On the road again! In one day, Junior Sport Honcho Louis Magee visited Willow, St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s to get all the rugby matches in! Fifth Form had a great comeback vs. CBC Monkstown, down 4-1 and drawing 4-4 and coming away with two draws and a win in three games, overall. And, thanks to parent Michael Davitt, we also have great pics from Sixth Form’s recent matches versus Willow Park and St. Michael’s. Super stuff!
Is bilocation still a qualification for sainthood? In the hagiography of St. Conleth’s, it is! In one day, Junior Sport Honcho Louis Magee visited Willow, St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s to get all the Junior Rugby matches in. Our very own large but cuddly Scarlet Pimpernel marshalled his forces of chivalric coaches and persistent parents to stage games all over the D4 hinterland of rugby. There were many memorable moments in all the matches but Mr. Sheridan’s Fifth Form grabbed the headlines with a great comeback against CBC Monkstown 4-1 down and drawing 4-4, and coming away, overall, with 2 draws and a win from 3 games. Super stuff! And, remember: if you want to arrange a sporting event with the Juniors, you must seek Louis Magee here… and everywhere!
Covid did not just lead to grade inflation… and cost of living inflation… it has also led to holiday hype: we are enthusiastically embracing and extending all the rituals we missed over the last few years, and Halloween, most of all! Our round-up of our Halloween festivities started with catching the latest transfer to St. Conleth’s walking to school: Barney the Dinosaur. (He was at Blackrock, but was put under undo pressure to play in the back row.)
This year, teachers enthusiastically shared in the dress-up fun!
With one teacher particularly giving 110%! (plus a spontaneous, if rusty, warm-up for Christmas by First Years!)
The Junior School Students, as they do every year, stunned us with the creativity of their costumes and the enthusiasm of their wearing them!
And the Senior School Students, hopefully starting a new tradition, ponied up 2€ for GOAL and matched their Junior brethren in Halloween gore and glee!
Okay, by this stage it is only luke-warm as we have been a bit slow in getting it up since it was published last week, but here it is: the first issue of the Junior School student-produced St. Conleth’s Times (click!)!
It is not just Chefs Mark and Emerson who serve up a wide menu at St. Conleth’s! Junior School Principal Brian Nolan and Junior School PE Head Louis Magee also both subscribe to the idea that choice is good and a variety of experiences, especially for the young, is the best education. Of course, Louis caters to the traditional round and oblong balls but we have also seen Shay Keenan lead the Prepsters through their gymnastic moves in the Sports Hall and below we catch some pupils giving cricket a crack, hearkening back to our early garden party days: the pros have been brought in to re-establish our oldest school sport. And the mind, as well as the body, needs variety: our Juniors, and one lucky Senior, also enjoy their after-school French classes each week with the energetic and inspirational professeurs of Alliance Francais!
We in the Senior School often miss what our Junior brethren are up to simply because they are so small and active that we sluggards can’t keep up with the little, industrious Harfoots! You read below how they have been sporting with both the oblong and the round ball, but, here, we get just a glimpse of other JS happenings: Texaco Art Competition commendees; The JSPA Teachers’ Day generosity and their Uniform Exchange; Principal Nolan doing his thing with parents and the whole school; after-school French with Alliance Francais; break-time shenanigans; the election posters from the friendly but intense Green Schools Committee Elections; and the latest episode of the most heartwarming show on TV: Shay Keenan’s Prepster PE Class!
We got the rugby last weekend, and then the rains came in… but Junior Sport Czar Louis Magee knows what to do when the monsoon starts: head indoors! The boys and girls of Fourth Form visited Castle Park earlier this week to play them in basketball. Castle Park were Fantastic hosts, as always, and everyone had a great afternoon shooting for the stars!
Like the brave Gaelic warriors who scattered across Europe, our Junior Rugby teams spread across Dublin this past weekend. Head of Junior Sport Louis Magee had the headache of co-ordinating it all, but all his coaches did their part and showed up bright and early and eager to ruck and roll! Of course, the parents were also on the roads early, escorting their Nos. 1-15, across Forms 3-6, throughout Dublin 4-16 (and a bit of SoCo!). Well done to all invloved, especially the young players, themselves!
Growing up across the pond, the cheap, simple and carcinogenic ‘baloney’ was our metaphoric food of choice, but it marks how far we have come (or how urbane is the Conlethian cohort) that we recently heard the above expression served up at breaktime by one student to another, in response to some credibility stretching bit of braggadocio. And why not? For ‘falafel’ is on the menu, as well as several other delicacies which did not previously moo, oink, cluck, or bark, such is the vegetarian transformation of our eating habits. Perhaps this is due to Ms. Clarke’s subtle but strident vegan advocacy? This week, the kids get to leave the canines home, as they enjoy cauliflower casserole, roasted celeriac and sweet potato soups and the dearly missed home-made bean burgers! Menu PDF.
Two famous soups, Corn Chowder and Sweet Potato, make their glorious return on this week’s canteen menu (PDF)!
Yes, you can’t get a broom closet in the original TriBeCa now for less than $10,000 a month (and no doorman!) but at least we can still enjoy the NYC neighbourhood’s most famous export: TriBeCa chicken wings! This week’s canteen menu (PDF):
This week, it’s celeriac and friends!
Yes, with the Transition Years bounding through the doors last Thursday, we now have everyone home and can start the year properly! Below you see the TYs in class (yes, they do have ‘classes’ in TY… as well as all that extra stuff!) along with the other Senior years and some drone shots of the youngest Conlethians, the Prepsters, at play. Now, it is time to get down to Business! And English, and Irish, and Classics…
One indisputably good thing about coming back to school: lunch by Chef Mark, Emerson, Anna and crew!
Yes, we are back in action at St. Conleth’s! In fact, the Junior School teachers (driven by General Brian Nolan) have been back meeting, planning and gossiping since last week, while we Senior teachers were still dawdling in Bundoran! Well, now we are back, along with First Years and all the Junior School pupils. First Years started last week with a Sport Camp and then took on a rather enjoyable first in situ assignment: pizza and chips in the canteen! We also see, below, the various Junior School classes uo to their usual break time antics… as well as some semi-serious classwork… and a snap of a very Zen way to start the morning of the First Day of School: yoga with Cecilia!
Yes, it is the eve off the First Day of School, dreaded and dreamed of in equal parts… and that’s just the teachers! But have no fear, great days lie ahead for y’all at St. Conleth’s. Induction for tomorrow for First Years and First Day for all Juniors, except Junior Infants, but soon everyone will be back at No. 28, Clyde Rd. See below for start days and times and get some rest. The fun is about to start!
With our Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate students finally hitting the books with gusto, our un-undead TYs working on their ghastly pallor in the Herbo and the rest of the Senior School taking end-of-year exams, it has been the Junior School kids who have been doing all the interesting stuff these last few days. First of all, a momentous milestone was passed when the Junior contingent of girls reached a total of forty for the first time, and they all gathered for a celebratory breakfast. Mr. Kelleher was always fond of letting the girls go to the front of the Tuck Shoppe and canteen queues. (‘Here come the girls!’ was a saying as dear to him as ‘Make way for a naval officer!’) We think he would have been thrilled to see that, with full co-education, that is no longer necessary… or possible!
