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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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Let's talk about the time I accidentally revealed to my very Catholic grandparents that I attended a Protestant school

The worst crime I could commit in their eyes.

LET ME START by getting something out of the way; yes I am posh, I come from the good part of Kildare and I have a bichon. Now, moving swiftly on from that, it’s time we discussed the time I broke my grandparent’s heart (just a little bit) completely by accident.

Source: GIPHY

So my grandparents are lovely, wonderful people who also happen to be incredibly Catholic. We’re talking posters of the Pope in the living and going to Mass more than once a week Catholics.

Top level Catholics basically.

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I’ve never been a religious kind of gal. I went through my edgy atheist phase early (like aged 8) except I made my communion and confirmation because the cheap Penneys makeup and jelly snakes weren’t going to buy themselves, were they?

When the time came for me to go to secondary school, I had two choices. I either had to attend an all-girls secondary school or head to the Protestant one. Now as a girl who used to describe herself as ‘not like other girls’, I would have rather died than go to an all-girls school. That left me with only one option. It was time to mix with the Prods.

Source: Channel 4

Except there was one problem.

We could never tell my lovely grandparents. They weren’t exactly delighted that my parents were letting me run around as Kildare’s answer to Richard Dawkins but given that my granddad once had to be “forgiven” by a bishop for accidentally walking into a Church of Ireland church, my parents felt it was easier if they didn’t know.

Except they never told me that bit.

Yep, my folks decided it was better if I was left in the dark about this vital piece of information despite me having the biggest mouth this side of Leixlip.

So naturally one Sunday we headed over to my grandparents to visit them. Once the apple tart had been cracked out and the tea made, they asked me how secondary school was going.

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I cannot for the life of me remember how it came up but I believe I mentioned how our reverend’s Kermit the Frog puppet (don’t ask) had been stolen from his office by the outgoing 6th years (also don’t ask).

My granddad who is incredibly deaf somehow heard the word ‘reverend’ and looked confused. He started asking me more questions about it and I went off on a long tangent about chapel, the extra verse of Our Father (For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory) and the ridiculous amount of hymns I had to sing.

My father proceeded to have a minor meltdown as I babbled on and on and on.

He was sitting behind my granddad but he just kept making a ‘shut up’ signal at me rather violently. Kind of like a mafia boss except with more vigour and madness in the eyes.

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Eventually, I shut up long enough for my dad to change the subject to something else but the damage was done. My grandparents had heard enough to cast me out of the will while simultaneously praying for my soul.

They’d need a lot of prayers in fairness to cast out the notions I absorbed in my 6 years of schooling. We referred to our graduation as ‘valedictory’ as if that was in any way normal for Christ sake. I couldn’t be saved from the clutches of pronouncing scone as ‘scon’.

Did we ever discuss it as a family afterwards?

God no. Nobody ever discussed it again and I think my grandparents just decided that it never happened.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t as easy when I brought home my first Protestant boyfriend. But that’s a story for another time…

Source: GIPHY

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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