My name is Martin. I am a very kind person and I have a load of ambitions. I want to be able to help people when I come out of studying if they have problems with reading and writing. I love refereeing football matches and I love mixing with young children on the football pitch to help them do it the right way. I played football all my life. I used to play for Capel Celtic. They were my first team when I was a young fella. Then I went to play for Ballymun United. I was a left full back. I met lots of friends when I played there. We all worked as a good team together. I still get in touch with some of the players. We always talked about them days. We used to go for a drink after the game even if we lost or won. We always talked to the opposition after the game and maybe they would come for a drink with us even if we kicked each other during the game, we talked about it. Fellas used to tell me I would kick my own mother to get the ball no matter what happens!
I coped during Covid because I had my son, my wife and daughter in law and we all had good fun together. We played games out the back, we helped each other through it. One of us would cook, the others would help or watch. During the first lock-down in March and April, we had a paddling pool out the back and we used to throw each other in the water. We had a barbecue outside with sausages and had a bit of a laugh lighting the fire. It reminded me and my son Kieran and my wife Marian of when we went camping years ago. We went camping all around Ireland. We went to Wexford, Kilkenny, Kerry. It loved Kilkenny because it was a little farm that we were on and Kieran was able to play with all the animals and there was a little gate so he couldn’t get out.
I found learning online easy because I had a lot of help at home. If I needed to get on Zoom or needed help with some words, I was able to ask any of the three at home. I found the confidence to ask them. People who can’t read and write sometimes are afraid to ask some people. Like I know people who have a son or daughter and they are afraid to even ask them. They are afraid of what they might say to them, like “are you stupid or something.” I think people do not understand the problem that we have because they don’t have that problem themselves and they never knew what it was like. I said to a chap one day, if I gave you a Japanese paper to read, could you read it? That’s how I felt before I got to learn how to read and write. I would never have had that confidence only I went to Mountjoy Square. I have no fears now because I can do these things. I can walk down to the train station and look at the board. I can go to the airport and see what planes to get. It makes a big difference in your life.
My hope would be that all students will be able to read and write. I hope to get away on holidays next year. I hope to be able to go back and sit in the classroom and study with all the other students, tutors and staff. It makes life and learning easier because we can sit together and talk about what problems we have with learning. It makes a big difference to be able to go to the canteen and have a laugh and a joke and a chat. People will tell me what their problem is and I will tell them mine. I hope all the students and tutors get back together in real life. I hope we have a great 2021!