And you can forget about the return of Love Island, the viewer ratings topper this week will certainly be the latest rendition of St. Conleth’s Junior School Has Got Talent. Musicians, magicians, actors, storytellers, comedians, shy retiring kids…. you name it, we got it! (That last act was scrapped due to a shortage of performers.). Above, we also catch sight of a simple but beloved tradition: the Sixth Form School Hoodies. They look cozy and cool… just don’t try to get by Ms. Hopkins in September with it on!
Before there were looped videos of campfires on Youtube, there were real campfires. Before there were podcasts, there were real stories told by the lady who worked at the corner shop and the old guy at the bus stop who never seemed to get on a bus. Maybe not true, but real. Before there were on-demand streaming services, you had to rush home from school to catch Scooby-Doo because it was on at 4:00. And, no, you could not pick it up it on your Walkman en route… things have changed, many for the better, but sometimes we think more might be less, and we yearn for a time when we hung on every word as it sprung from the lips of a talented teller of tales. Well, those days returned to St. Conleth’s Junior School as renowned professional storyteller Niall De Búrca paid us a visit and regaled both students and staff with his Irish-flavoured tales of wit and wonder. It was a beautiful day in the front garden and all screens were put away and all end-of-term stresses and jitters were forgotten, as we all fell under the timeless spell of a story well told.
Junior School Principal Brian Nolan has brought youth and energy to the role (not that the auld fella wasn’t half bad!) and part of his newfangledness, learned on the international stage, is the increased involvement of parents and the community in the learning experience.
The only problem is that since Brian took over, a little bug trailing the number 19 has put paid to many of his most exciting initiatives. But now the floodgates, and the front doors of the school, have been opened and a few weeks back the Junior School hosted its inaugural Celebration of Learning! Parents from Junior Infants to Sixth Form were invited to come into classrooms where students wowed them with their learning from across the year. Much more of this to come, going forward!
Fencing has been an integral part of St. Conleth’s since its founding, with national champions and Olympians a proud part of our history, present and our future. As St. Conleth’s bids farewell to Claudio Sosa and James Moriarty Smyth this year (see article below) as they to pursue their third level education and international fencing careers, St. Conleth’s has a new up-and-coming fencer in the Junior School. Joining Myles Moriarty Smyth in the senior school, Michael Davitt in 5th Form is carrying on the Conlethian fencing tradition. From one Conlethian to another, Claudio, James and Myles have passed down tips, techniques, and experience to Michael.
Their support and encouragement, and Michael’s determination, has led him to finish the year ranked No. 2 in the U12 male foil fencers in Ireland. Michael’s consistent performances both nationally and internationally in ten fencing competitions during the 2021-2022 season has earned him one gold, four silver and four bronze medals! Michael plans to emulate his fellow Conlethians fencing success for many years into the future and to represent his school with pride. Enjoy the pics above and below of Michael and Myles in competition, as well as a parting glimpse of Claudio and James, and, of course, our in-house fencing guru, Maître David Couper, who just yesterday wrapped up his last after-school session with the next generation of swashbucklers!
The competition was intense, but always in good humour, and though we may have exhausted the local stocks of semiprecious medals in our enthusiasm for prize giving, it was worth it to see so many happy kids and happy parents.
Of course, the presence of enthusiastic boys and girls are the main ingredients for a successful Junior School Sports Day, and we had loads of them, but the parents played their part, too: helping out, cheering on and only occasionally tripping up their junior’s closest competitors. Louis Magee was the man in charge and he ran a fine show, ably assisted by all the teachers, and with the weather co-operating, it was a fine day overall in Irishtown. We now realise what we have missed these last few years. It is good to be back… all the way back!
For years, St. Conelth’s Senior School has been simply da bomb in debating, dominating the Leinster and All-Ireland Championships and making the Irish Debating Team our personal fiefdom. Well, judging by the talent in our Junior School, this dominance will surely continue. Our Senior School Debating Coach, Rory O’Sullivan, was very impressed by the in-house talent on show at the recent St. Conleth’s-hosted AIJS Debate. Rory and Junior School Principal organised and ran an impressive show, with very enthusiastic and competitive teams from all the visiting schools involved but there was clearly no shortage of home-grown talent. We look forward to an even bigger and better debate next year!
… St. Conleth’s. It is a hectic time of year, with many special events crowding the calendar… and the regular ‘stuff’ also carrying on. Here are just four snippets of our school life on May the 4th: TYs run the Tuck Shoppe (to the delight of some Second Years); Fifth and Sixth Years compete for the John Kelly Award and the Woods Bowl; Juniors fence with Maître David; and staff celebrate St. Conleth’s Feast Day with cakes, courtesy of Mr. Lonergan!
HOT OFF THE PRESS! Fourth Former Andrew O’Brien finally publishes and distributes his first edition of the all new St. Conleth’s Times, a monthly Junior School Publication. Andrew first presented his vision one month ago and has worked tirelessly since to gather a team of writers, editors, researchers and photographers. We cannot wait for the next issue Andrew!
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!
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.
Covid did not halt the learning: the perseverance of our ‘class’ class teachers and the co-operation of parents saw to the continuity of the ‘three Rs’ and more. But that which No. 19 did muffle was the just-as-important communal life of the school. Now, with spring in the air, the once trickling thaw has become a torrent, with the biggest and best blast of all bursting on the scene last Friday evening: a Hartnett and Howe stage spectacular!
The Junior School Musical, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, premiered in our professionally kitted out School Hall, and by all accounts it was a smash hit, and a much-needed reminder of what this school can do when it pulls together… and enough tests turn up negative! Yes, Pat Howe, our drama and dance man, and music maestro Emer Hartnett have done it again: clever lines and lyrics, spectacular costumes, nifty dance moves and, of course, the show-stealing talent and cuteness of our student performers … all the hallmarks of our dynamic duo of theatrical delight! Broadway surely beckons but we hope to hang onto our talented two. And if those two do skedaddle down The Great White Way, we hope the don’t take Junior Art Teacher Ms. Mellon with her: so stunning were the backdrops and props, created in her swish chapel studio, with many little helping hands. Check out the snaps above of the last dress rehearsal, professionally captured by our TY Photography teacher Tom O’Connor, and, below, some after-show portraits by Student Photographer Adam Rafter. And stay tuned: Adam also caught the whole show on video, a link to which will soon be in all the parents’ mailboxes. So enjoy… again!
Some of us remember when Mr. Sheridan was a different type of ‘weekend warrior’: as a Fifth and Sixth Year student at St. Conleth’s, no party or ‘free gaff’ would escape his notice or attendance, and Monday morning Form Class, therefore, was the only time Eoin would be less than his usual chipper, ebullient self. Now, Mr. Sheridan spends his Saturday mornings not in the recovery position but leading his young Fifth Form charges into friendly battle on rugby pitches near and far. Last weekend, it was a special Rugby Festival in Willow Park, and we have Cahir Davitt to thank for all the great pics below.
Spring has Sprung! And so have the imaginations and the artistic abilities of our Junior School Students. Ms. Mellon takes advantage of the fine weather and the bucolic setting of St. Mary’s to prompt some Signs of Spring drawings. We also see her own personal masterpiece: Sunflowers on Window!
We were so busy processing our ace reporter (and over-enthusiastic amateur herpetologist) Emilio’s 3,000+ photos of various visiting reptiles last week that we completely neglected a very significant sporting achievement by our Junior School Girls! Small in number but huge in heart and spirit, our Junior School Hockey players celebrated one very hard fought win and one equally hard fought loss in a double against Our Lady’s Grove. Well one to all the players, coaches and TY helpers!
