Conlethian alumna Maggie Tighe (Class of 2019) was recently presented with one of the most selective and competitive international academic prizes. Maggie’s research combined her two loves of Classics and Music and it earned her a Global Undergraduate Awards, one of only 25 given… in the whole world! Each year thousands of students from around the world submit their undergraduate research projects to The Global Undergraduate Awards (GUA), the world’s leading pan-discipline, undergraduate research awards programme. More than 600 academics volunteer as judges for the programme, assessing entries for their academic originality and rigour, and must pick the single best entry from each of the 25 categories. Maggie was named Global Winner of the Classical Studies & Archaeology category for her work titled “Ovidian New Pastoral: The Transformation of the Pastoral Genre through Music in the Metamorphoses”. With that honour, she presented her research to the 150 academics and other winners in attendance at the Global Summit and received the Thomas Clarkson gold medal at the black-tie Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on 8 November.
Below you see Maggie at the summit and the ceremony, but you also see evidence of a different side to Maggie: less worldly perhaps but still important. Earlier in the term, and before all the high-brow hoopla, Maggie dropped by No. 28 to visit her old Classics teacher, just to say hello and deliver some inspiring words to a class full of eager, noisy Classics I students. Maggie may be now bumping elbows with elite scholars in the Long Room but she remembers her roots and has kept a warmth and openness as deep as her intellect. And the good news is that Maggie is now just down the road, at Trinity working on a Master’s in Classics… a resource her old teacher may well call upon ion the months to come!
Debs’ Style and Substance!
We expected nattily dressed gentlemen and girls in gorgeous gowns and we were certainly knocked out with the style, but we also knew there would be a more important aspect of the Class of 2022 Debs’ reception at St. Conleth’s: a spirit of honest affection and appreciation, tinged with the tiniest bit of regret that we will no longer have these charming young men and ladies all to ourselves. College degrees and career destinations were not the only topics of conversation on the evening: there was plenty of looking back as well as looking forward, with plenty of smiles and laughs about the years, whether two or twelve, these young adults spent growing up with us.
Of course, the parents were there as well, proud as punch to see how well their sons and daughters turned out, on both the outside and the in. Whatever points were achieved in September, the more important personal gains made while at St. Conleth’s were fully in evidence on the evening: boys who short years (or months) ago were locking each other in cupboards, were now smoothly introducing their dates, and girls who perhaps apprehensively approached these doors not long ago, were now swishing across the floor with confidence and grace.
The only downside of the evening was that we, the board members of the ‘No Eye Contact with Girls Club’, have been forced to kick out a charter member: Oisín Power. Luckily, we still have several of his acolytes in the Debating Society… whose number of chaperones will henceforth be doubled!
When current Marian College Basketball Coach (and teacher) Eoin ‘Trust Me, I’m a…’ Noctor wandered these halls as a student (Class of 2011), he was considered by some teachers, mostly of the female persuasion, to be ‘a lovable rogue’. Others just deemed him ‘a rogue’. Maybe it was due to his combination of stylish ringlets, exotic skin tone and melting eyes, not seen since Alexander the Great charmed the bow off the Queen of the Amazons… in any event, his basketball strategy has not matched said Alexander’s tactical genius. For, our U16s and U19s, coached by Sean ‘Use the Angles’ Ingle, just did the double on him! Yes, having such quality players as James ‘Tower of’ Power, ‘Chillin’ Dylan Cosgrave, Joe ‘Just Don’t Make Me Angry’ Kelleher and quickly rising newcomer Enda ‘Wow’ Crowley, certainly helped, and we allow that Eoin’s Marian are in a ‘rebuilding phase’… but so are a lot of teams, after we demolish them! We did spare the Good Noctor the blushes of filming the total wipeout but sent our ace TY photographer Finley O’Dea to our recent games versus Colmcille’s and you can enjoy his camerawork, and our players’ moves and ridiculous size advantage, below. The wins have qualified the U16s for the Quarterfinals of the East ‘B’ Boys Region and the U19s for the Plate Quarterfinals. Stay tuned!
Where you grew up…
I was born in Los Angeles, California as my parents were both from the US. I only lived there until I was 3, after which I moved with my family to Dublin, Ireland. I grew up in the Ballsbridge area, so I spent a lot of time in Herbert Park, going to matches at the Aviva, and hanging out with friends at Baggot Street.
How you came to be at St. Conleth’s.
I was familiar with St. Conleth’s having lived in the surrounding area for years. I knew my classmate from a previous school so when I found out about his positive experience at St. Conleth’s and when a place opened in 6th class, I decided to put in an application. I was greeted by Ann Sheppard and Kevin Kelleher during the interview, and I felt right at home as soon as I walked through the doors. Luckily, I received an offer soon after that and I knew the decision to accept it would be an easy one.
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school.
Personally, my favourite subjects included maths and physics as they were very challenging, and I enjoyed problem solving. Eventually, I decided to enroll in applied maths for the Leaving Cert which I also enjoyed since it was a different application of maths including interesting concepts such as projectiles, inertia, and relative velocity which I quickly learned are relevant in many aspects of how objects work in the real world.
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s.
My fondest memory throughout my 7 years at St. Conleth’s was having a very inclusive and supportive environment with both the teachers and the other students there. I always felt like there were many opportunities to get involved in extra-curricular activities such as volunteering during Daffodil Day for the Irish Cancer Society, adventure trips to Ovoca Manor, and going for a hike in Wicklow for the Gaisce Bronze Award in 4th year. I also enjoyed playing tennis, squash, and basketball which I participated in for many years on competitive and recreational teams. I always found that St. Conleth’s was a fantastic place to pursue my interests and try new activities as well.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field.
My form teacher in 6th year told us about the engineering open night at UCD and I decided to attend it that evening. I went to the talk with my dad who studied both electrical engineering and computer science in college. The talk itself discussed the course, modules, and experiences from current students at the time as well as professors who gave insight into the industry and current research within the school of engineering across the different disciplines. Both the talk at UCD and my family inspired me to pursue going into the field and eventually, I decided to choose engineering at UCD as my 1st choice on the CAO application and I accepted the offer later that year.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
At age 10, I had a trip to the science museum called W5 in Belfast, and I remember being fascinated by new technologies there such as a stringless harp which could be played by not touching the instrument to advanced robotics that could solve Rubik’s cubes. When I was around the same age, I attended the Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS, where I demonstrated an experiment involving a mixture of baking soda and vinegar while attaching a balloon to the top of a water bottle so that it expanded. By participating in both, I realised I was curious and interested about the field of science and engineering.
Tell us about your education/ career path.
At UCD, I started in a common first year where there is an opportunity to experience different engineering disciplines offered as well as ensuring the core subjects of maths, physics, and chemistry are learned. In second year, I chose mechanical engineering as my degree which is a combination of engineering principles and design with materials science. Some topics from my modules included explanations into how external environmental factors influence the power from the engine in a car, and how the density of building materials in a house influence the heat loss through the structure and the subsequent energy usage. I undertook various summer internships throughout the program including at ESB conducting research into future wind farm developments, and at Waterman Moylan where my role as a building engineer involved designing and surveying services into future housing developments across Dublin. I also had the opportunity to study abroad for a year at the University of Connecticut in the US which was an invaluable experience. I graduated with a bachelor’s in Engineering Science in 2020 and then stayed on an extra year during the pandemic to pursue my master’s in Mechanical Engineering from which I graduated in 2021. I recently began working as a Graduate Mechanical Engineer for a global multidisciplinary design firm called Arup in New York City. My responsibilities in this role include performing mechanical engineering design using 3D modelling software for HVAC systems within a building which are responsible for heating, cooling and ventilation purposes. Since I started, I have been performing this work for data centres and manufacturing plants. Another important aspect of my role is commissioning which involves performing site visits to test mechanical equipment for correct functionality to ensure that the building is as energy efficient as possible. I am fortunate to be involved in carrying out this work for an ongoing airport re-development in New York City valued at 8 billion dollars. In general, I have found myself intrigued with the complexity of engineering applications in the built environment, and Arup has exposed me to many large-scale developments with a focus on sustainability as there becomes an increased demand for building sector decarbonization in the future.
Proudest achievement to date.
My biggest achievement to date is completing my thesis as part of my master’s degree. The topic I chose is called Phase Change Material Characterisation for Demand Response in Buildings and it involved running computer simulations to see the effect of offsetting the energy usage in a building by installing thermal storage materials on the interior side of a building envelope so that a HVAC system can utilise off peak energy prices while reducing the impact of demand on the electricity grid during the day. I worked on the thesis for 10 months which involved writing reports, preparing presentations, and defending the research against the school of engineering. I received first-class honours for the thesis from UCD and it was nominated and won the 2021/22 ASHRAE Ireland Student Award which recognises the research contributions made to fields related to the built environment such as HVAC&R, building engineering, energy management, and sustainability. Currently, I am in the process of assisting my thesis supervisor with publishing aspects of my thesis in an international journal paper so that my research can be cited while possibly assisting others with future work related to the field.
Aspirations for the future.
My personal aspirations involve excelling in my career path and earning my professional licence and engineering chartership which is granted based on continuing education credits for attending talks on up-and-coming technologies related to engineering, number of years of experience working in the field, and exams related to a chosen engineering field of expertise. Once I earn this licence, I will be qualified to independently perform extensive engineering design, sign off on drawings, and mentor other engineers on design practices. My aim is that Arup will give me further exposure to state-of-the-art projects from across the world and possibly some travel opportunities to other regions which I have not visited before.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice.
My advice for anyone going into engineering or a career path of their choice would be do not be afraid to pursue what you are interested in and push the boundaries on your capabilities. During my time in engineering, there are many times I was convinced I could not complete a project or submit an assignment due to the complexity of the task, but I learned to work hard, and the results would follow. Also, it is important to ask and accept advice from others as I found that when I needed help, it was always around the corner whether it was from other classmates in school, lecturers in college, colleagues in the workplace, or at home from family.
Nobber Clobbers D4
Maybe ‘cultural context’, the bête noire of the Sixth Years’ English Paper II, actually does matter, as the country boys on the Staff Soccer Team casually worked on their farmer tans while stylishly pinging the ball around the pitch and into the net, and the callow youths of Ballsbridge and Blackrock frantically but futilely raced around in designer boots and incomprehensibly sacrilegious tee-shirts. Maybe an earnest prayer or two would have helped but, really, the deck was stacked against the kids from the beginning. For fourteen years now, we have tolerated the barbs and boasts which proliferate through the hallways and classrooms each Spring, just smiling gracefully and knowingly in reply, and then come mid-May and a lovely day in Irishtown, we do what we do every year: we play the jackeens off the pitch!
Up Leitrim! Up Tipp! Up Meath! Up Kilkenny!Up Wexford! ‘Commissioner’ Gordon Weldon bossed the midfield like it was harvest time in the fields surrounding his native Nobber, and he had a few surly farmhands to set to work on the combine. Oh, and did we obey orders! Mr. Lonergan, Mr. Morris and Mr. O’Neill put their ancestral county rivalries on hold and pulled together as only country lads can, putting in shifts of grit and determination, but the star of the county fair had to be Mr. Smith: watching him prance around the pitch, with all the elegance and subtlety of Messi on a midfield run or a prize Angus bull patrolling his paddock, was a wonder to behold, and his goal was top shelf- and top class. And the Staff Dubs also did their part: Mr. O’Dulaing, a Kevin Moran-like rock in defence; ‘Fuzzy’ Ger, importer of a bit of rugby ferocity to the right wing; Mr. Nolan, scorer of a wonder goal straight from a corner; Mr. Carvill, who got his angles and muscular torsion calculations spot-on, volleying home a stunner; and the ‘Triple S’ brigade of youngsters- Sean, Sam and Shane- who all added some style to our substance. Of course, we cannot forget Gavin Sheridan, our rarely seen PME teacher of Accounting and Home Economics, who came out of nowhere to play like a pro (we said ‘like‘) in goals.
As for the students…. all we can say is ‘Where have you gone, Steven Canavan? On what fields do you now roam, John Martin? ‘ Does anyone remember the absolute class of Steven, and his box-to-box excellence, in 2008, the last year we suffered a defeat, honourable as it was, to such a classy foe? Or John’s absolute screamer of a goal in 2013, alas in a memorable 2-1 defeat for the students? Maybe it is the effects covid but we expected more chutzpah in these kids! To be fair, they had some moments: Matthew McKeown played midfield like he plays life… with quality, manners and style; Conor Hyland did make some memorable runs, darting this way and that, beating half a dozen of us, but then running smack into a northern spur of the Galtees; Oisín Thorton made some turns on a dime and actually did not complain too much; Luca Saroli showed some continental class, and with only a bit of the usual Italian hysterics; the two whippets, Weatherley and Norse, amply advertised their Early Classical Greek sculpture physiques, but to no avail, as Daniel, with his closest miss, almost killed the guy smoking whacky tobaccy under the trees and William played manfully but was left, in the end, sitting cross-legged and despondent on the astro, repeatedly whispering to himself ‘But I am from Blackrock…’ and wondering if the Institute did grinds in ‘soccer’.
Ah, but to be fair, it was a good-natured match, especially in comparison to the Mr. Trenier-orchestrated bloodbaths of the past, and Mr. Keenan barely had to raise his whistle… or look the other way. How rough could it be when the students’ goalkeeper was the amiable back-up drummer to a local Nickelback tribute band? In the end, hands were shook (most of them), platitudes were issued and as the kids began to make much more important (and hopefully more fruitful) plans for impending adulthood and life, we repaired to headquarters (McCloskey’s) and set to work planning for victory number XV!
This shot was actually taken before the drinking started...
The End of the Debate… almost!
Actually, we still have the McCarthy Cup for First Years to be won, but all the rest of the St. Conleth’s Senior School Debates have been run and won, and some new names will now be etched alongside all the past greats on the Kinlen and Gardner Cups and the Bouchier-Hayes and Francis John Barrett Plates. Our Dynamic Debating Duo of Coach Rory O’Sullivan and Auditor Oisín Power ran a tight show, fitting two complete debates and the deciding of four trophies into one midmorning, in the stylish surrounds of the KD Kelleher Wing’s Performance Hall. Gone of the days when the wall between Rooms 1 and 2 would be ‘rolled back’ and the resultant bear pit would bear witness to such raucous affairs that the US Embassy Marines would pay a flying visit.
One of our debating greats of yore, Gerard Ellis of the class of 1972, was on hand to present the Kinlen Cup to Saoirse Corry, and Gerard noticed the changes in decor and decorum since his day, not the least of which was his presentation of the award to a member of the fairer sex: he missed out on the introduction of girls by just a few years! Gerard and the adjudicators and everyone in a attendance were impressed by Saoirse’s cool, calm and collected dissection of the motion promoting a Sinn Fein led unification of the nation, but the competition was fierce, as you can see and hear from the snippets below.
Then, after a few breaths break, we launched into an impromptu debate on the merits of having a perfect memory. We, ourselves, can’t remember any specific lines, but once again we have captured some below, as Leo Nolan and Colman Hegarty took the team prize of the Bouchier-HayesPlate and Oisín Power won the Gardner Cup for best individual speaker. We also proudly awarded the Francis John Barrett Platefor Best Maiden Debater for the first time, which went to James Burke, who did well to more than hold his own in both debates, surrounded as he was by Leinster finalists.
When Eric Borguet (Captain, 1981) returned to St. Conleth’s, in the company of Principal Emeritus Peter Gallagher, he was impressed with attitude and aptitude of our students and, after a tour with Deputy Principal Angelina Hopkins, the improvements in the school campus since his time at No. 28 Clyde Road. As a Professor of Chemistry at Temple University, he was particularly supportive of our Coach House/STEM development plans. Eric’s career has taken him down the path of periodic tables and laboratory research but he was keen to convey to our Class of 2022 his appreciation of the well-rounded nature of the education he received at St. Conleth’s, and the evidence was standing next to him: the esteem with which Eric held Mr. Gallagher, his former History teacher, was obvious. We hope our graduating students aspire to the career success of Eric Borguet but also his life-long open-mindedness and enthusiasm for all learning, first nurtured here at St. Conleth’s.
Where you grew up…
Baggotonia, as the area was known in the 50s, was still a state of mind in the 70s. I grew up on Raglan Lane, back when it was a very different and much livelier place. We had lots of small industry (and a fair few derelict sites) around us: the Free Brothers’ carpet warehouse was thriving a few doors down, the garage at the end of the lane helped jump start our dodgy car on winter mornings, and further along on Pembroke Lane the Pasteur Dairy allowed one to sneak in and sip cream (while the Wee Stores had great deals on penny sweets…). Not to mention the pigs kept on Heytesbury Lane. Parsons Bookshop was a bit of a haven, though I could rarely afford to buy a book new – instead the Pembroke Library down by the Dodder was the place for weekly reading pilgrimages.
How you came to be at St. Conleth’s…
I had been at the Teresian School before coming to St. Conleth’s. My parents liked the idea of co-education, and that I could walk to school. So when St. Conleth’s accepted girls into Fifth Year and I got towards that point…
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school…
I loved English and History for the first time in my schooldays, at St Conleth’s, and this was very much a result of the teachers I was lucky to have. I was very bad at following the official ‘line’ on Leaving Cert English. I never caught onto what exactly it was that the examiners wanted but I adored Mr McGloin’s quirky approach and great empathy for my eccentric rhyming attempts (‘very Irish’ I remember him telling me about one poetic composition). That our English classes were wholly successful in terms of inspiration and creativity, just not (for me) in the way that would bring me success in the Leaving, is clear from the top mark I got in the UCD Matric English paper – and my determination to study English at college. History I adored, and mostly through Mr Gallagher’s stratagems and encouragement, |I was also successful at it. Though I remember the terrible day in the mock leaving when I mistook my ‘Henris’, wrote an answer about the wrong one, and was rightly berated. History and in particular the ‘mediaeval and renaissance’ paper that we did, fascinated me. I loved the sense of exploring worlds as at once alien and familiar. Mr Gallagher’s storytelling of the past, through which acerbic filter everything was there to be eyed askance, has stayed with me to the present. As an historian and a literary scholar these two subjects at St. Conleth’s were transformative.
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s…
The school buildings themselves were characters in the mix. They were an interesting agglomeration of old and new, with quirky corridors and twists and turns that brought one blinking into light or darkness depending on the corners turned. There was a faintly mysterious labyrinthine quality about any journey undertaken…
I don’t think I have any stand out moments. I remember the opera trip to the Gaiety with great delight: the first time I had ever seen Turandot staged. I loved the way we could mooch out to Herbert Park at lunchtime, just get out of the school confines for a little while. Art classes on Saturday mornings were very happy – there was a totally different vibe when in the school out-of-hours, surrounded by paints, scissors, mess…
Perhaps the defining feature from those mornings when I was running, panting late (as I was for the French Leaving Cert Aural exam) was Mr Kelleher emerging miraculously in front of me tapping his watch and saying ‘Miss Spencer: the nearest to the Church …’ (never needing to fill in the blank: but the furthest from God).
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field…
I think I fell into it. I had always been curious about different mythologies and religions, and loved languages, and stories of strangers and other worlds, but the Teresian School stopped teaching Latin a year or two before I could have started it, so it was impossible at St. Conleth’s. This helped impel me into Beginners Latin as a Trinity undergraduate (9am every morning, not a joyful thing at any age), which entranced me. I was always curious, and wanted to know ‘why’ and ‘more’, and the model of scholarship that emerged from Mr Gallagher’s classes continued to prick me into further enquiry. It still does.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
As a child I was certain I was going to be a vet or a groom. Next, I thought maybe a journalist, an architect, or a theatre director. At college, a careers advisor suggested ‘detective’. It probably wasn’t until I was in my mid 20s that I began to take an academic career seriously as an option.
Tell us about your education/ career path…
When I was near the end of my degree at Trinity (Modern English and Classical Civilization) I felt I still hadn’t found out enough about what happened next to Rome (after the 3rd century CE, where our studies stopped), and since Classics was the subject I had eventually focused on, I went to do an MA in London. Wanting to know more about the oddities of how we come to understand the past took me to a PhD at Cambridge (examining the way Alexander the Great was a cultural icon in ancient Rome). And then the track towards academia became the obvious way to proceed. After a few years in temporary and part-time posts I was fortunate to get a permanent job as a Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham, and have progressed my career there ever since. These days my role is primarily in university leadership: after a stint as the Director of the College Graduate School in Arts and Law I took on the development and operation of our interdisciplinary Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences unit, and have been Dean for some years now. It’s never dull, I still work with students but I also get to talk on a daily basis to some of the world’s most brilliant scientists, scholars of politics and culture, and literature. And I can dabble a bit in University and sector politics. What could be better?
Proudest achievement to date…
The pinnacle of any academic career is being appointed Professor, and that has definitely been my proudest moment in academia. It signifies that one’s peers believe that one’s ideas and publications make a difference to the subject at the highest level, and that one is perceived to be a colleague who supports the work and development of others to make the field stronger. That’s a huge accolade.
Aspirations for the future…
My husband and I are now back more in Dublin, still in Raglan Lane, helping my mum. We hope to be able to give back more to the community in Dublin, to make a difference to the fabric of life in whatever positive way we can, and to enjoy our time ‘back home’. I am also very keen to continue to research and explore new approaches to how the past speaks to, but is also a construct of, the present. I’ve a particular interest in ‘sense of place’ and the material experience of nature in antiquity. Dublin is fortunate in having many excellent libraries and I’m hoping to continue to haunt them for research and pleasure.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice…
Academia is very much under threat from funding squeezes and a real-terms diminution in the amount of money received per student. Universities are being asked to do more with less, as the saying goes. For an academic career, a PhD in the relevant subject remains the foundation but increasingly postdoctoral study (for instance a fellowship) is becoming the way talented researchers have the time to publish work that will make them attractive hires in a job market with much casualisation and precarity. If this sounds bleak, I always say to aspiring PhD students ‘do it because you love it’ then think about what the doctorate qualifies you to do. In many cases excellent students with PhDs are now looking at careers in R&D in global corporations, but also at careers in academic leadership and administration as universities themselves become more corporate. A PhD doesn’t exactly qualify you for anything but opens many doors if you’ve a creative approach to what kinds of skills you’d like to develop and use in a career.
Neil Quinlan passed away tragically while on a Transition Year hiking trip in April 2013. Neil was only at St. Conleth’s for Transition Year but in that short time he truly became one of our own: his fellow classmates and his teachers still attest to his infectious enthusiasm and friendliness and a laugh with which you could not help but join. Earlier this week, Mr. and Mrs. Quinlan visited St. Conleth’s to join us in celebrating Neil’s legacy, with Mr. ODulaing and Mrs. Quinlan both speaking emotionally and eloquently about Neil and the suitable way in which we are commemorating him with the planting of a magnolia tree. Those of us who taught Neil, especially his TY teachers Gav Maguire and Ronan Bolger, will always think of him when we see that tree in bloom and remember the warmth and joy he brought to those around him. And his classmates, many of whom joined us at the commemoration, will also see that tree on their visits to the school, or maybe just passing by, and Neil’s laugh will again be heard on Clyde Road.
In 2014, St. Conleth’s inaugurated an award in Neil’s memory for the Transition Year student who has the ‘best spirit’, as Neil showed in everything he did. Here are some of the past winners of the award. We know that in the years to come many others will be inspired by the spirit and legacy of Neil Quinlan.
Some of this is Serious!
For it is not every day of the week that a Conlethian alumna has a book launch! We joined Catherine Prasifka (2014), brother John (2011), Mr. Seamus Gallagher, parents (Sunniva and Bill) and friends (such as Michael Coleman (2011) at Hodges Figgis to celebrate the publication of None of this is Serious, Catherine’s debut novel which is currently garnering rave reviews and rocketing up the charts. Catherine was back with us just a couple of years ago, teaching creative writing to our Juniors and gathering inspiration in the staffroom for some of the odder side characters in her novel. And last night, Catherine was as polite and charming as ever. The sudden fame and fortune have yet to turn her head… but do check back with us soon, as rumour has it Hollywood may come calling!
The Bells Toll for Pierre
Maurice O’Reilly (Class of 1973) organised for the bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to be rung in honour and memory of his fellow Past Pupil, Pierre Zakrzewski, Monday afternoon. Pierre will be remembered explicitly both in the belfry and downstairs on the floor of the cathedral. Pierre’s name has been entered in writing in the belfry records.
If you can judge a man’s fortune by his friends, Pierre Zakrzewski was indeed a lucky man: such was the number, variety and sincerity of those gathered to bid him their final farewell. But maybe this was more causal than coincidence. Pierre did not just attract interesting, interested and passionate people: his friendship with them helped make them that way.
With a funeral mass and ceremony which were dignified and beautiful, but with a suitable soupçon of irreverence, like the man himself, the Zakrzewskis remembered their son, brother and uncle with a few prayers and readings and many tales. For our part, the St. Conleth’s community rallied around as we always do, a testament to the life-long nature of being a Conlethian, but this time with an unprecedented intensity of both grief and joy. In particular, Ronan O’Kelly, Stephen O’Dea, Mick Heaney and the rest of the Class of 1984 did the school and Pierre’s legacy proud.
The almost equally legendary (and with a good bit more than a soupçon of irreverence) Ronan ‘Hingo’ Hingerty spoke for all Conlethians when he joined Pierre’s brother Stas and his colleague Tim Santhouse in trying to capture the outsized humanity and humour of the man. Hingo channelled the spirit of Pierre and rose to new rhetorical heights, somehow referencing both Mr. Kelleher and Borat in his reminiscence. Of course, there was also true and raw emotion, and all three speakers acknowledged the tragedy and the loss that are present in this story, too. But as you can see from the eyes and the smile below, Pierre demands a celebration not a dirge, and he got one for the ages, as the memories and stories continued to be told long into the night. Rarely has one photo captured the light, warmth and humour of a man so well. The Class of 1984 will leave one chair empty at their gatherings in the years to come, but the story of Pierre will always be told, with a few tears and many smiles.
I, Esmonde Corbet, attended St. Conleth’s College from 1960 to 1970. I have lived in Hong Kong since 1980, and while Hong Kong is not the happy place it once was, I hope to continue living here. I do pay rates on the apartment I own, which are modest, but having no salary, no rental income and no business, I pay no tax whatsoever, and I have medical cover through my former employer. My apartment in Hong Kong, built in the 1960s, comes with what is described as “a servant’s quarters” – a dedicated bedroom and separate toilet/shower – thus facilitating me in employing, as many of us here in Hong Kong do, a full-time, live-in domestic helper, an amenity which, and my life experience has formed this irrevocable opinion, befits a self-respecting Conlethian in my situation. Further, I feel fully rooted in this community, my conversational Cantonese being far, far, far better than ever achieved in St. Conleth’s with my Oral Irish, despite the efforts of Sean Quinlan.
I have been invited to compose this piece, and one of the topics suggested was “My Favourite Memory from St. Conleth’s”. After long deliberation, I have decided on this. Along with two other classmates, I took French for my Leaving Cert in Fifth Year (in those days not all Leaving Cert subjects had to be taken at the one sitting to count for University Admission), as this freed me in my final year at St. Conleth’s from having to face a Breton Nationalist, described in a headline of the Irish Independent on the 15th of June 2013 as a “Nazi Collaborator”. That Feutren-free year is my favourite memory from St. Conleth’s.
I entered UCD to study Dentistry in 1970. While in Pre-Dent, as it was then called, and being part of a large class including Pre-Med and Pre-Vet students in Belfield, I came to the realisation that St. Conleth’s had allowed many of us to emerge, whether by design or neglect, reasonably true to our inner selves, and we had not been bludgeoned into a conformity apparent in the graduates of other Southside Dublin Catholic Boys’ Secondary Schools with whom I interacted in UCD. For this I remain genuinely and truly grateful to St. Conleth’s.
Further, it seemed to me that through what was held to be the education of “the sons of Catholic Gentlemen”, though delivered in part by some who were not always overtly gentlemanly themselves, we Conlethians of my day, who had not succumbed through weakness, or to the forces of darkness and evil, displayed a streak of grit and determination not noted by me in school-leavers from other boys’ secondary schools of that time. In Pre-Dent I also discovered that the grounding at Conleth’s in Physics by Michael Manning and in Chemistry by Jim O’Connor outshone that of most of my UCD confreres, none of whom incidentally had been to Conleth’s, such that I was awarded a not ungenerous cash prize, among the first such prizes awarded by UCD in Decimal Currency following “Decimal Day” on the 15th of February 1971, and thus not denominated, as formerly, in Guineas, or in Pounds, Shillings and Pence.
After graduating from UCD in December 1975, I was extremely fortunate to secure a position in the Royal Dental Hospital of London. There, in early 1976, I discovered that the undergraduate education and training at the (then) Dublin Dental Hospital was in no way inferior to that delivered in the London dental schools, despite the, long-since remedied, difficulties faced by all staff and dental students in Dublin at that time. I further realised that Michael Gardiner’s English language teaching at Conleth’s had left me with a richer vocabulary and better parsing and syntactical skills than displayed by my professional colleagues who had gone through British secondary schooling; my approach to English composition being hampered only by an undying attraction to the construction of complex sentences, a Gardiner legacy, as is evident in this piece, and which was the bane of many editors of my professional submissions.
In London, I embarked upon a training pathway to become an NHS Consultant in Dentistry, but after a couple of years, acquiring requisite professional qualifications along the way, I side-stepped into Dental Academia at the Royal Dental Hospital School of Dental Surgery of the University of London, which was situated on Leicester Square, a prime location in the West End of London. All staff knew that the School’s days there were numbered, as the site was far too valuable to be occupied by a dental hospital and school. I served many long hours on a committee tasked with trying to relocate to St. George’s Hospital, Tooting, in South-West London, which was part of the same hospital group, only for the Area Health Authority to reject the proposals outright. Around that time, it became known that The University of Hong Kong was establishing a dental school. Feeling dejected over the prospects for the Royal Dental Hospital of London, I applied to join Dental Studies at The University of Hong Kong as a founding staff member, which I did in August 1980. This allowed me to contribute to the design of the dental curriculum and the structure of its delivery from the ‘get go’.
