D4' is still a slur, and while private schoolboys have an advantage in our corridors of power, they are still vastly outnumbered by the unwashed mass of publicans, auctioneers and teachers who stuff Leinster House. It was telling that when the heave against Enda Kenny gathered pace in , his perceived-as-posh adversaries - among them, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney - were quickly dubbed "the Cappuccino Plotters".
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The moniker stuck, and may have been decisive, despite the fact that cappuccinos are now available and consumed throughout the land. And yet, privilege found a way of bursting through; nearly a third of the current cabinet are privately educated - compared with just 7pc of the population generally. Perhaps less surprisingly, the judiciary and legal profession are stuffed to the gills with privately educated people.
In sport, the disproportionate clout of private schoolboys can be seen in the successful proselytising of their chosen religion - rugby - and the now settled law that BOD is God. This is a bit weird when you think about it. Not that Brian O'Driscoll isn't great, but only a handful of mostly private schools throughout the country play the gentleman's game, nowhere near the number that play soccer or Gaelic. Rugby is actually only slightly less niche than those other private-school pastimes, tennis or hockey.
And yet it has mysteriously been elevated to a national sport, and its muddied oafs are icons, who make Lillie's groupies of all of us. More than any other game, it seems to cross-pollinate the worlds of business and politics. The arts, here as elsewhere, has become notably more middle class since the invention of the internet.
The web seemed like it levelled the playing pitch by allowing everyone to steal content, but, in fact, it did the opposite. Poor kids, quite simply, cannot hang around for years hoping that enough people consume their music or writing for free, meaning that they eventually might get paid for their work. The result has been that pop music has seen an influx of supposed former rugger buggers. Hozier, who went to St Gerard's in Bray, finds a place on our list, joining the privately educated elder statesman of Irish rock, Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof, a Blackrock boy - who grew up in a theocracy and so needed to be urbane, articulate and defiant in that private-school way.
Lenny Abrahamson, currently our most successful director, is an alumnus of The High School, which sounded American even before its students did. When it comes to the upper echelons of Ireland's wealth hierarchy, college-educated old boys - such as founder of CyBerCorp, Philip Berber - are the exception. Ireland's Rich List is dominated by those who received their post-school education at that other eminent college - the University of Life. These include financier Dermot Desmond, who joined Citibank on leaving school; and John Magnier and JP McManus, who both went straight to work directly from secondary school.
There are some privately educated women studded through the power centres of Irish society, but it is still predominantly an old boys' club, in the most literal sense.
A private-school education has become increasingly popular in Ireland. Even through the recession, the top schools increased their numbers - and their fees. Elite education has been described as "more affordable" here than in other developed economies, meaning a greater spread of the middle class have access to prestigious schools, if they so wish.
Part of this is the usual striving for the best possible results. But snobbery and the hope that their offspring might meet more 'suitable life partners' in private schools seem to be main reasons for the surge in attendance, the former President of the Teachers' Union of Ireland, Paddy Healy, has suggested. Underlying all of this marvelling at the great and the good who have been to private schools, is a debate about who pays for this structure of privilege.
Rich people run the show in every country, but the huge difference between our private system and, say, that of the one in the UK, is that the wages of teachers in private schools in this country are funded by the taxpayer although some private schools use a portion of their fee income to pay for extra staff and not solely by school fees.
So, in Ireland, those who cannot afford to send their children to a private school must pay for the education of those who can. In this sense, we are, perhaps, even more elitist than the Brits, or Americans, who at least leave the upper classes to consolidate power on their own. We aid and abet the formation of a ruling class, and the list on these pages looks at exactly who the members of it are.
The image he cultivated was 'loveable yob from the streets', but they don't come much more privileged than the Farreller, who attended not one, but two, private schools. One of these was the spectacular Gormanston, once the seat of the aristocratic Preston family. The college boasts a swimming pool, a vast sports complex and a golf course. Sounds like a pretty good preparation for Hollywood luxury.
He's been described as 'the last banker standing' and he displayed some serious resolve and steeliness at the Banking Inquiry. This old Rockwell boy presented his stewardship of Bank of Ireland as kind of atonement for the horrors of the previous few years. We're not sure where all those cheap bank shares he nabbed in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum fit into this, but he is only being paid nearly a million quid a year, so whatever it takes. The Gick as Terenure is known , but certainly not thick.
As a barrister, he took on many commercial, insurance and defamation cases and represented the Sunday Independent in the De Rossa libel trial. He was appointed to the High Court in , and to the Supreme Court four years ago. The young Graham was already a bit of a card in the s, according to his former teachers at Bandon Grammar School.
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He showed up to present the prizes at a ceremony in the school a few years ago, and with typically refreshing honesty, told reporters, "Friends are going, 'Oh, you must tell us funny stories about things that happened to you in school'. But either nothing very funny happened for six years, or it was 30 years ago and I don't remember any more". Peter Sutherland is one of many Gonzaga old boys who have done well. He has ascended the peaks of private industry and the public service - presidents, prime ministers and popes have him on their Christmas-card lists.
He was Attorney General for the first Garret FitzGerald government, and proved highly prescient when he predicted that the abortion amendment would lead to "confusion and uncertainty". He also has a building named after him at UCD. When he was minister, Alan Shatter sort of gave us the creeps - what with his "steamy novel" and the sense that he might change into a bat at dusk - but now we totally miss him and his weird sci-fi jokes. Here's hoping there is another political act for our most multi-talented former justice minister.
It feels fitting that a man whose fortune was partially founded on people needing 'a few bits and bobs' for kids going back to school, had the luxury of a private education. Ben wasn't especially academic at Pres Cork, and left at 16 to join his family business.
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What did the Brothers make of the coke story, you wonder? This Rockwell old boy represented David Norris in one of his legal actions aimed at decriminalising homosexuality in Ireland.
Murray served as Attorney General three different times during the s and s, and also also drafted the wording of the anti-abortion amendment to the Constitution. He retired from the Supreme Court last year. For most this is rugby; for Hozier, it was music. While poor people might have to put their stuff online for free or make up some sob-story for Simon Cowell, St Gerard's voice of his generation was discovered at a school concert. Shane Ross has spoken about crying when he learned he was being sent away to boarding school, and by the time he entered public life — first as a journalist, senator, TD and now minister — he had his emotions well in check.