And we will take this opportunity to also bring you some snaps from our Senior School Junior team who went down valiantly (and undermanned) in the Dublin League Semifinal. Great to see so much support on the sidelines from students and staff, including Current ‘Head of All Sport’ Ciaran Smith and former ‘Head of All Sport’ Gavin Maguire. Especially nice to see Gav showing up, obviously harbouring no ill feelings despite the furore over ‘Donut-gate’ which hastened the end of his tenure in office.
Kabul. Syria. Kashmir. Leopardstown. Caracas. Baghdad. Sudan. Liberia. Kyiv.
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.
And we thought all the reptiles were in the staffroom! Apparently not, when The Reptile Zoo pays a house visit! After-School Director Cecilia Franken, fluent in parseltongue, arranged the visit, but we all enjoyed the smooth, silky (and only slightly sinister) serpents and such! Junior School students were left enraptured by the visiting reptiles, which you can see below. Everyone had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of creeping critters, including tortoises, stick insects, metre-long snakes and more!
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.
Actually, no, on second thought, he can’t have any! Our Student Council have organised two fun, and profitable, events to help those who have been hurt by the recent conflict. On the last day of school before St. Patrick’s Day, there will be a non-uniform ‘Peace Day’. In order to participate, students must bring in €2 as a donation to the Red Cross in Ukraine. There will also be a Bake Sale, hosted by Sixth Year, during break. Sixth Year will be pricing and selling the goodies, but all years are welcome to bring in baked goods to the canteen in the morning. Our ambitious goal is to raise €1000 for this great cause to help the Ukrainian refugees. To be fully clear, the theme of the day is “peace”, it is not “Ukraine day” or “anti-Russia day”. Check out the powerful but peaceful posters below, made for the event by the TYs in Art Class.
Apparently, music does indeed ‘soothe the savage breast’ and calm the savage beast. You may think that referring to our saintly, adorable Prep Schoolers as ‘beasts’ a bit much, but you probably have not tried to cross a courtyard full of them, especially during a sugar rush from an elevenses snack! Well, Mr. Fergus O’Neill, our Senior School SEN Teacher, bravely took on the twin task of kicking off St. Conleth’s Seachtain na Gaeilge 2022 and entertaining the little darlings with some break-time plucking on the ole’ banseó. Enjoy a snippet below but also check out Mr. O’Neill, aka Ferg, on Spotify and Soundcloud, as he leads a double life as an up and coming Irish singer-songwriter. His style defies easy categorisation but the quality is undeniable, as a reviewer recently said about his third single: Raw and rhythmic, ‘In A Dream’ moves with the listener through a story of intimate honesty. A vivid take on human emotion with subtly crafted melodies backed by soft harmonic layers, this track transports the listener into the realms of the emotive experience. So, have a listen to Ferg and stay tuned for more Seachtain na Gaeilge hi-jinks!
St. Conleth’s is doing its part for the Ukraine. Little did we suspect that 83 years after the school’s founding on the eve of World War II would we, as a community, face a similar situation again, casting looks of concern, and even fear, eastwards. Well, instead of just worrying and pitying, St. Conleth’s has joined the wider Irish effort to do something about it. Students, parents, staff and alumni all contributed essential items for direct shipping to our European cousins. Mr. ODulaing, Ms. Hopkins and Secretary Rachel Lennon took the lead organising the collection and the TYs did all the heavy lifting.
Late notice, but here is an opportunity to help the Ukraine. Details below but please, please do not bring anything in later than Friday at 1:00 PM! Thank you.
Things are getting back to normal in the Junior School! So-Young Yoon is back giving one-on-one paint lessons; ITC lessons continue apace with Mr. Travers; Principal Brian Nolan shows some proper stretching in the Herbo (and then leads a fitness run); and our Prepsters show they can still have a good time at the break!
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!
Our Junior School Mindfulness Programme continues to grow apace!
Head of Junior School PE Louis Magee has led Junior Infants through Second Form in a six week programme where they were involved many activities, all designed to clear their little minds of worries and open them up to more pleasant possibilities. Activities included: – Mindful Breathing Exercises (using balloons); – Mindful Colouring; Mindfulness Scavenger Hunt; -Group exercises; and the much beloved ‘Tree of Feelings’. See some evidence below!
St. Conleth’s Chaplain Fr. Michael Collins makes the rounds, and delivers an Ash Wednesday blessing to the students. He also included some relevant anecodotes, delivered in a friendly and humourous manner, but packing a punch!
In an appetiser of the feast to come, we ended last half term with the spirit and freedom which we hope will characterise our return to ‘old skool’ ways in just a few days, and we have Mr. Lonergan and his PE Gang to thank. Mr. Carvill the Younger was the man in charge in the sports hall where he enticed TYs and Fifth Years into some holiday hoopla; Mr. ‘Grandmaster Flash’ Ingle and Evan ‘Flava Flav’ Power were on the audio and video decks in the Performance Hall, spinning a table quiz for Second Years; and Mr. Lonergan, himself, with the aid of School Captain Rory Clarke, braved the sub-freezing temperature and the dreaded Dodder wind chill to run a soccer tournament on the Astro in the Herbo. We also see below a couple of informal student performances: an impromptu lunchtime last song of Covid by a few Second Years (to an appreciative audience of Juniors) and a slightly less impromptu (…but you would not know it) Bio Rap by the Tenacious Trio of Oisín Squared and Seamus, three of the last traditionally named students in the school. Enjoy…. and get ready for Freedom Day!
Junior School Principal Brian Nolan reports on one of the many bridges between St. Conleth’s Junior and Senior Schools.
This week our Sixth Form Transition Action Plan saw Phase 1 of our ‘Making Informed Choices’ session take place. Students heard from our resident experts Ms. Killen, Ms. Crowley and Mr. Latvis about all things Modern (and Ancient) Languages. The enthralled crowd peppered the teachers with questions related to French, Spanish, Latin and Classics and were left with a lot to consider before making their choices next month. A follow up session in March will focus on STEAM subjects. The Senior School teachers were very impressed with the maturity of the Sixth Formers and the quality of the questions: seems like we have more true scholars on the way!
We missed a lot of big things these last two years and maybe one of the biggest for our youngsters was the challenge and fun of real, full sporting competition. Well, Fifth Form were finally back in competition this past weekend and the match versus Willow Park had all that we wanted , and so dearly missed: good-natured competition, sporting skill, camaraderie, fresh air and the smell of wet grass. Conleth’s Dad Cahir Davitt sent us these great pictures and we have added to them by including some action shots from training sessions during the dog days: no, Head of Junior Sport Louis Magee and his coaches did not let things just come to a standstill because of restrictions. The kids played on, limited in scope but giving it their all, down on the Herbert Park pitches. We also see some our Junior girls in action from earlier in the term, getting tips from roving Leinster specialist Grainne Vaugh.
This just in! After a massive, multi-biscuit bidding war between various record companies and promotional entities, we have secured the rights to DCSL’s debut single! The talent, enthusiasm and matinee looks are there for all to hear and see and they get along like a true band, clearly in sync with each other. Their career trajectory is definitely heading in only one direction. As long as they don’t forget their roots when hobnobbing with Hollywood stars at the Grammy’s. We could not take that!