It was the first ethnically Chinese Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong, Rayson Huang, who was instrumental in establishing dental education at the University. When he died in 2015, contributions from former and serving staff were invited to commemorate him. I wrote that hardly a day had passed between my coming to Hong Kong until his death on which I did not offer, in my thoughts, my sincere thanks to him for having allowed, through his foresight, me to enjoy a hugely rewarding academic career here. The editor of the commemorative collection contacted me to say that she was of a mind to redact that part of my contribution – because it was not plausible. “But it is absolutely true”, I protested.
After nearly 36 years at The University of Hong Kong, I ended my career as the Senior Professor in Periodontology of the Faculty of Dentistry, which was then ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, by Subject, as the Number One Dental School in the World, a ranking the Faculty held for three successive years, a collective accomplishment. I have been asked to nominate for this piece my proudest achievement. That would be the facilitation of learning by over 2000 dentists about Periodontal Diseases and their prevention and management, along with the education and training of postgraduates, including 44 Specialist Periodontists, who support the dental profession through offering appropriate specialist care and by contributing to education in the field.
As a long-term Faculty Admissions Tutor and member of the University Admissions Committee, who over the years interviewed well over a thousand, and possibly thousands of, secondary-school-going university applicants, I have come to the conclusion that school is something which most of us just have to survive, but which maybe provides opportunities to establish long-term friendships and be the stuff of memories. However, I am firmly of the opinion that St. Conleth’s College, wittingly or unwittingly, offered me some added value to the school experience in that I left school with the conviction that I could march to the beat of my own drum.
Masters of the Universe
Never mind The Skull and Bones, The Bullingdon and The Stonecutters: the most exclusive and powerful club in the land is the St. Conleth’s Past Pupil Debating Society! No, it is not officially listed anywhere, and charter members such as Ian Hastings (2006) and Michael O’Dwyer (2010) may well deny their membership, wary of alienating the Trumpites and the Sorosians (respectfully), and slowing their inexorable climb to world power, but the club certainly exists: just wander into the lobby of the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère in Davos in late May this year and you may well run into those two sipping Gibsons at the bar and… oh, look who just walked in? It is Conor White (Captain, 2015)… I wonder what he is doing here?
Ah yes, Conor White, he who ruled the Class of 2015 with an iron grip and velvet glove, before being selected for Ad Astra at UCD and completing a Master’s in Law at Cambridge, has officially joined the party. Conor leapt the last rung by being crowned (with Ross Merriman) Team Champions of the 2022 Irish Times Debate… or should we call it the St. Conleth’s Alumni Debate? Conor joins fellow Conlethian Past Pupil winners Daniel Gilligan (2016), Kevin Roche (2013) and Liam Brophy (2010); all of whom, needless to say, are also in ‘the club’. Conor and his partner argued convincingly in support of the motion ‘That this house believes that COVID-19 has shown that Ireland is not up to the challenges of the 21st century.’ Probably true, but perhaps also just setting the stage for a coup d’état by the boys during the next emergency? Stay tuned…
St. Conleth’s College is used to having ‘far-flung’ alumni, with impromptu Past Pupil reunions regularly springing up all over the globe, but Pierre Zakrzewski must have set the record for geographical variety during his incredible but all-too-short life and career. But wherever Pierre was calling from, the voice and the essential personality remained the same: warm and sincere, humble yet inspirational.
Ronan O’Kelly, Captain of the Class of 1984, has a well-earned reputation as being a one-man ‘nanny state’. Some Class Captains shirk their post-graduation duties of maintaining contact with their classmates, as the years pile up along with children and dogs and ex-spouses; some do a half-decent job of keeping everyone in the loop and then corralling them quinquennially into their Past Pupil Dinner; and then there is Ronan, a.k.a. ‘Mr. St. Conleth’s, Junior’. Long before ‘Find-My-Phone’ and tracking apps, Ronan would know the location of every single member of his graduating class, at any time, all the time, with one significant exception: Pierre Zakrzewski. The funny thing is that Ronan and Pierre were the best of friends from the time they met in Fifth Form, sometime in the 1970’s, until the fateful news last week. An odd couple, perhaps, the insurance man and the ultimate insurance risk, but they were united by an unabashed enthusiasm for life and an appreciation for the role St. Conleth’s played in setting that spark and nurturing the flame.
Over the years, Pierre did show up in person at many of the Class of 1984 informal Christmas drinks sessions, but there would also be times that a phone call would have to do: Pierre’s warm voice and infectious enthusiasm spilling through a crackling line. Inevitably, Pierre would be crouched in his curb side ‘office’ risking his life to bring light to some dark dealings in a unfashionable corner of the globe and, just as inevitably, Pierre would pass it off as if he were just working the late shift at a car-parts factory in Potsdam. No name-dropping, and no holier-than-thou condescension, but with each visit and call, Ronan and the other classmates and friends would glean a bit more of Pierre’s life out there in the real world: titbits both thrilling and terrifying.
Afghanistan, Syria, Kashmir… no, not your typical ‘gap year’ locations: Pierre was not some hipster adventurer, merely going off-piste for the sake of personal gratification or to spur the jealousy of friends who were stuck for a week with half board at Kelly’s of Rosslare, instead. Pierre was a true professional, and tributes elsewhere attest to his dedication and skill with the camera and his ability to adapt and persevere despite the almost comically complicated conditions of being a freelancer in the world’s least hospitable hotspots. After Pierre’s death, Fox News waxed poetically and truthfully of the esteem with which he was held by his colleagues: not just for his professionalism but for his winning personality, too. Perhaps in an industry known for cut-throat screen preening, Pierre’s warmth and honesty stood out all the more. But Pierre was more than the stereotypical friendly, chatty Irishman. Last year, he played a key role in getting Afghan freelance associates and their families out of the country after the abrupt U.S. withdrawal and, in December, he was awarded the “Unsung Hero” award during the FOX News Media Spotlight Awards. What Pierre did in Kabul for both friends and strangers, he also did in Syria, in Kashmir, in Sudan…. he always got ‘that shot’ for the newsreel, but the essence of the man came to the fore before and after the camera was rolling: a passion for people and for doing the right thing by them.
Some people pass away and the tributes and platitudes pass away soon afterwards. With Pierre, it has been, and will be, quite different. The testaments, the memories and the stories have just multiplied and mushroomed in the days since his passing: how could one man have touched so many lives? Well, we have just a few more to add to the legacy of the man with the fondness for moustaches and motorcycles and making people better about themselves.
Marie-Ange, Pierre’s mother, attests to his difficult start in life: ‘Pierre was a very premature baby, born a few days before the seventh month and spent two months in hospital. We were told he would not walk, or speak.’ So much for the prophetic abilities of paediatricians! After learning to walk and talk quite well, Pierre joined his brothers Stash, Nicholas and Gregoire at St. Conleth’s and took full part in the academic and social life of the school: his keynote speech at the 2004 Past Pupil Dinner attested to this, and how such Conlethian legends as Kevin Kelleher, Louis Feutren and Paul Mullins helped shape and sharpen his zest for life and adventure. And of course, the camaraderie and friendship of classmates, such as Ronan and Stephen O’Dea and Ronan Hingerty, also played their part: Pierre may have ‘marched to a different drummer’ but he never walked alone.
Upon graduation Pierre tried Arts at UCD for a short time but he quickly realised that the subtle thrills of the BA were not for him and so began his wanderings with purpose. Ronan relates how Pierre turned up at an early gathering of ‘84ers with a cool-looking hiker’s rucksack, packed full of… bricks. Pierre was trying out his gear on a Dalkey-Howth pilgrimage, with a dogleg to a cold storage unit in Sandyford, where the new cold-weather sleeping bag was getting a try-out. Pure Pierre. And then he was gone. But the stories drifted back, sometimes with the man himself, sometimes through the close network of friends… and we don’t mean of the Facebook variety. Pierre’s famous climbing of approximately 75% of Everest is typical: inveterate adventurer that he was, his decency and sense of humanity were deeper, and Pierre balked at the waste of money to be spent on oxygen for the summit and mere self-aggrandisement. He instead spent his money and time on, depending on the relater of the tale, either helping a fellow climber down or repatriating the body of one who had fallen: knowing Pierre, he probably did both. Imagine how beneficial to this regular gang who were negotiating career progression and mortgages and normal lives were the tales of Pierre? Besieged and targeted in Kashmir for documenting human rights abuses. Stuck to the seat of a motorcycle, retracing his family’s journey from war-torn Poland. Embedded with the first tanks rolling into Baghdad. Poised for the white smoke in Rome. Bivouacked on the shores of the Blue Nile. Hunkered down east of Kyiv.
The tragedy of and triumph of Pierre’s last chapter has a particular resonance with Conlethians. We have all been schooled on how Bernard Sheppard inauspiciously opened the doors of the school on the very day in September 1939 on which World War II started, but it was always used in rhetorical contrast: look how we were different, look how far we have come. Pierre’s passing has brought that story to the fore, again. While Mr. Sheppard was embarking on a brave new adventure in education, Pierre’s father’s family was fleeing for their lives from the horrors of war. This heritage played an important part in how Pierre lived his live and chose his life’s work. The suffering of the victim of war and the plight of the refugee were nearly always the focus of his camera and his passion. Our last glimpse of Pierre was sent last Sunday from the eastern outskirts of Kyiv, mere hours before his death. There is no irony but only tragedy and triumph in the circumstances of Pierre’s passing: once again he was doing what he loved for the people whom he loved, that is… everyone.
Pierre Zakrzewski: Rest in Peace
It is with great sadness that St. Conleth’s College acknowledges the tragic passing of Past Pupil Pierre Zakrzewski (Class of 1984) in Ukraine. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Coming Back to Life!
Springtime always brings a natural and impulsive sense of de vivre and the lambs gamboling in the fields and the students gambling in the yard are just testaments to the irrepressible urge we all have for living life to the fullest. This year, with the Covid thaw finally taking place and yet with darker tidings filling our news-screens, the preciousness of life is even more apparent. It is the perfect time for Mr. Lonergan to drum up interest in the Life Advocate Awards, an essay competition which celebrates the protection of all life, and one in which our very own Caoimhe Moore won a prize last year! The details are on the posters pictured and linked below (along with some related videos) and Mr. Lonergan will give further guidance, but we will give the last word to St. Conleth’s Past Pupil, and Former Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights Commission, William Binchy:
A constant discourse on human rights – particularly in respect of protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in society – is something that should be encouraged at every level of education.
One of the more pleasant sights and sounds that we witness daily from the covid-opened staffroom door is the one-and-only Mr. Shay Keenan leading a merry troop of Preparatory School students down to the sports hall… Shay being a central part of St. Conleth’s for nigh on a half a century, and showing no sign of slowing down!
Where you grew up…
I grew up – and actually still live – in the Rathgar area of Dublin. I have done and still enjoy a fair amount of travelling though – I spent a number of early childhood years in Budapest and also studied in college in Bilbao. It seemed things kept bringing me back here for one reason or another.
How you came to be at St. Conleth’s…
I was actually in Muckross Park (back when they still taught boys) and myself and a number of others all went to Conleth’s together. Starting out in 3rd class with Mrs McQuaid, I managed to make it to 6th year in 2003! I actually still, distinctly, remember being interviewed by Kevin Kelleher in his drawing room ahead of my joining the school – the things that stay with you.
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school…
History was my standout favourite, thanks in no small part to Peter Gallagher. If you show passion for something, you will instil it in others. Alas, I still haven’t got a good pair of handmade leather shoes (as he so frequently suggested to us all). Least favourite would have to be maths – through no one’s fault but my own – I just don’t have a head for numbers and always found myself struggling. Though I suppose the old adage of ‘You won’t always have a calculator in your pocket!’ hasn’t quite come to pass…
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s…
Singing Edelweiss in the Mansion House for Dublin’s Lord Mayor. As far as I remember, this was all the way back in 3rd class. I remember Kevin Kelleher congratulating me afterwards and all the fuss that was made. I also remember a photo of my performance hung beside the 3rd form classroom for several years, which was great to see. There are many, many more great memories – of course – but this is one of my earliest.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field?
I was always outspoken and opinionated – so I felt I should share that! Though I always saw myself as a Spanish teacher for some reason, it was one of my UCD classmates who suggested I consider journalism. As a self-confessed news junkie, this seemed like a good fit. An application and interview later, I was doing a Masters in Journalism. The rest, I suppose, is history.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
I always enjoyed being informed and in the loop about everything around me, so I suppose it was something that was there from a very young age. It was also in Conleth’s that I found debating and it was a natural fit for me. I won several awards and was eventually Auditor of Debates in 6th year – perhaps my first taste of informing the news agenda, so to speak? It certainly kept that spark going in me and at the forefront of my mind.
Tell us about your education/ career path…
I went from Conleth’s to study Arts (Politics and Spanish) in UCD. I saw this as a segway to becoming a Spanish teacher, but a rejection to do a HDip put an end to that avenue. Following some soul searching and advice from a classmate, I applied to do a Masters in Journalism at DCU. From there, I got an internship in Newstalk and I never left. I’ve also gone on to study Finance, Film Production and – most recently – a Diploma in Social Media. It’s important to keep upskilling and stand out, I feel. I still see all my college friends regularly, which is great. And I imagine I’d see more of my Conleth’s classmates if not for COVID.
Proudest achievement to date…
Covering the election of US President Barack Obama. I was covering the Democrats Abroad event in Dublin through the night, sending regular reports back to Newstalk as the votes were counted. I also spoke to several eminent Irish-Americans about their hopes for the future. It was probably my first taste of real-time news unfolding, while at the same time history was being made. I was privileged to play my part.
Aspirations for the future…
To stay healthy and happy in whatever happens. If the last two years have reinforced anything, it’s that so much is actually outside of our control – we have to learn to focus on ourselves and play our part, and not worry about what everyone else is doing. If you figure out how to do that, let me know!
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice…
Go into journalism for the love of the profession and wanting to keep people informed. If you’re looking for fame, this probably isn’t for you! Never burn bridges; you never know who you might need to do you a favour in the future. As a general note, I would say never care about what someone else thinks/says of you. Your opinion of yourself is really the only one that matters – so make it a good one.
Rugby Rises Again!
Yes, St. Conleth’s still plays rugby… and we play it darned well! All that bball and hockey talk must take a backseat as Gav Maguire (Class of 1990) and his JCT are back to winning ways! Here, Gav gives us his spirited match report:
Our JCT got off to winning ways in the Junior Thirds league. With a 41 – 17 win against Belvedere. A great performance by the whole squad with special mention to Ross ‘Whippet’ Weatherly making such a big impact with his first game back since the before Christmas.
James ‘Hightower’ Power was again at his excellent best, with Andrew ‘Grrrrrr…’ Gore Grimes having that finishing touch. The team played some great rugby with moving the ball with width and all players playing a massive part in the victory. ‘Silky’ Stefi Saroli keeps the defences honest with sniping runs around the ruck while also feeding ross with some crisp passes. The pack is pushed forward by Captain Fantastic (and D4’s most eligible batchelor) Cillian Cooke and with some big ball carries in the like of ‘Rampant’ Rian and ‘Lord’ George and the ‘Twinkle Toes’ Diego, he doesn’t have a hard job. The team is shaping up nicely and are displaying nice attacking rugby with some great skills. The coaches ‘Sagacious’ Smith and ‘Never Say Die’ Nugent have put in some great work with the squad and it’s paying dividends!
Luke Drops Another Dime
The big man with the knack for a pass has been around since the dollar Bills, Russell and Walton, led their respective NBA teams to glory by judiciously giving it up to a teammate as often as stuffing it in the hoop. Luke Gilleran (Class of 2021) was just that kind of player for St. Conleth’s: drawing double-triple-quadruple coverage and dishing to a teammate on the wing, usually the sharp-shooting Colin Bolger. That dynamic duo had a glorious schools basketball destiny derailed by covidiocy, but they still managed to groan our trophy shelf with accumulated basketball swag… and swagger. And Luke is back in the news, having just led his club, Marian, to cup glory, but his greatest ‘assist’ may just be the inspiration he has given to the ballers at his alma mater. See, at St. Conleth’s, now there are some New Kids on the Block: literally, in this case, as Coaches Ingle and Gahan often sample their favourite boy band when inspiring the troops in the court-side huddle. The recipients of these half-rapped, half-crooned ditties of zone-busting wisdom? A whole raft of teams, across the ages and genders, but particularly effective with the U-16 Girls who won the Ireland East D League with both grit and aplomb. And Head of Sport Mr. Smyth responded by laying on a pizza party for the girls (and the coaches… and Gav Maguire, for some reason). We are sure there will be plenty more celebrations in the future, and a seat at them will always be reserved for house legends like Luke!
Just some of the booty Luke brought home.
Gav Maguire is lurking just outside the frame of this photo.
Luke also swatted... when not scoring.
Colin's famous stare-and-shoot.
The U16 Ireland East Champs!
Cause once we start to jam, you'll be in a state of shock!
Luke Leads Marian to National Cup Glory!
Current location: São Paulo, Brazil
I started in St. Conleth’s on the first day of second form and stayed until sixth year, one of a relatively large group of us who went right the way through both junior and senior school. After the Leaving Cert it was off to study Arts in UCD, again with a sizeable cohort of classmates, eventually taking a degree in history. For a while I thought about continuing my studies and did a masters in England as a possible first step towards a doctorate. I really enjoyed my deep dive into the turbulent politics of 1790s Ireland. But for various reasons, mainly based on excited reports coming back from friends who had already gone there, I dropped the studies and went to live in the US instead. I spent four years in San Francisco which was a great experience in a wonderful part of the world at a very interesting time in its history. Though the San Francisco I knew has had an aggressive makeover thanks to tech money I would recommend to anyone spending a few years in California. But I have always had a touch of wanderlust so eventually made the difficult decision to leave and went to London. There I did a journalism course, my last stint in formal education.
Favourite memory from St. Conleth’s
It would be hard to pick one favourite memory from over a decade at the school. The best of them would involve the friendships made there. Every time I am back in Dublin I will meet up with a few former class mates and I am in frequent touch with others also living abroad (Hello Diarmuid).
Forced to pick one memory I would go with the school trip to Paris in 1988. While I loved growing up in Dublin it seemed back in the pre-boom years to this teenager at least a small and provincial place. That week in Paris as well as great fun was also an early window onto a bigger and more cosmopolitan world waiting out there. I fell in love with the city to the extent it became a fixed idea to go and live there which I did for a year after I finished UCD. And it lived up to all the expectations and then some.
How you came to be in your current location
After a few years working in media in London I was itching to get on the move again. I did not have much of a plan except I wanted to go somewhere I had not been to before. I was half-thinking about Iran because I had read a lot about its history and culture which really appealed to me. But one of the lecturers on my journalism course, an old China hand, always emphasised to us the need for a foreign correspondent to quickly grasp the language of the country they planned to base themselves in. That was an issue for me as foreign languages were always a bit of a challenge. A cursory study of Farsi made me think I should look at some other options besides Iran. It was my fail, but you need to recognise your weaknesses. So I ended up going to Argentina instead, Spanish being less intimidating. The country had just experienced another of its periodic economic implosions which meant it was on the radar of news editors while after the plunge in the local currency it was suddenly unusually cheap for anyone earning in hard currency. That was a winning combination for a freelance reporter just starting out.
So I headed off to South America. Then after two fantastic years in Buenos Aires one of the papers I was writing for at the time asked would I be interested in going to Brazil as their stringer there was heading back to Europe. I had already visited the country a few times and loved it so jumped at the chance. I did not realise then that after lots of ups and downs and swings and roundabouts I would still be here 17 years later, still fascinated, still in love with it. Initially I wanted to move to Rio. It has probably the most stunning location of any city in the world and like most gringos I instantly fell under its charms on my first visit. But for reasons largely beyond my control I ended up settling in São Paulo. It is bigger, colder, uglier, and greyer than Rio but also South America’s most cosmopolitan metropolis and Brazil’s most dynamic city. Though I would never have believed it possible when I first visited the place I’ve loved living here and could not imagine spending so long anywhere else.
Wrangling a free ticket out of Fifa for the 2014 World Cup final in Rio. I jest. More seriously several articles that were very important personally to me were ones I did on a massacre committed by São Paulo police in 2006. It was my first deeply reported work after arriving in Brazil the year before and researching it really plunged me into the reality of the country and the weeks working on it were the steepest learning curve I had ever been on. It was an important story giving voice to people who were victims of the state that felt they had been largely ignored by local media. Both as a reporter and a gringo living in Brazil I have always felt those articles mark a before and after.
The Fairest of Them All!
We love and miss all our alumni: we really do! In fact, some alumni are like certain vintages of wine: they take time to mature, and what we thought rather brash and bold back in the day, turns out to be mellow and deep when unearthed anew. And, yes, some just turn to vinegar… but if they pay for the PPU Dinner in advance and keep their hands off our Modern Languages staff, we are all good! The subject of this tribute, Michael Li, is clearly not from either of those groups: from the first day he crossed the threshold of No. 28, Clyde Road, Michael has exhibited the honest effort, open personality and good will and humour which made him the quintessential Conlethian, and a sorely missed ray of light in these somewhat darker, unfriendlier times. One of things we look forward to most, when this iron curtain is finally lifted, is Michael dropping by… with a pack full of pastries!
Yes, Michael has taken on the honourable mantle of the pastry chef, as well as kitchen management, graduating recently with a Distinction from the TUI. Now he is training to be a pastry manager in the Donnybrook Fair chain, making another happy connection with St. Conleth’s: the chain’s founding family are the Doyles and we have fond memories of Joe, Hugh and Stephen, as well as their parents, who are still strong supporters of St. Conleth’s and were the hosts of a very enjoyable Captain’s Party somewhere back in the mists of Wicklow and time. We caught up with Michael recently in Malahide, but he has also been spotted in the Greystones DF and in Donnybrook, the original, but the exciting news is that he takes up his new post in the Dundrum Town Centre on December 3rd when Donnybrook Fair have their grand opening, there. Stop by for a glass of Prosecco or a dainty pastry, and the boost of bonhomie that one always gets when chatting to the one and only Michael Li!
An Olympian in the Making
Some people’s 10% is better than others’ 100%. Or in Ronan Roche Griffin’s case, 3% can trump 100%, when applied with spirit and talent. Ronan never let his childhood cancer, which left him with 3% of vision, and in only one eye, get him down. We remember a young Ronan Roche Griffin lighting up his First Year Form Class with his wicked wit and a glint in his eye. Whether it was sending notes in binary to a like-minded stemmy classmate or politely wriggling out of some minor kind of trouble, Ronan always did everything with considerable panache. Now, this proud member of St. Conleth’s Class of 2013 has transferred that swashbuckling style to the sun and snow-basked slopes, striving to become the first winter Paralympian to ever represent Ireland. He already is one of the few Conlethian alumni to get a full page article in The Times of London!
Triumph Through Trauma
We have been personally involved in the production of the last four St. Conleth’s ‘quinquennials’, our every-five-years collection of Conlethian memories, tributes and polemics; and we have enjoyed the reading and editing of these diverse collections, with contributions coming from all over the globe, from all types of personalities (albeit, all quirky Conlethians) and a wide range of writing styles; however, of all the contributors, two stand out in terms of sheer writing talent: Peter Gallagher, Principal Emeritus and deity of generations of History Boys, and Dr. Chris Luke (Class of 1976 c.), retired head of multiple A & E Departments and respected commentator and negotiator of the minefield that is public medicine. With both these contributors, we could sit back as mere spectators and simply enjoy the show, as their instinctive power of insight and command of English made their memories come alive: not a pen mark was made, not a character was deleted.
We are sure Chris would be thrilled to be linked with one of his teacher heroes, and likewise for Peter, as he takes pride in a protégée who may have taken the STEM highway towards his career, but obviously also kept faithful to the paths of literacy and culture, so valued at St. Conleth’s. Dr. Luke is all over the news lately because of the publication of his memoir ‘A Life in Trauma’, a very personal recounting of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of his high-profile medical career, but also his own life journey, including the years at No. 28, Clyde Road. We have yet to get our hands on a copy, but it currently sits atop the Irish Nonfiction Chart and is earning rave reviews. If Chris’s article in our last Quinquennial (p.8-9) is anything by which to judge, Dr. Luke is as skilled a wordsmith as he is a surgeon!
The Kellehers, from Lorcan (Class of 2008) through to Joe (2025) have been, and still are, are an essential part of the St. Conleth’s culture and community. In between Lorcan and Joe, there were John (2019) and the shining sisters pictured below: Bridget (2011), Lois (2017), Mary (2015) and Rita (2022). They are seen on the Quad, celebrating Lois and Mary’s earning of their Trinity College Classics degrees. Yes, Mary may have wandered a little ways down a STEM pathway, but she was drawn back to the light, and the right, side and now can have those sisterly chats with Lois in the real mother tongue… with Rita, a Leaving Certificate Latin student, soon to join them!
Holier Than Now
Yes, by Saturday afternoon, all these little devils will be a good bit holier, having made their First Holy Communion at St. Mary’s Church. To be fair, they deserved the chance to let off a bit of steam, having missed out on so much, including this important sacrament, because of Covid, and even now, with the planned celebrations a bit restrained because of the safety protocols… not that any of that seemed to bother the kids themselves! if you were within 100 miles of St. Mary’s Home on Friday afternoon, the shouts of mischief and joy were evidence, loud and clear, that the communion candidates’ spirits were anything but cowed by covid! A big ‘thank-you’ to Ms. Dillon, Ms. Coleman, Mr. O’Brien, Fr. Fachtna and Fr. Michael for getting the boys and girls ready and the JSPA for the treats. And who baked those fancy cupcakes for the communicants? None other than Kate Green of the Class of 2015! Kate is making quite a name for herself in the creative confectionary business, with both Roly’s and Neven Maguire on the CV, and her own cakery side business rising nicely. See you at St. Mary’s on Saturday!
Where you grew up…
I grew up in Killiney right beside the sea. Getting a few extra minutes of sleep on the DART each day before the walk to school is something I’ll always remember fondly. Attending secondary school near the city centre was somewhat of an adjustment for me but being able to listen to music through my headphones on my “long” journey eased the trip magnificently.
How you came to be at St. Conleth’s…
I remember not really minding where my parents decided to send me to secondary school. I didn’t know a lot about St.Conleths but I heard a couple of the lads from my primary school would also be attending which eased my anxieties. When the idea of St.Conleths was presented to me I hadn’t a clue what the school embodied but the moment Mr.Kelleher handed me a packet of smarties after my interview I would say that helped aid in my decision making process exponentially.
I would say the fact that the school was small and mixed were enticing aspects for my parents. I think having no particular interest in sport, it was also important that the school I attended taught art and music which I had always had strong interests in.
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school…
My favorite subject by far would have to have been art. The art room was where I felt most comfortable and confident during my time at Conleths. I would say I knew by third year that art was definitely something that I knew I wanted to pursue after secondary school. Ms.Halpin had a huge influence on my decision to study art in college. Instead of taking a year out to do a portfolio course after sixth year, I decided to give it a go during my final year. I would never have been able to complete a portfolio worth submitting if it wasn’t for Ms.Halpin’s help. She would stay back after class most weeks to help me edit and work on different aspects of my work and I’ll always be grateful for that. The support I felt from Ms.Halpin and other teachers in school was something I possibly took for granted at the time but now I’m fully able to appreciate just how much that support has helped me over the years.
Having art class to look forward to in the timetable was always a relief to see. Being able to express myself visually and artistically during school hours created a balance that helped me get through the day. Knowing I had art to look forward to during a double period of double maths helped more than I can say.
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s…
I think a lot of people wouldn’t agree with me but I’ll always remember 6th year fondly. I’m still extremely grateful for the classmates I was put together with as some of them remain to be my closest friends to this day. Navigating adolescence and becoming adults together is a bond I think most of us will appreciate for a very long time.
The short period of time between finishing up classes in 6th year and preparing for graduation is a fleeting moment that sticks out in my head. Being able to celebrate our time at St. Conleth’s and the bonds we had made before that final push for the Leaving Cert was quite special. I’ll always remember the anxious fits of laughter everyone shared while prepping for the ceremony and reassuring each other everything would work out in the end.
Being able to go back to the school for the 5 year anniversary with my classmates was a surreal experience. Sitting in our old desks and viscerally remembering specific moments during class was an occasion I’ll never forget.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field…
I had always been interested in animation from a young age. I can remember watching countless DVDs and clicking on the bonus features after the credits had ended to find out more about how each film was made. Watching the animators in their studios coming up with plots and character designs was extremely inspiring.
I knew I wanted to pursue art after my time at Conleths but was never sure on which exact path to take. Being able to have a career and a salary was something I knew would be extra difficult when choosing this field but when I saw the animation course in the IADT prospectus I knew straight away it was the one for me. I also knew that by attending an institute like IADT that supported their student’s artistic explorations I would learn more about myself than I had before.
Tell us about your education/ career path…
Luckily, I got enough points in my Leaving Certificate as well as enough points in my Portfolio to get into Animation in IADT. For some reason I think in the back of my head I thought getting into art college would be the hardest part but the next four years were a lot more tough than I had expected. The imposter syndrome hit me like a tonne of bricks as I started attending lectures and tutorials with other art students surrounding me. Thankfully I kept working hard and getting through each semester until reaching my final year.
I teamed up with Éabha, my now creative partner and decided to direct and produce our own grad film, The Usual, which turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve made. The film went on to win the award for Best First Short Animation at the Galway Film Fleadh that year. Because of this, we got to attend multiple film festivals nationally and internationally which inspired us even more to keep pursuing careers in animation.
The success of my grad film helped me to get a job quite quickly with Radii Animation just around the corner from St.Conleths where I am currently creating and directing my fourth film as we speak.
