School Hires Forensic Barber

JL Pagano had an interesting post on a school in Galway that suspended a student for having long hair.

You see, the school’s Principal, Mr Gilmore, decided that young David Knott’s hair was too long (the Principal doesn’t have a first name: these people are called Mister at birth).

David, a Leaving Cert student at Dunmore Community School, Galway, was told by the deputy Principal Ms O’Brien (who also lacks a first name, having been called Ms at birth) that he was to cut his hair. Clearly there was some vital educational reason for this, though I haven’t yet been able to find out what it was.

When David didn’t cut his hair, Ms O’Brien confronted him about his girl’s hairstyle, and asked him if he wanted to be a girl.

Ms O’Brien is a professional educator.

Enter Principal Gilmore, who instructed him to to cut his hair by the end of the week or go to another school.

Mr Gilmore is also a professional educator.

David’s mother wrote a letter to Principal Skinner Gilmore, pointing out that David was in his exam year and saying that he had his mother’s permission to grow his hair.; The letter also requested that the school deal directly with David’s mother on the matter.

Mr Gilmore wrote back with enormous self importance, saying that he was concerned at the tone and content of Mrs Knott’s letter, and that he was referring the matter to the board of management.; I can only presume that this incredibly pompous reply from a professional educator was intended to deter Mrs Knott from further impertinence in questioning Mr Gilmore’s wisdom.;

The board of management looked into this vitally-important educational matter, and agreed with Principal Gilmore.; They wrote to Mrs Knott to say that David would be suspended shortly.

Mrs Knott appealed to the Department of Education, an action I have to say, I agree with in the face of this kind of overbearing idiocy.; The Department concurred, saying David should be readmitted if his hair was groomed to collar length.; Now, even this is ridiculous and petty, but it was slightly less bone-headed than the position taken by Gilmore, O’Brien and the board of management. And so, David duly had his hair cut.

However, when he returned to the school, he discovered that the board of management had hired a barber to inspect his hair.; A barber!; The school had used scarce money, better devoted to educating its students, for the purpose of hiring a barber to advise on the length of a young lad’s hair.; Imagine that, at a time when schools all over the country are crying out for educational resources.; A barber, to check how long this young fellow’s hair was.

I remind you again that principal Gilmore is a professional educator.

The world-renowned forensic barber-detective said that David would need another inch off his hair, and in the face of such idiocy, David enrolled in another school.; I don’t blame him.; I wouldn’t want my children taught by a person who thinks the length of a student’s hair has something to do with education.

I’m glad to say that an equality tribunal has awarded David â€3,500 for victimisation, but never one to leave a scab unpicked, I thought we might be able to dig into the story a little deeper, so I asked one of our staff to send this email to Principal Gilmore.

Dear Mr Gilmore

Arising from this article in the Irish Times, we intend to run a piece on you in the coming weeks ridiculing your pomposity.
Before we publish our article; I am writing to you to check that you really did what the Irish Times suggests, as we find it hard to believe that any professional educator could be so silly.

Best wishes etc.

If Mr Gilmore replies, I’ll be sure to tell you what he says.; If he doesn’t reply, I suppose we should just run a piece ridiculing his pomposity.

What do you think?



It later came to light that Mr Gilmore has retired and that the new Principal is Mr Gabriel McManus.; What a coincidence.; As I write this, I’m watching Mr Declan McManus performing on television, but I digress.

It seemed only fair to send a second email, correcting our mistake as follows:

Dear Mr McManus

We have subsequently learned that Mr Gilmore has retired.; Please accept our apologies for addressing the previous email to you.

However, it is still our intention to run the piece as outlined, ridiculing the mindset behind the David Knott story, and therefore, if you have any comment on the school’s policy regarding the educational relevance of students’ hairstyles, we would be happy to include them.

Best wishes etc

38 thoughts on “School Hires Forensic Barber

  1. the principle and vice principle should be dismissed for their inability to accept a teenager with long hair! what would they do for an openly gay stuident in their school? hire(at great expense) the services of a prostitute and insist the student takes part in an orgy of carnal pleasure to prove conformity? they would probably have to watch to ensure the deed was completed!

