When We Were Kings and Queens of the Road: Aaron Sunderland Carey

Ag dul ar Scoil

I went to primary school in Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna in the 2000s. At the time the school was made of prefabs, big green cardboard box looking classrooms. The school was in Coultry, and we lived over at Sillogue, so my Ma used to drop me to school in her car most days. A lot of the time tho my Ma would be in work early, so she’d drop me up to my Nanas house before school. I’d pretend to be asleep still, so she’d have to carry me into my Nanas and up the stairs, to put me in the bed beside my aunty, my Ma hoping I’d get another hour sleep before school. A lot of time tho I’d wait untill I heard my Ma go out the back gate of my Nanas Garden and I’d sneak downstairs, very slowly trying not to make noise on the creaky stairs, so that I could watch early morning cartoons like the old 90’s Spider-Man show and PowerRangers. My Nana then would come down the stairs a while later ready to go, she drove an old Toyota Yaris and always drove in silence, no radio, no music, I always remembered thinking that was strange.

She’d drop me to school about half past eight and I’d play in the yard with a few kids before we’d get called into our línte. My Nanna would usually collect me from school when she was off work, and I’d do my homework and have dinner in her house untill my Ma was off work and could come collect me. This is the way things were for a long time. Then I went to secondary school. I went to Scoil Chaitríona on the Mobhí road and traffic would be hectic in the mornings, so I was allowed to start cycling to school. This was great fun, I loved cycling when I was a teenager because I could fly up onto the path to catch the green man or jump back onto the road to catch the green light. I definitely didn’t follow the rules of the road and probably put myself in danger by doing so but it felt great to have this freedom.

If I wasn’t cycling, I’d get the bus sometimes. The number 4 Dublin bus into Ballymun used to be a great laugh and I definitely have some crazy stories from the number 13 bus. There were fights a lot on the bus, there was always people laughing, it was probably the only time you’d crossover with some of the older lads in the school aswell. I rememer mainly getting the bus when we lived on the Ballymun road, the bus would often be late tho. A bunch of teenagers of all ages waiting on a Dublin bus while the buses kept disappearing off the board wasn’t a great combination as far as the people who lived beside the school were concerned. This time waiting on the bus and scrambling to get a seat when it did show up was a great experience for me, it felt like for that short bit of time coming home I had freedom, and anything could happen.

Aaron as a child

There’d be stories shared and a great laugh had each time, we seen people getting thrown of the bus for messing and fighting, it was honestly the most entertaining part of the day. Cycling home meant I could walk most of the way with people I went to school with before splitting off and cycling the rest of the way. We went to an all-Irish school where we would get in trouble for speaking English, this meant the walk home could be the only chance we’d get to have long and natural conversations with our friends. Secondary school was not a nice time for me, I spent most of my time with people I didn’t like in classes I didn’t care about, so these journeys home were some of my best memories from school.

Aaron Sunderland Carey is an artist from Ballymun. A recent graduate of NCAD, his work often uses social commentary to tell stories based on his own experiences and upbringing. “I am a mixed media artist who’s practice largely involves socially engaged projects interested in physical urban environments and their effects on the individual. My work examines people’s relationships with changing spaces and how public planning and government decisions can affect a community and those who inhabit it. These themes are explored through a combination of conversation led workshops, printed image, sound and photography.”

Aaron’s work can be seen on his Instagram page, @sunderland_carey.

On behalf of the Museum of Childhood Ireland and Robert Burns, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our wonderful participants for their time and their stories. We are thrilled to be presenting this project and we hope you will enjoy following along with us.

Have a story on this topic and want to get involved? Contact us on our social media sites, or email us at cbrowne@museumofchildhood.ie – we would love to hear from you!

By Chloe Browne

Chloe Browne is an Irish writer, curator and Art Historian, with a keen interest in objects and social history.