Proudest achievement to date…
I think for sure my proudest achievement to date would have to be winning an IFTA at this year’s virtual ceremony. Myself and my co-director, Éabha Bortolozzo picked up the award for Best Animated Short Film for directing our second piece of work, Her Song.
Apart from being in shock for winning the award I was extremely grateful our film won because of the subject matter that the film revolves around. Her Song is produced by Radii Animation in conjunction with Screen Ireland and RTÉ. The film sees the main character, Eve learning of her Grandmother’s harrowing history in a Mother & Baby home. Woven through her past is the mythological and misunderstood figure of the Banshee, whose comforting presence inspires the strength she needs to tell her story. Being able to highlight the dreadful issues associated with the Mother & Baby Homes to the public was our main goal with this film. For me, using animation to feature important issues to its viewers is a lot more interesting than using the medium for cartoons and children’s entertainment.
Aspirations for the future…
At the moment I’m really enjoying my field of work. I won’t lie though, the first year of the pandemic was quite a tough experience for a young filmmaker in Ireland looking for work. Thankfully I got to take the time to work on my craft and explore different avenues which have led to very rewarding and exciting experiences. For now I want to keep making films through animation that leave audiences with something to think about and stay with them after they leave the theatre. I want to keep pushing my craft and being open to any opportunity that comes my way. I believe that Irish people are some of the best storytellers out there and I would love to eventually bring more of our stories to light.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice…
I’m not sure if I feel old enough yet for me to have a reputable answer for this specific question but I can certainly give it a go.
If I was talking to a student currently attending St.Conleths who was worried about which path to take after their time at school, I would firstly tell them to relax. Because of St.Conleths academic reputation I think it could be quite easy to think that you may have to go down a path that you are not inspired by. The support that I felt from the school when I was open about what I wanted to pursue was extremely comforting. Students that I know from my time at Conleths have gone on to explore exceptionally interesting avenues in their careers. I believe that if you have the potential to work in an area that seems overwhelmingly niche at first, you should give it your all. St.Conleths is a great support system which I will always be thankful for.
Monkeys go to Uni!
One more bit of ‘results news’: if ‘Monkey (or Piggy) in the Middle’ were an Olympic sport, these boys would be medal contenders! Over their years at St. Conleth’s, every chance they got, they took: to grab an old rugby ball and find a spot between the school management’s late model executive salons and play the timeless game to their hearts’ content (sometimes well into the start of the next period).
Their styles differed with Nathan using his height and intimidating ‘hawk eyes’ to scare opponents into fumbling; Stephen claiming special privileges due to his Screen Actors’ Guild membership; Robert using Jedi mind tricks; and Matthew applying his maths and physics acumen to figure out the trajectories of the ball; of course, they were usually joined by Harry, with his dangerous, blood-freezing smile and Fergal, the whirling dervish of ‘Monkey in the Middle’. You could never separate these good buddies by much, except by a few feet when they were playing the game at break-time. And the LC barely did, either: four of the boys finished exactly one point apart, with the rather impressive spread going from 519-522. So, the game lives on, maybe spread across a few campuses, but we shall always look out at break-time and think of a bunch of good-natured boys enjoying themselves in the prime of their lives and destined for even better days.
Of Points and Plans!
There is nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition, especially when the end result is a shared victory. On Leaving Certificate Results Day, in a sense, everyone is a winner as everyone gets that piece of paper which serves as a key in unlocking their future. Obviously, there is always a range of results and myriad paths forward. We congratulate all of the Class of 2021 for working to the best of their abilities and responding so well to challenges posed by the Covid contingencies. We particularly congratulate Dylan Alves, Ted O’Kelly and Sophie Lee, who all managed to garnish the full quota of 625 points on offer and finish in a draw atop the class and the nation. These perfect scholars, but also perfect gentlemen and lady, will be headed where they want to go come late September, as will the rest of our recent graduates and we wish them all well at university and beyond. Stay tuned as we await news of offers and acceptances and a more detailed breakdown of results.
I attended St. Conleth’s from 1972 to 1982, starting in 3rd Form with John Joe Poole, then Martin Gavin in 4th Form, Mr. John O’Byrne in 6th Form and then on to the senior school. I guess the main reason I went to St. Conleth’s was that I had five older brothers there. Having said that, I grew up in Kilgobbin surrounded by farms and coincidentally two of them belonged to past pupils, Barry Lawless and Lochlann Aiken. Barry Lawless was a good friend of my Dad’s and our families have been close for over eighty years now. Barry Lawless’ granddaughter Gretta is now going in to 3rd Year. Lochlann Aiken’s father was Frank Aiken, Minister for External Affairs and Tánaiste. He often presented the Fáinne to pupils in the early years.
My favourite subject right throughout my time in St. Conleth’s was either English or History. I still couldn’t say which. I certainly developed my love of history under the guidance of Peter Gallagher, who was a legendary teacher of the subject. I actually went on the study History and Politics at UCD. With regard to English I had two remarkably good teachers, firstly Michael Gardner and then John Rooney. John has had two grandsons in the school in recent years. I’d actually credit John Rooney, more than anyone else, for prompting a desire to be a teacher in me. John was an amazing teacher, with a fabulous sense of humour, which he continues to have, with an eternal youthful spirit, which I try to emulate in my own teaching.
My fondest memories from my time as a student in St. Conleth’s were mainly from my final year. I had lifelong friends, including Colm Fanning, Brian Gleeson and Niall Toner and was on very friendly terms with everyone in the year. I do remember a trip that Mr. Paul Mullins and Mr. Brendan Doyle took us on. It was to the Wicklow mountains in the dead of winter, with snow on the ground and frozen marshes everywhere. The intent of the trip was to toughen us up. Nowadays St. Conleth’s pupils have the opportunity to go and expeditions to Africa or South America, while they are in 4th or 5th Year. For us the big school tour was by train to Sligo, lunch in the CIE restaurant and a few hours at the amusements, then returning to Dublin on the same day.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
I took an unusual route in to teaching. When I was 22 I was elected as one of the youngest ever members of the Fianna Fáil National Executive. My plan was to certainly be Taoiseach by now. Luckily for Martin and Vradker I became disillusioned with that. At 22 I also started working for IBM and spent nine fabulous years there. Finally I decided to exorcise a bug that has been with me since my teens, to try teaching. I went back to TCD and did the HDipEd and here I am now! But rather than going on about me, I thought I’d write a bit more about St. Conleth’s in the 1970s and now. My life has been very tied up with the school, having spent ten years as a pupil and twenty-one years as a teacher there up until now. When I started as a teacher in September 2000 I was the only past pupil teaching at the time. Now there are six of us, which is a tremendous compliment to the school.
Looking back to the 1970s, Ireland was a very poor country with a disastrously bad economy and a virtual civil war in the north, which occasionally spilled south. In 1972 the British Embassy in Dublin was burned down by protestors and in 1976 the then British Ambassador was blown up near Stepaside. As a side effect of “the troubles” two families used to arrive to school with armed body guards, one being the family of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the other that of a senior Bank of Ireland executive, due to the risk of being kidnapped. Economically there were few jobs and massive emigration. People used to joke “would the last to leave please turn out the lights”. Ireland was a foreign country that nobody growing up now would recognise. I guess in St. Conleth’s we were in the top few percent economically, but there were not many foreign holidays and certainly nobody knew how to ski!
When I arrived in 1972, it was the middle of the “glam rock” period. The 6th Years had long hair, long collars, big lapels and platform boots. You can see them in the 1973 graduation photo. In the mid 1970s Abba were the big thing. For some odd reason clogs shoes became fashionable. KD banned them in St. Conleth’s, but like today that didn’t stop teenagers challenging the rules. There was one famous incident in the class of 1978 when clog wearing Gerry Thornley (Irish Times) was playing tennis ball soccer in the yard. He took a kick and one of his clogs went orbital. On re-entry it smashed KD’s dining room window, but bounced back out into the yard. I think Gerry had to pay for the window repair, but I don’t think Mr. Kelleher every discovered it was a clog and not a tennis ball that broke his window. In the late 70s the punk rock era arrived. Doc Martens, ripped t-shirts, spikey hair and meeting in the Dandelion Market were the thing. My brother Julian and most of his class of 1977 were caught up in that movement. By my time, partially as a reaction to that, there was a mod revival, which was all about smart clothes, narrow ties and pointy toed shoes. Niall Toner, Brian Gleeson and I were tied up in that. For a time we had a band called “The Con”, inspired by The Jam and The Who. Niall was the only real musician among us and still performs successfully today. Unlike now, in the 70s fights used to occasionally break out in the yard. Two lads would start what nowadays might be called mixed martial arts. A big ring of virtually the whole school would form around them. Everyone would be shouting “claim claim claim” for some reason. The teachers would eventually arrive and have to break through the crowd to stop the fight. The normal consequence, when the “guttersnipes” were brought before Mr. Kelleher, was suspension.
Nowadays, like Ireland, St. Conleth’s is a very different place. Between the Prep, Junior and Senior schools, there are about 450 pupils. The uniform goes from grey, to green to blue. There are girls in every year and you would be excused for thinking that was always the case. The rough edges of the school’s character, which left several disgruntled past pupils, have been well worn off. Every year at the graduation current pupils speak of the unique familial atmosphere of the school. A huge effort goes into pupil care, helping our students to stay mentally and physically well and achieve their potential.
A recent Department of Education inspection described the relationship between staff and pupils as “gold dust”. The three school principals know every pupil by name and could tell you details about each one. There are more and more children and grand-children of past pupils among the student body. Mr. Michael Murphy’s great-grand-daughter is now among us. Pupils can look at the old pictures of their fathers’, mothers’ and grandfathers’ that adorn the walls of the school. They have much more space than we used to have. The interior space is more than three times what it was in my time. There are specialist art, music and science rooms, soon to be expanded further. And for those who remember the mince and canned corn beef we used to be served, these days the canteen food prepared by Chefs Mark and Emerson, is superb. For all the past pupils out there who have lost contact with the school, please call by as you will be always assured of a warm welcome and, when Covid permits, a tour of the St. Conleth’s. Please feel free to contact me [email protected] if you’d like to visit.
Lastly I’d just like to mention two good old friends from my year, Tomás Clancy and Gordon Hogg, who have passed away in recent years. Requiescat In Pace.
The year according to Kevin
Ann Sheppard Takes a Break
Ann Sheppard was the first person we met upon arriving at St. Conleth’s for an interview in the summer of 1997 and the impressions made on that day really have not changed over the intervening years: Ann was warm, honest, good-humoured and inspiring; qualities which were still on display at her last ‘official’ act as CEO: the Class of 2021’s Farewell Barbecue. And we have copious testament from older Conlethians that these qualities were there from the start, when Ann first stepped into her role as the heir to the unique Sheppard/Kelleher tradition of education, first as a teacher and then, principal. Of course, Mr. Kelleher was there on that day and, as was his wont, he certainly made an impression; one that he, too, more than fulfilled in the following years. We remember thinking how well these two people at the helm of this interesting school worked so well together as a partnership; quite different in personality and style but united in an extraordinary level of dedication and effort to one idea and one place: St. Conleth’s College.
It is not easy to follow a legend, let alone work alongside one, but Ann took the baton with grace and agility when the time for the handover at the helm came. Slowly but surely, she made it clear that, yes, she was continuing the legacy of Bernard Sheppard and Kevin Kelleher, but she also had her own ideas and her own way of doing things. Teachers at St. Conleth’s quickly learned that Ann was not ceasing to be their colleague and friend just because she was principal. The Modern Languages gang was particularly close with Ann and Françoise and Caroline united by their subjects but, probably, also their gender in what was still largely a man’s, smoke-filled staffroom. As the smoke cleared over the following decades, the clarity and ambition of Ann’s vision for the school became clearer and, innovation by innovation and brick by brick, it became a reality.
Ann always stayed close to the students... even with Covid conditions!
The Class of 2021 with the Françoise Brotelande Award
Ann and Françoise at the launch of their textbook
Cutting the 75th Cake with KDK
Ann presents the Bernard Sheppard Medal to Suyash Patidar
Ann accepts a new Conlethian award: The Francis John Barrett Plate for Maiden Speakers.
Ann in Zoom mode for the 2021 Graduation
Ann presents the Thomas Stamp Tzvetkov award with her CEO successor, Tony Kilcommons.
Ann with the DELF team
Ann in Kitatya in 2010
Ann with Ruarri Quinn and KDK at the 75th Gala
Ann Sheppard with Basil, Maureen and Daniel Brindley
Local Historian Liam Doran is joined by our Ann Sheppard and our History Boys (and girl)
Mr. Kelleher and Ann Sheppard joined by 40 years worth of Conlethian women!
Ann Sheppard, Pat Murphy and Niamh Redmond at Communion 2014
Ann with longtime colleague Ger Cummiskey
The St. Conleth's Staff... a few years ago...
Ann’s evolution of the school really changed gears when she left the principalship and moved full-time into Guidance Counselling, School Development and, eventually, overall management as the St. Conleth’s CEO. Working closely with Principals Brendan Doyle, Peter Gallagher and Donal ODulaing, she oversaw multiple stages of development, both in curriculum and bricks and mortar. The school gym, the canteen, the music and art rooms, the performance hall… the list of extensions and refurbishments is long… and still active with work on the canteen going on as we write; however, an institution, especially a school is more than the sum of its concrete, glass and steel parts: the main ingredient for success and happiness is its people, both staff and pupils. Ann’s brave campaign to co-educate the school has been an unqualified success, and it must still thrill her to see the look of amazement on the faces of long-lost alumni who return to Clyde Road to see an impressive, gleaming structure… and girls happily streaming from its doors! This commitment extended outside the school’s walls and included the local communities of Ballsbridge and Donnybrook and the not-so-local community of Kitatya, Uganda, where Ann personally was involved for years with St. Conleth’s Expedition programme. And yet, throughout these busy years of overseeing the over-all development of the school, Ann remained what she has always been: a colleague and friend whose warmth and energy will be sorely missed… until we see her again. Yes, Ann is retiring as CEO but, after a break, she will be back to help continue the family tradition of keeping St. Conleth’s the special place that it is.
Ann with KD at the 75th
Ann with colleague Gobnait NiAonghusa at the Opera
Ann with a David Hedderman masterpiece
The Artist Formerly Known as Cassia
Cosha… Bonzai… Cassia... the name may have changed but the undeniable talent and irresistible charm have remained consistent, even while the level of success has skyrocketed. Yes, Cassia O’Reilly, of the Class of 2013, is making waves in the music world to an extent not seen for a Conlethian alumni since Conor O’Brien/Villagers (2001). Cassia is now Cosha, and the most reputable of the musical press are singing her praises, enjoying the blossoming of a creative, organic force whose first fruits and flowers were displayed in the Music Room and on the stage of St. Conleth’s hall. Cassia/Cosha’s new album ‘Mt. Pleasant’ is garnering rave reviews from every corner. The Examiner gushed: Cosha is one of the bright new names releasing their debut album this summer. Mt Pleasant – named after the area in Dublin where Cassia O’Reilly was raised – is a heady, sexy swirl of RnB. Hot Pressenthusiastically went further into detail: Throughout the invigorating 8-song project, Cosha uses an eclectic range of drum beats, mantra-like choruses, spacious production and emotive songwriting as a lens for her experiences. The end result explores the electrifying sensuality and desire in a beautifully unapologetic and vibrant way.
Cassia and Omar O'Reilly performing at Graduation in 2013.
Even the notoriously sanguine Guardian waxed poetically, as it recounted Cassia’s brave decision to walk away from her Bonzai persona (and a lucrative recording contract) to try something new and free: Previously releasing a frenetic blend of rave-inflected R&B and elasticated pop under the name Bonzai, she scored herself a major label record deal that soured, leaving her artistic vision compromised. Striking out alone, she changed her name and started from scratch. The result is Mt Pleasant, a luscious, confident and carefree record that could only have been crafted by someone in control of their artistic intentions. The brash beats and harsh electronics of Bonzai have been supplanted for something more sensual… We will leave the rest of the review to be found by our more mature readers, but let us just say that Cassia is certainly all grown up, and is now bringing a more developed and refined version of the same energy and beauty with which she regularly graced our school assemblies and concerts. Cassia’s talents were obviously evident even back then, and we all knew she was destined for bigger stages, but we also have fond memories of her and her brother Omar on a more normal plane: both were warm and engaging students, classmates and friends, and we hope St. Conleth’s benefitted them at least in some small way as they did us: making 28 Clyde Road a happier, hipper and acoustically improved place!
Cassia as she is now, and in recent permutations...
Cassia, back in the day, at graduation and sportsday...
During that recent relatively welcome blast of global warming, while the rest of us were at the beach, dodging plagues of jellyfish and ‘sea-swimmers’, Development Co-Ordinator Ellen Long and Design Guru Charles Crimmins (1990) were beavering away on various ‘PR’ and alumni relations duties, including this stunning Summer Newsletter. Enjoy and stay tuned for the dynamic duo’s latest issue of SCAN (St. Conleth’s Alumni News)!
A Fond Farewell
With the last words scribbled into the Leaving Certificate answer booklets, and the sun shining on Ballsbridge and its environs, it was time to give Chefs Mark and Emerson the signal so they could fire up the BBQ and get the Class of 2021’s sedate but extremely satisfying sayonara started. The setting was the quaint, Victorian gardens of St. Mary’s Home, next door, and after a very tough year, both the students and staff in attendance were thrilled to have the opportunity to recall the good times and say good-byes, without a mask muffling our words and emotions.
The food was delicious, of course, and the mood was relaxed, with exam autopsies quickly put to the side and everyone simply enjoying the weather and the company. Mr. ODulaing eloquently praised the class for their grace under pressure and the young men and women walked away happily with two gifts: their Class rings and specially commissioned hoodies, a gift of the Parents Association. Our very recently retired CEO Ann Sheppard was also on hand to say her fond farewell. She will certainly still be involved with the school going forward, but we all agree Ann deserves a bit of a break. It was fitting that the afternoon closed with an especially poignant moment: the presentation of the Françoise Brotelande Award for School Spirit. Françoise was our much-loved colleague and friend, but especially Ann’s, and we would like to think that Françoise, too, would have been immensely proud of the remarkably resilient young men and women of the Class of 2021.
Where did you grow up?
Life started in Crumlin where I went to National School. The family moved to Mount Merrion when I was around 11 by which stage I had started in St. Conleth’s.
How did you come to be at St. Conleth’s?
With a father (Michael Murphy) who taught in the School, a Godfather (Kevin Kelleher) who was Headmaster of the school, and my older brother by two years, Dermot, already attending the school, it was something of a foregone conclusion I would end up in St. Conleth’s. Sometimes one just gets lucky in life!
My memories of the school are happy ones. At that time the school was smaller (we were a Leaving Certificate class of 20) and the school had something of a family feel to it. I was very fortunate in my classmates many of whom have remained life-long friends and with whom I socialise regularly. I wasn’t particularly studious but managed to get by in most subjects. In early days we had a wonderful English teacher, Michael Gardner, who instilled in us a love of reading, storytelling and an appreciation for how to express oneself in writing.
Throughout my time in organisational life I have been struck by the importance of the latter. Looking for approval for a particular request or course of action usually required an ability to argue persuasively in writing. In my career I was regularly involved in recruiting graduates and was frequently surprised that many very bright people struggled to put their points of view in writing in a persuasive and coherent manner.
Perhaps my favourite topic at school was debating. I remember great class debates and regular inter-school debating competitions. Others were more skilled than me but what debating did for all of us was to teach us how to structure arguments and deliver them confidently. That’s a skill that remains relevant through life. Confidence too is an important attribute. If pupils can graduate from school with a decent level of self-confidence then life’s challenges are more easily met and success in their chosen field more easily achieved. I thought St. Conleth’s was a very good environment for instilling confidence in its pupils.
On the sports front we had opportunities to play rugby, cricket, tennis, fencing, even boxing at one stage. Being big for my age helped with rugby which I really enjoyed. With Kevin Kelleher’s reputation as a top-class international referee we might have been expected to be more successful on the pitch. Suffice to say we learned from an early age how to handle defeat!
I wouldn’t single out any particular memory but rather take my experience of St. Conleth’s in the round. I felt very happy there. The school was on a scale that I think all pupils could relate to. I doubt anyone ever felt lost or over-looked or felt like being on a conveyor belt in a factory. I had great classmates. The school didn’t over-emphasise the academic at the expense of giving its pupils a broad education and providing furniture for the mind.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
On graduating from school I studied Economics, Politics and Statistics in UCD. The principle reasons for choosing that degree course were that my brother was already taking the same degree course and seemed to be enjoying it, plus an absence of any strong sense of knowing what I wanted to do.
Two years into a three-year degree course and I still had no idea what I wanted to do after college. I knew that prolonging the academic life was not for me but what to do was still an unanswered question. I had applied in final year for a number of different jobs in different industries and by great good fortune was successful in my application to join Citibank N.A.’s branch in Dublin.
Citibank was a terrific place to work and to gain experience. Graduate entrants were sent on formal training courses throughout their early careers, often in exotic locations, and that was a significant attraction. On one of those courses I spent four months in Milan (one of the less exotic locations) attending daily credit assessment classes and travelling to more beautiful locations at weekends. Milan was a great base from which to explore. It was one of the experiences of my life and confirmed for me that Corporate Banking was something I really enjoyed.
Citibank also gave me an opportunity to take on significant responsibilities early in my career when I was asked to run its Cork branch at the age of 22. That was quite the experience! While I was there the 1976 Associated Banks strike took place. This did not involve Citibank which stayed open and which overnight became the go-to bank in Cork. It meant that what had been a two-year marketing plan to penetrate Cork’s corporate customer base was no longer required – the customers were queuing up to open accounts with us!
I well remember that summer of ‘76 as the weather was fantastic but I saw little of it. Coping with the phenomenal growth in business meant long hours and getting home towards midnight most days. Part of the reason for the long days was that some customers were making substantial cash deposits during the day which we didn’t have the resources to count on the spot. So while they told us how much was in their deposits we couldn’t give them a receipt until we counted the money after the branch closed. I don’t recall us ever having a discrepancy between the customer’s figure and our own.
I spent 15 years with Citibank in Ireland during which I did a number of different jobs including corporate banking, running the finance function and setting up a venture capital business. That variety of jobs was a big part of the reason I stayed with the bank. Large organisations have the capacity to offer many different careers within the same institution.
I left in 1987 to help set up a corporate bank in Bank of Ireland. This involved bringing together two significant lending arms of the bank with all the challenges that sort of organisational change entails. It was a terrific learning experience.
Bank of Ireland also had an emphasis on training and education. I was fortunate to be sent by the Bank to Harvard to participate in their Programme for Management Development. I remain grateful for that opportunity which broadened my understanding of management and prepared me to take on additional responsibilities.
Again, being part of a large organisation such as Bank of Ireland presented opportunities to do different things throughout one’s career. One of my proudest achievements was helping to build-up an international lending business out of the International Financial Services Centre. I was fortunate to have a team of exceptionally bright and energetic colleagues with whom it was a pleasure to work. The focus was international and saw us open offices in the U.S., England, Germany, France and Australia. It was an exciting time in the markets and we had great success. Thankfully the business withstood the collapse of international financial markets in 2008 and, from what I hear, continues to thrive.
By the time of the international financial crisis I had moved on in the Bank to take up a newly created Chief Risk Officer role and become a member of the Group Executive Committee. Timing is everything in life! However, it’s a time I would not have missed for the world. I had spent almost 40 years in banking and thought I knew something about the subject. There’s nothing like a crisis to teach you about the true fundamentals of an industry. In banking that meant liquidity and capital. I learned more about these cornerstones of the business in a few years than in all the years prior to the crisis.
Advice for people working in the banking industry/general advice
The banking industry has changed very significantly since my time so I hesitate to give advice to anyone contemplating a career in it. However, if choosing such a career path then I would emphasise the importance of building your CV throughout your time in the organisation. That advice goes for working in any large organisation. Be proactive in putting yourself forward for relevant training that the organisation offers and take on different roles even, or especially, when they may seem outside your comfort zone. If you want to progress through the ranks then having a CV which demonstrates an ability to take on different roles will always compare well with a CV which is narrowly based.
In conclusion I should say how delighted I am that the Murphy association with St. Conleth’s continues to this day. My granddaughter, Laoise, is a proud member of the Senior Infants class!
The year according to Kevin
A New, True Conlethian Legacy
The front steps of No. 28 Clyde Road have always been a favourite spot for the photographic capture of significant moments in the lives of Conlethians and recently another one entered the Kodachrome honour roll of the school’s history. On a fine spring afternoon, Garrett O’Neill (Class of 1976), Dargan Fitzgerald (1975) and Richard (Dick) Barrett (1973) joined CEO Ann Sheppard and Peter Gallagher (Principal emeritus) to honour the memory of a true Conlethian, Francis John Barrett (1977), and to officially install a new tradition and debating trophy in his honour: The Francis John Barrett Plate for Maiden Speakers.
By all accounts, Francis John Barrett was a character, and it started with his name. He was known as John throughout his time in St Conleth’s but his actual name was Francis, which he had changed on arrival there, aged 12, and which he then reverted to as soon as he left school. For years afterwards he was known by either name or both, and school friends never got their heads around his “new” name, which was in fact his original. And Francis’s good friend and schoolmate, Garrett, assures us that the ‘character’ extended far deeper than the choice of moniker: ‘He was a serious student who did well at exams, particularly English which he loved. He was a great debater and was usually one of the star attractions in the frequent senior school debates chaired by KDK. He was also an enthusiastic and terrifying fencer whose favourite and most effective move was the flèche.’ (Click for the full text of Garrett’s obituary of Francis, as published in the 80th Quinquennial.)
Francis’s fleche may have been fierce but the man himself was warm and engaging… once the epee was lowered and the fencing helmet removed. In many a school debate and classroom discussion (especially during Mr. Gallagher’s legendary History classes), Francis’s intellect would shine through but so would his humour and humanity. These traits would come to the fore in his subsequent careers as barrister, teacher and trade unionist. Francis left an indelible, and positive, mark on all the places he visited and people he met.
Garrett and Dargan thought the best way to honour their friend’s memory was through sponsoring a new debating trophy and the silver salver which they presented to Ann will now be presented annually to the best Maiden Speaker in school debates. Speaking one’s mind, with freedom but also with tact and subtlety, is a skill under threat in today’s world and Francis’s friends hope his memory will inspire a reinvigoration of a longstanding St. Conleth’s tradition.
A Different Class! X 2!
The St. Conleth’s College Graduating Classes of 2020 and 2021 will always be linked by their shared experience of the pandemic that wrecked havoc on what should have been one of the best times of their lives. They will also be forever linked by the qualities of loyalty, togetherness and resiliency which they displayed throughout this trying time. But there is some good news: they will also be linked as two of that rare group of Sixth Years who managed to avoid humiliating defeat by the Staff Soccer Team!
In all seriousness, we have never been prouder of a group of graduates than the Classes of 2020 and 2021 and we have never been more confident that these young men and women will go out and make a positive difference in the world. We have already reported on the muted but poignant celebrations we had for their graduations, but we did not get a chance to display the ‘Roll of Honour’ of Sixth Year Award winners. For the first time, we present them together, just as they have been linked forever by a challenging but ultimately redeeming experience.
B of I Pupil of the Year: 2020- John Melia
2021- Mark Connor
John Kelly Award: 2020- Laura Kelly
2021- Joshua McCormack
Art Award: 2020- Nina Howden
2020- Stephen Rockett
Linguist Award: 2020- Oisin McGinley
2021- Daniel Duarte-Borraz
Liam Doran Irish Award- Oscar O Luain
2021- Sophie Lee
Woods Bowl: 2020- Daire Henry
2021- Zachary Carr
Maths AIB Award: 2020- Suyash Patidar
Music Award: 2020- Manus MacGearailt
2021- Colin Bolger
Hamilton History: 2020- Frank Knowles
2021- Matthew O'Farrell
Galileo Science Award: 2020- Joe Downey
2021- Ted O'Kelly
Geography Award: 2020- Jimmy Crowe
2021- Emily Joye
Sports Award: 2020- Rian Lawlor
2021- Luke Gilleran
Francoise Brotelande Award: 2020- Emily Mansfield
2021- The Class of 2021
Catherine Caught Them All!
It is never easy following older siblings into a school: teachers invariably make repeated, glowing references to the senior members of the clan and implore the new arrival to ‘measure up’ to the family legacy; often these comparisons are nostalgia-tinged and fuzzy, owing more to the teacher’s futile attempts to stop the march of time than any real accounting of the decline of civilisation and the great houses of the past. But please do pity the Prasifka because in Catherine Prasifka’s case, she was following in the footsteps of William (2008) and John (2011), two students whom teachers were well entitled to wax about, poetically. Masterful debaters, stylish squash players, avante-garde musicians, trademark hair-flippers, budding political theorists… the Prasifiki (masculine, plural) left indelible marks on St. Conleth’s College: what more could the Prasifka (feminine, singular) do?
Well, in a phrase that she could especially appreciate, Catherine did indeed ‘catch them all’. Yes, that includes the 721 Pokemon that were in existence in 2014, but also so much more: Catherine established herself as a world class debater in her own right and, taking a more subtle tact than her firebrand brothers (on opposite sides off the barricades but both wielding Molotovs), she became her year’s resident writer and creative. Whether it was winning laurels at the Classics Speech Competition or consistently pushing the moribund composition ‘titles’ of LC English past papers to new, exciting places or taking home the venerable Woods Bowl for Anglo-Irish Studies on graduation night, Catherine did indeed follow in the family tradition, but she also extended it. And Catherine returned to spread the love of the word, teaching Creative Writing to a new generation of Conlethians and one who badly needed it: the Gameboy and the DS screens had mushroomed into something monstrous and Catherine was there to bring the kids back to the simple joy of creating something completely new by putting words on paper.