  2. This happened to me, albeit in the late 70’s!
    First day back at school after Inter-cert and the whole year was assembled in the hall. I, with my lucious locks, was called to the front where I honestly beleived I would be presented with a prize for gaining the best results in the exams! Bless!!

    ”You will cut your girly hair and dress like a CBS pupil or you will leave this school now”.

    I skipped all the way home.

    Wind blowing in my hair.

  3. Principal Gilmore & Ms O’Brien (what a lovely combination they make) both vote for Fianna Fail.

    What do you expect?

  4. I didn’t Bock.

    I just had a vision of the Principle & Deputy Principle standing together in front of the class telling the child that they were the masters. Not that the length of his hair mattered but that they could impose thier power on the rest of the children.

    True enough, I don’t know that they vote for Fianna Fail. But maybe I have their imposition of power over the children of Ireland (including myself) on my mind.

    Apologies Bock.

    But at €7,000,000,000 maybe I’m losing perspective.

    It won’t happen again.

  5. of course, it makes sense, sugar…when you are no longer educating children, you must, of course, concern yourself with their appearance! xoxo

  6. I would like to remind everyone that people in Galway are crazy. In fact, I was deported from the south county for not actually being at the stage where I enjoyed flinging poo at the walls of my cell.

    It’s a wonder they didn’t try to do him over with a lawnmower, that’s all I’m saying.

  7. Bock, surely this is an issue of school uniform? Yes it is a petty system, but usually these rules are agreed upon entering the school – there is generally a section in the student handbook explaining and listing such rules.
    I believe that the pupil in question should certainly be disciplined for breaking school rules, though I do admit the headmaster’s attitude was uncalled for, and hiring a barber was ridiculous.

  8. We have these loons on our doorstep here in Limerick. St.Munchins College have been sending home / suspending studends for having their hair too short. I kid you not. I have witnessed lads with long hair (ponytailed) enter school without a care while those who visit the barber too often cower in fear. Plenty of room for Davit Knotts. Bock, contact the school for a comment.

  9. This country is being propelled backwards at a rate of “knotts” forgive childish pun.
    I have had 5 kids go through our school system here, the battle to maintain a degree of individuality and choice while maintaining some respect for the “rules” was enormous.
    Once, one of my daughters was given an essay to write, as a punishment for asking too many questions ! on “behaviour in the classroom” she wrote it on “teachers behaviour in the classroom” I was summoned to meet the principle, who wanted to know what kind of “problems” she had, were it not for the fact pointed out that it was an informative, factual and well written essay, she was facing suspension, I moved her to another school at the end of that year, she was not allowed on school property to collect her junior cert results, happily she finished school elsewhere, still laughing and asking 100’s of questions.
    Teen age time is for creative expression, were schools more adaptable toward the expression of same and the growth of life skills, maybe we would have a government and civil service populated by people with the power to think.

  10. Fergal: I was in lectures yesterday (for primary teaching) and we were discussing sexuality and relationships that have to be taught in class. I thought, that’s great – kids deserve an education in what is the most important area in life (tho according to the curriculum religion is the most important, anyway I’m digressing). Anyway, I asked is homosexuality discussed in 95% of the schools (i.e. the catholic ones considering homosexuality is a sin or whatever according to the lovely church), and I was told you don’t bring it up unless a child asks !!!!!! So there you have it, we’re still back in the 1950’s where nobody’s gay and being controlled by the church. I’d have laughed if it wasn’t so sad.
    P.S. I can’t see the problem with long hair. If it’s tied back and neat what’s the problem.

  11. Shock HORROR I went to this school!

    Yes, in fact, I was under the “Mr.Gilmore & co.” rule…a rule that was narrow-minded and conformist.

    In fact, the “Ms.O’Brien” referred to here isn’t even this lady’s surname. Perhaps her name has been hidden from the press for some circumstance but I don’t feel that I am in a position here to disclose her name all the same – although I would certainly like to shame the lady for her hidious views!

