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)!
We were clearing our desktop- wait, stop there! When we said ‘desktop’, were you thinking mahogany and leather, Ikea MDF special or soulless blue digital screen? In other words: Are you a Boomer, X-er or Zoomer? Anyways, in one of our folders (Manilla with cord closure? A4 cardboard with generic uplifting photo of kittens? Or blue or yellow icon?) we found a few stories that we had buried when more important stuff was happening: two from the STEM side and one from the right side of the brain, but then again, this division is inconsistent and may be artificial: one of our STEM stories involves al fresco theatre and the other involves a particular Ancient Greek letter, while our humanities adventure is centred around the cold lines and angles of architecture: kismet or just serendipity? You decide, but first up is a little dramatic performance starring Oisín Power and Seamus Joyce, the Wagner and Miranda of their year, as inspired by Ms. Phelan’s lesson on Dr. Tony’s best friends: T-Cells.
On an another particularly fine afternoon, we were taking our fifth class of the day down to Herbert Parks for ‘research’ and we came upon Second Year Charlie Plant. Knowing that Charlie is a bit of a Rennaisance boy with interests and talents across the spectrum of arts and sciences we doorstopped him with one question that had been bothering us:
And now for the Humanities. Each year, the Fifth Year Classics Kids go on a little tour of Georgian Dublin to see neoclassical architecture in the flesh. Actually, they go on a few tours. Weekly, in fact.
This old Irish paradox has always made sense on some level but perhaps it was truer than we knew. Maybe on those days when we feel a bit strange, a bit ‘off’, we are actually communing with our other-dimensional selves? Well, don’t ask us- ask Second Year Michael Horan who was recently named a Highly Commended Irish Young Philosopher of 2021. Michael entered the UCD-based competition after being inspired by Dr. Fallon’s Philosophy Class. His project, ‘Quantum Immortality’ explores the deep questions of existence, consiousness and interdimensionality and takes us from the Big Bang to a possible future where we are all purified, evolved beings enjoying eternity at an all-expenses-paid conference somewhere over the rainbow. Read it all yourself, here, and please, please contact Michael (not us) if you are confused!
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.
There were many contestants in the misery olympics this past year, and to be honest, quite a few had authentic claims on a medal: in fact, who among us actually had a good year? But perhaps a special soupçon of sympathy should be saved for the Transition Year students, up and down the country. They had had their Junior Cycle/Certificate cancelled the previous June… okay, maybe that was bearable… but and then the much-anticipated year-long break from the usual grind, the longed for mixture of adventure and novel learning experiences that is Transition Year was severely handicapped by various restrictions: the long-coveted had been long-covidded. TY is all about ‘going out’ and ‘doing stuff’ but what if you can’t go out and there is nothing to do?
Well, you turn to Transition Year Co-Ordinator Gav Maguire (and his team) and give him your trust (and a generous budget). Gav basically put paid to this idea that nothing could be done and he led from the front and the rear: he pushed, pulled and cajoled his charges into enjoying a Transition Year like no other. Yes, changes had to be made, methods adjusted, hands washed and masks worn, but the Transition Years of St. Conleth’s were the busiest in the land! From the eclectic mix of quirky versions of the regular academic subjects through the variety of special ‘extra’ courses such as Photography, Sailing and First Aid to guest speakers on careers and personal development to actual trips around Dublin such as the Zoo, rock climbing, the Epic Experience and the Simon Toal-led graffiti tour, our TYs actually kept busy! Yes, the death of Transition Years turns out to have been greatly exaggerated. But that is not to say that every TY was equally lively: some were more vivacious, vital and vivid than others. Below you see all our Transition Year Award winners, led by the winner of both the J.P. McGilligan and Neil Quinlan, our biggest TY awards, Caoimhe Moore. Well done to them and all our TYs but special recognition must also be given to Gav Maguire, who obeyed all the rules and regulations, but still managed to lead our boys and girls through some incredible experiences in they all-important year of transition.
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!
No, we are not quite yet American enough to adorn our car’s rear bumper with stickers declaring the beatification or president-electness of our children but we do subscribe to the wisdom of a more moderate American, Garrison Keillor, who always started his radio show A Prairie Home Companion with this observation about his hometown, Lake Wobegon: ‘Where all the women are strong and all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.’ We, at St. Conleth’s, like to adjust that to ‘well above average’ and if you saw how many stellar student leaders and academics just missed the cut for the awards below, you certainly would agree. Our usual school-wide, fanfare-filled Annual Underclassmen Awards Ceremony was cancelled by the last desperate gasps of Mr. Covid but each Form Teacher managed to conduct their own subdued but dignified affair, acknowledging the first and success within each class. Without any further ado, here are the individual winners of the awards:
First Year Students of the Year and Academic Awards
Young Classicists Bronze Medal Winners
First Year Science and Castles
Second Year Students of the Year and Academic Awards
Third Year Students of the Year and Academic Awards
Third Year Art and Science
Fifth Year SOY and Academic
‘Young Classicists’ and ‘Classics Now!’ Silver Medallists
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Yes, we may argue endlessly in our Classics classes about the accurate modern equivalent value of a talent. that ancient measurement of precious metal currency, but one thing is certain: our Classics students have talent in a modern sense, too, and now they may very well have a talent worth of silver and bronze, their takings from this year’s Young Classicists’ Competition!
