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Last Class before the Races

by Clíona Cogan

All eyes turned to the clock. Excitement bubbled like a volcano, waiting to erupt. Tock! Each second lasted an eternity. The teacher was trying, very much in vain to keep the girls’ attention. Last class before the school broke up for Listowel Races was not a good time to try to get a roomful of vibrant students interested in French verbs.

This week has been highlighted in every Listowel teenager’s calendar for months. Trips to the cinema and shopping sprees have been sacrificed for a few turns on the bumper cars.

Tick! Five minutes to go until the end of class. The impatience in the room was contagious. Students fidgeted in their seats. Musical symphonies were being created with tapping pens on desks. Tock!

Tick! Eyelids were drooping now. Yawns and sighs were gasped in unison. Some were falling asleep while others were staring at the clock, like jack-in-the-boxes ready to spring up at the given signal. Tock!

The bell rang. At the moment over five hundred girls leaped out of their seats. Excited screams bounced off the walls. A huge tidal wave of impatient youngsters came crashing and thundering towards the exits. Fresh air was sucked in appreciatively. Excited chatter chorused from the streets of the town as the students made their way home.

Finally, the week we had all been waiting for had arrived. No more teachers, books or uniforms for the next glorious five days. All that was on the agenda now was relaxation and fun.

That night every teenager for a thirty mile radius paraded down the street towards the market yard where Birds had set up their funfair. Blood curdling screams could be heard as dozens of us soared into the air on the rides. Yelps of surprise and pain resounded as people travelled to a land where discipline, and order had never been heard of ... the bumpers.

Next day we went to the Races. Those who felt lucky had a bet. The rest saved their cash for the night time and the trip to “The Market”. Listowel Races is a week that can bring a smile to many faces for weeks afterwards.

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