I never experienced first hand the hand of the Christian Brothers; though our history teacher used to enjoy regaling us with stories of the rough justice uncompromisingly handed out to the boys of the Falls Road… Pol thinks we should spare them the hysterical stereotypical treatment:
Some commentators argue that the ethos of the Christian Brothers was very nationalistic for which you can read that they were too pro-republican. Nothing could have been further from the truth in my experience from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. The Brothers favoured the Rosary over revolution and would dearly have loved some of us to either join the order or become priests. (One of the first tasks in any language class was to learn the Hail Mary. I used to be able to recite it in French, Italian, German and Irish.)
Catholicism trumped nationalism; we were educated as Catholic Irish and not Irish Catholics.
And there was the effects of a broad curriculum:
Irish was compulsory until O-level but then so was French, maths, English and religion. It cannot be a coincidence either that many of the books on the curriculum were anti-war in their themes: OCaseys Juno and the Paycock was hardly a ringing endorsement of violent republicanism; the poetry of Wilfred Owen did not speak of the glory of dying for ones country (whatever the colour of its flag); Julius Caesar did not praise politics so much as bury them and the short stories of Heinrich Böll often showed the human tragedy of total war.