Afterschool Director Cecilia Franken would give that Jack Black movie character or Louis Walsh or Willy Wonka or any impressario set on liberating the imagination of children, a run for their money! Her latest caper involves the promotion of DCSL- our in-house Junior School roock band. (They prefer not to be called a ‘boy band’ but are open to image change for the right recording contract offer!) And the other participants in Afterschool are not reduced to mere audience members: as you can see below, everyone gets busy once the homework gets stowed away! Amongst many other activities we have the ‘egg in bottle experiment; ‘sprouting seeds for our sandwiches’; cookie baking; the subsequent, hilarious ‘biscuit challenge’; the ‘carrot in the box game’; the making (and eating) of Coca-Cola popsicles; the egg in vinegar/Coca Cola experiment; the maintenance of a ‘What’s Up Board’; the construction of a ‘human chain’ (Take that, Covid!); arts and crafts in various formations, and good, old-fashioned horsing around! Why else do Afterschool kids sleep so soundly at night?
There have been various attempts over the years to separate the Irish people from their ancestral faith, but such measures as the Penal Laws and Covid restrictions only served to further strengthen their resolve.
Of course, we at St. Conleth’s welcome all faiths in our student and staff body, and our Mission Statement reflects that diversity, but our ethos is firmly, and proudly, founded in the Catholic tradition. This coming week is Catholic Schools week and Mr. Lonergan has provided us with all the resources necessary to make it a special week for St. Conleth’s. Each day has its own theme and we will tweet ‘thoughts of the day’ for both Senior School and Junior School. (Below is an early glimpse of Monday’s!). Here are the official flyers for the Junior and Senior Schools, and this link has plenty of age-appropriate resources attached for both parents and teachers which will enable them to make this week spiritually significant.
No, there is no ‘app’ for Afterschool! All participants in Cecilia Franken’s fun-filled festival of freedom must use their own hands, feet, eyes, ears and imaginations, and all screens are forbidden, unless the chosen activity for the day is sifting for gold in the River Dodder. How refreshing it is to see children enjoying themselves the old-fashioned way! And all this adventure time just intensifies at Christmas, as you can see below!
Secret Santa Prizes
Christmas Party Time
Masks Off… Hands On!
Exterminate: A DIY Recycling Christmas tree inspired by Doctor Who’s Dalek robots!
Art in Action!
Sadly, there was no Howe/Hartnett Whole Junior School Christmas Spectacular on the stage this year, so teachers had to work even harder coming up with classroom, pod-specific Yuletide activities. Videos of those are going straight to parents but we can show you the post-production parties!
Our Senior School Parties may seem more sedate, but these were taken before the sweets kicked in!
And our Sixth Years showed the collegiality and spirit which have helped them manage remarkably well during the covid restrictions:
In recent years, a mainstay of the Junior School’s Christmas calendar has been the collection for Brother Kevin’s Capuchin Day Centre: students, parents and staff get together to collect food, toys and other suitable Christmas gifts, and the Centre makes sure they get to those who need them most. Brother Kevin and his team were particularly appreciative of the amount of donations from St Conleths this year, especially the number of toys, as he reported that a large number of families were attending and the St Conleths contributions were need and very welcome. Junior School Principal Brian Nolan thanks all those who made this year’s donation drive for the a smashing success!
Yes, the Covid cops tried to spoil the fun but Coach Ingle used his ‘hood connections to apply some pressure and , lo and behold, we were tipping off and snapping nets, once again! Yes, indeed, the Basketball Boyz are back in town! Sean and Coach Gahan were biding their time while all this ‘hockey school’ talk was in the air, and once given the chance, they made a claim for their own sport as their U-16 B-Ball Boys returned to winning ways with a thumping of our near neighbours, St. Michael’s. Fionán Power led the way with 26 points while Dylan Cosgrave and Joe Kelleher each chipped in with 6. Of course, the U-19s were also in action, narrowly losing to the same opponent. Below you see both teams, and some action shots from earlier matches against Marian College.
And while we are talking hoops… the First and Second Year Boys have also been in action, and we must not forget the girls, who train all together on Mondays, from First through Sixth year, in one gregarious but garrulous gang. Nor are the Juniors neglected, as Coach Ingle makes sure another generation of hoop heroes are ready to take the court for St. Conleth’s when their time comes!
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!
Ms. Mellon and Ms. Halpin, Art Teachers of the Junior and Senior Schools, respectively, make for a formidable dynamic duo: the school’s walls are full of their students’ creations, testaments to both teachers mastery of helping their charges hold that difficult line, the one between impulsive creativity and enabling organisation. Ms. Mellon ran a Winter Art Competition, with each class winner taking home a ‘state of the art’ forty piece pencil set. The winners were: 1st Form- Harry McDermott; 2nd Form- Emily Freedman; 3rd Form (and overall)- Beatrice Perinati; 4th Form- Eleanor Hobbs; 5th Form- Conor Hobbs; 6th Form- Nathan Keogh.
And Ms. Halpin has been busy teaching ‘Lazy Daises’, ‘French Knots’ and ‘Rough Purls’, as her First Years enjoyed the soothing rhythms and controlled creativity of combining embroidery with seascapes. Enjoy seeing their work below!
Cecilia Franken’s latest Morning Club and After-School Newsletter available right here! Catch up on all the goings-on from September and October, including Halloween and a whole lot more!
Yes, some have tried to cancel Halloween, but luckily Principal Brian Nolan did not get the memo and, if anything, the Junior School’s Halloween celebrations were more horrible, horrific, horrendous, haunting and hilarious than ever! The students themselves, powered by twenty months of restraint, and approximately 1.2 kg of glucose each, rose to the occasion like so many zombies from the grave. And the individual class teachers, and our very own Morticia Addams- Cecilia Franken, were there to urge them on, finally enjoying the wearing of masks and the sight of horrors larger than that pesky, minuscule virus. So, before you go tricking and/or treating (from a safe distance… we suggest hand grenades!) have a gander at the various ghoulish but gregarious goings-on before the break!
Prepsters Assemble and the Puffy Monster Race!
Best Home-Made Halloween Costume Competition 2021
Unfortunately, Alfred E. Neuman’s famous motto is no longer universally shared, even amongst the youngest of our children, who have grown up in a more complicated world in general, and then had Covid hysteria descend like a fog on their bright horizons. But here comes Louis Magee, a gentle giant of a guru, to the rescue! Junior and Senior Infants and First, Second and Third Forms have all enjoyed a seven week Mindfulness course which helped puncture that gloom. Activities included Mindful colouring competitions, breathing exercises and thinking deeply… but not too deeply! Want a dose of a true vaccine: take a peek into one of our Prep School classrooms, or, even better, the yard at break-time. Nothing will fill your mind with more joy than to see the youngest Conlethians loving life and school, again. Up next for Magee, the Mindful Magician: Third through Sixth Forms!
Creeping, creepy Americanism or just a good bit of fun, Halloween has rocketed up the charts as a favoured holiday in Ireland in recent years, no doubt in part to the enthusiasm with which it is celebrated at St. Conleth’s. And leading the way has been Cecilia and her After-School Ghouls.
And this year, more than any other, we need a particularly smashing Samhain to banish the last vestiges of that lingering ghost whose name we shall not say. Cecilia has come up with a brilliant competition, the details of which are above, and below are some photos of some eager Afterschoolers, already off the mark with their Halloween decoration creation!