Catherine with her Classics Speech Competition team
Catherine with some fellow 2014ers, Chloe Stanley and Aisling Foster
Catherine with Chloe Stanley
The Class of 2014 Girls
Catherine and the girls of 2014 at the opera
And, now, news is in that Catherine’s own papered words have gained publication and renown. Ellen Long, our Alumni Affairs correspondent, goes into detail with Catherine about her debut novel, None of This Is Serious, which has already earned rave notices in the literary press. We know that this means Catherine is now writing for bigger audiences but we are also sure that she will remember us at St. Conleth’s and look forward to the triumphant return of the published Prasifka.
Doctors in the House!
Worried about post-Covid Ireland’s health and all those waiting lists that have trebled during the lockdowns? Don’t be!
For two Conlethian Past Pupils are now qualified doctors and on the job! Patrick Creechen (Class of 2012) and Sean Allen (Class of 2015) recently graduated from the UCD School of Medicine and Patrick has already seen his first patient… pro bono, of course. Rest assured that with fine young men like Patrick and Sean manning the wards, we are all in better hands!
Do you remember when people used to ‘visit’? As in people besides the ones whom you have seen every day for the last 14 months and, frankly, of whom you are getting a bit tired? Neighbours, relatives, friends… and international students like Conal Richrads? Well, things are finally opening up again and hopefully that means a return of more people like Conal to our shores and our school. Conal was a breath of fresh air in 2017, bringing energy, good humour and that distinctly American combination of gregariousness and impeccably pressed ‘slacks’ to every class and school gathering he graced with his presence. Here, Conal recalls his year at St. Conleth’s and its lasting positive effects:
My name is Conal Richards, and I come from a small town called Scranton, Pennsylvania in the northeast United States. In 2017, my mother’s Fulbright research grant afforded my family the opportunity to live in Dublin for a year, where I attended St. Conleth’s as a third year.
It’s often said that Ireland is the place of a thousand welcomes, and I was greeted with generous friendship and hospitality from my first day at school there. I came from a large American public school system, and my new friends and teachers helped me every step of the way in navigating a new academic environment. Conleth’s was a tiny school with a close-knit community, and I fell right into the new routine. I still remember my first geography class with Mr. Lonergan where we explored maps and images of my hometown of Scranton with the class. I’ll never forget laughing when he told me, “Good man! He knows his geography.” From there, I fell in love with the school and understood why my classmates and friends had such a strong Conleth’s spirit. Many of my best memories come from the everyday things: going for a 99 ice cream with my friends on a warm day, sharing our joy for music at school assemblies and concerts in the hall, and collaborating on community service projects across Dublin city.
Conal and Co. on CSPE Project trip
Mr. Lonergan knows where Scranton is.
Conal with Oisin Power after winning a school debate
CSPE Project trip to Wicklow
What astronauts do in their spare time
Conal with Edwin and Keane in class
Today, I remain in contact with the close friends I made at Conleth’s. Hanging on my bedroom wall is a full-sized Irish flag signed by all of my classmates, a touching gift to remember my time in Ireland by. Since I returned to my hometown in the United States, the academic and social experiences I had from Conleth’s have prepared me for any challenge, including facing the COVID-19 crisis. Like many schools across the world, my own high school (Abington Heights) shut down in mid-March of 2020 and switched to online instruction shortly thereafter. As my family adapted to a new lifestyle and I learned how to work in a new environment, I found myself comfortable in navigating changes. Moving to Ireland from the United States taught me the values of patience, perseverance, and gratitude in all aspects of my life.
I’ll forever remember my time at St. Conleth’s as a time where I learned to develop myself and explore the world. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and experience another culture. To my friends and teachers in Dublin, I thank you all for such a great year.
-Conal Richards, The United States of America
How you came to be at St. Conleth’s.
I started at St. Conleth’s in 2012 in my fifth year, at that time girls could only attend for their final two years. I’d come from an all-girls school and wanted a change, and my two brothers had attended St. Conleth’s so it seemed like an obvious choice.
What was your favourite and/or least favourite subject in school.
My favourite subject was English, with Classics as a close second, because I’ve always loved stories. I never wanted to rote learn essay questions for exams, I wanted to engage with the ideas presented in the texts and answer organically with my own thoughts. I loved studying poetry most of all.
I enjoyed all of the subjects I took for my Leaving Cert, I chose them because I was honestly interested in them all. Looking back, however, it might have been more strategic to focus on one area. I ended up taking eight higher level subjects: English, Irish, Maths, Spanish, Physics, Classics, Art, and Japanese. I didn’t have a least favourite subject, but by the end of my sixth year I was the only girl still hanging on in higher level maths and physics, which presented its own challenges. I’m glad I stuck with them, although I can’t say I’ve done a quadratic equation since.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field.
I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, of one sort or another. The question wasn’t whether I wanted to be a writer, but if it was actually possible to be one. When I was younger, I had big ideas for stories but little talent to pull them off. That didn’t stop me though. I wanted to learn how to make words leap off the page and create something in the minds of other people.
Seamus Gallagher was my English teacher, and I think the first person to take my writing seriously. He engaged with my ideas and saw the vision of what I was trying to pull off, even if it was some bizarre horror story about zombies. When I was a teenager I wanted to write things that challenged people’s expectations, that took what they saw as a limitation and made that the central turning point of the story. Being in a classroom with a teacher who wasn’t only trying to teach me how to pass an exam helped me to hone that instinct.
Tell us about your education/ career path.
After graduating from St. Conleth’s, I went on to study English at Trinity. I didn’t go with an agenda, there isn’t a clear path to being a writer, but with a desire to learn more about the subject I’d always loved.
There, I studied widely. I think I spent a significant portion of my first two years feeling insecure whenever anyone asked me what my favourite book was, because the answer never felt literary enough. Then, I spent my final two years searching for explanations and wanting to justify why popular literature deserves to be studied. I wrote my dissertation on the subversive power of the fantasy genre.
I didn’t write much prose during my time at Trinity. Rather, I spent my time debating in various arts blocks in various colleges in various countries. This time helped me to understand the world, and people, and I came out the other side with an ability to see the connections between seemingly disparate ideas. For a brief time I considered changing discipline and studying something to do with politics, or international relations, or conflict resolution.
This all changed when I googled ‘Masters Fantasy Literature’, just to see what would come up. About two sentences into the course description I knew I had to study at Glasgow and that was that. My mother asked me what job I planned to get with such a specific and unemployable extra qualification, and I shrugged and said a writer or a tour guide on the set of Game of Thrones.
After my masters I came back to Dublin with the general plan of working and finding myself, which was cut short due to the pandemic. Suddenly, I had endless time and no more excuses not to finish the novel I’d started writing. It seemed like a pipe-dream, but it was also a good way to find focus and purpose during the first lockdown. I finished my first draft in September of 2020, I signed with my agent in December, and sold the book in February of this year.
Proudest achievement to date.
Either winning the Woodsbowl in my final year at St. Conleth’s, the first time my writing was recognised, or finishing as the third best all-female team at the 2018 European University Debating Championships.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice.
If you want to write a book, there are only two pieces of advice that matter.
The first is to just do it. Force yourself to write when you don’t want to, set yourself goals, hold yourself accountable. What helped me was thinking about all of the bad books I’ve read or bad TV shows I’ve watched; someone thought they were worth publishing/making. And, evidently, I thought they were worth consuming. If you hold yourself to a writing schedule suddenly ideas will come to you in the shower, or when you’re out on a walk. Write these ideas down so you don’t forget them. The first hurdle most people fall down at is never finishing the book. You can’t sell what you don’t have, and you can’t start to improve a blank page.
Which brings us to the second piece of advice; edit. You have to be ruthless with yourself, and kind to the people who are willing to help you. Take your work as far as you possibly can by yourself, and trust your readers to offer you constructive criticism. It’s no good asking for advice if you already know your characters are bad, or the dialogue sucks, or the plot has a million holes. You need to fix all of those problems first before asking people for advice, and if you’re lucky they’ll put into words the exact thing you know you’re missing.
I don’t believe I have any special talent or gift for writing, but I do have the willpower to push through writer’s block and a critical eye that helps me to improve even the worst first draft. You have to start somewhere, so why not start now?
The year according to Kevin
Peru: The Sequel!
Can it really be twenty years ago that Dr. Garrett Campbell, full-time Physics teacher and part-time adventurer, took a group of eager, naive Conlethians halfway across the world to Peru and the experience of a lifetime? Seems like yesterday to some of us, but the world has changed immeasurably since then, including the concept of school trips. In 2000, most school outings were just to the zoo or the box factory, but St. Conleth’s had already established a traction of foreign travel with Paris, Barcelona and Rome regular destinations, and one memorable trip to Russia where Peter Gallagher single-handedly jumpstarted glasnost.
The Peru trip was different: a proper expedition where derring-do and good-doing combined in a new concept. Other schools have since jumped on the bandwagon, but Gav Maguire and Dolores Kelly, Garrett’s heirs, have perfected the concept and practice of school expeditions. Over the years, this dashing duo have accompanied Conlethians to Mongolia, India and Africa, multiple times, and each journey has changed the travellers for the better and even left some good behind. And, now, Gav and Co. are going back to Peru! As Gav describes the pending adventure himself:
The present 3rd and 4th years will be heading to Peru on an expedition in June 2022. Students and parents were informed last night about the 3 week expedition where we will be trekking along Inca trails and visiting Machu Picchu. While on expedition students are in charge of the expedition. They have control over the budget, itinerary, transport and accomodation. The expedition involves a trek and community service. The school will be working with True Adventures to deliver this once in a lifetime expedition.
Enjoy the pics above of expeditions past and Gav’s comprehensive write-up here, but also look at what is in store for the Conlethians taking part in Peru 2022!
Greta Loves Mr. Gahan!
But then again, who doesn’t? Our swashbuckling, surfboarding, golden-maned young English teacher (and alumnus) is a credit both to both his Conlethian colleagues and his former teachers (some doubling up there), and he is approaching deity status amongst the current student population. But we fear his latest adventure will draw international attention and the UN or Greenpeace or the Red Brigades or, maybe, even Greta the Good, herself, will come and snatch him away! During last week’s heatwave, while the rest of us were taking our classes down to Herbert Park to lose them in the undergrowth long enough to grab a coffee at Lolly’s, Mr. Gahan was on a much more noble mission: in honour of Earth Day, he took First Years on a mission to clean up some of the debris which had accumulated in the park and along the canal. Many have had political and environmental awakenings recently, but they rarely extend beyond the voice box or tweeting finger. Mr. Gahan and the First Years have put action to the attitude!
These gloves feel weird!
Class of 2020: Full Zoom Ahead!
All this talk about a ‘lost generation’ of young people, whom have been irreparably marred by the Covid catatrophe and destined for a life on the analyst’s couch, seems a bit over-the-top if the resiliency, optimism and sheer quality of our Class of 2020 graduates are anything to judge by. On Friday, they had their long-delayed, offical commencement and award ceremony and the intelligence, humour and good will on display bode well for a world that is left in their capable hands.
And all this talk about ‘Boomers’ not being able to handle technology and being prone to gaffe-ridden social media memes-in-the-making, Well, take notice, Zoomers! Mr. Carvill and Mr. Gallagher, the producers, directors and emcees on the night, are actual ‘Boomers’ by date of birth (unlike most of their much younger colleagues) and they pulled off an absolute stunner of a ceremony! It was so good we are thinking of doing it every year via Zoom, except that some of us still want to get a free dinner from the students.
Mr. Carvill and Mr. Gallagher were spot on in their selection and delivery of prayers, memories, awards and videos; and they were well complemented by the speeches of Principal Dónal ÓDúlaing, CEO Ann Sheppard, PPU Pres Peter O’Neill, Chaplain Michael Collins and, most poignantly, School Captain 2020 Emily Mansfield. You can read Emily’s heartfelt and pitch-perfect speech here but you will have to watch the video to hear all the speeches and see the winners of all the awards. Enjoy!
Remembrance of Things Past
Mr. Porzadny, guru to the stars (of St. Conleth’s students and staff) also has a day job as a French teacher. And Julien brings the same enthusiasm and joi de vie, which characterises his Mindfulness sessions, to his language lessons. He also, like the rest of us, caught the nostalgia bug during lockdown, so he sent us this previously neglected little nugget from 2016: a video of his Fifth Years singing and enjoying life… and standing very close together!
What I Learnt at School
I was born in Dublin, the son of a politician, and grew up about a mile and a half from St. Conleth’s. When I was six, my parents took me to be interviewed by Mr. Kelleher. This was always the expected path – my father and his brothers had gone to Conleth’s in the 1940s and my brother Nick, who is 15 months older than me, had entered the school a year before.
Either because he dazzled “The Boss” (as Mr. Kelleher was known) at his interview or because my father wanted to push him, Nick was put in third form rather than second, making him the second youngest in his class. I suffered a similar fate and my parents enrolled me in a class in which I was the youngest by six months. Strange as it seems, this one decision has probably had a greater impact on my life than almost any subsequent choice.
My first year at Conleth’s was traumatic. While I was able to follow along in class no problem, my handwriting was atrocious and I had no memory for spelling at all. Reports of my struggles reached home and Mr. Kelleher and my parents recognized that they had made a mistake and demoted me to second form.
This was a matter of deep shame for me, and as I had made friends in third form, I pleaded with the authorities to reinstate me and worked hard to convince them. They relented and let me back up. I slacked off and was demoted again. And then, finally, having shown some signs of promise in maths, they relented again and I returned to third form, doomed forever to be the youngest in the class.
After third form, I settled in. While I liked history, maths was the subject in which I got the best marks. Mr. Poole was an early maths teacher and a lovely man. I remember him helping me in my struggles to stay in third form and his belief in my ability. Over the years, I have become convinced that nothing is more important to success than having people who believe in you.
English was my worst subject. Truth be told, I wasn’t really bad at English – it was just that my handwriting was abysmal and my spelling entirely random. These faults, of course, have ceased to be impediments in the days of word processors. But they were serious issues to Mr O’Byrne, who would storm into the class, red in the face and foaming at the mouth, and slam our notebooks onto the desk in front of him. I didn’t really think of him as a gifted teacher. But the fear of incurring his wrath encouraged all of us to put a little extra effort into our compositions.
Fear was an important tool in maintaining discipline in Conleth’s. Mr. Kelleher and Mr. Murphy would patrol the halls in search of any boy who had been so wicked as to be sent out of the class. When they encountered such a criminal, they would lead him back into the class, inquire as to the nature of his crime and dispense summary justice. This came in the form of “six of the best” from the “Little Biffer”, a leather strap wielded by Mr. Kelleher, or the “Big Biffer”, a similar implement carried by Mr. Murphy. Mr. Murphy, although a very kind-hearted man, really didn’t know his own strength and I think classes were better behaved on days when Mr. Murphy was on duty in the halls.
In the evenings, I’d return home exhausted from school or rugby and had no energy for homework. So in the mornings, I’d get up early, cycle to school and frantically try to get my homework done before the bell rang. Often, I’d just complete the first class’s homework before it started and would sit at the back of the room, pretending to take notes while feverishly working on the assignment for the next class. I’ve been much the same with work ever since – there is nothing like a deadline to concentrate the mind.
I would also argue with our French teacher, Mr. Feutren. Mr. Feutren spoke quietly but truly scared us all, partly because of the rumours we’d heard about him siding with the Nazis as a Breton Nationalist in World War II. He could always be drawn into a political dispute and regarded me as a member of the decadent bourgeoisie. As a consequence, my classmates would egg me into getting into an argument with him to leave him with too little time to quiz us on our homework. I learnt more about debating than French from Mr. Feutren.
However, throughout my days at Conleth’s, my youth was always an overshadowing handicap. I was young, I looked younger and was naturally shy. While I had friends at school, I felt pretty isolated as a teenager and probably didn’t build the social connections that I could have done had I been in a class closer to my age. This continued in university, which I entered at age 16, and probably had some influence on my decision to go to graduate school in America.
When I entered sixth year, I applied to do Arts in U.C.D.. I think Mr. Kelleher was disappointed as he thought, with my maths skills, that I should be going for a more prestigious place in engineering or medicine. But I wanted to study economics with an idea that it would be useful if I went into politics. Undergraduate economics left me with more questions than answers and I decided to do a Ph.D. I was also attracted by the adventure of attending graduate school in the States.
So, in 1983, I went to Michigan State University where I was lucky enough to acquire a Ph.D. and meet my wife, Sari, who has now had to put up with me for over 35 years. I wrote a dissertation in applied econometrics and we moved to Boston in 1990, where we have lived ever since. In 1994, I joined the now infamous Lehman Brothers and acquired a CFA designation.
In 1999, after a brief sojourn with a Swedish asset manager, I applied for a job as an economic advisor to Putnam Investments. This involved plenty of writing but also media appearances and delivering speeches across the United States. Finally, in 2008, as the Great Financial Crisis was unfolding, I moved to JPMorgan. I now work as the Chief Global Strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management and have the good fortune to run a team of 25 young, energetic and talented strategists and analysts around the world.
I was asked, when compiling this account, to mention any achievement of which I am particularly proud or any advice I might have for someone wanting to pursue a career in finance.
As to achievements, I have nothing extraordinary to my name. However, I do think, over the years, I have helped people understand the nature of the economy better and, by calming both their wildest fears and most exuberant hopes, helped them make better investment decisions. I also feel good about the number of people I’ve supervised over the years who I honestly think I’ve helped in building their careers.
On advice, first be a good person. In business, surprisingly, it has been my experience that good people finish first because people want to work with them. Second, learn how to communicate. Finance is full of numbers people who cannot write vividly or speak convincingly. So read the work of great authors to make yourself a great writer. Also, speak up at meetings and make your voice heard. It is much better to say the occasional stupid thing than to never speak at all. Finally, knock on doors, even if it feels uncomfortable. You really never know where the next opportunity will come from but you are much more likely to find it if you are brave enough to go looking.
The year according to Kevin
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ballsbridge, literally across the road from St. Conleth’s., when it was very much smaller than today. My family had moved there from Monkstown in the mid 1980s, and I arrived on the scene in 1988. My earliest memories are of playing in Herbert Park with my brothers, Nicholas and Ollie, who also went to Conleth’s.
How did you come to be at St. Conleth’s?
Alas, I should admit that Conleth’s was not my first love, for I went to Mount Anville, when it was mixed!. I spent five very happy years there, but it was girls only from 3rd Form onwards, so I joined Conleth’s in a class of only four in 1996. We were such a small class that we were combined with 4th Form and taught by Mr Carey, but we did have some specific 3rd Form classes in a very small room in Mr & Mrs Kelleher’s house on the top floor.
Favourite or least favourite subject in school.
My favourites subjects were probably French and Latin. I loved languages, understanding how they worked, and being able to speak French during much later years in Haiti was a source of pride. I’m grateful to Ann Sheppard and Françoise Brotelande for instilling in me a love of the language. I’ll never forget Peter Gallagher’s Latin classes in 1st Year; I have unfortunately forgotten the 1st Declension (mensa mensa…?) but it infused in me a curiosity about Roman history and culture, and I went on to study Latin at Leaving Cert level.
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s.
Perhaps it’s a cliché, but I have many happy memories of Conleth’s. I am particularly fond of 6th Form with Pat Murphy. He was a disciplinarian, but he gave so much to his teaching, and even then as young boys we were able to appreciate that. Every class with Peter Gallagher was like a performance, and always engaging; “This is not Butlins by the sea”. I remember the various plays, school trips to Rome, castle competitions in 1st Year, and the debates and school concerts in later years. I also loved 5th Form and later Leaving Cert English with Mr Latvis, where vigorous debates about American foreign policy were interspersed with studying On The Waterfront and A View from the Bridge.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field?
Well, I am not sure that I have a chosen field yet, being 32 and still not knowing what I really want to do in life but somehow I’ve found myself in business over the past 10 years. I remember a time when all I wanted to do was to have my own company but I am not sure where this bug comes from; perhaps it’s about independence and wanting control over my work and time.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
In Transition Year, I did a mini company with my two friends, Mark Ennis and Mark Doherty, and we made a small fortune selling footballs. We would buy them from O’Neill’s wholesale for €5, and then sell them for double or triple, going door-to-door in our local areas. I think that gave me the bug for wanting to do my own thing.
Tell us about your education/career path.
I studied Business & Economics in Trinity College, and I also spent on year studying at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I enjoyed my time at university but I am certainly not an academic. After university, I did charity work in Kenya for half a year, and then joined a start-up in Dublin, which went on to become Web Summit. I then moved to the Caribbean to live in Haiti for a few years, working for the telecoms company Digicel. I worked there a few years after the devastating earthquake in 2010, and it was a very humbling experience. Later, I came back to Europe where I started an online training company with a friend. I am currently living in London, but almost always contemplating coming back to Ireland.
Proudest achievement to date.
I am proud of my work in Kenya, which I’ve continued over the past 10 years. I am also glad that I have spent time living in quite a few different countries since leaving school, as I always wanted to see the world, and experience different cultures. The challenge of building and managing a company from scratch was huge, and I am glad that I decided to do it.
Aspirations for the future.
I have recently taken a break from work, having sold my company last year, and I have no idea what I’ll do next. I have no commitments, and while I always thought that I would relish this, I am somewhat daunted by the extent of the “freedom” I now experience. I’m trying to work out what is important to me, as I look ahead to the future. Of course, one day I’d like to have a family, and I think I’d like to live close to home.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/general advice.
I find this the hardest question, as I don’t feel that I am old enough to be giving out any wise advice but I’ll give it a try.
The few regrets I have are mainly from not doing things, or not having the courage to take a risk. It’s the oldest cliché but life is too short, and there’s no point worrying about what others think of your choices, as long as you’re sure of what you’re doing.
I also think that life can be so busy these days, so it’s important to have a simple practice of quiet, be it meditation, a retreat, or hobbies.
The year according to Kevin
Where did you grow up?
My earliest years were spent at Seapoint within a short walk of the sea, where early memories were of seagulls and the smell of the sea; being surprised by heavy fog when we would lose sight of Howth and being delighted on hot summer days getting ice creams in Martello Tower.
The family moved into Mount Street Crescent in the early sixties and that was the family home for over 40 years. I still always try to walk past every time I visit Dublin.
We were therefore within walking distance of Conleth’s and Pembroke School (Miss Meredith’s at 1 Pembroke Road) which I attended before joining Conleth’s.
How did you come to be at St. Conleth’s?
Mr Manning taught sciences on a Saturday morning at Miss Merediths and our headmistress Miss McKendrick arranged for Naomi Coyle, Mary Raftery and myself to go to St. Conleth’s for physics once we reached 5th year. I later joined Conleth’s full time to gain more maths and physics teaching in preparation for the Leaving Cert.
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school.
My favourite subject was physics. I liked all the sciences but the practical application of physics really appealed. In fact it was learning about projectiles that really brought this home. There was a formulae and one could calculate what would happen!
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s.
I have great memories of my time at the school, but a more enduring memory is not from that time but more recently when the girls, now ladies, came together for a dinner to celebrate 40 years of girls in the school. It was wonderful to see so many had now left school, and we were engaged in very diverse careers and bringing up families. To top the evening off Mr Kelleher was there at almost 1am folding table cloths and seeing us off the premises.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
I was completely unsure about my future until the day Mr Kelleher stood in front of us and asked about our intended university application. I was a little daunted by the clarity and confidence of my classmates but when it came to my turn I said Engineering with certainty.
I now reflect on this and realise that I had seen my father work as an architect and knew I would enjoy working as part of a team and using my maths and physics to design buildings- a very tangible outcome from a day’s work! One of my grandfathers and two of my uncles were engineers so again it did not seem strange to choose engineering and follow in their paths.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field?
My father… but neither of us could possibly have seen the journey I have taken. So I encourage all to surprise themselves and their families.
Tell us about your education/ career path.
I studied Civil Engineering at UCD and enjoyed the breadth of the course. As a student I worked each summer with Arup and was delighted to join them as a graduate. It is through my early work as a structural engineer that led me into building design then design management and project leadership.
Following 4 years working in Dublin I moved to Boston where my husband was studying and I worked with Weidlinger Associates who gave me lots of opportunity to learn and develop in my profession. It was also a great opportunity to experience life in America and following that we moved to London and I returned to work with Arup.
Proudest achievement to date.
There are two things I would like to mention. Leading the design team at Terminal 5 Heathrow is one I had to work hard for and the unexpected achievement was receiving an Honorary Doctorate from UCD in 2016. That was a real surprise!
Aspirations for the future.
Again there are two things which I hope for going forward. Firstly a more diverse and inclusive engineer and construction sector but also I hope that I and other engineers can make a significant contribution to decarbonise our planet.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice.
Our world is evolving rapidly and perhaps Covid has enabled us to not take things for granted. So the advice is to be flexible and adaptable and seize the opportunities that arise.
The year according to Kevin
Actually, Mr. Kevin Kelleher, St. Conleth’s esteemed (and dearly missed) former headmaster and principal, is famous on a national and international level: surely, the man himself told you about the day a certain All Black was issued his walking papers?
But Mr. Kelleher is also a local legend, and though he may hail originally from the banks of a different, more northerly canal, he made Ballsbridge and the surrounds his personal fiefdom over the course of his long tenureship on Clyde Road and at Lansdowne Road. A local historian, Dr. Beatrice Doran, attests to this fact in her new book From the Grand Canal to the Dodder and Mr. K. takes his rightful place alongside other such local luminaries as Seamus Heaney, Jack Yeats and Brendan Behan. You can purchase the book here or through your local bookshop website.
One Shining Moment!
January 8th, 2016. Covid can’t take away our memories or our hopes for the future. TY Eric Lawless recalls one of the greatest games in St. Conleth’s rugby history and certainly the greatest touchline celebration!
Vinnie Murray Cup: Conleth’s v Castleknock
Match Report by Eric Lawless
Castleknock: Cathal Lacey (15), Andrew Hobson (14), Sean Gibbons (13), Jamie McGaly (12), Nico Eastmond (11), Patrick Murtagh (10), Josh Conolly (9), Carl Keogh (1), Michael Corcoran (2), Gavin Murray (3), Jack Horgan (4), Conor Stinson (5), Darragh McNally (6), Cathal Bermingham (7)(C), Cian Clancy (8)
Conleth’s: Michael McKay (15), Sean Bortolozzo (14), Ross Murphy (13), Nicolas Foreau (12), Finn Mulcahy(11), Ben Doggett (10), David McKeown (9), Robert Cripwell (1), Colin Duffy (2), Mati Remi (3), Cameron Ross-O’Reilly (4), Patrick Cahill (5), Brendan Connor (6), David Pogatchnik (7), Kevin Dolan (8)(C)
This clash between Conleth’s and Castleknock in the Vinnie Murray Cup was a fantastic game of rugby and a great show of talent throughout the 82 minutes. The first half was very defensive from both sides, with very few missed tackles. With no points scored halfway through the first half, defenses were beginning to buckle and it was the Castleknock side that went first. At 22 minutes past the first whistle, David Pogatchnik received the ball 10 metres out and beat two defenders for a fantastic finish. With an amazing conversion from Ben Doggett, the score was 7-0 and the Conleth’s crowd was roaring.
Castleknock were quick to retaliate though and a scrum was given on the Conleth’s 10 for an unfortunate knock-on. Cathal Bermingham picked from the scrum and went to the blind side. With good hands out to the wing and a few nice steps from Andrew Hobson, Castleknock scored a beautiful try. With the Castleknock 7 Cathal Bermingham knocking over 2 points, the game was now even with 10 minutes to go until half time. Conleth’s became more aggressive in attack and marched from their 22 to the opposite end. They were close to the 5 metre line when there was a deliberate knock-on. A penalty was awarded and Ben Doggett put another 3 up on the scoreboard.
Both teams took turns in attacking: no-one able to break through. A few penalties conceded by Conleth’s put Castleknock with a lineout on the Conleth’s 22. They came close but an overudged chip from Sean Gibbons closed out the half, the score being 10-7 to Conleth’s.
With just two minutes gone since the start of the second half, Castleknock had drawn up the game with a penalty under the sticks kicked by Bermingham. Conleth’s did not like losing their lead and attacked again and again until their captain Kevin Dolan made an exceptional break on the Castleknock 10, but was forced to offload to his back row partner Connor, who gave it to Nicolas Foreau for a wonderful try. Another exceptional conversion from Doggett and 17-10 was the score with 25 minutes to go.
Castleknock fired back their response with a try created by the pack. Brute force brought replacement prop Gibney over the try line for another 5 points, with the chance to make it 7 missed by Bermingham. Conleth’s quickly drove back, claiming the restart and moving the ball from wing to wing. A high tackle from Gibney on Brendan Connor. A penalty was awarded and in his usual fashion, Ben Doggett knocked over another three making the score 20-15 to Conleth’s.
Unfortunately, it seems Conleth’s took their foot off the pedal for a bit and Castleknock did not need an invitation to capitalise on this. They charged with determination from a lineout on the Conleth’s side of the pitch. A few gaps and a lovely break from Gibney put them on the 5 metre line, where the forwards drove over and Bermingham dotted it down on the line. Bermingham’s conversion put Castleknock in the lead. Again Conleth’s drove back against this lead, not letting their heads hang whatsoever. They gained possession and smashed the Castleknock defense. A beautiful skip pass from Doggett put Ross Murphy into a lot of space and he came just short of the 5 metre line. From there it was up to the pack. They inched towards that try line and eventually, Cripwell got it down. A very tough angle for Doggett’s conversion and Donnybrook stadium fell to a complete silence. Unfortunately he pulled the kick and the opportunity to be an unconverted try ahead was missed.