Above you see all our winners and the Fifth Year ‘Peloponnesian Power Pop’ band, The Temple Bards, singing their second smash single, Bare Necessities, which absolutely nailed the competition’s dual targets of a classical theme and a modern sustainable goal… and proved that the Bards are no ‘one hit wonder’! And our Classics younglings showed that there is plenty of talent on the rise: Ms. Speller and her hordes of First Year Classics hoplites hoarded no less than four bronze medals! And two Second Years placed as runners-up. Enjoy them below as well as a re-release of the Bards’ debut disc: Hospitality.
Junior Bronze Medal Winners
Charlie McMahon and Jamie MacNicholas
Myles Moriarty Smyth
‘Athena’ Bronze Medal Winners
Saoirse Aherne Grey
Honourable Mention Runners-Up
James Power (Click for PDF)
Kristen Harty and Chloe Egan (Click for PDF)
With so much suffering going on across the globe, and the even more damaging, outsized worrying about it, it is natural that we view the future with fear and trepidation: last Friday’s Graduation Ceremony went a long way to putting paid to that notion. If the Class of 2021 are representative at all of the rising generation of adults, then you can rest assured: we are all in good hands. 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 2021 graduates are anything to judge by.
The intelligence, humour and good will on display in Friday’s graduation and award ceremony bode well for a world that is left in their capable hands. Mr. Carvill and Mr. Gallagher, the producers, directors and emcees on the night are actual ‘Boomers’ but they pulled off an absolute stunner of a ceremony. Both were 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 2021 Ted O’Kelly. Watch the video below to hear all the speeches and see the winners of all the awards. Enjoy!
Yes, it has reverted to a typical Irish summer since, but the weather was absolutely splendid for last Wednesday’s Second Year Bray Adventure.
Mr. Lonergan and Mr. Smith did make it a learning adventure, pointing out signs of erosion, deposition and such as we went along and Scout Leader Speller could not resist building several shelters along the way, but for the most part it was all about getting some receive, catching some rays and having some fun! Local woodsman John Engmann was particularly helpful showing us the various fauna and flora… and beating off the Bray roughnecks!
No, we are not an Educate Together school. Though we share many progressive educational ideas and practices with our secular cousins, one we don’t is the idea that everyone gets a medal. Yes, everyone is applauded for their efforts and encouraged to win, but there is no shame in finishing fourth or lower, and there is always another race to run and try to win.
On this, Mr. Kelleher and Dash Parr agreed. Anyways, we would finish out of the medals if there were one for ‘Sports Day Reporting’ as we forgot to include the awards photos from the Second and Third Year Sports Days. See the happy winners above and some almost-as-happy competitors below!
Yes, we have a lot for which to thank Socrates, but maybe the dictum referred to above has had some unexpected repercussions. Maybe our famous philosopher even lived (for a while) to regret his own proverb and was eventually given a choice: A cup of frothy hemlock or Sraith Pictiúr? Well, sorry, but you don’t have a choice. The Summer Exams are here, so let us just get them done and we can all head off to sunny… Leitrim?
Summer Exam Schedule 2021 (PDF)
Okay, it is actually our fourth Senior School Sports Day of the year, but it did seem like an upgrade as HOS Mr. Smith reviewed what went on with the first three (nearly all very good) and tweaked the operating system for the Second Years. And, yes, the much-maligned year of emergent adolescent angst and misanthropic mopery actually overturned expectations and went out and enjoyed themselves! Some observers say that they were even brighter eyed and bushier-tales than First Years. And that’s saying something!
Kick and Throw!
Eggs and Barrows!
Yes, with each year having their own Sports Day this year we are quickly running out of punning headlines and witty jibes about a certain former Head of Sport who, apparently, is splitting his summer staycation between Adare Manor and Dromoland Castle. Well for some, we guess. All we can say is that our Fifth Years are particularly sporty and if the athleticism we saw on show this week is authentic, the Class of 2022′ Sixth Year Soccer team year may very well lose by only a few goals in the Staff/Sixth Year Soccer match. Maybe five or six. Yes, Morton and Co., we are talking to you! And you had better order those cute little Sixth Year team jerseys now, because you ain’t walking away next May with anything else! Oh, we must mention Oisín Power’s particular talent with the tug-of-war. He really had the technique down pat; a bit surprising, as he admitted himself that he had never, ever pulled before!