Remember the butterflies? The worms? The chicks? No, these are not plagues from the Old Testament, sent to harrrow Pharaoh: these are references to the many wonderful creatures which Cecilia has arranged to visit St. Conleth’s After-School Programme, and the junior School as a whole. Thomas, the Yellow-Striped Slider Turtle, was our latest guest and he certainly won over the crowd with his coolness (of blood and otherwise) and his scant care for anything inedible, including morbid covidity!
Cecilia Franken, our After-School Manager, runs such an exciting and interesting programme for our Junior School students that we often see Senior School Students (and some teachers, too!) looking on longingly from the sidelines. Yes, they are a bit too long in the tooth but who would not want to join Cecilia’s merry troop of lost boys and girls as they get their homework done and then climb, cook, cackle, create, cuddle and, basically, live the ‘can-do’ life! Hopefully, Cecilia’s Morning Club will also soon be open again, and the kids can bookend their days with a host of activities that will make them happy, and just as importantly… tired at bed-time!
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!
We mentioned below how the St. Conleth’s rugby and hockey teams have hit the ground running, and we are soon to hear from the basketball teams, too, but sport at St. Conleth’s involves a lot more than the extramural teams. In fact, winning matches is great, but we are probably even prouder that all our students are encouraged to enjoy physical education and sport of the more everyday kind: in classes with Mr. Lonergan and the other PE teachers, at training sessions with the various coaches, on ‘Wellbeing’ brisk walks and even at break-time in the yard. Here are just a few snaps of what is going on at St. Conleth’s everyday, in a sporting way:
1) Shay Keenan, St. Conleth’s Games Master/Coach/Absolute Legend, gets the Sixth Year soccer boys lined up for a proper team photo at the grand re-opening of the Herbert Park Astro. They look great: a shame they will be crushed by the Staff Team in May!
2-3) Both the Transition Year girls and the boys get the opportunity to help improve St. Conleth’s sporting acumen. The girls are great helping Ms. Leary coach the Juniors… and the boys get to do Gav’s laundry!
4) Coaches Ingle and Gahan get the Basketball girls ready for the season, which is just about to tip off!
These last couple of days have been a bit nippy but the sun is still shining and we at St. Conleth’s Junior and Preparatory School will continue to make great use of the fine weather and get outdoors in that fresh, germ-free air, especially as we have acquired access to the green spaces of St. Mary’s Home: our own ‘secret garden’, right next door! But, apparently, the secret is out, as you can see! Pat Howe has taken his Speech and Drama classes al fresco, as has Sensei Ed Charmont with his high-kicking karate kids and Elaine Chapman with her Dance Class. And Shay Keenan takes the Prepsters through the gates for PE, as another generation benefits from this Conlethian legend. Is it all hustle and bustle? Not at all, as we realise the benefit of a bit of mindful relaxation in the sun, as the three old-timers pictured last in the scroll below have clearly copped on to!
Clean Up! Clean Up!
Clean Up! Clean Up!
Everybody do your share!
Yes, the purple dinosaur may not quite be the dominant force in children’s television (and lives) that he was in the Cretaceous Period or the 1990s but his catchy little tune still rings true: we can all make a positive difference in our local environment by just pitching in. The Senior School is currently reinvigorating their Green School campaign and Junior School Principal Mr. Nolan has enlisted eager Sixth Formers in following a basic, but essential tenet of environmentalism: Start Locally. The clean-up crew not only makes the yard and playground a better place: they also help themselves, engaging in an activity that helps them develop self-reliance and independence, important attributes as they get ready to make the transition to the Senior School. Yes, Sixth Formers are probably too old for even the friendliest carnivorous thunder-lizard ever, but if you happen to be in the yard early in the morning while the boys and girls are doing their duty, you might hear the faintest of tunes being hummed as they go along!
Junior School Art Teacher Orla Mellon always has a grand design in mind when she enters the classroom, and that has only intensified since relocating to the old chapel in the former St. Mary’s Home. The high-arching windows let in the light and spark the imagination of both Ms. Mellon and her charges. The current project involves ‘colour theory’ and it encourages the students to learn about the variety and range of colours, and the way you can mix them to create even more. After all this practice and exploration with colour, each child artist will contribute a multi-coloured feather to a giant, collective figure of a bird which will almost take flight, such is the energy and creativity that empowers it. All the Juniors are taking part, but we caught Second Form in action. Stay tuned for the finished product!
What could possibly be better than spending five to six hours in St. Conleth’s Junior School, certainly the coolest private Catholic primary school in town? Why, extending that stay either backwards of forwards, by an hour or two! Morning Club and Afterschool Director Cecilia Franken and her team are up to their old tricks: making pre- and post- school-time as much fun as possible, with an energetic mixture of learning and fun… with emphasis on the latter! Here are just a few pics of what shenanigans they get up to!
One good habit that has developed during covidity has been the growth in Conlethian usage of Herbert Park. We had always treated ‘Herbo’ as our adjunct classroom: making use of the greens spaces and fresh air for honest pedagogical reasons… or just to give the kids (and teachers) a bit of a break. And because of the rather annoying covid contingencies such as mask-wearing and inside social-distancing, we have really colonised the place since the first skiers returned from northern Italy with a persistent cough. Some teachers have gone al fresco with gusto: Classics has returned to its ancient outdoor classroom roots; Wellbeing nearly always involves a walk; and the PE department has made the green fields of Ballsbridge (and the take-away lattes of Lolly’s) their own. This academic year, thanks to both the good weather and lingering mask-wearing, has also seen heavy Herbo usage.
Above, you see Mr. O’Brien assemble a troop of willing adventurers to embark to the park while Mr. Sheridan’s Fifth Form opt for story-time in a bucolic Ballsbridge setting. And our Seniors often bump into the Juniors (without touching) on the winding paths: Mr. Callaghan, expert entomologist, leads his Science class on a bug-hunting trip; Mr. Lonergan teaches the exciting and energetic (but less contacty) sport of Ultimate Frisbee; and 3C assemble for Class Captain speeches and vote (Liam, speaking here, was chosen as Vice with Finley taking the captaincy). A multi-use space, indeed, but what do we do when the rains come in?
What… me worry? Well, you naturally do on the first day of school, especially if you are starting Junior Infants… or dropping off your first child for the first time to attempt such such a grand step. Such feelings of hesitancy evaporated very quickly last week as Ms. Dolores Kelly welcomed her charges with her usual grace and aplomb and left Mr. Kilcommons and Mr. Nolan to handle perhaps the more fragile if intensely friendly crowd of slightly worried parents. But moms and dads certainly put on brave faces at the door and they quickly found solace in a cup of coffee and the sharing of the experience: the first of many occasions when, as St. Conleth’s parents, they will band together. There was also the slow dawning of another realisation: the kids were gone for a few hours, maybe for the first time in years! Roly’s must have been rollicking until pickup time.
Meanwhile, the Junior Infants themselves were settling in as Ms. Kelly and Cecilia (our Afterschool Programme Manager) quickly made the boys and girls feel at home but also feel something brand new and exciting: they were at school and the adventure was just beginning!
Bittersweet is the first day of school: a bit bitter as parents bid farewell to their near constant summertime companions and whole lot of sweet… as parents bid farewell to their near constant summertime companions! Our newly appointed school leaders, Junior Principal Brian Nolan and St. Conleth’s CEO Tony Kilcommons, were there to take the youngsters off their hands and our teachers got straight to work with them in the sparkling clean classrooms.