There were only 3 points in it with 10 minutes to go. Conleth’s were awarded a penalty on the 10 with just 6 minutes to go. A kick to touch and they were on the 5 meter with a lineout. But the Castleknock defence was having none of it. They piled into the rucks and regained possession. An unfortunate injury from Sean Gibbons and a scrum to Castleknock. A penalty for Castleknock from the scrum and they were full steam ahead. The Conleth’s defence was under pressure, another two penalties were given just before and after the halfway line. Castleknock decided on a scrum and shifted the ball out wide going from wing to wing. They were getting advantages for offside and hands in the ruck. A full penalty was awarded just short of the Conleth’s 5 for a deliberate knock-on and Castleknock took a quick tap and go, catching the Conlethians by surprise. Good hands out to winger Andrew Hobson and at 82 minutes, Castleknock won the game by 2. No conversion needed. The end score was 27-25.
All of the players that took part played well but the players that stood out were Ben Doggett for his exceptional goal kicking and command in the midfield; the flanker partnership of Pogatchnik and Connor for their strong running; Andrew Hobson for his agility and finishing and Cathal Birmingham for his strength, goalkicking and command in the pack. This intensely close game was brilliantly played by both teams, with a lot of flair and strength shown, but ultimately it was an unfortunate but proud day for Conleth’s.
Charles Crimmins (Class of 1990) is the man behind Crimmins Visual Communications and all the more impressive parts of this website. Lately, Charles, and our multi-talented Development Co-Ordinator Ellen Long, have been particularly busy bringing light and a deft touch to publicising the various adventures of our far-flung alumni. Click here, or on the Alumni tab above, to see what Charles and Ellen have been up to, including the first issue of our new Alumni Newsletter and the latest winner of the most hotly contested competition in the land: the St. Conleth’s College Alumnus of the Month!
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Prague, today’s capital of the Czech Republic. Back then it was still Czechoslovakia.
How did you come to be at St. Conleth’s?
We moved to Ireland in 1990 when my father was sent to Dublin by his company. We lived in a house in Ballsbridge. St. Conleth’s was some three hundred metres away, right at the end of our extremely straight lane – a major advantage for someone with such poor orientation skills as mine. Plus I guess my parents must have gotten some very good references.
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school.
I was immediately disappointed by Latin. Not the subject itself, but the fact that I could not take part in it, having joined the school as a 3rd year. Irish gave me a fright until I was told it was not compulsory for me as a foreigner. As with many things, I now regret not having taken more interest in the language. But at the time I was relieved to spend some study / reading / looking-out-the-window time up in the library. I did enjoy rugby a lot, although some of its rules are beyond me to this date.
It was interesting to learn about Soviet history in Peter Gallagher’s classes, having come from a formerly communist country myself. It was exhilarating to watch Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources and Cyrano de Bergerac with Gerard Depardieu in Ms. Broteland’s French classes (by then I was becoming very much interested in film and thought I would pursue a career in this field). And it was intriguing to learn about the classics of English literature from Mr. McGloinn, a man who brilliantly combined threat with sensitivity and had the air about him of knowing just about everything.
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s.
I distinctly remember how in the first half of the nineties the school emanated both the past and the future, which gave it a sort of timeless touch. Some of the classrooms struck me as rather dark, small and ancient, others as full of light and quite modern. I was also fairly excited to have my very first school uniform, complete with a tie (we never wore school uniforms in Prague). Only later did I realise that even the longest sleeves (green or navy) would not cover the entire length of my somewhat prolonged arms. One is also tempted to say that the sudden (though not unexpected) appearance of girls in the class was a moment to cherish but one feels this somehow goes without saying. So I guess my fondest memory would be of the handful of friendships I managed to establish while at the school, being the awkward, introverted, tall foreign boy that I was.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
I didn’t. I know this will sound ostentatious but I think the field chose me, not the other way around. As I mentioned above, I was very much into film and spent a good deal of time at the Irish Film Centre in Temple Bar. Having returned to Prague in 1996 I studied documentary filmmaking. But before I could finish my studies I had a professional revelation. I was twenty four years of age.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field?
While still at the film school I met a great American clown who was just starting a healthcare clown project in the Czech Republic. I had fond childhood memories of some great theatre clown performances which had moved me deeply, but it never seemed to me as something I could actually do. Suddenly I felt I could and also found the courage to go with that feeling. At that moment my whole professional life had shifted from film to theatre, much like pulling a lever.
Tell us about your education/ career path.
The moment I started as an “apprentice clown” I felt like entering yet another school, this time based largely on courage, skill and physical and emotional experience. Besides going to hospitals I went to several workshops a year, some of them given by teachers from the renowned Lecoq and Gaulier schools. I learned to carefully discern between what clowning really is and what it can appear to be – the image of a party clown or even “killer clown” still haunts many of us but has little to do with the actual art. In the naivety and innocence of the clown I found reassurance, in the Socratesesque (sorry, Mr. McGloinn!) “I know that I know nothing” I discovered great freedom and creativity. I soon started working with a clown/physical comedy group Squadra Sua, creating shows both for the street and for theatre and also travelling abroad. “New circus” was becoming quite a thing and the audiences warmed to these “new clowns”. At the same time I stayed with the healthcare clown organisation Zdravotní klaun and started teaching seminars on humour as a communication skill at medical universities and for hospital staff. And in the latest twist so far I was asked by the nonverbal theatre department of the HAMU University in Prague to teach clowning there. It is my third year at the school now and I still consider this the most amazing work I never even knew I could one day have.
Proudest achievement to date.
As a proud father I might be expected to dodge this question by mentioning my three lovely daughters now but I won’t. I hope I do not underestimate pride when I say that I seldom feel proud, and yet often content. I think I did experience some level of pride when we finished our latest show Across with Squadra Sua. We collaborated with the hugely inspirational Belgian director Jos Houben and the result has been described by some as a “shared sensation”. Instead of a piece of theatre we maybe almost succeeded in creating a “joint perception space” in which the audience feels included as much as the actors do and has a lot of laughs in the process. So yes, I think I actually am proud when I can do my share to make people happy. It has little to do with altruism. I consider myself a human being too and like being made happy myself.
Aspirations for the future.
I hope to make such creative, pedagogical and personal choices that would ensure that there will actually be a future. I hope to continue teaching and in the process to learn as much about myself, theatre, other people and the world as possible. One day I would like to make a film about theatre clowning to reconcile the two poles towards which my life seems to gravitate.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice.
Be suspicious of anyone wanting to give you advice! Had they taken the advice of others to get to the place they are now? But at the same time I would suggest lending everyone a discerning ear. People often give you both good and bad advice when they are not aware of it.
Speaking of theatre I often have the feeling that people are attracted to it not for the love of the art or the audience, but because they are primarily affectionate about themselves. While this may work for some, I am content to say that clowning is a “narrow path”. It teaches you how to take joy in not being perfect and how to be appreciated for a skilled approach to fallibility. In clowning your affection always resides with the audience and only then is it presented back to you as a rather unexpected gift.
The Year According to Kevin
Use Your Noggin!
Did that gust of wind almost blow you back to Ballybrack? Are you freezing when you step outside in Firhouse? Shivering in Shankill? What you need is a Noggin! Turns out Greta was a bit premature with her doomsaying and it is still mighty cold outside. Yes, It-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named loves the cold… but we do not! Below you see this desired piece of fashion and utility which is already showing up on the streets of Milan, New York, Paris and Ringsend. So, hurry up and be the first on your block to own an Official St. Conleth’s Noggin Hat! A perfect stocking stuffer!
On sale for €17 through Easypayments on this website. Noggin is a Community Interest Company: the profits they make go straight into supporting mental health awareness. Noggin is a Community Interest Company, where the profits they make go straight into supporting mental health awareness projects across the UK & Ireland.
Peter the Great’s Library!
In these touch-less times, there are many things of which we miss the ‘feel’: from the simple, friendly handshake to the warm, affectionate hug to the satisfyingly thumping tighthead’s tackle… we have realised that ‘touch’ is, in some ways, our most important sense. And how about the touch, ‘feel’ of a real book? Maybe a brand new one, with lovely crisp dust jacket and a smell that trumps that of a new car? Or an old classic, whose yellowed pages and weathered spine, worn by time and use, radiate the memories and pleasures of generations of readers? Well, perform your covid ritual cleansing and get ready for the return of a rare delight: real books!
A generous, and humbly anonymous, Past Parent has honoured the legacy of the greatest History teacher in history (Mr. Peter Gallagher, Principal Emeritus) by donating a bodleian bevy of books to St. Conleth’s. We miss Peter dearly at St. Conleth’s but probably no teacher would have felt the weight of the restrictions on movement and interaction more: Past Pupils will fondly remember his stalking the aisles of the classroom with volcanic energy and regular eruptions of rhetorical brilliance and his famous ‘Empty your pockets!’ archeological surveys. Yes, sadly, covid-era classes are indeed no ‘Butlin’s By the Sea’ and a far cry from the life and learning symposiums of a Peter Gallagher History class, but the vaccines are on the way, and until we can return to emulating Peter the Great, grab a book (a real one) and dream of past and future adventures. Above, we see Peter in his prime (with his last ‘Mastermind’: Simon ‘4 T’s’ Pettitt (2018)) and the Junior School enjoying their recent shipment. The Seniors’ are on the way!
Yes, we are all singing that sad little song, but one way to change the tune is to understand the virus better, and to investigate the psychological costs of the various restrictions put in place to combat it. Could the cure actually be worse than the illness? First Year Jamie MacNicholas has taken on the challenge to find out, and in the process gained entry to the main Young Scientist competition, following the guidance of his Science teacher, Mr. Callaghan, and in the footsteps of last year’s winner Cuan Moore and a long litany of BTYS Conlethian stars such as the famous Zorin Brothers. Here. Jamie explains his project himself, and how you can help him with the research:
I have entered the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which will take place virtually in January. The title of my project is COVID-19: A statistical investigation of the impact of the COVID-19 social restrictions during the lockdown on the well-being of 10 to 18 year olds.
A report from UNICEF in May of this year stated “Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims. While they have thankfully been largely spared from the direct health effects of Covid-19 at least to date – the crisis is having a profound effect on their wellbeing.”
In my project, I want to investigate (i) the impact that COVID-19 social restrictions have had on the well-being of 10 to 18 year olds during the lockdown (ii) the amount of daily physical activity undertaken by young people during the lockdown and (iii) the amount of time spent by young people playing video games and watching TV during the lockdown.
I hope to get over 200 volunteers between the age of 10 and 18 in St. Conleth’s College to complete a voluntary, anonymous, online questionnaire using SurveyMonkey. The survey will ask questions about their experience during the lockdown. I have prepared a questionnaire similar to the questionnaire used by the CSO in April this year when they measured the impact that COVID-19 has had on personal well-being in Ireland.
If you are a St. Conleth’s student and aged between 10 and 18, please click on this link and complete the survey. Thank you. Jamie MacNicholas
Like twin Apollos (or Sputniks, if you are more that way inclined) the Rockett brothers have blazed across the artistic firmament of St. Conleth’s. The elder model, Matthew (Class of 2019), was a permanent highlight of our various school concerts, culminating in his virtuoso piano performances of his own avant garde compositions in Sixth Year. And younger brother Stephen, Apollo (Class of) 21, is no mean fiddler himself, but has chosen mainly the artistic realm of paper, pencil and brush for his explosive talents. Case in point: over the lockdown, some of us used the extra leisure time to catch up on South Korean detective series or the rapscallion antics of quirky American zoo keepers, but Stephen took a nobler path. He decided to take one one idea, one theme- really just one word, and explore it artistically in a journal. The word was ‘apple’ and as you can see below, the results are incredible. And, if we get shut down again, the only good news is that Stephen is looking for a suitable ‘B’ word to do it all over again! ‘Banana’ is expected but we are hoping for ‘Beatle’!
2020: A Fine Vintage!*
Updated with more photos and destinations!
Aside from seeing graduating students achieving their desired university places, one of the chief joys of teaching is receiving the heartfelt thanks of these departing pupils. Last May, these Thank Yous were especially welcome, as they were inexplicably accompanied by brown envelopes stuffed with cash! In all seriousness, the whole Leaving Certificate calculated grades situation was a stressful time for all involved, especially for the students themselves. Yet, when the smoke from algorithmic machines and the social engineering devices finally cleared, nearly all our graduating class received the third level offers of their choice. Yes, a difficult and delayed harvest, but in the end, a fine vintage.
Engineering and Management- TCD
Middle Eastern, European Languages and Culture- TCD
Economics and Finance- UCD
Film and Television- Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute
Engineering and Management- TCD
Computer Science and Business- TCD
Psychology- University of Amsterdam
French and Spanish- TCD
Law with Politics- UCD
International Relations- DCU
International Relations- DCU
Media and Culture- The University of Amsterdam
Fitness Instruction and Excercise Science- Sallynoggin College
Computer Science- DBS
Economics, Politics and International Relations- UCD
Business and Management- TUD
Music and Philosophy- TCD
Health Sciences- WIT
Civil Engineering- TUD
Apprenticeship in Personal Training
One thing was never in doubt: the Class of 2020 were leaving St. Conleth’s as young men and women who had matured and developed to the best of all their abilities, not just academic, and they left St. Conleth’s a better place for having been there. Our past pupils have a habit of dropping by, and though they may have to wait till this darn covid thing is done, we look forward to welcoming the Class of 2020 back to No. 28 Clyde Road.
During the lockdown, the rest of us may have been lost in South Korean detective series or faithfully following the adventures of Oklahoman zoo-keepers, but Rory Sweeney (Class of 2018) was too busy putting the finishing touches on his second year film, a significant step in his progress towards earning his National Film School BA in Film + TV Production at IADT. Rory was always active in cinematic matters while at St. Conleth’s, reviving the Film Club and spending his breaks (and some school time!) working as an extra and as an assistant with such movie business notables as Brendan Gleeson.
His second year film, ‘Rhythm’, can be viewed above, and it is accompanied by a text which was to introduce it at an art gallery premier but, alas, Covid intervened. We have also included an earlier short of Rory’s, entitled ‘Coast’, below. Enjoy, and do stay tuned, as we are sure to see Rory Sweeney behind the camera of bigger productions in the coming years!
See You on the Thames!
Lockdown loosens… random alumni encounters begin again! We ran into Daniel Gilligan (Class of 2016) and his lovely girlfriend, Aishling, in the old Herbo and aside from trading snide comments about STEM guys (to the bemusement of Aishling, a Physics major) we also learned that Daniel is about to begin a Master’s in Law at Oxford University. Daniel, a graduating Trinity Schol in History and Politics, is clearly destined for great things… including an impending show-down with Conor White (Captain, Class of 2015), who is completing his own Master’s in Law at Cambridge University. Both Daniel and Aishling would have crossed pontifical swords with Conor at the Irish Times Debate last year, the winning of which provided our photogenic couple with a grand tour of America, warts and all, red states and blue.
Now, with both Daniel and Conor temporarily ensconced in the Home Counties, the two former Irish schools debating champions will surely meet again on some rostrum or another, or maybe at a shadowy Bullingdon Club Oxbridge mixer….. but we also fancy a face-off between Conlethian greats on the Thames at The Boat Race. (If you have to ask ‘Which boat race?’, don’t bother…) Conor and Daniel showed some athletic prowess while playing basketball at their alma mater, and we think the former, as a strong and steady type, is a natural for a stern rowing position and the latter would be the most rhetorical of coxswains!
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Sports Day… Redux!
The exodus from one side of Dublin 4 to the other began at break-time, and though we lost a few stragglers in the meandering back allies and cowpaths of the ‘Ringer’ and Irishtown, most of the students eventually arrived at he splendid sporting facilities of Irishtown Stadium, ready to enthusiastically take part in one of our most eagerly anticipated yearly rituals: St. Conleth’s Senior School Sportsday. All the usual suspects were there… ah yes, our habitual style of reporting one of St. Conleth’s most beloved annual rituals: Sports Day! Sadly, not this year. Rían Lawlor is eagerly trying to organise a Wii Sports version but until that happens we will enjoy a trip through the years. Keep scrolling!
Yes, we said running…
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running a bit further…
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or just hanging out!
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winning or cheering (and laughing) as others took their turns. Yes, we said running…
or just hanging out!
or just hanging out!
There Are 86 Attendees in the Waiting Room…
The first ever St. Conleth’s ‘Zoomed’ Graduation Ceremony was a smash hit! Yes, we will have a more formal affair in the Fall, but this student-produced, standing-room-only variety show was chock full of nostalgic humour and poignancy, from heartfelt advice from management and teachers through honest expressions of appreciation from the graduates to some very imaginative personal ‘bios’ of select students. The Class of 2020 even received some helpful dating advice from Mr. Carvill! The whole class and all their current teachers attended, as well as several student and staff ‘alumni’ who returned to share in the experience. Yes, we look forward to another, more ‘physical’ ceremony in the school in the autumn, but really this will be hard to beat. Well done to Emily, James, John, Oisín, Joe and all the others who organised and took part in this perfectly pitched celebration in imperfect times. Enjoy the pics: full video on the way!
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It’s Throwback Thursday on stconleths.ie! Since sport is currently reduced to pilates apps and Wii Sports, we will recall the golden days with a weekly virtual visit to the archives. This week: the legendary 2016 SCT’s earlier but just as inspirational incarnation: the 2013 JCT! Yes, we were younger and lighter (except on top) back then and the world was our oyster. And Gav was our god. Enjoy!
American baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once complained that ‘Nostalgia is not what it used to be.’ Well, it certainly isn’t these days, when we all are forced by circumstances to look backwards in time for some sense of solace. Well, Past Pupil and musical maestro Joe Gallagher (Class of 2019) has just premiered his first EP, ‘Nostalgia’, on Soundcloud and it will take you back to the good, old days: it is the single best spring of hope that we have heard, sweetly bubbling, in all our searches of various music streams.
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These five lo-fi but hi-impact instrumental tracks have already made quite a splash in the world of music with an online musical promotion group eager to include them in their monthly Spotify playlist. So turn off the Netflix and have a listen!
Bring the Noise!
There was a poignant moment at the recent Past Pupils Dinner when select members of the Class of 2010 got together to recall their shared glory days of St. Conleth’s basketball: when Herron and Purcell and McCormack and McCoy and Carr and Co. shocked the world of Irish Schools Basketball, winning the All-Ireland double in 2008. And, now, current St. Conleth’s coaches, Sean Ingle and Peter Gahan are establishing quite a record of ‘glory days’, themselves. The First Year boys team have been on a rampage since the season tipped off, rivalling last year’s First Year rugby team for consistency and promise. Below you see pix (Thanks, Scott!) from a romp over St. Benildus and just last Friday they won a thriller over St. Paul’s, 31-30, with the Twin Powers (Fionán and James) and Cormac Hayden leading the way. That dramatic win has put the boys into an Ireland East Basketball Ireland Final, which will be played on Thursday at the Oblates Hall in Inchicore at 11:10. But, hang on, we have another final to support before then: the U19s will play today (Wednesday) at 4:15 at St. Andrew’s for the SDBL crown. Luke Gilleran, Colin Bolger, Keane Acosta and the the boys have a great chance to add another ‘St. Conleth’s’ to the engraver’s to-do list!
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Rather serendipitous that Michael O’Dwyer (Class of 2010) was our special guest speaker at the PPU Dinner on the Friday Night, he the holder of both a All-Ireland Debating Title as well as a Cambridge University International Debating Mace (a weighty weapon, that!), and the next day brings news that the current crop of Conlethian debaters are also bringing home the bling! On Saturday, Third Year Coleman Hegarty won outright the Leinster Junior Debating Mace. And he, Leo Nolan and Turlough Dineen have all qualified for the National Mace Final. Actually, ‘serendipity’ or chance had nothing to do with it: St. Conleth’s consistently dominates the rostra of the land in schools debating. The secret to our success lies in another fact: also present at Friday night’s PPU Dinner were Conor Power and Oisín Dowling (Class of 2018), our returned Past Pupil debating coaches who showed the way for Coleman and company. The Carvillian system continues to work!
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The good burghers of Greater Ballsbridge and Donnybrook hold their collective breaths every year on the last Friday of February because that is when the carnival comes to town: the Past Pupils Union Annual Dinner is always the liveliest gig in town on that night, and the 2020 version did not disappoint. The members of our PPU, like our current student body, reflects our diversity, spirit and downright quirkiness… and we seem to just get better with age!
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PPU Presidents John Carvill and Peter O’Neill and PPU Benign Despot Ronan O’Kelly must have been tired from organising the previous PPU engagement in NYC but it did not show, as they orchestrated an evening that managed to combine proper, sober acknowledgements of milestones with the frantic fun with which we all associate the night. Despite a rather flat sound system and the habitual rowdiness, Ronan and John compèred with both gravitas and wit, with guest speaker Michael O’Dwyer (2010) and honouree Ger Cummiskey also rising to the occasion. Enjoy the semiformal pics of each class above, as well as the more free-form ones, below.
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A Classy Reunion
St. Conleth’s PPU Dinners are always memorable affairs: well-attended, well-catered and well-lubricated… more raucous than retiring, a fact any residents left on our particular stretch of Clyde Road can attest to. Our recent New York City PPU Dinner was a decidedly more refined affair, with the humour as good and the sentiments as warm as every Conlethian come-together but with just the volume turned down, as befitting the august setting of the New York Athletic Club. (Apparently, the good folks of the TSA did their job and stopped certain members of certain graduation years at the borders. You know of whom we speak.)
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That is not to say that the alumni who attended the fully booked dinner did not ‘take Manhattan’ afterwards, but for news of those shenanigans, you will have to check the tabloids. We would prefer to concentrate on the dinner itself, quite an elegant and dignified gathering of old friends and colleagues. PPU President John Carvill, St. Conleth’s CEO Ann Sheppard and Special Guest Speaker Michael Moloney hit all the right notes, recalling poignant and hilarious moments of recent, middling and ancient St. Conleth’s history, as well as reaffirming that special ethos which has us confidently heading into the future. Of course, that ‘future’ includes tomorrow night’s Annual PPU Dinner, of the regular, old ‘domestic’ variety. Stay tuned for the fireworks!
As you can see in the news items below, St. Conleth’s sports is thriving on the basketball courts, running tracks and in our fencing arenas… but we shall never forget our sporting bread and butter: rugby. And though we have been faithfully tweeting away about our accomplishments with the oblong ball, we thought we would bring it altogether as the teams enter their stretch run.
The SCT have had a tough year regarding numbers but Coach Gav Maguire, Captain Rían Lawlor and his loyal teammates have weathered the tough times with heart and style, doing particularly well in the 7s competitions. Earlier in the year, Gav’s club, Wanderers FC, marked their 150th season with a friendly at the Aviva and two Past Pupils, Mark 0’Reilly and Kevin Dolan, lined up against Trinity for the first team, showing of what quality Conlethian ruggers are capable.
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The JCT, led by Head of Junior Rugby Louis Magee, have had plenty regarding numbers and even though they are quite a young team, the success this year bodes well for even greater things ahead. The JCT suffered a tough loss in Wicklow early in the season but showed plenty of spirit, camaraderie and promise as the boys mounted a second half comeback. Better results soon arrived such as a thrilling 24-21 win over St. Gerard’s in the league with a last gasp try from Michael O’Donnell, who scored three tries on the day and was backed by a great team performance. Team workouts in the Fitness Suite with Adam have certainly helped. The competition for places is fierce and Coach Magee is confident of finishing strongly.
The JCT members will certainly not get to comfortable, with some very impressive First Year players nipping at their heels. Coaches Smyth and Morris have built up quite an impressive resume already with the boys, including an early tight but exciting win over Marian College, 59-51; two wins out of three in a blitz kindly hosted by Sandford in Monkstown RC with St. Paul’s and Marian taking part; winning narrowly, 21-14, over local rivals St. Michael’s, in an entertaining match; and convincingly, 42-7, against Sandford Park. And above you see action from a recent, stunning 24-19 win over St. Paul’s. The boys have now adopted a new team nickname, “The Crazy Gang”, and we look forward to more fun as well as success from them in the weeks and seasons to come!
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New York, New York!
The greatest city in the world is now going to host Ireland’s greatest Past Pupils Union! Following on our successful inaugural international PPU reunion in London a few years back, St. Conleth’s CEO Ann Sheppard and PPU President John Carvill decided to hit the Big Apple for the next one. And when the New York Athletic Club offered an ‘open bar’ as part of the dinner package, the deal was sealed! We know Manhattan has seen some heavy duty partiers over the years, but we are sure the Conlethian crowd will leave its marks. All the tickets have been sold for Saturday night’s gala but any Past Pupils or friends in the five borough vicinity can join the crowd for pre-drinks on Friday from 8:00 at ‘My Friend Duke’ at 383 Third Ave. or post-drinks from 10:30 on Saturday at Blue Haven East at 493 Third Ave. And if you re stuck on this side of the pond, you can still come to No. 28, Clyde Road for the regular, old Annual PPU Dinner on Friday, Feb. 28th! Tickets available through Easypayments on https://stconleths.ie. Stay tuned for tales from both these festivities!
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Poetry in Motion!
Conlethian fencing parents, Robert Smyth and Cahir Davitt, make quite a pair of ‘adjunct’ sports reporters: Robert with his faithful reporting and journalistic flair, such as the headline above, and Cahir with his stunning photography. Their latest missives:
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Last Saturday in Dublin, James Moriarty-Smyth ended just outside the last sixteen in Men’s Senior Sabre, after a very narrow 13/15 defeat to the Captain of Trinity University Fencing Club at the Direct Elimination stage. This is an incredible result considering James just switched his choice of fencing blade and is competing against seasoned adults.
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And on Sunday in Belfast, Myles Moriarty-Smyth took Silver in the U14 Foil and Michael Davitt won Bronze in the U10 Foil, as well as Luke Sherlock taking Bronze in the U16 Boy’s Foil. Keep tuned for more news in this Conlethian sporting tradition!
You Need a Noggin!
Did that gust of wing almost blow you back to Ballybrack? Are you freezing when you step outside in Firhouse? Shivering in Shankill? What you need is a Noggin! Turns out Greta was a bit premature with her doomsaying and it is still mighty cold outside. Protect yourself (and help a good cause) with an Official St. Conleth’s @nogginsport Hat! On sale for €17 at the Tuckshop and through Easypayments on https://stconleths.ie. Hurry! They are going quickly!
Get Ronan to the Paralympics!
We remember a young Ronan Roche Griffin lighting up his First Year Form Class with his wicked wit and a glint in his eye. Whether it was sending notes in binary to a like-minded stemmy classmate or politely wriggling out of some minor kind of trouble, Ronan always did everything with considerable panache. Now, he has transferred that swashbuckling style to Canmore, deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Yes, this proud member of St. Conleth’s Class of 2013 is currently training on those sun and snow-basked slopes, striving to become the first winter Paralympian to ever represent Ireland. Don’t be jealous… the beautiful scenery does make soggy old Clyde Road pale in comparison, but Ronan is putting on some hard runs, upping his skills and stamina in pursuit of qualification. Find out more (and lend a hand if you can) on his GoFundMe page. Let’s help get Ronan to Beijing 2022!
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Top of their Class!
We know we punch above our weight in rugby and hockey and the recent runs by our basketball teams is certainly pleasing the bookies, but where we really annoy the actuaries (some of them our own alumni) is with our academic results. Recently there was tangible evidence of St. Conleth’s academic prowess on show at Ireland’s two most prestigious universities: Mr. ODulaing had the pleasure of enjoying a few hors d’oeuvres with Ian O’Neill (Engineering), Rory Smyth (Finance and Spanish), Stephen Allen (Science) and Joe Hyland (Engineering) at UCD, where they were awarded Entrance Scholarships for their stellar LC results. Stephen also added a Choral Scholarship: no surprise to those of us who enjoyed his school concert performances over the years. And Seamus Gallagher joined the toast to Hugh Downes, a ‘winner at Trinners’ and who is now studying Theoretical Physics. A high mark has certainly been set for the Class of 2020!
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A Soirée to Remember!
Ms. Fay, our stylish musical maestra, and Seamus Gallagher, our agent to current and future recording stars, pulled out all the stops and put on a concert to remember, one of which the sweet-sounding reverberations will be felt down the years… Whoever is planning the 85th celebrations better get started because it will be nigh impossible to beat the 80th Anniversary/Soirée Musicale of last Friday night when the Kevin Kelleher Wing was alive with exquisite music, the swishest of fashion, the finest food and drink and, of course- this being St. Conleth’s- the most compelling conversation in town. It was also the launch of the latest St. Conleth’s Quinquennial, edited by the the two Charleses, Crimmins and Latvis, and chock full of alumni and staff reminiscence. The book may have kept you busy over the weekend but Friday night, all our attention was directed to the stage where the ‘best of’ past pupil and current musical talent took the stage. ‘Eclectic’ was certainly the theme of the night as the stars and styles came from across the musical spectrum: ‘Conlethian’ and ‘consummate’ being the only descriptives in common.
Greg Purcell (2007), with indie matinee star looks and moves, started us off with a pitch perfect and powerfully emotive power ballad, Pink Rabbits from The National. Current pupils Caoimhe Moore and Trevor Bolger showed no nerves and played an exquisite version of Gymnopodie No. 1 on clarinet and piano. Molly Van Der Lee (2011) sang and played Landslide, evoking Stevie Nicks in her best incarnation. Then, The Band to be Named Later took the stage with the lively 21 Pilots tune, Heathens. Michael Horan, Rory Clark, Leah Crimmins and James Moriarty-Smyth made such a powerful impression, belying their relative lack of experience, that we are sure this band will soon have a name, as well as a fervent following! Noah Brabazon (2016), as always, calmed things down in his own smooth way with Gold by James Vincent McMorrow on piano, before the legendary Patrick Fitzgerald (2008) took the stage to turn up the reverb and the feedback and rock out with his own ‘love’ song : Goodbye!