    I remember when the whole “David Knott” hair incident was going on. And, in fact, there were many many more similar instances where males were sent home to get a hair-chop, for fear that they would embarrass the school. Yes, I think that was the reasoning behind all of this nonsense. David, however seems to be the only person who has taken action against the school. And “FAIR PLAY TO HIM”, I say!!

    I did not know David personally, but I knew who he was…it is quite a small school with about 500pupils so you do know who most people are in the school. I remember David’s hair…he had a cute little ponytail that didn’t really bother anyone. He certainly DID NOT look “like a girl”. He couldn’t possibly. It’s not like David was going around with his hair blowing in the wind whipping it off people’s faces as he walked by or anything. Yes, he even tied it up (most of the time anyway as far as I can remember…that’s my image of him) to keep it out of the way to satisfy the hidious “Code of Conduct” to some degree. Unfortunately for David, keeping his hair out of the way wasn’t even enough.

    It is about time that my old school got some bad publicity for their narrow-minded views.
    Who knows, these people might grow up and realise that the world as moved on since “their time” 30 or 40 years ago.

    Actually, I doubt Mr.Gilmore & “Ms.O’Brien” – as she is referred to will ever change their deep-set ways of doing things.

    [Comment edited — Mod]

    Don’t get me wrong, there were teachers who didn’t care about hair length etc. and I’m sure the school has moved on since this with a new principal and vice-principal. It’s just a pity that this case wasn’t heard before now so that all of the shame came out before Gilmore left.

    Oh, and also…there were THREE Gilmore’s teaching in this small school at the time.

    Well, I could write a book on my views here, but I think I will finish by saying that in my final days of my Leaving Certificate year, all leaving cert students were handed black plastic bags, told to empty their lockers and were told to leave the school by the same crowd of crazy people.

  12. Little Miss: Do you still have the student handbook? I would love to know what it states about dress code etc.

  13. i meself as drunk as i am says u are fuckin great———my baby in school here in australia has no worries about his hair-his teachers worry about his education- spose they they will all go to hell.

  14. these sort of schools are just the ones that swear blind to students and parents that they have no bullying problem! maybe they don’t have within the student population but this behaviour from so-called grown up adults is bullying at best!

    there is nothing as frightening for a child/teen in school than having several teachers or principles ganging up on them

  15. May I just chime in that several boys were suspended for marine-style haircuts in my school, circa 1987. I remember one sage teacher sighed that he had been suspended in the 60’s for long hair–et plus ca change, etc.

  16. When I was in school, I had the longest hair of male pupil. When a letter about school dress was sent home to all parents stating that boys were not allowed to have long hair for “Health and hygiene reasons, and safety in the workshop”, I pointed out that

    a) if it was unhealthy/unhygienic for me to have long hair then it was for every girl,

    b) I didn’t do any lessons in a workshop, and

    c) Mr Grey, the English/Drama teacher had longer hair than I did…

    I was called to the headmaster for making “facetious comments”, but nothing further was pursued.

    That was over 25 years ago. I can’t believe anyone still makes a fuss about it. Besides, didn’t Jesus have long hair?

  17. Bock, I’ve been given to understand that your description of the interchange between Ms O’Brien and Mr Knott has somewhat underplayed what occurred.

    I understand it went something like this, Ms O’Brien confronted him in front of his class and said “Do you want to be a girl?” in a sneering voice while holding her hands in the manner of a T-Rex and flapping them up and down, her tongue protruding from her mouth. She then proceeded to lead the class in a rendition of lah-lah, lah-lah, lah before extending her posterior and breaking wind loudly in his direction. Mr Knott was not amused apparently.