But school, at least at St. Conleth’s, is also about the education of the yard, the canteen and the hallways, where students are encouraged to mix freely (within their pods!) and imaginatively. Each year we seem to have a bit more space, a bit more light to encourage the growth of young minds and bodies. Yes, the Juniors are off and running, but stay tuned as our Seniors start to arrive!
Back to school blues? Well, spare a thought for those who are not lucky enough to attend, or work at, St. Conleth’s College! Here are the important start dates for Juniors and Seniors.
Of course, the School Calendars and Booklists can always be found under ‘Calendar + Information’ (scroll down for booklists!) along with information about Uniform and the Canteen. For your convenience, we have also included PDFs of the calendars below. See you at No. 28, Clyde Road!
Conleth’s loss is certainly Connacht’s gain: the West of Ireland just got a whole lot calmer and cooler with the arrival of Julien Porzadny and we, at St. Conleth’s, will have to console ourselves with some wonderful memories of a much-loved teacher, colleague and friend. But we also have Julien’s legacy to which to cling: we cannot think of another teacher who has brought so many positive changes and innovations to the school, both curricularly and in our community and culture. We fully understand why Julien is looking for new places and spaces for his beautiful, young family but he also knows that he will have another family waiting eagerly for his visit: the family of colleagues and students at 28 Clyde Road.
It is quite fitting that we are bidding farewell to Ann Sheppard and Julien at the same time: they are forever linked, not just by their subject and friendship, but by the integral part Françoise Brotelande played in both their Conleth’s stories. We wrote below of Ann and Françoise’s closeness but Julien was also part of that camaraderie. Julien first arrived in Ballsbridge as Françoise’s protégée and our jokes about the French Department’s beau jeune homme were supplemented by an appreciation for the burst of energy Julien brought both into the classroom and the staffroom and the close friendships he established with Françoise and Ann and the staff as a whole. And when we tragically lost Françoise, it was Julien who kept her spirit and warmth alive, for both his colleagues and the students.
Yes, Julien is always warm and passionate and that is what we will miss most but, as you can see from the photos above and below, he also accomplished a heck of a lot in his time at St. Conleth’s. In partnership with Chiara Crowley, Julien formed a duo dynamique which, to be honest, were the envy of the other academic departments for their close working relationship, spirit of innovation and endless energy. From visiting troupes of Théâtre Français to Chanson Française competitions, from French board games and Kahoots to cuisine Française in the classroom, from Les Joutes Oratoires to becoming the first DELF school in Ireland to the famous (and infamous) Bundoran trips, Julien and Chiara were the epitome of the teaching partnership and friendship which truly enriches a school… especially when the lawsuits over the Bundoran midnight POW frog-marches fail in the courts!
Julien will also be remembered for forever changing (and improving) the mental health and inner life of St. Conleth’s staff and students. We may make jokes about Julien’s ‘guru’ status (to be honest, the goatee made it particularly tempting!) but we all honestly appreciate Julien being ahead of the curve in his determined and ‘single-minded’ drive to get Wellbeing and Mindfulness on the curriculum and in our thoughts. The whole staff and all our students, both Junior and Senior, have benefitted from having Julien calmly but passionately show us that ‘This is the way’ to having a happy and healthy school community, which in the end, is for what we are all here.
Julien has a new addition to his family, and, with this move, a new chapter to his story opens with fresh adventures on the horizon. For selfish reasons, we do lament his leaving but we would never begrudge such a free spirit such an opportunity, and Julien and can travel onwards with pride for a job splendidly done and with our heartfelt thanks for making St. Conleth’s an even better place.
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’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.
In this relatively splendid summer, it is almost a sin to mention those three words beloved of advertisers (and, sometimes, parents) but dreaded by most children, even the normally happy and well-adjusted kids of St. Conleth’s: Back to School! But we realise plans must be made and books must be bought, so this is just a reminder that the School Calendars and Booklists can always be found under ‘Calendar + Information’ (scroll down for booklists!) along with information about Uniform and the Canteen. For your convenience, we have also included PDFs of the calendars below. Now, back to enjoying this summer while it lasts!
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)!
Unfortunately, the last gasps of that dying virus will keep St. Conleth’s College a bit quieter these summer months as the usual mixture of camps and daycare will be forced on hiatus just a bit longer. But Cecilia Franken, who is the maestro of all the laughter and shouts of joy that usually ring through the corridors and gardens of No. 28, will be back with a bang come September. And if the highlights of last few months of her term-time Afterschool and Morning Club programme are anything to judge by, spurred by the memory of those pesky restrictions, Cecilia, her staff and the lucky kids involved, will have even more fun! Click here for the latest Afterschool Newsletter!
We admitted that we had neglected the term-ending goings-on in the Junior School while busy calculating LC grades (with aid of a dartboard), but we did not realise the sheer quantity of ‘stuff’ our Junior partners were actually getting up to! We are still sending a couple of rather recalcitrant TYs snooping around looking for details, but as far as we can tell this is what the youngsters (applies to staff, too, except for Mr. Kilcommons) were doing during those hectic last days of the school year:
There was a Ms. Loomes-planned Sixth Form Graduation live-streamed in all its songs, smiles and a few tears; an even smilier Preparatory School Summer Show Extravaganza (available with private YouTube link); the presentation of awards for our annual Student Talent Show; Sports Days for each year (see article below); class class tennis tournaments; class trips to Airfield Farm and other well-ventilated locales!; the announcement of a new whole school CEO (Mr. Tony Kilcommons) and Junior School Principal (Mr. Brian Nolan): congratulations!; Mark and Emerson-catered BBQ (apparently their special sauce titillates tastebuds bukills Covid!) ; and bouncy castles. Yes, bouncy castles! Why did we not think of these wellbeing factories sooner?
See just some of the action above and below but before we go to Bundoran, one last story that encapsulates what we are all about in St. Conleth’s Junior School.
After the lockdown was relaxed, a local woman was finally allowed in to see her aged mother in the Belmont Nursing Home. There, unopened on the bedside locker, was a letter from Edouard Barkan, one of our Fourth Formers, that had been written back in December when Ms. Coleman inspired some community spirit and care for those who were really suffering from the Covid contingencies. The woman read the letter to her mother and, as she subsequently told the school secretary Angela, it was the best Christmas present her mother ever received, even if it was opened in the Spring. Edouard’s friendliness and openness touched both their hearts and his kindness provided light and joy to what had been a very dark time. Well done Edouard, and we hope you and the whole Junior School enjoy a fun but restful summer!
Wander and Win!
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.
We have to admit that we recently been neglectful of our Junior brothers and sisters in the St. Conleth’s family, but now with exams tidied away, our students safely ensconced in Brittas and our staff heading towards South William Street, we have time to catch up with all the end-of-term going-on in the St. Conleth’s Junior School. And, boy, have they been busy! First up: Sports Days. Yes, you-know-what put paid to our traditional whole-school, parent-attended, burger-flipping extravaganza. But Louis Magee, Shay Keenan and the Junior class teachers managed to put together a series of class-specific Sports Days which more than matched the spirit, fun and competitive zeal of those halcyon days, hopefully, soon to return!