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Two stars of the Class of 2019, Matthew Rockett and Joe Gallagher, then played their own compositions, Notturno and Slipping, stunning us again with their talent and making it rather obvious why they are pursuing music at the third level. Sisters of 2016, Hannah Collins and Maryrose Counihan, accompanied by the calmly ubiquitous Noah on guitar, made Radioactive by Imagine Dragons the most pleasant sounding of emo musings. Seán Keane (2017), did what he always did when a student: he took out his fiddle and, without fanfare or fuss, took us all elsewhere, someplace more beautiful, for a little while. And then, as if to finally prove the versatility of this Past Pupil line-up of talent, Evan Kennedy (2014) made Jeff Buckley’s Last Goodbye his own, ending the Soirée Musicale with both style and substance.
The Multi-Talented Mr. Sheridan
Every knows about Mr. Sheridan’s sporting prowess both as a competitor and coach. He is a regular first team selection in the annual Sixth Year vs. Staff Soccer Match, playing an authoritative Makelele-like midfield, and he has been leading various Junior School sports teams to glory for years. Just last week he took our Junior School Soccer Team to the AIJS crown, vanquishing big school favourites such as Willow and St. Gerard’s. Well done to Mr. Sheridan and the boys involved!
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But there is much more to Mr. Sheridan than meets the eye! If you were around in the early noughties, and happened to be wandering down Leeson St. at an ungodly hour, you very well might have run into younger, spryer Mr. Sheridan, looking quite fit in a sequinned leisure suit, heading from one fabled disco/wine bar to another…. for he was not only master of the midfield, he was also Lord of the Dance Floor! Times change and Mr.. Sheridan, as he approaches middle age, has settled down a bit, but he still can put on the moves, especially the two copyrighted dances, the famous Moonwalk and the infamous Worm, for which he was know in his heyday. It was this latter one which came in handy when Cecilia Franken, our After-School Director, was looking for volunteers for a creative re-enactment of the birth of a butterfly to act off the fascinating project. Words will not due the performance of Mr. Sheridan and his brave student co-performer justice. You just have to see it to believe it!
Nearly everyone worked late last Monday night, and it has taken us almost a week to recover but it was worth it as the St. Conleth’s Senior School Information Evening was once again a smashing success. Such was the queue snaking down Clyde Road and approaching Elgin that the US Embassy security staff were on high alert as they thought another political protest was afoot. But the Marines had nothing to fear as these youngsters and their parents were just young families from Ballsbridge, Blackrock, Blanchardstown and beyond, all lining up to get a taste of the best private co-education in Dublin.
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They literally got a taste from the school canteen as Chef Mark served up some a taster’s menu but they also got helpings from a ll the subject teachers and the sports and extra-curricular, too. And who were our best salespeople? Once again, the current students who amazed all and sundry with their affability, effort and sincerity. Apparently, a ‘free’ lunch is on its way, but we all know there is no such thing and this one was more than earned!
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Did I See You at Ascot?
We have been a bit preoccupied with the impending release of our St. Conleth’s 80th Anniversary Quinquennial, but now that the printing presses are rolling, we intend on catching up with a few stories which we had stashed beneath the typewriter. One such story concerns one of the Past Pupil authors featured in that weighty tome: Philip McDonald, a solicitor and a gentleman (not often twinned, even at Slaughter and May) and general bon vivant from the Class of 2010 (a fine vintage).
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Philip dropped in a few weeks back at the invitation of Development and Guidance Guru John Carvill and he delighted the assembled Fifth and Sixth Years with a.rollicking account of his adventures since graduation and some more serious advice about the trials and tribulations of the Leaving Certificate. Having, we believe, scored a total of 590 (out of 600, back then), Philip was in a good position to offer advice, and having negotiated the UCAS system to gain entrance into Law at Cambridge, he also had some valuable pointers regarding studying abroad. Check pout the pics above and stay tuned for the Quinquennial and Philip’s article on ‘A Conlethian Christianity’.
Information Evening: Mon. at 7:00!
Come and see why St. Conleth’s Senior School is attracting so much attention and so many students at our Information Evening on Monday, October 7th, at 7:00 p.m. Here is our promotional flyer (pdf):
Ready, Steady…. Sit?
I know it sounds strange at first, just sitting together- like some kind of college campus protest in 1968 Paris- but as with everything that originates in the wonderful spirit of our resident Mindfulness guru, Mr. Porzadny, we know it will turn out to be sublime and profound. Our very own dalai lama explains:
Sit Together for World Mental Health Day 2019
The Mindfulness in School Projects (MiSP) Community (www.mindfulnessinschools.org) is coming together to mark World Mental Health Day 2019 to raise awareness of the need for young people to develop skills to support their own wellbeing both inside and out.
Like many other school throughout the world we will have a mindful sit on Thursday October 10th2019 at 1pm in room 2.7. This will be a lead practice and will last 15 minutes. All staff and students are welcome to attend.
If you would like to know more about how Mindfulness can improve student’s lives I invite you to take 5 minutes and read the following interview between MiSP and Jon Kabat Zinn (one of the founding father of contemporary Mindfulness):
You know we can’t resist a LOTR reference, but the ‘kings’ in this case do not (yet) possess any sovereign kingdoms but they did certainly royally rock the Leaving Certificate in 2019 and now they have returned to spill their secrets to the Class of 2020. Tomás Clancy, Hugh Downes, Pearse Roberts and (Queen) Maggie Tighe were not necessarily our highest point-scorers (there were many!) but they all did extremely well and had gained acceptance into the course of their choice. Perhaps most importantly, they were also willing to tear themselves away from Freshers’ Week hedonism for a couple of hours!
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Tomás is now happily lambasting any sufficiently ‘unwoken’ ones still lurking in the medieval recesses of TCD where he is pursuing a degree in History and Politics; Hugh is conversing with the higher beings in Theoretical Physics on the other side of the same campus (but light years away); Pearse is exploring a broader spectrum of Science at UCD with his usual humble excellence and impeccable manners; and Maggie has chosen the noblest pursuit of all: mixing Classics, Music and English at UCC. To be honest, the ‘secrets’ which were spilled turned out to be just good common sense but the assembled Sixth Years did seem to receive a real boost in their confidence listening to those who were now on ‘the other side’ but who had so recently been in their shoes (and stylish purple Performance Space chairs). Mr. Carvill was once again the guiding Guidance spirit and he also arranged for a three hour professionally delivers study seminar to get the Sixth Years off on the right foot and into the world of ‘mind maps.’ Where will all this lead the Class of 2020? Hopefully to results as good as the Class of 2019. Below you see a graphic, courtesy of Ronan ‘Mr. St. Conleth’s, Jr.’ O’Kelly, which clearly sets out how well our graduates do compared to the rest of the nation. So, Sixth Years, who will be the returning kings next year?
Happy 80th Birthday!
Just by chance yesterday, at about noontime, a woman and toddler were walking down Clyde Road and, when they came to No. 28, they happened to run into one of our many resident wits of Sixth Year, who was casually leaning against one of the gateposts and enjoying his second (at least) ice cream cone of the day. The woman stopped (with the potential Conlethian child in tow) and stared aghast past said wit at the glorious mayhem of our 80th Anniversary Celebration, with children from four to eighteen (and Mr. Keenan) milling around with well-mannered abandon. The woman pulled her child closer and demanded to know if the school were like this every day. Our Sixth Year politely replied, ‘No, miss. Just on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.’ The woman shook her head in disbelief and stomped off down the road, perhaps to visit that more austere academic institution in Ranelagh.
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What that child will probably now never know is what eighty years of Conlethians have proudly known: our school is more than the sum of its parts (or its marks). It is community of individuals who, despite their differences, and in some cases, because of them, meld together in a shared pursuit of learning, yes, but also, camaraderie and good humour. And these qualities were very much on show at our 80th Birthday Party. Bernard Sheppard’s vision and Kevin Kelleher’s mission were recalled and celebrated as the school begins a brave, new era. Mr. ODulaing took the stage and set it with nostalgia for the past but also enthusiasm for the future.
Fr. Collins, Mr. Gallagher and several student readers brought our Christian ethos to the fore and Mr. Kilcommons made sure to include the Junior School students in the reverie. Ms. Sheppard cut the cake itself, with the help of two Conlethian legacies, Daniel Carroll and Charlie Power. And this being St. Conleth’s, there was beautiful music during the interludes. Then, to the delight (if not surprise) of all, the ice cream truck rolled in and the party really started!
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Of Points and Plans
There is nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition, especially when the end result is a shared victory. On Leaving Certificate Results Day, in a sense everyone is a winner as everyone gets that piece of paper which serves as a key in unlocking their future. Obviously, there is always a range of results and myriad paths forward. We congratulate all of the Class of 2019 for working to the best of their abilities and responding so well to the guidance of their teachers. We particularly congratulate Hugh Downes and Ian O’Neill, who both managed to garnish the full quota of 625 points on offer and finish in a draw atop the class and the nation. These perfect scholars, but also perfect gentlemen, will be headed where they want to go come September, as will the rest of our recent graduates and we wish them all well at university and beyond. Stay tuned as we await news of offers and acceptances and a more detailed breakdown of results.
The Golden Sword!
Past Pupil Philip Lee (Class of 1975) has become Ireland’s first ever European Champion in fencing! He won the European Veterans Championships in Cognac in France in early June, in the ‘Over 60’ age category in men’s foil. Yes, just a few years shy of getting his free travel pass (not that he needs it), Philip is still travelling the world, still fencing and still winning trophies! And judging from the effervesecent energy levels evident in his winning hit (and cavorting celebration and gentlemanly condolence for his opponent) and his acceptance of his medal, fencing must be the sport that keeps the spirit as well as the body young. Well done to Philip, an inspiration to our young and up-and-coming student fencers.
Ann Cramp: An Appreciation
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Ann Cramp. Aside from the Kellehers and Sheppards and perhaps a certain games master, no-one has been part of St. Conleth’s for longer than Ann Cramp. And certainly no-one has been more universally appreciated and beloved. Generations of Conlethians have benefitted from the ‘ship-shape’ in which she kept the school for decades, for most of them almost singlehandedly, and, just as importantly, staff and students alike have been for so long blessed with the constant presence of our own benevolent fairy godmother, always there with a kind word, a cup of tea, a quick joke and an unswerving loyalty and a capacity for care. Ann’s domain had shrunk a bit in terms of time and place in recent years, but whenever and whatever part of the school she was in, it was always the cleanest… and the happiest!
The Last Fence… Really!
Yes, we officially ended the seemingly endless flow of fencing news some weeks ago but a operantly we were foiled again… we had forgotten about the in-house St. Conleth’s Fencing League/Tournament! Started a few years ago by Fencing Captain emeritus Michael Li, it is a great way to end the season and the school year: a friendly but competitive series of bouts between Conlethians of all ages and sizes.
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Claudio Sosa instigated this year’s tournament but he needed help so Michael Li came back to both help organise (and compete) and Conlethian mom and alumna Kathrin Chambers kindly served as referee. The main combatants know each other well but still the competition was fierce, and even more exciting as it was conducted old school- sans electronic scoring! In the end the podium finishers were: First- Claudio Sosa, Second- Luke Sherlock and Third- Michael Li. See snaps of the action above and below!
Liverpool, Tottenham, Staff Team
Yes, there were three great games of soccer these past few days, but though the last displayed similar levels of skill and entertainment, we really cannot claim that the Staff Soccer Team’s victory was as surprising as the other two. Yes, Kane was in the stands and Bolger was making soup in Naas, but there the similarity in expectation ends. After all, the last time the Sixth Years beat the Staff there was a weedy forward causing havoc for them upfront (and a classy Canavan patrolling midfield): that stringy striker was none other than Shane Robertson, who is now a middle-aged goal machine for the teachers. His four goals in this year’s 6-3 Staff victory were as stylish s they were emphatic and his ‘goals per minute ratio’ of 0.08 trails only Mr. Latvis’s 0.10 in the official statistics.
Of course, the usual stalwarts of Mr. Kilcommons, Mr. Trenier, Mr. Sheridan, ‘Gaelic’ Gahan and the impish delight of Mr. O’Brien were there to seal the deal and recent Barcelona transfers Mr. Coleman and Mr. Smith played important parts, the latter taking Messi-like liberties (and passes and shots) as he roamed the pitch with abandon. The adjunct faculty also played an important part with debating coaches Conor Power and Oisin Dowling making some serious points and Gavin Nugent backing up his lunchtime soccer legend. Sean Ingle brought some blacktop swag from his native basketball (and Northside) and office staff Gavin Sheridan and Jack were obvious talents at the back and top of the pitch.
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The Sixth Years, in fairness, did their best, playing like a hustling Huddersfield against Man City. Joe ‘Cabo’ Hyland was on the injured list but his teammates, particularly Rory, Jack, Mark, Aviral, Andrew, Kealan, Dylan, James, Mark, Hannah (!) and Hugh did their best but, as they say, ‘class will out’. Current Fifth Years are already talking up their chances, and they do have some Ringsend/East D4/Raglan Road grit, but we are not really worried. A dozen years with the Goblet of Fire in our grasp…. see you next May!
Past Past Pupils Union President Donal Milmo-Penny and Current PPU Pres John Carvill organised the first ever St. Conleth’s Business Lunch and it was a smashing success, with close to 100 attendees at the Lansdowne FC. The featured speaker was Past Parent and famous entrepreneur Brody Sweeney and, by all accounts, his talk was as entertaining as it was enlightening, with Brody displaying both the confidence and humility, the ambition and realism which have enabled him to climb to the top of the Irish business world… twice! The Conlethians and friends who were gathered had a blast, with a bit of networking perhaps, but only as a side dish to the main courses of friendship, reminiscence and shared interests. Many schools do ‘business lunches’ but, as with everything at St. Conleth’s, we do them our way!
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Relatively Recent History
Apologies for not posting this sooner, but the combined Junior and Senior School Parents Association produced a fantastic newsletter back in March which highlighted some of the many goings-on at St. Conleth’s College from the start of the school year until February. It is available here and on our Parents page where there are also back issues. Well done to the many parents and students involved in its production. Life at St. Conleth’s has gone on since then, so we do expect an update, but in the meantime, stay tuned right here at stconleths.ie or, for a quicker read, our Twitter feed: @Stconleths. The normal disclaimers apply!
Hee-Haw! Welcome to MAGA Land!
Actually, that was just to get your attention: most of the debaters, even those supporting the Bouchier Hayes Plate Debate motion ‘THBT the current American president has made America great again’ quickly disavowed themselves personally from such a position, most hilariously by the impish Sammy Butler. Adam did bravely attest that the motion was irrelevant because America actually never lost its greatness and James H.R. as always, brought a rational evaluation to bear in his evaluation of ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named’- noble efforts, indeed; but hardly ones to find traction in this local outpost of the intifada.
This being St. Conleth’s, there was quality up and down the Pro and Con benches with Manus channelling Peter Gallagher; Grace Childs doing the same with both Hillary Clinton and Blanche DuBois; Harry being Harry; Saul, Joe and Robert stylishly making important points; and Frank’s rapier wit and logic winning the ephemeral ‘best individual speaker’ award. John Kelleher made some spot-on comments in his own speech and then prompted Tomás Clancy’s debating-clinching rant with his rather pointed and personal Point of Information. Tomás and his partner, impressive newcomer Oscar, had earlier laid a solid foundation for the win, but it was this spirited, impromptu defence of his own administration, Barack Obama and Western Democracy that sealed it. Or was it truly impromptu? John is good friends with Tomas, and the latter was recently caught reading ‘The Prince’ in History class. Machiavellian, indeed…
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The McCarthy and O’Connor Cups followed on this Day of Great Debate, with Past Pupil debating coaches Conor Power and Oisín Dowling clearly earning their break-time sausages, adjudicating three debates in a row. They best adjust their work-rate if they ever want a career in academia or the Civil Service. First Year Turlough Dineen won the McCarthy over some tough competition with a spirited speech on the motion ‘TH would make Irish optional in schools’ and Second Year Coleman ‘InfoWars’ Hegarty took home the O’Connor after debating ‘TH Regrets Acts of Civil Disobedience’ with a lively bunch of Second and Third Years. Messrs. Power and Dowling stumbled out the door at 3:20, exhausted but with a shared, renewed belief that the quality of Conlethian debating remains undiminished.
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Let Us Eat Cake!
To be honest, for all the lawyers, doctors and engineers we churn out of this place, it is not like many of these past pupils often drop any complementaries into the staffroom for their old teachers, like a coupon for colenoscopy or a voucher for a discount on divorce proceedings. Now, the culinary arts boys, they look after you! Michael Li graced the school with his presence for six years and now he graces us with delectable confectionaries: the latest being an absolute divine cheesecake!
It was all arranged after Careers Guidance Counsellor Ann Ryan welcomed in the Technological University’s Mike J O’ Connor. He told the Fifth Years all about the re-christened DIT’s Culinary Arts courses and presented Jimmy Crowe with the college’s anniversary book. Past Pupils Tony Barry and Jack Andrews, as well as Michael, are currently thriving at TU. And the following week, the lovely cake arrived, courtesy of Mike and Michael! Now, lawyers, doctors and whiskey distillers, it is your turn!
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Fifth Form Adventures
With all this hockey hullabaloo we have been a bit neglectful of our other newsmakers, particularly our little Conlethian brothers in Fifth Form who have been up to all sorts of activities (and surely a bit of mischief on the side), and without much fanfare at all! Well, better late than never! Below you will see an eclectic mix of photos documenting what Mr. Sheridan and his kids have been up to: space exploration and other science projects; taking part in our ‘miracles’ line-up; weekly rugby matches; using maths outside with our measuring tools; the Johnny Sexton ‘lucky boot’ competition; a business leader visit from Past Pupil and famous financier Matt Ryan; our Dragon’s Den event (dragons – Henry Sheridan, Mike Malone, Damien Clarke) for the JEP programme (Junior Entrepreneur Programme); and, of course, the various activities associated with our great ‘Egg to Chick’ project. Busy, indeed!
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Carvill Takes Control
So, this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause. Yes, the count has receded into the shadows and the chancellor has seized the reins of power… John Carvill has taken the position long prepared for him, with kingmaker Ronan O’Kelly smiling from the shadows and the outgoing Donal Milmo-Penny in gracious acquiescence. The new Past Pupils’ Union President presided over a riotous and raucous but ultimately redeeming Annual Dinner as we packed them in up to the rafters and the laughter and the reminiscences flowed as easily as the wine.
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In their speeches, both Ronan and John managed to walk that fine line between harnessing the energy of the mob and letting loose an anarchic frenzy. Ronan evoked Homer’s ‘catalogue of ships’ with his salutation to each year’s captain and John managed to be both heartfelt and tolerant in his very personal testament to the legacy he was inheriting.
And our guest speaker, Kevin Roche of the Class of 2014, had everyone rolling in the aisles with his masterclass in how to handle an audience that was increasingly resembling the assembled extras from The Vikings and The Walking Dead. His tributes to Ronan Bolger and our dear Jesuitical rivals, Gonzaga, were particularly touching. We retreated down Clyde Road earlier than most and hear that the party went on into the wee hours. At some point, however, not Elvis but Eskimo Prime did apparently leave the building!
Ballsbridge Braces for Past Pupil Party!
Let Blackrock prance and preen in the reflections off their 69 Leinster Senior Cups… let Michael’s attempt the same with their two… let Gonzaga brag about their chess dominion and accompanying groupies… and let Scotus win the yogic flying championships… but there is one thing these big boy schools cannot come close in comparison with dear old St. Conleth’s: the loyalty of our past pupils… and their propensity to party! Yes, the burghers of Ballsbridge and the dowagers of Donnybrook enjoyed one year of respite in 2018 thanks to the conspiring elements but nothing will keep the avalanche of alumni away from 28 Clyde Road this Friday night. And though we pride ourselves on simply having the biggest and best Past Pupils’ Union in the land, there are plenty of specific Conlethian accomplishments to celebrate, too. Kevin Roche (2013) will regale us with a first person account of how St. Conleth’s made the Irish Times Debate its own and there will be the shocking details of how we are now a hockey school! Come early and stay late but behave yourself reasonably well as you know well that Ronan O’Kelly, as always, will be watching!
The Debate is Over…
…and the motion has been carried: “That this House declares St. Conleth’s to be the greatest debating school in the land!” We should have taken our own advice (given below), and laid a few quid down at Paddy Powers as the Conlethian contingent at the Irish Times Debate Final 2019 came up trumps. Conlethians took both top prizes: Daniel Gilligan (2016) won the team prize with his Trinity Hist colleague, Ronan Daly, and Kevin Roche (2013) won the individual competition, representing The King’s Inns. Ninety-eight teams and more than three hundred contestants entered the debate this year, and when all the point-making, theatrical grimacing, barracking, and petulant posturing was over, it was Daniel and Kevin at the rostrum accepting the laurels. And not far off the pace was a third Conlethian, Conor White (2015). Rumours that the Irish Times debate is to be renamed ‘The Irish Times/St. Conleth’s Alumni Debate’ are yet to be confirmed but we look forward to more Conlethians on this grandest stage of Irish debating in the years to come!
The Third Triumvirate?
As the gentleman involved here know well, there have only been two notable triumvirates in all of European history: those of late Republican and early Imperial Rome. Now, there are whispers and rumblings in the back-corridors of power that a third may soon appear to lead us through these troubling times… Daniel Gilligan (Class of 2016), the ‘Baby-Face Killah’ of The Hist, is once again in the Finals of the Irish Times Debate, the pre-eminent third level debating championship in Ireland (won previously by PP Liam Brophy (2010). And this time he leads a Conlethian troika, as he is joined by Conor White (2015) and Kevin Roche (2013).
Kevin is currently using his bibulous barroom bluster to build quite a following amongst the brown-nosing barristers of King’s Inns while Conor has almost completed the process of gathering all the rings of power to himself in his hideout in UCD/Montrose/Mordor. Of course, the debating skills of all three were honed in the hothouse of roiling rhetoric that is the St. Conleth’s debating scene, and you will soon read how the current crop of debaters are living up to the lofty examples of these predecessors, in good part due to the fact that St. Conleth’s debating alumni, including this trifecta, always return to their alma mater to assure another bumper crop. So stay tuned, the Irish Times Debate Final is Friday, February 22nd and we have at least a three in eight chance of winning… and the bookies say that, really, it is odds-on!
It’s a Long Way…
… to Tipperary, indeed, but the likely lads (and lady) seen below, who accompanied Ms. Sheppard and Mr. Carvill on a trip down to the heart of the country passed the time by singing old rebel songs. Yes, for a neighbourhood which proudly returned a Unionist to the 1918 Dáil, there are now a surprising number of nationalist ‘green shoots’ arising from D4’s nutrient-rich soil! The sun was, indeed, setting over Slievenamon, as the plushly lined coach sped by, with rebel songs being belted out by those aboard, with that old rabble-rouser Mr. Carvill and James ‘The Bhoy’ Tempany taking the lead. Luckily, by the time the merry band reached their destination, the MacDonagh Heritage Centre in Cloughjordan, a more sober mindset had taken hold. For Ms. Sheppard and company were the honoured guests for the evening at the museum, as local historian and retired journalist Liam Doran was giving a talk on the legacy of none other than one Bernard Sheppard, who famously left the Tipperary town for Dublin and founded that great educational institution on Clyde Road of which we are all part. The talk was informative and entertaining and Mr. Doran and the locals were thrilled to have a contingent from ‘the big smoke’ in attendance.
St. Brigid and Bernard Sheppard!
With the belated arrival of the polar vortex and the permanent problem of dampness, this year in particular we needed Mr. O’Dulaing’s warming words about the coming of Spring on St. Brigid’s Day. And with help from words of wisdom and delight in Irish, as well as a bit of Gerald Manley Hopkins (early GMH, thankfully), our annual Catholic Schools Week Assembly was off and running, and the patter of sleet drops on our Performance Hall roof was rendered pleasant accompaniment. Of course, there were student musicians to join the ensemble: Gavin Roche Griffin, Caoimhe Moore and Rory Clarke captured the mood perfectly.
There was also serious work to be done: the presentation of our State Examination awards for 2018. Zachary Carr scooped the Murph Cup for highest Junior Certificate results (named in honour of longtime St. Conleth’s teacher) and a trifecta of genii ( Simon Pettitt, David Loftus and Conor Power) won the coveted Bernard Sheppard Medals for highest Leaving Certificate Points (all three earning 589). Bernard Sheppard founded St. Conleth’s in 1939 and though that seems a long time ago, he was not actually a contemporary of St. Brigid. The story is though, that St. Conleth, himself, got along famously with St. Brigid, and we like to think of the two Celtic saints watching over our endeavours to this day.
Winners of the Bernard Sheppard have a tendency to go on and do memorable things, and we have no doubt that the three fine young men named above will follow suit. Ann Sheppard, St. Conleth’s CEO, recently had a first-hand experience of the persistence and vitality of her father’s legacy: a friendly chat with an acquaintance recently revealed that the woman’s son was none other than Desmond Maurer of the Class of 1987 and the winner of that year’s Bernard Sheppard Medal. He was the first Conlethian to sit Ancient Greek in the Leaving Certificate and, having been inspired by the legendary John Rooney, Desmond went on to study Classics at the University of Edinborough, winning academic acclaim each year and graduating with a first. Desmond then worked with the United Nations in Bosnia, met his wife, settled down and retreated into blessed academia in Sarajevo. And now, Desmond’s own son Ian is due to join our Transition Year class in September. Desmond is also notable for having tempted absolute damnation (and social exclusion) by daring to leave the deified Peter Gallagher’s History class for Physics in Fifth Year. Let him try to get a good table in any swish restaurant around this town if word of that gets out!
A Trophy in Every Stocking?
Yes, the band of brothers (and Claudio) have been busy leading into the holidays, building up their supply of precious metals… perhaps for re-gifting at Christmas? There simply is no more room on the trophy shelf! Pembroke Fencing Coach Olga Volga and Conlethian fencing parent Kathrin Chambers provide a round-up of our recent fencing exploits:
At the National Fencing Seniors Championship, Claudio Sosa won a gold with his team, the mysteriously-dubbed ‘Pound of Fleche Reloaded’, made up mostly of fencers from The Queen’s University of Belfast (which our young Claudio was welcomed to join!). They were crowned as the National Champions for 2018 in the modern pentathlon premises in Blanchardstown.
Then Claudio and Luke travelled to Marburg in Germany for the 18th Marburg International Open City Championships. The standard was high as every at the competition and both boys competed on both Saturday and Sunday. Their efforts were rewarded as Luke brought home Bronze in both the U14 Epee and U14 Foil competitions. Claudio brought home Silver in the U17 Foil and Bronze in Senior Foil.
And, finally (for now!), the merry fencers travelled to Belfast last Sunday for the 2nd of the Northern Ireland Junior Foil Series and they returned with their now customary haul of medals, with Claudio securing gold once again in the U17 category, Luke Sherlock gold in the U14 and Matthew Sherlock taking home a hard fought silver in the U12s. Alas, it was a slightly depleted group as they were missing the Moriarty-Smyth brothers. James suffered an injury playing a more modern (and less sophisticated) sport t break-time. However, he is on the mend and will soon be back in action, leading the charge onto new fields of fencing glory!
We Look Back… and Forwards
Our Annual School Mass is always an affair in which we engage with mixed emotions. In this liturgical time of remembrance, we rightly look back and remember the Conlethians who are no longer with us, a list which grows longer each year. But we also take great joy and hope in seeing the ever-renewing community of St. Conleth’s, gathered as one in celebration of our Christian ethos. Our Chaplain, Father Michael, as always, had the right words for the occasion, reminding us of the hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day, and also the universality at the heart of our ethos.
The many names of St. Mary’s Catholic parishioners on the World War Remembrance plaque poignantly drove home the message. We are more must-cultural and multi-faith as a community than we were in 1918 or 1939, but the essentials of our Catholicism are such that they find much resonance in many other faiths and beliefs, and though the rites may be different, there is much more in common to keep us together. Together also were the Junior and Senior Schools which is always a delight to see- and hear. Ms. Hartnett and Ms. Fay and Ms. DeBhal had their respective choirs in top voice, as you can hear and see below!
The Next Lord Chancellor of Ireland?
Yes, Conor Power of the Class of 2018 now moves in rarified company, joining the bishops, the parliamentarians, the lord chancellors and the Daniel Gilligans as Exhibition Scholars at Trinity College. Conor’s achievement is even more impressive than the that of all the Anglo-Irish magnates who came before him: this is the first year that Trinity has limited the award to one honouree per secondary school. 589 LC points did the trick and now Conor has some spending money for books as he continues his study of Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Sociology. (Afterwards, he immediately ran down to Hodges Figgis for a hardback copy of ‘The Art of the Deal’). The ceremony itself was dignified and ye-olde-worlde-ly in a way that only Trinity can do properly. We half expected Professor Dumbledore to take the rostrum and Nearly Headless Nick to come crashing through the portraits but Provost Pendergrast and Dean Mitchell filled in admirably, if less dramtically. Of course, there was wine and hors d’oeuvres and plenty of pleasant conversation. Conor felt very much at home, despite his hurley-playing, mass-attending and republican-sympathising past. Seriously, we should be very proud of Conor and not just because he earned the points to win the award. He was also one of the most well-rounded, honestly enthusiastic and just plain gentlemanly young men to ever grace the halls of St. Conleth’s.
Top of their Classes!
We know we punch above our weight in rugby and hockey and the recent run by our basketball teams is certainly pleasing the bookies, but where we really annoy the actuaries (some of them our own alumni) is with our academic results. You have recently seen our Maths results charts with all the numbers and percentages but earlier this week there was even more tangible evidence of St. Conleth’s academic prowess: Mr. ODulaing had the pleasure of enjoying a few hors d’oeuvres with Simon Pettitt (Engineering), Oisín Gilligan (Science) and David Loftus (Computer Science) at UCD, where they were awarded Entrance Scholarships for their stellar LC results. Stay tuned, as next week we find out who of the Class of 2018 are the ‘winners at Trinners’!
Making News in Leinster!