  18. Lord lantern fucking Jesus, that people are surprised by the carry-on of those so called teachers, or professional educators as you call them BOCK; is the real surprise for me here.
    Nice one Little Miss for that info and yes there is no mention of an O’Brien in the staff detail and there are still two Gilmores teaching there.
    The board of management of course are viewed officially as being of great importance within the Irish education system and therefore should bear closer observation at every school.
    As for the shower in galway they are not innocents as they allowed that whole scenario to develop in the first place.
    By their very nature though, boards of menegement in our schools can manifest more like prerening sycophants than managers of anything.
    Well done to Mrs .Knott, mother of the year far as I’m concerned.

    p.s. good man James, see you maybe next time you get back, that’s if you’re the James from the Theatre Club etc

  19. Amazing to see how some school authorities intervene when a pupil presents with “girly” hair, yet others fail to do so when children turn up showing signs of malnutrition, ill-treatment and neglect. Inconsistency in a world gone mad…

  20. Paddy Joe is his name. Let me paint a picture of him and Little Miss can back me up. One extremely wonky eye that made it very difficult to tell if he was asking you a question in class . Me? …Him? ..Me? ..Her? ..Oh, Me! Very, very thick glasses. Brown hair (probably grey now, lads I”m old) with a side lick part and a habit of spitting while he talked.
    Oddly, I liked “Ms O’Brien”, she took no bullshit from anyone without preference. Wonky Eye though was a different story.

  21. The whole story is farcical but I find it very disturbing that the worst thing that Ms O Brian can call him is “girly”. The girls of Ireland are delighted, I’m sure, to be so devalued as people. Resignations would be good now

  22. Gilmore may have been the ring leader but what about the clowns on the board of management. This reeks of little napoleons from FF, the GAA and the Church. You know the type, gossips, character assassinators and mass goers.

  23. I laughed when I heard this on the radio. The most pythonesque bit was the Department ruling, that collar length hair was acceptable. These people really are unbelievable, the same types who never made a squeak when all those kids were being raped and beaten under their watch down the years. Credit to the equality people, I’m not generally a fan of them, but why could we not have a FREEDOM authority, and a FREEDOM tribunal to adjudicate on these types of issues, these are issues primarily of freedom, not of equality, whatever that is.

  24. Do You know Bock you could have great fun with these people though. If I was in that boys shoes now, I’d tell them that I was a girl, trapped in a boys body, might be a lot of oppportunities to confuse and wrongfoot the fuckers.

  25. Makes me ashamed to be a professional educator…
    Boards of Management are a sham.
    The members are meant to run the school, BUT, in actual fact the Boards are generally run a bit like the Cork County Board = one tyrant runs the show.

  26. Did anyone see the picture of this knott guy in the paper this week. I mean a picture says a thousand words and he posed for it. I am not saying I agree with this particular school rule but if you don’t like the rules move on. In my place of work guys must have shirts with collars, if you don’t like it find a new job!! Bottom line is the guy did not want to obey the rules that 499 other kids were willing to obey. One thing that people seem to be missing at a time when the country is on its knees we are handing over 3500 of your hard earned taxes to this guy. Not to mention the legal costs, which make no mistake would run into the tens of thousands of euros.

  27. I agree 100% with Richard. What is crazy here is that the guy did not knuckle down and worry about the leaving cert and has now cost every one of us our hard earned euros. He should be ashamed, Tell me this knott if you wanted to join the army would you sue them also for forcing you to cut your hair. Rules man, Rules.

  28. it is really not about what he looks like or how much he was awarded by the courts of the land, it is purely about his right to wear his own hair long or short and not have some jumped up self important nazi fucker telling him he looks like a girl! how many other students were forced to attend the forensic barber? these people should be sacked for wasting school monies and also court time and taxpayers money!

  29. I went to that school and that kind of attitude had been in the school for years. I left Dunmore Community school in 1999 and it was the very same then, I was delighted to hear that someone had the balls to make a stand against it. Mr Patrick (just to fill u all in on his first name) Gilmore always had an issue with boys having long hair for some unknown reason but always got his little lapdogs to address the issue for him.

  30. Any chance of a link to a picture of Mr Gilmore and co. so that the rest of us can adjudicate on their perfect preening, oh and Dick and Deardry too,,,
    Also is there any chance of the same type of wankers getting the young schoolgirls of limerick to wear minis, now that would be nice

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