Junior School PE has been rolling along for weeks, with Head of Junior PE Louis Magee keeping the pupils moving with a variety of activities, from tennis tournaments for Fifth and Sixth Class to our traditional past-time of rugby through fitness challenges for all classes to the slightly less moving, but just as healthful and important, Mindfulness activities. Don’t forget to check Louis’s own St. Conleth’s PE Twitter ‘handle’ @StConlethsSport!
Our Junior School students have been very busy this year, especially since returning to school in their full running, jumping, learning, talking, playing, questioning selves. And their parents, after one long deep breath of relief, have returned to their own working (and maybe a bit of playing) lives. But many Conlethian parents are involved in the Parents Association, and a few of them, led by Rhonda Leech Doyle, took on the extra task of documenting the children’s learning adventures over these last few months. Here is the result, the April 2001 Edition of the JSPA Newsletter. As you will see, Covid did little to dampen spirits or quell activity, especially amongst our youngest!
‘Make hay as the sun shines’ the old adage goes, but at St. Conleth’s we also follow a more recent proverb: ‘Take your class to Herbert Park if there is no Category 7 hurricane’. Especially during lockdown. There is something about ditching the masks, walking down the lane and entering Dublin 4’s sylvan paradise that please both students and teacher… if it does put out our local yuppies and attendant personal trainers, a wee bit. Nevertheless, we assert our rights to this civic amenity and even get some work done.
And when Mr. Morris returned from his rooftop weather station with some bad news from the barometer and anemometer, we knew we must get last licks before the real Irish summer commenced. Below we see Ms. McGuinness’s class artistically performing with bubbles and flowers; Ms. Coleman holding her Fourth Class in rapt attention with story time al fresco; Mr. Maguire trying to convince his Business class to invest in a new cryptocurrency called ‘The Gav’; First Years unenthusiastically but obediently all lined up; and a TY Science class with Ms. Phelan in our own front-yard amphitheater.
The world has changed a lot since Thomas Stamp Tzvetkov left us thirteen years ago; and, lately, not for the better, as disease and division dominate the headlines and resentment and suspicion seem to be the driving global forces. But Thomas, ever the optimist and the eager communicator, would have found much good, too, in our world, from the youthful environmental movements to the global co-operation in response to challenges. It is in this, latter, spirit that St. Conleth’s College presents the Thomas Stamp Tzvetkov (Global) Award each year in memory of our former Junior School pupil.
Thomas Stamp Tzvetkov (Global) Award is an annual prize for the student in Sixth Form who, like Thomas himself, has best exemplified the inclusive ethos and values of St. Conleth’s and who has been an engaging, selfless and positive influence on their classmates throughout their time at the school. The winner of this award will have used their openness, imagination and lively sense of play to welcome and integrate their peers, especially those of different cultures, backgrounds and personalities, and will have promoted justice, diversity and equality amongst all students.
Mr. Kilcommons, Ms. Sheppard and Marie Stamp were proud to present the Covid-delayed 2020 edition of this award to current Conlethian First Year Alejandro Medina Santos, who has consistently shown the qualities and attitudes which exemplify this award and the type of person Thomas Tzvetkov was himself.
One of Thomas’s best friends was Oisin Herbots, a past Captain of the Senior School who played a major part in the creation of this award. The friendship between the Herbots and Marie Stamp continues to this day. Marie is a noted children’s author and member of the Fighting Words collective she recently engaged the youngest Herbots, Eimhinn, to narrate some of her illustrated stories. Enjoy Marie and Eimhinn’s performance below and remember, if you were lucky enough to know him, Thomas and the valuable legacy he has left us.
Mr. Lonergan is far from a high priest of the new religion of Covid Compliance, but like all staff at St. Conleth’s, he follows the guidelines imposed from on high. But, like with many things considered hopeless or impossible on first glance, where there is a will, there is a way; and obeying the rules on masks and distancing does not necessarily remove all possibility of fun!
Above (and below) you see just a few snippets of the learning adventures still possible in these (hopefully) waning days of restrictions. We catch Mr. Lonergan’s enthusiastic First Year and TY PE classes in action; some lunchtime hi-jinks in the yard of both Seniors and Juniors; Second Years enjoying the philosophy of the cherry tree in bloom; Fifth Years reading dystopian fiction in an utopian setting at the Herbo; and… shock and horror! … a sneaky peak of a class that actually stayed in doors: Mrs. Halpin’s First Year Art Class in the airy confines of the hall.
Don’t forget that Junior School Principal Tony Kilcommons is also half of the Sixth Form class teacher dynamic duo, along with Ms. Loomes. And recently Mr. Kilcommons ran a special competition for his class involving ‘Fibonacci’ poems, which Mr. Kilcommons was kind enough to explain to us:
The Italian mathematician Fibonacci wrote a book, Liber Abaci, in 1202. In this book he describes his now famous number sequence. The rule is that each number is equal to the sum of the preceding two numbers. He always used the first number twice. A Fibonacci poem (or fib) is based on the Fibonacci sequence. The number of syllables in each line equals the total number of syllables in the preceding two lines.
The winner of this toughly and closely fought competition was Lydia O’Connor and here is her prize-winning poem, describing one of the more positive lockdown experiences:
Day a (2)
Schnauzer dog (3)
Came into my life (5)
Elegant, smart and mischievous (8)
He took total charge of me, patiently explaining (13)
That he was the alpha, the king (8)
Knowing how dogs think (5)
I then knew (3)
He was (2)
Actually, they come from St. Conleth’s Junior School! Yes, Sixth Former Harry Groarke (and his clan) are certified celluloid vikings! Harry may look a little younger in these cells: that is because the filming was done back when he was in Fourth Class and before Dr. Tony put a 5km limit on the longboats. However, a diet made up mostly of ale, salmon and beef pilfered from fat monks has aged our young warrior considerably and suitably, since!
Above you see snapshots from when Harry, his mom, and his sisters actually made the silver screen on Amazon Prime back in January. Clan Chieftain (and dad) Jason captured it on film the old-fashioned way, which can be seen below. And here, you can see the incredible ‘storyboards’ from the sequence: a rare glimpse into to art and work that go into the movie-making business. Pass the mead, Harry!
Two landmark competitions, as popular as any in the history of St. Conleth’s, have now run their course: Afterschool Director Cecilia Franken’s ‘My Pet Vs. Yours’ Competition and the Great First Year Bake-Off. A few industrious students actually entered both, but they assured us that they carefully washed their hands in-between and no crumbs were left on their cats and dogs. Richie ‘Hitchcock’ Morris is still putting the final touches on his Bake-Off docudrama sequel but Cecilia has wrapped up both the competition and the video. Remember: no dogs, cats or owners were harmed during the filming of this movie.
Whom do we all miss most during lockdown? The consensus is: Simon Toal, the heart and soul of the St. Conleth’s staffroom. Well, the Prep School did not have to wait for DR. Tony’s ‘okay’ and enjoyed our resident raconteur/SNA/Fleet Admiral’s presence during a special magic show via Zoom. The rest of us will just have to wait a little bit longer!
And meows! The award ceremony for the ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ competition run by Afterschool Director Cecilia Franken is not until Friday at 11 a.m., but we have a treat to jet your appetite. Cecilia has put together a medley of memorable moments from the competition. Enjoy and tune in tomorrow to see who really is ‘the cat’s meow’- dogs included!