With our JCT campaign kicking off today, it is good time to recall the essential role St. Conleth’s has played in the development of Leinster Schools Rugby… and to make one significant addition to our Leinster roll of honour. The latter, first: Nicholas Cunningham-Ash has been the starting No. 8 for the Leinster ‘Metros’ throughout the different rounds of the Bank of Ireland Shane Horgan Cup; the most recent match taking place on Halloween. It is a great honour for the immensely talented (and the impeccably mannered) Nicholas and he follows in a proud Conlethian tradition of sending our best players to play for their province or other selective teams. Nicholas now takes his place in a pantheon of Conlethian legends such as Ronan Cullen, Peter McAvock, Karl Finnegan, Kevin Dolan and Conor Gaul.
Of course, St. Conleth’s contributions to Leinster Rugby goes beyond providing stand-out players. A recent Leinster Match Programme detailed the pivotal role played by Paul Mullins in setting up the inter provisional dimension of the Schools ‘Section A’ and the contributions of many Conlethian coaches over the years. That would include Shay Keenan and Gavin Maguire, whose heroic holding high of the Section A Shield while being carted off the pitch on a stretcher remains burned on the retinas of all who were privileged to be there. And need we even mention the absolutely central role Mr. Kevin Kelleher played in Leinster Schools Rugby over the years? The Inter-Provincial Trophy now proudly bears his name, but references to Mr. K.’s influence and legend are made weekly on touchlines and in locker-rooms up and down the province. Ms. Sheppard was recently called on to present the trophy in his honour, with one of the recipients being a Junior School past pupil, no less!
Berries! Alumnus Chris Luke Honoured in Cork
We all know (because the Corkonians keep telling us) that Cork is the best city (or very large town) in Ireland, if not the world… d’ya know like. And since they are used to living with such a high level of native excellence, Corkonians are notoriously parsimonious in bestowing laurels on anyone not borne within spitting distance of the Lee. So, for Conlethian Past Pupil Chris Luke (School Captain 1976) to be named winner of the Cork Lifetime Achievement Award 2018 (for “outstanding service to the people of Cork”) it is great honour, indeed.
Chris has been head of Emergency Medicine in Cork University Hospital for many years and, after supervising the repairs to many a stocious Corkman who had received a dawk from some langer for so long, news of his imminent retirement inspired this rare honour. Chris was back at his alma mater recently, having delivered the keynote speech at our Parent Associations’ AGM. It was entitled ‘A Little Nightclub Medicine: Keeping “Party Animals” Safe in the 21st Century’ and was as entertaining as it was informative. We saw firsthand the rhetorical skills which have earned Chris the honour of being one of RTE’s regular experts when it comes to matters medical. Stay tuned, as Chris plans a working retirement, and we are sure to hear more from him over the airwaves and podcasts. Da Berries, indeed!
A Plethora of Portfolio!
Ms. Halpin has been busy. You have already seen, in other news items, snaps of the new Art Room in all its glory. Well it certainly did not come ‘out of the box’ looking like that! Ms. Halpin was here in the waning days of summer, getting the new digs ready, moving the enormous variety of materials, tools and supplies which art demands and making the tough decisions about which student masterpieces get hung on the walls, which get returned to their creators and which become the fodder for future art, via the green bin!
Not an easy job, as you can see yourself above and below, where we have assembled photos of much of last year’s Junior and Leaving Certificate art students’ best portfolio pieces. Enjoy them and take a good look, because the current year’s art students are beavering away and soon their own creations will be demanding and deserving some attention of their own!
Amacing Debaters!* Updated With New Photos!
As proved just last Wednesday, Conlethians are famously tough on the rugby pitch, but off the field we are notoriously reluctant to engage in juvenile fisticuffs when local toughs accost us at the DART station or ambush us in the darker recesses of Herbert Park. Many a time, primary schoolers from the other side of the tracks have been able to bully even our hulking back rows from the preferred perches along the duckpond. We are just too well bred to sink to that level of carry-on! Now, draw your epee and let us settle us this like gentlemen. Or, even better, wield your mace… I am sorry, you do not have one? No wonder, as nearly every debating mace awarded these last few years in Ireland is lying in our trophy case, which now resembles a veritable medieval armoury!
In medieval times, the mace was a fearsome weapon and a symbol of power and prerogative: now it is form of debate where the contestants have limited and un-coached preparation time. The student debaters have twenty minutes to prepare their proposition or opposition of the motion and then they get up and speak for four minutes about something they may know very little about. It is a skill that seems to come naturally to Conlethians. A few years back, Michael O’Dwyer (Class of 2010) memorably wielded the Mace of the English Speaking Union, awarded to the best university debater in the ‘British’ Isles. The latest mace wielders are Third Years Oisín and Evan Power, who recently won outright the Loret0 on the Green stage of the National Junior Mace, speaking with authority (assumed or actual) about such topics from the MMA to the election of judges, from bribing kids into Leaving Cert success to boycotting sports events in countries which have poor human rights records, such as Cuba, and defeating such debating powerhouses as Coláiste na hInse and Belvedere College. The Twin Powers (related only rhetorically) also recently won a round of the UCD L&H Leinster Junior Debating championships, as did fellow Third Years Joymarita Ratinikanth and Trevor Bolger just last week, and Second Years Colman Hegarty and Daragh Sweeney also finishing near the ‘top of the tape’. And on the Senior side of the competition we are doing just as well, with Fifth Years Frank Knowles, Joe Downey, James Hastings-Rafferty and Robert O’Connor all marching through the early rounds of the Leinster’s in style. Why do we, year-after-year, dominate Irish Schools Debating? Partly because of Moderator Mr. Carvill’s deal with the devil, but primarily because he brings back alumni debating coaches: currently, Conor White orchestrates a team of Daniel Gilligan, Conor Power, Simon Pettitt and Oisín Dowling… all of whom have a mace or two in the closet.
Good Grief, Greif!
Are you sure that is safe? Yes, we know we have molly-coddled our kids to the point where they risk and fun intolerant, but throwing them off Dun Laoghaire Pier with only wetsuits, helmets, flotation devices and security drones to protect them? Well, Past Pupil Sean Greif (Class of 2005) reassured us, we relaxed and the First Years had a ball.
Sean is taoiseach of Moontour, an innovative language adventure centre and for the past few years we have been sending various year groups down to him on Dun Laoighaire Pier for some cúpla focal and a whole lot of fun and the kids always come back happy, tired and satisfied. Ms. deBhal and Mr. Gahan were the lucky teacher escorts this time, and they brought back the action shots you see above and below.
Probably… the Politest Lacrosse Goalie in the World!
We have a slew of alumni news to tell you, and that is coming soon in a special omnibus, but if anyone deserves special mention and an article all of his own, it is Aongus Hegarty of the Class of 2017. Aongus was renowned at St. Conleth’s not only for his sporting acumen and academic excellence, but also for his sunny disposition, ready sense of humour and impeccable manners.
Well, lacrosse can be a challenging, rough and tough sport, and though we are sure Aongus has the talent and mettle for any sport to which he turns he his hand, we are also sure that he is now probably the politest lacrosse player on earth! Recently his UCD Lacrosse Team represented Ireland at the Lacrosse European Championships at the University of Ghent in Belgium. And while the UCD team was not the overall winner they played five exciting games against England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium, and Aongus was the star between the sticks. Quite impressive, considering Aongus just took up lacrosse in first year in UCD and is now the starting team goalkeeper. St. Conleth’s alumni once again flying the flag in the sporting arena!
Over The Next Fence!
Another term, another fencing season…. This year the blade bar has been upped: James Moriarty-Smyth and Claudio Sosa, having been selected by Irish Fencing, are now fencing at Under 17 level on the European Cadet Circuit. Last weekend the Conlethian pair, along with 10 other selected foilists, represented Ireland at the inaugural leg of the 2018/19 circuit amid the impressive surroundings of Bolton Arena, Manchester. Despite both of them being two of the youngest competitors, they gave it their all. James very narrowly missed the DE tableau of 128 fencers, ending the day ranked 135 out of a field of 170. Claudio ended ranked 143. The numbers may not seem that impressive at first, but remember, both boys are fencing above their age level and that the competitors are the best in Europe. And the is just in: The European Fencing Federation website now lists both James and Claudio with European rankings, courtesy of last weekend’s competition in Manchester. James is ranked 400th out of 538, while Claudio is 417th out of 538. Not bad for two kids who can barely get into a 15s movie on their own! See some of the action below, as well as one last shot of Fencing Captain emeritus, Michael Lee, as he hands his foil to new Captain Stephen Rockett and Vice James. (Thanks to Robert Smyth for news and pics.)
Style and Substance
We expected nattily dressed gentlemen and girls in gorgeous gowns and we were certainly knocked out with the style, but we also knew there would be a more important aspect of the Class of 2018 Debs’ reception at St. Conleth’s: a spirit of honest affection and appreciation, tinged with the tiniest bit of regret that we will no longer have these charming young men and ladies all to ourselves.
College degrees and career destinations were not the only topics of conversation on the evening: there was plenty of looking back as well as looking forward, with plenty of smiles and laughs about the years, whether two or twelve, these young adults spent growing up with us. After a very pleasant reception in the Performance Hall, the Conlethians headed off with their dates to Marco Pierre White’s for a meal to match their stylish attire. Well done to Mrs. Ivers and the other organising parents and to Past Pupil Michael Dunne for taking these amazing photos!
Uisce, Teanga agus Craic!
TYs enjoy a day of water-sports and Irish at Moontour, an innovative language adventure centre run by Past Pupil Sean Greif (Class of 2005). More details from Ms. Dorman, as Gaeilge:
Chuaigh lucht na hIdirbliana (TY) go dtí Dun Laoghaire an Mhairt seo caite chun lá a chaitheamh ag déanamh sport uisce as Gaeilge le hiar- dhalta St Conleth, Sean Greif. Bhí an-lá againn. Rinne siad ‘kayakadoireacht’ agus léimt on gcé (pier jumping!) Bhí an aimsir go hiontach, bhí an t-uisce ina chlár agus bhi an craic go maith! Thapaigh Jack Buckley an deis foto a fháil le Brendan Gleeson ar fheiceáil dó é ag siúl sios an cé, rud a chur an-áthas air!
No Magic Bullets…
Even School Captain emeritus Harry Mansfield, who very soon will be handling real ammunition as a Defence Forces Officer Cadet, had to admit: there is no magic bullet for doing well on the Leaving Certificate. Yes, consistent hard work seems to be the only key to success, but there are plenty of little tips and nuances which were teased out by Harry and fellow hi-fliers from the Class of 2018: Emer Healy-O’Reilly (Medicine-TCD), Oisin Gilligan (Science-UCD) and Gavin Nugent (BESS-TCD). The audience, the Class of 2019, hung on every word, seemingly paying more attention to these young veterans returning from the front lines than we old, armchair generals who are always banging on about the same things! Mr. Carvill once again organised the affair and once again it was an undoubted success: you could just feel the steely sense of determination in the room as the recent alumni wrapped up their comments and the current Sixth Years immediately got down to work!
First Year Rugby Enjoys 3-0 Debut!
We have decided that last Wednesday’s stunning start to the St. Conleth’s rugby season, with First Years winning all three matches, deserves a bit more attention! Head of Junior Rugby Louis Magee (and Celestial King of All Sport Gavin Maguire) must be very proud of their First Year players and coaches (Messrs. O’Brien, Smith and Pogatchnick), indeed. In the annals of St. Conleth’s Rugby History, rarely have we seen a rugby team begin with such chutzpah and bravado in the locker-room… and then actually back it up on the pitch! The participation rate, particularly in First Year, was almost 100% and we encourage the boys to keep turning out. Everyone played their part, but below we see some of the leading try-scorers (mind you, only some of them): Russell Bolger, Harry Cooper-Reid, Matthew O’Leary, Luke O’Keefe, Luke Timlin and Daniel Fagan. Alumni might recognise some of the names: Matthew is the little brother of Ryan (the famous scholar athlete of the Class of 2015) and Harry is the cousin of Myles (the famous entrepreneur of the Class of 2011 ), proving that there is something special in that Conlethian blood! The coaches were also thrilled to see so many parents on the touch-lines. If we keep up the support and the training attendance, these boys can go places!
A Walk on the Wild Side
We have cultivated, nay, invented a good-natured competition regarding our Past Pupil accomplishments: Who has been more influential, the STEM-siders or the liberal artists? Well, here is one alumnus who strides both sides of that artificial line. Colin Stafford-Johnson (Class of 1982) has been filling British and Irish TV screens with stunning wildlife photography and insightful, knowledgable commentary for decades. So, Biology, English and Art teachers of yore, all take a bow! What is Colin up to now? Well, paradoxically in a culture of digital dominance and ephemeral video bites, the grand Victorian tradition of the ‘Talking Tour’ has returned with gusto. It seems people do want meet, see and listen to real people in the flesh, and share in their extraordinary experience. Well, there is no-one with more tales to tell and experiences to recall than Colin, and I am sure the moors, the bogs and the mountain-tops will come through in vivid colour and their wildlife will spring to life when he walks on stage and takes the mic. See the dates and details of the tour below and stay tuned for more St. Conleth’s Alumni News!
It did not take long for our First Year Boys and Girls to find a suitable and satisfying place at St. Conleth’s. Yes, the first few days were a bit hectic with three way subject splits and multiple room switches but all that confusion had a noble purpose: to give as much academic choice as possible to the newest Conlethians. And there were the usual negotiations around the water fountain, canteen queue and break-time ball-games in the yard but they are all part of settling in at No. 28 Clyde Road and part of growing up. There to give a helping hand to our ‘freshmen’ were Mr. Carvill’s small army of Fifth Year Mentors, old pros at cultivating the culture of St. Conleth’s.
Of course, our Juniors are also settling in and one place which is new to all is the Art Room. With acres of space and copious amounts of light, it is the kind of room that just draws you in and you simply don’t want to leave. Past Pupils Mati Remi (a great artist himself) and Muireann Dempsey dropped by for a visit and were duly impressed. Below you see Junior School Art Teacher Ms. Mellon with some of her budding Bacons at work!
For a relatively small school, St. Conleth’s punches far above its weight in many areas, including alumni accomplishment. You have read all about our scientific, business and artistic alumni hi-fliers below, but now we have news of a Conlethian past pupil making waves in a very different talent pool. There we were minding our business en route to the Jordan Peterson rap gig when we were suddenly addressed with a mighty ‘Yo!’ from across a crowded Starbucks. Lo and behold, Eskimo Supreme himself approached with hearty greetings and warm reminiscence. See, once upon a time, Mr. Supreme was known as Alex Sheehan (Class of 2014) and we had the pleasure of his company in Latin class. Alex showed his verbal dexterity (and, yes, his ‘verse-atility’) even then, often handing in his own lyrics, or those of noted American rapper Maximus Minimus, instead of the the requested lines of Catullus.
Whatever his homework assignment accuracy, Alex was always friendly, witty and energetic and these qualities have come to the fore as he has forged a now international career as half of Ireland’s foremost rap duo, Versatile. With millions of views on YouTube, feverish media attention (including the venerable New York Times), a contract to be the ‘face’ of Lifestyle Sports trainers ads, and an upcoming, headlining gig at the Olympia, Versatile are already big, and getting bigger. And the Conlethian connection runs even deeper. For who is the ‘third Verasatiler’, the shadowy figure behind the decks, laying the beats and tinkering with the tracks for Eskimo and his performing partner Casper, and approaching George Martin- status in the rumours and whisper of the Irish music scene? None other than Evan Kennedy, also of the Class of 2014, and the dominant musical performer, producer, guru and roadie of the St. Conleth’s music scene during his six years at the school. Due to some rather mature (but usually ironic) lyrics, you will have to search up their music on YouTube yourself, but hurry up: Eskimo Supreme and Co. are going places!
Stop Doodling, Jack!
Yes, we ourselves were guilty of occasionally shouting that at Jack Siggins (Class of 2009) back when he was in LC Classics and instead of listening to our repetitious yet sonorous description of Alexander the Great’s precise cavalry movements, he was carefully putting the last deft pencil marks to a masterful portrait of the legendary Indian King Porus, sitting astride his war elephant. If corrected, Jack would then launch into a full-throated defence, in the posture and accent of said Porus, and in Broadway musical style, with eager accompaniment by Maurice and Laurence Wright, Gavin Duffy… Yes, there was no denying Jack’s artistic talent (or his wicked wit): it was just the question of finding the proper time and place for its application. Well, we are happy to report that Jack has found his niche and it is at the exiting nexus of art and technology as he has combined his undoubted creativity with digital know-how. Check out his work below (and on Instagram and here) and drop him a line if you are in the business. With all our previous (mostly imaginary) malarkey about a STEM vs. The Arts alumni competition, it is great to see someone who has talent and a promising future in both traditions!
No, Really, What Did We Do This Year? *Corrected Edition!
Well, loads, judging by the 47 (!) pages of the 2017-2018 St. Conleth’s College Parents Association Combined Newsletter (*now with the proper 2018 message from Principal ODulaing!)! If you are a parent, check your email or get it right here. Well done to PA Chairs Michael Mansfield and David MacNicholas and all the parents and students who contributed. Perfect beach reading!
Avoid The Summer Doldrums: Get ‘Food Active’!
An army runs on its stomach and a school runs on its canteen. At St. Conleth’s College we are convinced that Chef Mark McColgan is the main reason why attendance rates are so high amongst both students and staff. A common scene in the early a.m. on the southside of Dublin: “Oh… French test today….I don’t feel very well…wait…it’s Tandoori Chicken Salad today…I’m in!”
Well, you can spend part of this summer not only enjoying those fave dishes, but making them too! Chef Mark is returning with his popular ‘Food Active’ Summer Camp and July at St. Conleth’s is sure to be an exciting and eclectic mix of cookery, sport and fun. Find all the contact details here or above and get onto Chef Mark. Places are limited and Food Active is always the place to be when those long summer days roll in!
The Last Fence?
You knew the fencers would not give up the headlines to all that graduation hullabaloo without a fight. Two fencing parents Kathryn Chambers and Robert Smyth report on the last salvos of another record-setting season, and as you might expect, our young competitors did not fall at the last fence!
Our Conlethians were all on the piste again two weekends ago at the Irish Youth Open. We have three newly crowned Irish champions from the event. Claudio Sosa won both the U14 and U17 categories in foil, Myles Moriarty-Smyth won the U10 foil category and Luke Sherlock won the U14 mixed épée. Claudio, Myles and Luke also won the Pembroke Fencing Club’s best fencer trophies for their categories. James Moriarty-Smyth finished second in the U14 foil and Matthew Sherlock third in the U10 foil.
We are also thrilled to announce that Myles Moriarty-Smyth has been awarded an Adrian Lee & Partners Fencing Scholarship for 2018/19. He ended this season ranked No.1 in Under-10s Mixed Foil both here and in the North. He amassed a record 210 points for his age group, taking Gold in all competitions on both sides of the border. Aside from winning Pembroke Fencing Club’s Best Fencer Award for Under-10s, he also ended this season ranked joint 6th in the Boys U-11s category of the UK’s prestigious Leon Paul Junior Foil Series.
And last Friday, the St. Conleth’s Fencing Club annual competition took place in the school sports hall. The aim of this competition is to put to test the skills of all the fencers in the school, and there was certainly stiff competition to see who came out on top! The 2018 champion was Claudia Sosa (2nd Yr); in second place was Luke Sherlock (1st Yr) and in 3rd, Matthew Sherlock (4th Form). There was a nice mix of 2nd years, 3rd years as well as a couple of 4th formers competing on the day. Other 4th formers also fenced it out in old fashioned style… that is, without electric equipment! There was also the poignant moment captured on film below, when Michael Li, Conlethian fencing god, handed the Captaincy over to Stephen Rocket. Well done Michael on captaining St. Conleth’s during a tremendous period of growth and best of luck to Stephen taking us even further!
Things did not look good for the Staff Team in the moments leading up to kick-off. Yes, we had retained the legendary ‘Goblet of Fire’ for over ten years. Yes, we always play a stylish sort of football, which leaves the students and the various Irish national teams which frequent the Irishtown facility gnashing their teeth in jealousy on the sidelines. And yes, the current 6th Year soccer-heads did not look remotely capable of organising the proverbial beverage imbibery in a brewery (or even at Wetherspoon’s in Dun Laoghaire). And yet, doubts had sneaked in and multiplied as the team news leaked onto Twitter: Mr. ODulaing, our Paul McGrath, and Mr. Kilcommons, our Tony Adams, were unavailable. Mr. Bolger was pre-occupied with domestic duties and, our talisman, Mr. Ahern, he who had somehow scored three times without using his feet or head, had moved on to a different team. And everyone, especially Mr. Trenier, was a year older. And the Sixth Years had Marlon.
But Pat McGrath, our Director of Football, showed up with a bag full of tactics, having recently returned from the Soccer Academies of the Basque country. And he and Mr. Latvis managed to field the perefct mix of veteran guile and youthful (relative) energy. Answering the call were ‘T-Dawg’ Trenier and ‘Show -Me’ Sheridan, the well-seasoned anchors of our defence; Mr. ‘Hightower’ Magee, an agile giant in the leftback position; Mr. ‘Ace’ O’Brien, who brought his skater-punk ethic and fashion sense to the right wing; youngsters ‘Dig it, Dag it’ Doggett, ‘Pretty Boy’ Murphy, Shane ‘Robertson’ Robinson and the crossover duo of Mr. Gahan and Sean Ingle. There were some ‘adjunct’ staff, too: another Mr. Latvis, who teaches Applied Latin on Saturdays; Gavin Sheridan, our night watchman; and Dr. Jack Nolan, who once moved some chairs for an Alumni Dinner a few years ago. Tirelessly pursuing Marlon all over the pitch, and partially disrobing him, was our resident, hard-nosed ginger midfielder: ‘Wolverine’ Lonergan. And contrasting in style, but just as efficient, were Mr. Conroy, who played wing with modern language flair, and our Wellness Guru, Mr. Porzadny, who played right back while in a permanent state of ethereal bliss.
To be fair the students gave us a great match, and the football was surprisingly flowing. Except for one titanic, manly mid-air collision between Trenier and McKay, which seemed to rip a hole in the space-time continuum, most of the play was stylish and pleasing. There was a bit of whinging on the students’ side about some good, old-fashioned tackling, but the youngsters did also manage to play a bit: Alex Murphy was strong in goals; Ronan Connor combined some American-style athletic play with attempted continental skulduggery; Gavin Nugent brought the strength and Pedro brought the style (and one dirty tackle); Tim Leary never stopped running; Conor Power was as solid and noble as ever and Rory was avant-garde in his moves as he is with his movies. There was a strong supporting cast, and, of course, Marlon. That old football commentary of ‘A different class! A different class!’ was ringing in our ears every time he took the ball and floated through midfield. But we had some style, too. A Mr. Latvis scored a stunner of a free-kick; Shane’s tireless efforts chasing everything down yielded a hard-won goal, and our part-time, night watchman Gavin Sheridan launched an unstoppable blast from another dead ball. Okay, there was a bit of Stoke in our Barcelona, but… job done, Goblet of Fire retained!
The deck was stacked against the Staff basketball team from the start. The Sixth Years (the Man City of schools basketball) had a veritable All-Star team ready to roll, having recently bought up most of the available free agents at the trading deadline, including the expensive foreign imports, Marlon ‘Air’ Marishta and Michael ‘Lethal’ Lee. What could the Staff team do but resort to the time-honoured Irish method of trying to nip a victory with heart and grit (and a bit of hold and trip) or, at least, making the loss as difficult and as bloody as possible! There was also some native talent on the student team: Conor ‘Tower’ Power performed his usual, thankless task of impersonating a Wisconsin farmboy and methodically pulling down rebound after rebound; Oisín ‘Puck’ Gilligan floated around the 3-point arc all day like his Shakespearean hero, flitting from side to side and occasionally inflicting dagger treys; Alex Murphy, despite feeling a bit queasy as it was all a bit cosier and sweatier than a lawn tennis match at the Fitz, still managed to make some spirited drives; Luke ‘McHey’ McKay’s quickness, dexterity and cockiness transferred well from rugby as did Gavin Nugent’s heart and hustle; and Captain Harry launched shots from every possible position and angle, even making a couple. Coupled with Marlon’s F-15 assaults on the rim and Michael’s lethal defence, it is no wonder the Staff team felt the pressure!
Coach Sean Ingle’s dramatic, just-in-time, tip-off arrival harkened back to 1970 when Willis Reed stumbled out of the locker-room at half-time and spurred the Knicks to championship glory. And the support of the many watching student fans 9both Junior and Senior), decidedly Staff supporters, gave us extra impetus. Our own ‘High-Tower’, Mr. Magee, battled nobly with the student giants; relative youngsters Gahan and Robinson ran and jumped with abandon; and Mr. Lonergan brought his usual Wolverine effort to loose ball pursuit and Mr. Sheridan showed a bit of French flair with his passing, all complementing true pro Ingle’s masterclass in floor generalship, but in the end, alas, it was not to be, as the study march of time and Mr. Keenan’s quick whistle eventually did us in. It is a good thing we not have long to wait for revenge: the Staff are looking to extend their ten-year unbeaten streak vs. Sixth years on Tuesday in the annual soccer match in Irishtown!
All this recent falafel about art, music and cooking has annoyed the STEM lords and stirred them to action! You previously read here how the Sixth Years did so well in the IMTA competition. Now, Ms. NiAonghusa sends us a wrap-up of the other goings-on in Maths this year, and to be fair, they have been busy!
Michael Donnelly and Coleman Hegarty qualified for the Junior Maths Competition, hosted by Oatlands College. Qualification is through a open but rigorous examination, and to have two students from first year get selected is quite an achievement.
Sixth Years enjoyed trigonometry al fresco in Herbert Park, where students mimicked Hipparchus of Nicaea, using their theorems (and calculators) to measure real-life geometric shapes.
Second Years explored the exciting realm of three-dimensional figures, by making ‘nets*’ (and decorating them with interesting ads). *A “Geometry Net” is a flattened out three dimensional solid (a three dimensional shape) — like a cube, a prism or a pyramid. When you cut out the “net”, fold it and glue it together you can see what the three dimensional shape looks like.
Of course, there is always lunch-time sudoku to pass the time.
And, far below, you see a panoramic shot of all of 1B exploring their ‘median’ height. It will be interesting to see how this line-up changes over the years: sometimes the late-bloomers pass out the early birds. Watch out, Lucas! Come on, Shane!
Conlethians: Here and There!
Regular readers might surmise that we have no editorial process at all, but St. Conleth’s is such a busy place that we actually do have to sift daily through a pile of news and events, trying to determine what is ‘fit to print’. For example, look what happened in and around 28 Clyde Road, just in a couple of days, last week: 1) Mark Hainbach, School Captain of the Class of 1973 and current administrator with the Ballsbridge College of Further Education, visited to give Fifth Year students a careers talk and to chat with his old rugby coach, Mr. Keenan. 2-3) Mr. Bolger’s Geography Second Years (and Trevor’s drone!) helped Ordnance Survey Ireland with mapping Herbert Park 3) A motley soup of Fifth Years goggled through the window at After-School Study 4) Juniors photo-bombed Gav’s SCT photoshoot 5) The girls torched the boys in tag-rugby! 6) The Friday Champions League entered its crucial stages 7) Latin Second Years pick their flores like Proserpina and 8) found some interesting graffiti and 9) joined with Ms. Leary’s First Class for an impromptu picnic. 10) Sixth Years practise their graduation song. 11) Classics kids had a civilised discussion about Hellenistic sculpture. Busy, busy, busy! 12) And this just in off the wire: We previously reported that Ciara MacNally had finished a hard-luck second (by 1 pt) in the Leinster Girls Golf Competition, but due to a correction in the handicap calculation, she has now been declared the winner! Well done!
Fencers Climb National Rankings
We can barely keep up with the fencing news and results at St. Conleth’s! This just in off the wire:
Saturday saw a sizeable number of Conlethians, both past and present, fence Senior Men’s Foil at the Irish National, hosted by Irish Fencing and held at Loretto Abbey, Dalkey. The two day event is the high water mark of the calendar as it is the last opportunity for Senior points and therefore the decider for final ranking and international selection.
Conlethians: Philip Cripwell – Silver (in a gripping final, losing 14-15 in the extra minute!); Philip Lee – 7th (Best Veteran); Claudio Sosa – 10th; James Moriarty-Smyth – 18th; Adrian Lee – 24th. And Kathrin Chambers (both alumna and fencing mom!) placed 10th in the women’s foil and also gained the title of Best Veteran!
For the current crop of St. Conleth’s foilists, the day’s results give final Senior rankings of Claudio 29th and James 39th out of a season’s field of 88 fencers. Not bad for a couple of school-kids, fencing against adults!
Conlethians Impress the Sensei!
Last weekend, Fencing Ireland invited a senior coach from the internationally acclaimed Club Jesi in Italy to Dublin. The St Conleth’s College gym was packed to the gills with 26 up-and-coming fencers from all over Ireland.
Coach Filippo Triccoli put James Moriarty-Smyth and Claudio Sosa Smatrala through their paces during two grueling days and each received two private lessons with the Sensei Filippo Triccoli. Luke Sherlock joined them on day two, following a Saturday spent sailing with other Conlethians at the INSS, and he also benefitted from a one-on-one session with the international master. The noble art of Fencing may be relatively new to Ireland, however, its traditions here are firmly rooted in St Conleths’ College!
A Gentleman… and a Schol!
We all knew that Daniel Gilligan was the perfect gentleman: no Conlethian had won as many laurels as Daniel in his time at 28 Clyde Road, and no Conlethian had worn them so lightly. Now Trinity College is enjoying the benefits of having Daniel Gilligan as a debater, student leader and downright, old-school intellectual. Everyone knows about the ‘schols’ of Trinity: an elite group of students who are selected by rigorous examination to receive a generous scholarship, including rooms and ‘commons’, a Hogwarts-like daily gathering of the berobed great and good of TCD for conversation, a meal (with ‘Grace’ said in Latin!) and a tipple. Daniel now joins this august company and we look forward to his future battles (rhetorical and otherwise) with rival Conlethian alumni great, Conor White, who is currently marshalling his crew amongst the Ad Astra crowd at UCD. Batman vs. Superman II!