Kick and Throw!
Wheelers and Winners
It was the Third Years’ turn last Friday for the new-fangled Sports Day by Year and the boys and girls (and Mr. Smith, Mr. Keenan et al) made the most of it. The shone once again on the Head of Sport, as it always seems to do, and Old Belvo, our temporary home, again resounded with cries of victory and the laughter of ‘defeat’. You-know-what tends to put these things into perspective and the simple joys, like running on the grass with your friends, are perhaps now enjoyed more than ever before!
Unlike Maradona, the dearly departed maestro, Morton did not need the aid of ‘the hand of god’ to score a memorable Superleague-winning goal. Gav reported himself on the exciting conclusion to the now St. Conleth’s sporting staple and then, apparently, met Florentino Pérez Rodríguez for a coffee at Lolly’s.
The final of Superleague took place on Friday evening. This year the Superleague had to be cut down to individual year groups. I was in charge of the 5th year one. The annual draft took place four weeks ago and the two teams were created Doncaster Rovers (Captain Daniel Weatherley) and Scunthorpe United (Oisin Thornton). The winner would be the team who had scored the most goals over the three games.
In the he first game, Scunthorpe create a comfortable two goal lead, winning 4 – 2. Daniel and his Doncaster rovers team mates made sure they corrected their mistakes in the next round but also had the mighty Conor Hyland return, after missing the first leg, to beat Scunthorpe 3 – 1 . So, with the aggregate score of 5- 5 going into the last game, it was all to play for: both bragging rights and reputations. Scunthorpe went into the lead which they held till after half. With two minutes on the clock Morton Ainscough controlled the ball on the break and hit a sweet shot into the back of the Doncaster Rovers net… a different class, indeed!
Final Score: Doncaster Rovers 6 – 7 Scunthorpe United
Before we praise St. Conleth’s Head of Sport Mr. Smith’s first ever Sports Day, we must pay tribute to the previous ‘HOS”: Gav Maguire. Gav has moved on to a more sedentary position, TY Co-Ordinator, which is more suitable to his advanced age, but we remember that Gav did do an amazing job as HOS when he was younger and spryer.
It was Gav (along with the ever-young and still-serving Gamesmaster Shay Keenan) who moved Sports Day down to Irishtown Stadium and really made a festival of it. And the sordid rumours about Gav’s exit from the ‘HOS’ position coinciding with the disappearance of the PA Burger Stand’s float are just that: sordid rumours. Gav’s subsequent purchase of a late model sports car and seemingly endless capacity to patronise premium burrito and donut franchises are just co-incidences.
Anyways, Gav is off to find some uncursed Incan gold, and Mr. Smyth is now running sport at St. Conleth’s and his first slate of Sports Days is off to a rip, roaring’ start. Due to covidity, every year is having their own afternoon, and though we have also been forced to re-locate to Old Belvo, Mr. Smith and his team of fellow staff members and TY volunteers still managed to put on quite a show, with the First Years enjoying the variety of running races as well as the traditional sports day favourites: wheelbarrow races, willow throws and the primal joy of the tug-of-war. Enjoy the pics and stay tuned for the other years!
Transitioning between a normal school life and a much restricted Covid-complicated version was not the transition our Fourth Years envisioned, but TY Co-Ordinator Gav Maguire has done an amazing job keeping the boys and girls busy. And they certainly are going to go out with a bang!
Above you see a snap of 4A during their visit to the Epic Irish Immigration Museum and, below, loads from their weekly sailing course. And the whirlwind finish to the term is just warming up! Here is the schedule and stay tuned for more news as TY’s Class of 2021 vanquish the virus and go out in style!
TY’s Whirlwind Wrap-Up!
17th May – Normal School
18th May – 4B Will visit the Epic Museum
19th May – Garden gigs workshop on public speaking / Portfolios must be completed.
20th May – First Aid / Photography- 4A Retreat
21st May – Sailing / 4B Retreat
24th May – Graduation times to be confirmed
25th May – Gaisce Hike, Marley park to Enniskerry
26th May – Sports Day
27th May – First aid and Photography
28th May – Morning of Activities
You have heard how Mr. Lonergan and his rather raucous gang of PE, Geography and First Year teachers decided to give the Herbert Park regulars a bit of peace and quiet by taking all the First Years off to Bray for a day…. well here are the photos that prove the expedition a rousing success!