Yes, we have finally banished the Zoom poltergeist and welcomed all our Juniors back to school… in the living flesh! Our photographic access has been limited by Covid precautions but the class teachers are starting to send in some celluloid evidence, just in case you though this was an illusion and are going to wake up to another long day of servitude to the screen-beasts! Interestingly, for our Junior girls, no sooner were they back in school… then they right back out again! But they were not heading home for a lockdown, but to Herbert Park for a Scavenger Hunt with Ms. Leary. And for what were the girls searching? Maybe… the boys?
Who needs a vaccine? Okay, nearly everyone in Ireland under the age of 102 still does but until we can join our UK neighbours in normality, have a shot of this as a sustaining substitute: St. Conleth’s Preparatory and junior School students just getting on with life… and having a ball while they do it!
Yes, we do have a storage room of Harvard and Dora approved physical educational equipment, and the students do benefit from them all (thank you PA!) but sometimes all you need is a bit of time, a bit of space and a kid’s naturally indefatigable spirit! That’s Junior and Senior Infants above, at break-time with Cecilia. Below you see Ms. Leary’s First Form waiting their turn and Mr. O’Brien’s Second Form enjoying a quieter form of fun: learning al fresco!
Don’t just sit there moaning and flicking through ‘International Thrillers’ or “Heartwarming Family Dramas’ on Netflix! Grab a pet and try the latest challenges in the ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ Competition!
In the second week of the ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ competition, Socks really ‘gave it socks’, but so did fellow cats Boo, Leo, Panda and Snowball, as well as their dog friends Kojak, Cozmo, Lucky, Bruce and Ace (The Fearless Pooch). Tune in tomorrow for the Week 3 Challenges!
Well, Summer Bay may still be out of reach, but No. 28 Clyde Road is within sight! In fact, our Sixth Years and Preparatory School students are already back in style, as you can see below, and they will soon be joined by all their friends in the other years. Sixth Years got right down to business with preparations for the Leaving Certificate (and buttering up their teachers for ‘accredited grades’!) while our younger students had a ball celebrating World Book Day.
As Dr. Seuss said, ‘“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Especially when our actual locomotion is covid-limited! Ms. Leary’s First Form even dressed up as their favourite characters. Those classes still at home are also in on the learning and fun. Ms. Dillon’s Third Form celebrated by showing off their favourite books and enjoyed a special World Book Day Assembly hosted by David Walliams. And our still-at-home Senior School classes are still finding ways to progress through the syllabi and the CBAs, yet also have a bit of craic. Above we see a Classics Zoom picnic and below, a simple but fun SPHE cup of coffee ceremony!
For the last year or so, most of us have had much less ‘to do’, at least, of the fun kind of ‘doing’, but that does not mean our minds and spirits have been dwelling in an oasis of rest and calm. In fact, anxiety seems to be one of the most harmful side effects of the reaction to Covid 19. Thank goodness, we are all slowly getting back to school and work, and the best part of that is access to St. Conleth’s very own guru of Mindfulness and cool: Mr. Julien Porzadny. Here, he reflects on what he and his followers have been up to. It just might keep up us sane till we can hear the dulcet tones and calming words of the man himself!
For the Féilte exhibition of 2020, I was invited by the Teaching Council to create a showcase on “Mindfulness in school”. Andrea Ryan and myself created a little video (and presentation) talking about our experience of bringing mindfulness in our schools. I am very happy to see that, after being added to the time-table five years ago, Mindfulness classes are now an integrated part of St Conleth’s college.
Even though we are physical apart, the online weekly well-being classes are still being held. Every week we meetup to practice, share and reconnect with each other and ourselves. The Junior Cycle students are following the .breath course while the Senior Cycle students the .b course and the 5th forms of the Junior school also got the opportunity to avail of the Paw b course before we moved to the remote teaching. These three courses are from the Mindfulness in Schools Project.
In our last classes before the February mid-break we changed things up a little. Students shared some “nourishing” activities that they were doing during lockdown to lift up their mood. I then gathered them and created a little poster you can all get ideas from if you would like. In our final class we played a little Mindfulness Kahoot. If you are eager to play it, here is the link to it. You can access it until the 28th of March.
Finally, as mentioned in its Framework for teachers’ learning, the Teaching council “recognises the importance of care of self so as to be able to care for others and, in that context, teachers’ well-being is vital if they are to effectively lead learning, and support and facilitate students in this endeavour.” Keeping this in mind, it is now time to move on to bringing mindfulness to the staff of St Conleth’s college.
It is therefore with great pleasure that, following our next mid-term, I will be inviting the staff of St Conleth’s to join a five week online introduction to Mindfulness course. In our next academic year, a more in-depth 8 week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course will also be offered on a voluntary basis. I cannot thank enough Ms Sheppard, our principal, our vice-principal and our guidance councillor for the trust they put in me to lead these two courses.
Sometime people think that Mindfulness is synonymous of relaxation or that it will help us fix all our problems. Mindfulness may or may not help with these. However, what the practice of Mindfulness does is that it allows us to create a space where we can find our own wisdom, where we can trust ourselves a little more, where we can better respond to life challenges. And personally, I really like to sound of it.
Until next time, I shall now leave you with a quote I enjoy from Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Between stimulus and response there is a space; In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
‘My Pet vs. Yours’ enters its second week with new challenges for both dogs and cats… and their owners! Actually, can we say ‘owners’ any more? More like ‘partners’ and we all know who is really in charge!
Like our children, most of the time, we all love our pets and we all think they are the best. But some are obviously better than others! Cecilia’s Week One Winners from the ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ Competition:
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.
We have been saving this one for a while but with Spring now in full flow we had better take our last glance (hopefully!) of the cold, snow-dusted days of February. Junior School art teacher Orla Mellon was not going to let a polar vortex stop her or her eager artists: she sent them out into the teeth of the last gasp of winter to find the art that only needs to be found, not made. First up, she she tells us all about the project. Then, we get a list of the Juniors who took part and snaps of their work, more-or-less in order! Enjoy!
The Art Heart Project
Gregorio, John, Alexandra, Lewis, Federico, Sam, Beatrice, Clodagh, Ronan, Afonso, Christian, Parson, Sean, Conor, Eli-John, Luke, Graeme, Harrison, Sam, Patrick, Charlie, Federick.
Ms. NíAonghusa and her all-star crew stepped up, did a little dance and made a little platonic but hip-shaking love to help us through the lockdown lows. Well done to all who took part, in the schoolyard and at home. Feel free to share the video!
Ms. Cecilia Franken and her pet pals have issued the opening bark and me-ow: let the ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ games begin!!
My Pet versus Yours 1st Challenge-Cats
My Pet versus Yours 1st Challenge-Dogs
Updated Competitors’ List
Yes, the St. Conleth’s ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ Competition is about to start! Here are the competitors but don’t let their cuteness fool you! After all, it is a dog-eat-dog and cat-eat-cat world out there! Not literally, of course… Tune in tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12 noon for the first task. Good luck!
We kept this tasty selection of Cecilia’s Afterschool Youtube activities in reserve as we had a feeling that the weather was not going to fully co-operate this midterm. So, while you wait for the rain to stop, try some or all of these, and get ready for the start of the ‘My Pet vs. Yours’ Competition, next week!
Art Seniors Seashell Bracelet –
Art Juniors: Teddy Bear Spacecraft–
Science: DIY Speaker –
Weekly Challenge: Pick them up, quick! –
Story time: Max and the School Dinners –
Cooking: Italian Crunchy Arancini –