Past Pupil Dinner Cancelled
The Clyde Road Residents Association, the local constabulary and the gendarmes may be relieved, but it is with great regret that we announce that the 2018 Past Pupils Dinner has been cancelled. Full refunds are available. It is the first time in the full seventy years of its existence that the ‘show’ has not gone on. We will leave you with some photos from last year’s soirée to ease the pain and hope to see you all back at your alma mater in 2019!
How dare those debaters steal the spotlight! Don’t they know that pride of place on the front page is always reserved for fencers? Sure enough, the swashbucklers were at it again over the ‘break’…
Last Sunday, James Moriarty-Smyth and Claudio Sosa competed in the East of Ireland Open, a Tier A-ranked Senior National Circuit competition, hosted at UCD. In a series of twists worthy of the pen of Dumas, Conlethian youngsters were pitted against some savvy old boys! James ended his campaign against Philip Cripwell (see above!) at the Second ‘DE’ stage. In a parallel ‘current versus past pupil’ contest, Claudio found himself facing Philip Lee, founder of Pembroke and current Irish Fencing President, in his first round of poules! The Conlethian Contingent, both old and new, fenced extremely well, with the ‘New Wavers’ of Claudio and James placing 10th and 31st respectively. Not bad for boys fencing men!
The recent exploits of Philip Cripwell, Class of 2014, marry two of our consistent themes at stconleths.ie: fencing and STEM. Fencing, as you can see above and below, is a consistent good news generator at the school, as training continues for both Juniors and Seniors under Maître David Couper and our merry band of swordsmen gather trophies from far and wide. Of course, fencing has been a part of St. Conleth’s since the beginning, and Philip played a pivotal role in its legacy while a student here, winning at every level in many competitions. And as you can see from this attached letter from TCD, Philip’s fencing has gone from strength to strength since graduation and is current East of Ireland, Irish Open and Senior National Champion, and now the proud recipient of a Trinity College Sports Scholarship. And what is Philip’s chosen field of study? Mechanical Engineering (that would be the ‘E’ in STEM). So, yes, the laboratory and school sports hall can claim equal credit for this latest Conlethian alumnus making the headlines!
Another STEM Star From St. Conleth’s!
Whatever alchemy Michael Manning, Brendan Doyle and the other St. Conleth’s Science teachers were up to in the school lab over recent decades, it certainly did work! You can read about the multiple American based professors of Maths and Science spawned in the Manning/Doyle lab in our 75th Anniversary Annual and you have read in these very pages about Dervilla Mitchell, an Irish female engineering pioneer, nevermind the Zorin brothers, more recent Conlethian alumni (of the Mr. Callaghan era) who are shaking the very foundations of the Microsoft Empire with ZorinOS.
Well, now they all must make room in the pantheon of Conlethian STEM greats for physicist Michael Moloney, recently named the CEO of the prestigious American Institute of Physics, one of the most influential science organisations on the planet and industry leaders in science publishing and research. Basically, Mr. Moloney is now Tony Stark, Professor X and Dr. Bruce Banner all rolled into one! Check out the AIP and the press release above, and try to pick Michael out in his graduation photo below!
The Alumnus, The Drummer and The Keeper
Evidently, the fat lady has still not sung…. as Past Pupil and rennaisance man Nick Kelly has continued to push boundaries and mix media in a variety of creative pursuits: first, as the main singer/songwriter of the aforementioned, seminal 1980’s alternative rock band, then as a solo artist and fluid musical collaborator while working a commercial film director and, most recently, as the writer and director of The Drummer and The Keeper, an innovative and daring look at the issues of autism and mental illness through the captivating story of a young man’s friendship with an ageing rock star. Nick was kind enough to invite our older students to a special showing of the movie and then followed it up with a Questions and Answers session back at the school in our new Performance Hall. It was a fantastic experience for the students, as these issues touch many of our lives and Nick was so open and engaging. And our film aficionados, such as Cinema Club president Rory Sweeney, particularly enjoyed this chance to hobnob with a professional. Rory recently spent time working with the Gleesons (Brendan et al) on the shooting and production of a short film and seems destined for a career in the field. Also on hand was fellow Sixth Year Alex McCarthy, cousin to The Drummer and The Keeper lead, Jacob McCarthy.
The Pro Shots Are In!
Yes, we entertained you with those live-action shots of the Class of 2017 Debutants Ball, but even the iPhone 8+, de riguer at St. Conleth’s, cannot match the skill and touch of a pro. Here you see a sampling of the portraits taken on the night by professional photographer Seamus Travers. If you would like more, in hi-res originals and/or prints, contact him at [email protected] Again, well done to PA Chairman Mr. Mansfield, the Organising Committee and in particular, Alan Collins, Treasurer of the SSPA, on organising such a successful night… and such a talented photographer!
High-Flyers Point the Way!
As Deadalus once told his son Icarus, steering the middle way is the way to succeed in most enterprises, including getting enough Leaving Cert points for your desired CAO course. That was the advice, anyway, from some of the high-flyers of the Class of 2017 who, at the behest of Mr. Carvill, came back to their alma mater to inspire the current Fifth Years and Sixth Years. Each of the current university First Years had their own take on study strategies but all agreed that a sensible balance of schoolwork and a healthy, active lifestyle is the way to go . And with the point totals and university courses such as these, the youngsters were all ears. Just don’t tell them where Icarus ended up! Sean Keane- Points: 613, College Course: Biomedical Science (UCD); Jamie Lawless- 566, Law and History (UCD); Isobel Nugent- 521, Business & Law (UCD); Annalisa Sorensen-554, BESS ( TCD); Ross Murphy- 543, Business & Law (UCD).
Aonghus and Friends: The 2017 Debs!
Forgive the delay in reporting on the St. Conleth’s Class of 2017 Debutante Ball. First there was the little issue with Fireman Sam and then we had the darndest time finding some suitable photos! PA Chairman Michael Mansfield did his part, sending us a report before the slow set had even started, but then we waited in vain for the avalanche of images to arrive! So we resorted to trolling (in the old-fashioned sense) Bebo, MySpace, Orkut and various other hip internet chatrooms but all to no avail. Finally, Sixth Year Enya O’Brien hooked us up with some stylish snaps of stylish date Luke Nestor and friends and then we hit the goldmine by raiding Aonghus Hegarty’s Facebook page. This explains the presence of Aonhgus’s beaming visage in nearly everyone of our photos, but to be honest, one could do worse: Aonghus is one of the most handsome, friendliest and most-missed members of the Class of 2017!
And the evening itself? A smashing success. A huge congratulations is due to Mr. Mansfield, the Organising Committee and in particular, Alan Collins, Treasurer of the SSPA who did trojan work behind the scenes to make this happen for the graduates after cancellation of other venue only two weeks ago. We have been promised more photos (please send to [email protected]!), including some formal shots, so stay tuned!
Michael O’Dea: Alumnus, Trustee, Architect and Friend of St. Conleth’s
It is quite an achievement to say that one arrived at St. Conleth’s at the same time as a certain Kevin D. Kelleher and Michael O’Dea was as proud of this distinction as any other in life full of personal and professional distinctions. Michael’s life, family and legacy are as intertwined with that of St. Conleth’s as was Mr. Kelleher’s, and it is fitting in this time of such great excitement over the new KDK Wing, we also remember the man who did so much over the years to build this great school, both in bricks and mortar and in ethos and spirit. Ann Sheppard, CEO of St. Conleth’s, remembers Michael’s life-long loyalty and friendship:
It was with great sadness that we learned that Michael O’ Dea had passed away on Monday evening. Micheal had been a Trustee of St. Conleth’s since the Educational Trust was set up in 2001. He started in St. Conleth’s in 1944 as a nine-year-old pupil, the same year as Kevin started as a teacher and has been a friend to us all ever since. His brother Mark, as well as his four children – Michael, Caroline, Stephen and Joe, his niece and nephews – Ruth O’Dea, Paul, David and Ben Moore, and his grandson Sam O’Dea were all pupils with us and his grand-daughter Eva Stylianides is currently a bright spark in Second Year. He has been president of the Past Pupils Union, a proud winner (twice) of the Kinlen Cup and many of us will remember his gifts as a public speaker and his memorable voice as the official voice of Lansdowne Road for all interntational rugby matches.
My last official business with him was to seek approval to appoint Peter Gallagher as a Trustee, with which he wholeheartedly agreed. He had been so disappointed not to be able to attend our Board dinner last year. He has always been so supportive of St. Conleth’s and interested in all that was going on and thrilled that his granddaughter Eva was in the first bunch of First Year girls and was Pupil of the Year. Needless to say his contribution to the development of St. Conleth’s, as its architect, has been enormous, starting with the revamp of the kitchen around 1961. The yellow formica table, around which we all still gather, is still in great nick, a small but fitting legacy to a man who did so much to build the essence of St. Conleth’s.
We will miss him. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.
It was with a sense of disbelief and then heavy hearts that we heard the news that Ishan Prasai, a member of the Class of 2017, had passed away in his native Nepal after a short illness. Ishan was a quiet but vibrant member of the St. Conleth’s community for three years, and we have nothing but the fondest memories of his time with us. Friendly, good-humoured and talented, Ishan was one of those rare people who could light up a room without raising his voice, but when he did, everyone listened. Ishan was a good friend to those in his inner circle but he was also a good friend to those in the wider circle of St. Conleth’s. Schools, like any other group of people, tend to split into cliques of people who share similar interests. Ishan moved between these groups with consummate ease and impeccable manners. Just one demonstration of the extent and depth of Ishan’s influence is that when the news filtered through of his passing, several of the younger Conlethians were visibly upset when they connected the name with the Transition Year boy who had so gently and kindly tutored them during their Junior School days.
This active kindness was also on display when Ishan, inspired by the suffering in Nepal after a devastating earthquake, organised and managed the single most successful charitable fundraiser in the history of St. Conleth’s. He spurred his fellow Transition Years to raise over €4,000, showing that, yes, there is something that can be done in the face of tragedy and that you do not need to be loud to be a leader. Of course, it is also with music which we associate Ishan. From his stunning solo performance at Transition Year Night through his starring role during the Graduation Ceremony, Ishan was at the musical heart of St. Conleth’s. He was a member of the school choir which performed at nearly all our events and went out into the community, especially to sing yuletide carols at the local nursing home. For someone from a non-Christian background, Ishan was particularly good at spreading Christmas cheer! One of Ishan’s standout performances at our school concerts was his solo rendition of Hozier’s ‘Take me to Church’, during which he radiated passion and humility. Ishan’s vocal and musical performances matched the way he lived among us: with sincerity and grace.
“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind.”
Words of Wisdom
Alumni (and alumnae) are constantly dropping in at 28 Clyde Road, and the door is always open to those past pupils who would like to stop in for a visit or a chat or a character reference for the gardai… Sadly, Mr. Kelleher, a mainstay of these reunions for so many years, is no longer with us, and though we could never match Mr. K’s uncanny ability to remember the faces and names which go with them from the past 70 years, we do our best. When Michael O’Dwyer (2010) recently dropped in, no arduous memory-trawl was necessary, such was the impact he made on St. Conleth’s. Captain of that memorable Class of 2010, winner (with Cathy McShane) of the All-Ireland Debating Championship and all-around smart (but nice) guy, Michael made an indelible impression on his classmates and teachers while he graced these halls. And he continued to impress when he left for Law and Economics at UCD, the European University Debating Finals and the illustrious start of a legal career with the prestigious law firm of Slaughter and May in London (and Singapore!). The teachers were thrilled to see one of our best return but the current Sixth Years also benefitted: Michael was dropped into an impromptu lecturer/guidance counsellor position, from where he offered our nervous young men and women some warm words of wisdom about the year ahead and the looming, two-headed behemoth of the CAO/Leaving Certificate, somehow managing to be both reassuring and inspiring. It was great to see a Conlethian who had done so well come back and help nudge others along the same road to success.
High Points and Even More Important Points!
It is understandable that students and their parents and teachers get obsessed with the ‘points race’ when it comes to the Leaving Certificate: for better or worse, that mid-August sum is quite significant when it comes to plotting one’s immediate future. And this year’s Results Day was particularly nerve-wracking, as a new system of grades was instituted with Hs and Os replacing ABCs and totals no longer finishing in multiples of 5. Mr. ODulaing and even Ms. Hopkins were pushed to their arithmetical limits mastering the new arcane numerology necessary to find out if you were likely to be doing Medicine at UCD with Sean Pettitt or Basketweaving in Bangor with the kid from the next estate. We will soon do further number-crunching of the results overall but we can say already that there were many satisfied smiles on the day, as you can see below!
St. Conleth’s recognises the value of those CAO points but we also know there is much more to the education and development of children and young men and women. Coincidentally, on that day of the cut-and-dry points totals, we also received a letter from parents, Irene Bloemraad and David St-Jean, who wished to thank St. Conleth’s for all the good things that made up their son Maxime’s year at the school. We will leave you with their points!
We write to express our thanks for everything the school has done during our year in Ireland. Please feel free to share our very positive experience with other prospective families.
St. Conleth’s College was a wonderful school. It is not easy, as a teenager, to transition to a new school, especially when this involves moving to a new country and learning a new educational system. Maxime’s experience was made more of a challenge by the fact that he was coming into Third Year and had to catch up on two years of material for his Junior Certificate exam. His teachers were very supportive in making sure that he succeeded.
The St. Conleth’s students deserve special praise. They welcomed Maxime without question, including him in their activities, and provided a warm, friendly community. St. Conleth’s small school environment meant that he quickly felt comfortable. The students have a strong ethos of embracing the unique interests and talents of their peers—letting them be individuals—while including and accepting everyone within the community.
Despite being a small school, Maxime had the opportunity to try new activities that he had never done before. He was welcomed into the rugby team and enjoyed learning and playing the sport. He participated in a math challenge team. He became involved in debating and really enjoyed participating in regional debating tournaments. He has now developed an enthusiasm for debating that he plans to take to his next school…
Thank you Irene and David, and best of luck to you and Maxime!
The Zorin Brothers: Technology for All!
St. Conleth’s alumni brothers, Kyrill (2012) and Artyom Zorin (2013), were the Wozniak and Jobs of their time when they graced the halls of 28 Clyde Road, winning the Technology Section of the Young Scientist competition and repeatedly amazing their teachers and classmates with their rare combination of technological genius, common sense and honest enthusiasm. Their old school project, Zorin OS, is now a global project and Artyom fills us in on what is happening with our favourite social, digital entrepreneurs:
We’ve been constantly working to make our operating system even better over the past 4 years since we finished school. Kyrill graduated from Trinity this past December, but I decided to defer from university to focus on the business.
After nearly 9 years of development and 12 versions on, Zorin OS is on track to reach its 17 millionth download next week. We have users in homes, schools, businesses and even governments around the world. Last summer we got word that a city in Italy began moving its entire municipality from Windows to Zorin OS. We’re now working on new tools that will allow even more organisations and schools to make the switch to Zorin OS. They will help fund the next phase of our company: building the computing platform for the developing world.
Computers could have an enormous impact on people in countries like India and China. However, the price of traditional PCs have always been out of reach of the people than could benefit from them most.
More importantly than merely creating the most affordable PC on the market, we’re re-imagining its software to be as useful as possible for our users. As most of the people we target won’t have reliable access to the Internet, we’ll be pre-loading the most important parts of the Internet onto the computer itself. They will finally have access to the tools and software to let them work and run their businesses. Even more meaningful will be the educational content shipped with every PC: Wikipedia, videos from Khan Academy, textbooks, resources about health and apps to teach a full school curriculum, just to name a bit.
With this new venture, we want to provide billions of people tools & knowledge with the power to improve their opportunities, their livelihoods and their lives.
For more information on Zorin OS, see the brothers’ website https://zorinos.com or on Facebook: https://zorinos.com.
The PPU Dinner photos are in
…and there is no need to call your lawyer! Yes, we know how you usually spend the morning after the Past Pupils Union Dinner in a cringing state of apprehension of some social media outlet’s pictorial display of you nocturnal misadventures, but you can relax and go ahead and get that modem boinging because all the photos that we have seen merely capture the good, old-fashioned fun of the festivities! Joe Barnes and Paul Allen were our photographers of choice on the evening and both showed the good taste of forwarding only the ones which portray ourselves as we truly are: upstanding (or at least standing), relatively sober and with both eyes (mostly) open. Enjoy them and sign up with the PPU on Facebook too see even more. Oh yes, there is also the little issue of the negatives from the Photo-Booth. Those are a bit more interesting and may be obtained with a small donation payable to your alma mater. That extension is not going to build itself!
Preparations for the annual Past Pupils Dinner is quite similar to those made before the visit of a head of state from a Caucasian ‘republic’: the hedges are clipped back, the recycling bins are surreptitiously emptied into the Dodder, the good silverware is well hidden, extra security cameras are wired up and Willie takes up his customary position on the roof with his high-powered sniper’s rifle. You just do not take chances when this crowd come to town! On a serious note, this year’s dinner will simply not be the same without Mr. Kelleher there to greet every single alumnus by name, cajole them and good-naturedly threaten them with retroactive expulsion. Mr. KDK would be justifiably proud, though, of the record-breaking numbers at this year’s dinner, many no doubt coming to mark the passing of ‘Mr. St. Conleth’s.’ Ronan O’Kelley has been keeping his Thatcherite schedule compiling lists, making mildly threatening Tweets and rolling his eyes when another current teacher joins the ‘comped’ list. Surely it will all be okay on the night and rumours that ‘The ROK’ plans on sitting ‘Black’ Tom Moylan and those troublesome 2007s out in the gazebo are just that… for now! Well the first salvo of polite applause for this year’s guest speaker is just hours away but until then amuse yourself with these class photos of Conlethians in those halcyon, hirsute days:
Conor White: St. Conleth’s Chuck Norris?
Back in the days before our culture evolved to the heights of meme creation, we used to pass around little ironic jokes that made us feel smart and smile. Sometimes we even said these jokes face-to-face, and not on Skype or Facetime. A common theme was the omnipotence of certain individuals: Demba Ba and Chuck Norris most notably. Well, if anyone deserves to make that a trinity of awesomeness, especially from a Conlethian perspective, it is Conor White… and in this case, drop the irony. Conor White can actually unscramble eggs. And, yes, Conor White did count to infinity… twice. When he was serving as School Captain in 2014-2015, the administration basically turned the keys over to him and he ran the school. Apparently, UCD has now done the same: he was recently spotted showing the infamous Jean-Claude Trichet around UCD… and giving him tips about post-Brexit fiscal policy. Somehow, perhaps through the saintly power of bi-location, Conor also found time to run our Debating Seminar for incoming Senior School students and coach Fifth Year duo Harry Mansfield and Tomás Clancy into the Oxford Schools Debating Finals. Oh yes, he also picked up his Ad Astra award, the prestigious scholarship for academic excellence, university involvement and leadership. Just another week for Conor White, the only man on earth who can speak Braille…and make onions cry…and make a snowman out of rain…
With the St. Conleth’s Past Pupil’s Dinner just around the corner (March 3rd: tickets), we thought this might be the appropriate time to catch up with two particular alumni, or alumnae if you will, who reached new heights in their respective careers in 2016. And with St. Conleth’s quickly becoming fully co-educational, what better role models for the school’s current girls than two women who walked the same hallways, learned in the same classrooms and laughed at the similar buffoonery of their male peers? They come from two very different disciplines, Classics and Engineering, but perhaps that too is a credit to their alma mater, where both sides of the brain are nourished and the only truly required course is having an open mind.
Diana Spencer, St. Conleth’s Class of 1987 and Professor of Classics & Dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Birmingham, delivered her Inaugural lecture “What I found there: Reading Classical Landscapes” (video). This is just the latest academic honour for Diana, who studied at Trinity College, the University of London and Cambridge University after leaving St. Conleth’s and has already forged a spectacular career in the Classics (bio). On hand in Birmingham to hear Diana’s lecture and celebrate with her was none other than Peter Gallagher, St. Conleth’s principal emeritus. Peter is busy himself these days as a practicing barrister but it may well have been one of those riveting History or Latin classes of his that helped first send Diana down the Appian Way.
Dervilla Mitchell CBE, Class of 1976 and a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland, was awarded an honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by UCD (link). Dervilla has been committed to addressing the gender balance in science, engineering and technology throughout her career. It would be a topic she knows something about: when she graduated from UCD with a BSc Engineering in 1980, she was one of only four women in a graduating year of 200! In 2014, Engineers Ireland awarded Dervilla with the ESB Outstanding Contribution to Engineering Award. In 2011, she received the Women of Outstanding Achievement Award for Inspiration and Leadership in Business and Industry. Dervilla was also her company’s design management lead for Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 project, the largest construction project in Europe at the time, and is currently the company’s project director on the £2 billion Abu Dhabi Midfield terminal development.
So, whether it is in the landscapes of ancient Rome or on the infrastructure of the contemporary Middle East, you will find Conlethian women at work!
Basketball Alumni Reunion in Tallaght
It might not be the first place you would expect a gathering of St. Conleth’s alumni, but this past weekend Tallaght was the site of an impromptu reunion, as four of the UCD-Marian basketball team playing in the NICC Cup Final also used to ply their trade in the gymnasium of 28 Clyde Road. They were joined by many fellow Conlethian alumni in the stands but as their behaviour as supporters was so raucous that CCTV footage is currently being reviewed, we will only mention Scott, Lorcan and Ross who, as they say, are already ‘known by the authorities’. Former Ireland player Mark Ryan (Class of 2014) was clearly the class athlete on the court, soaring above his earth-bound opponents, and Jack ‘Mahoraj’ Nolan (2011) once again displayed the hands and uncanny court sense that made him a schools basketball legend, grinding his way to a ‘double-double’. Liam Purcell (2010) showed that the acquisition of a full beard has not slowed him down aerodynamically at all, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that he has now added passing to his game- his shooting prowess already well-established. And waiting in the wings was none other than Eoin Noctor (2011), our current Head Basketball Coach and strategist supremo. UCD-Marian lost the game, 78-72, but this national cup final appearance for four alumni is still a proud accomplishment for St. Conleth’s basketball.
Class of 2016 Clean Up At Trinity and UCD!
We know we punch above our weight in rugby and the recent run by our basketball teams is certainly pleasing the bookies, but where we really annoy the actuaries (some of them our own alumni) is with our academic results. You have already seen our PPU-produced chart with all the percentages but just recently there was even more tangible evidence of St. Conleth’s academic prowess: Last week, Mr. ODulaing sat down for lunch with Paddy Cahill (Economics and Finance), Sean Frison-Roche (Medicine) and Harvey Gleeson (Science) at UCD, where they were awarded Entrance Scholarships for their excellent LC results. This week, Mr. ODulaing sampled the wine and hors d’oeuvres at Trinity College where he joined Exhibition Award winners Phillip O’Hanrahan (History and Politics) and Simon Ghose (Computer Science). Our other Entrance Award winners, Daniel Gilligan (Law and Politics) and Paul Mooney (Science) were unfortunately off debating the Trumpian political landscape and studying recombinant DNA, respectively. So, that’s 7 entrance scholars from 52 graduates… ‘Small enough to care, large enough to challenge’…indeed!
Debs Night Style and Substance
We expected nattily dressed gentlemen and girls in gorgeous gowns and we were certainly knocked out with the style, but we also knew there would be a more important aspect of the Class of 2016 Debs’ reception at St. Conleth’s: a spirit of honest affection and appreciation, tinged with the tiniest bit of regret that we will no longer have these charming young men and ladies all to ourselves. College degrees and career destinations were not the only topics of conversation on the evening: there was plenty of looking back as well as looking forward, with plenty of smiles and laughs about the years, whether two or twelve, these young adults spent growing up with us.
Of course, the parents were there as well, proud as punch to see how well their sons and daughters turned out, on both the outside and the in. Whatever points were achieved in August, the more important personal gains made while at St. Conleth’s were fully in evidence on the evening: boys who short years (or months) ago were locking each other in cupboards were now smoothly introducing their dates, and girls who perhaps apprehensively approached these doors not long ago were now swishing across the floor with confidence and grace.
Pogatchnik Plays for Ireland (and Ulster)!
Last year’s SCT golden boys are continuing to find rugby success on fields near and far. Former Captain Kevin Dolan, who is now playing that familiar, majestic style of rugby for Old Belvedere, was named to Leinster’s U-19 Provincial 30 man panel and David Pogatchnik, whose rambunctious runs and tackles we so enjoyed witnessing these last few years, has been training with the Ulster U19s and more recently was named to the Irish U18 7s Team. With David aboard, the Irish squad promptly travelled to Romania and claimed a significant European trophy, vanquishing a quality French side in the final. Great to see these lads, who brought St. Conleth’s rugby to new heights, reap the rewards they so richly deserve.
A Class Evening: PPU Honours Shay Keenan, the SCT and Themselves!
Turns out that this was one of the best behaved PPU Dinners on record. No-one was going to ruin a night whih was dedicated to marking 50 years of service by Shay Keenan and the historic victory by Gav Maguire’ SCT. Shay’s immense contribution to the school (and Leinster sports in general) was recounted with references to his playing, coaching and organising of tennis, basketball and, of course, rugby. It seemed fitting that on a night that marked his 50 years, there was also a celebration of the 2016 Cup victory by Gav Maguire and SCT: Gav, Captain Kevin Dolan and the boys have benefitted from the foundation laid by Shay many years ago. (Don’t forget this Tuesday: The SCT aiming to make more history with a win over Templeogue in the Vinnie Murray Plate Final!). The night itself was immensely enjoyable: it started for many with individual class reunions at various waterholes in the vicinity. The Hamiltons of Wellington Lane hosted their son Alex and the rest of the class of 2006 for some dignified cocktails and banter and those staff who attended left, having their memory of that year as one of the best vintages of Conlethians, well confirmed. Of course, the craic in the hall itself was mighty and PPU President Donal Milmo-Penny should be proud of the first party on his watch. See the photos below, graciously provided by PA President Paul Allen. Remember both the PPU and the PA are very active on Facebook.
The PPU Are Coming!
Actually, the bad, old days when the looming Annual Dinner of the Past Pupils Union was viewed by Mr. Kelleher and the other respectable residents of Ballsbridge like a Viking warship somehow navigating up the Dodder are far behind us. Now, under the steady guidance of President Donal Milmo-Penny and the omnipotent and omnipresent PPU High Priest Ronan O’Kelly, they are rather proper, staid… even ‘quaint’ affairs: Keynote speakers get to finish their speeches. Female alumnae actually stay past dessert. We only employ one bouncer (but don’t dare mess with Groundskeeper Willie!). And the nuns next door have stopped reciting the living rosary for the duration of the festivities. Sure, we got a close-up view of the respectable face of St. Conleth’s Alumni at the recent Cup Final:
Look like lawyers, vets and solid burghers, don’t they? Eminently responsible and trustworthy. Then again, we also saw (and heard) this lot up in the cheap seats of Donnybrook Stadium:
We might just switch on the security doors after all. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure: when the smoke clears and the bodies have been taxied home and Mr. Kelleher has added considerably to his collection of unclaimed bow-ties… The St. Conleth’s Past Pupils Union will remain the biggest, loyalest and wildest in the land!
“And How Marketable is that Degree in Ancient Greek?”
To be fair to Alastair Daly, one of the most dedicated and honest intellectuals ever to grace these halls, he is also studying English at Trinity, which does make that position of venture capitalist/vampire a bit more attainable. So, why was Alastair willing to answer such tough, probing questions? Because he was invited back by Captain Hannah Collins to speak to current Fifth and Sixth Years as part of the Alumni Redux Programme in which recent graduates return to spill the beans on their university courses, helping to guide the current Conlethians with their CAO decisions. The questions ranged from the practical to the esoteric: What is the Maths like in Engineering? Are Nursing students really like that? How practical are the BESS classes? Is it true that you undergo a procedure to remove your soul in First Year Law? …. Vice Captains Noah Brabazon and Josh Harvey-Graham were on hand for security, just in case the girls went crazy when they heard legendary heart-throb alumnus Ross McHugh was dropping in to speak about his Business Degree and his newly started career at LinkedIn. The more binary-oriented students flocked to Computer Scientists Owen Mooney and Matt Donnelly who gave the low-down on the high-tech and are living proof that a dedication to the Jedi Code does not preclude gainful employment. Conan Quinn denied the Sith rumours but did admit that Law at Trinity is a challenging but ultimately rewarding arena. James Lardner used a hypothetical model to finally put to bed the ‘Engineering at Trinity is not applied enough’ argument. Holly Davage stressed the opportunities available in General Science and Matthew Collins, for once, let the oligarchy, patriarchy and other -archies rest, instead giving sound, practical advice about pursuing a degree in Politics. It was an enjoyable and useful evening for all involved and plans are afoot to run something similar for Transition Years.
Full Marks Alchemy
As you can see in this photo, some of our 2015 graduates recently dropped by to pay Headmaster Kevin Kelleher a visit and relay the secrets to their success. But despite Daniel Barry’s stylish timepiece, it turns out wizardry and alchemy are quite unnecessary and the answer to every eager and ambitious Fifth and Sixth Years’ question about garnering maximum points is…..hard work! There is no quick fix or magical amulet, though that pocket-watch may be symbolically significant as time is a necessary ingredient for success. Pierce Cambay (Medicine, Trinity), Daniel Barry (Engineering, Trinity), Paul Mooney (Veterinary, UCD), Sean Allen (Medicine, UCD) and Conor White (Law and Economics, UCD) all agreed that you must put in the time to earn the points, and St. Conleth’s is the right place to make the most effective use of that precious resource.