Various flora and fauna kept the Science teachers happy; there were a few tombolos and plenty of erosion (Watch your step!) to keep the geologists interested; a bit of interaction with the rather selectively bred locals for the ethnographers; and plenty of cardio and leg-stretching in line with the PE syllabus. But, most of all, there was a heck of a lot of fresh air and fun! Second Years, your turn next week!
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.
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
What is the best thing to do when your students start drooping under the pressure of their Covid masks and looming summer exams and the knowledge that summer holidays will probably be in Bundoran instead of Barcelona? Get them up and out! You have seen already how Herbert Park has become our adjunct classroom; well, now Mr. Lonergan (and select colleagues) is leading First Years a bit further afield: to the Wicklow Mountains overlooking the charming seaside town of Bray, to be exact. Those headland winds whip away Covid germs as easily as they do lethargy and ennui! Below you see maps of potential routes, as well as all the details of the trip. We will report back when they return, triumphant!
On Tuesday (11th May) 1st years will go to Bray for a trip that will include elements of Geography, History and Physical Education.
Due to current Covid 19 guidelines you will have to arrange transport for your son or daughter to Bray and back.
We will meet at Bray DART station at 9.15am SHARP on the Tuesday morning. The 4 teachers mentioned below will be at the station from 9.00am for any early arrivals.
The main event of the day will be a walk along Bray Head to examine coastal features of erosion as well as enjoying a challenging hike. We will be walking the Bray leg and turning back at the Windgates steps ( LINK TO OUR WALKING ROUTE). After this walk we hope to return to Bray seafront to examine features of coastal deposition.
We will also have time for recreation on the beach as well as breaks for snacks and lunch both along the walk and again on the beach later. There will be an opportunity to purchase food from the local shops on the day as well. Students can enjoy a supervised swim if they wish. We will have a qualified lifeguard with us.
The day will conclude between 2pm -2.45pm approximately (it is difficult to know precisely) at Bray DART station.
Some key things to remember:- Any medical supplies e.g. EPI pens/inhalers (THESE WILL NOT BE BROUGHT FROM THE SCHOOL SUPPLY)- Water- Sunscreen- Rain gear- Packed lunch- Suitable footwear e.g. trainers or hiking boots/shoes (Those wearing unsuitable footwear will need to be sent home)- Swim Gear- Towel-Money (if desired) ALL ITEMS SHOULD FIT IN ONE BAG THAT CAN BE CARRIED EASILY ON THE WALK.STUDENTS MUST WEAR THE FULL ST CONLETHS TRACKSUIT.
Finally! Yes, the new gods have issued their decrees and the children can be children again! We have already seen how Louis has kept the Junior pupils moving, and how Mr. Lonergan has persisted with PE despite the mind-forged manacles, but now after-school sport is back, too, and back with a bang! Mr. Smyth, Head of Senior Sport, supervised as Coaches Speller, Morris, Sheridan, O’Brien and Maguire gathered the willing troops and retook the local fields and pitches. At first it was a bit awkward, understandably after months of distancing, dawdling and doodling, but with a few kicks of the ball, a few shots with the stick and the rising, life-renewing scent of wet grass, the kids (and the coaches) were back where they belong, as if they never left!
And to honour this historic restart, Mr. ‘Gav’ Maguire unveiled the latest evidence of his deep ties with the inner circle of Irish rugby, somehow getting the Leinster senior team to sign our JCT jersey!
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.
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!
Somewhere back in the mists of time, not long after the Norman invasion itself, Mr. Peter Gallagher inaugurated a Castle-building Competition amongst the First Years at St. Conleth’s and over the subsequent centuries it has developed into one of the most prestigious competitive events at the school. The rules are simple: build a castle (by yourself, not with your parents or architect uncle!) and earn points for historical accuracy and creativity. We always enjoy the influx of inspired and even outlandish concoctions which for a few weeks take up every horizontal surface in the school. Apparently, not all Conlethians build their castles merely out of air!
This year, of the First year History teachers, Mr. Baneham was in first with his class’s castles and, having been raised in a fortified tower house somewhere well within the Pale, as well as working for a while as seneschal at Windsor, he certainly had the required experience to draw the best from the boys and girls. We have castles made of sand, Lego, wood, styrofoam, cardboard and some gooey stuff of which Mr. Callaghan took one sniff and retreated to the lab for his gas-mask! And who is the 2021 ‘King of the Castle’? You will have to wait till we see the other classes’ entries and then the Awards Ceremony for the dramatic announcement. Until then enjoy the pictures above of the 1C castle-builders and their creations!
We recently tried the ‘These are not the droids you are looking for…’ line on a big, country Garda who caught us in the yellow box on the quays but our Jedi mind tricks were of no avail, nor was our ploy of having yellow and green GAA colours wrapped around the rearview mirror of our ‘vehicle’. Luckily for our students at St. Conleth’s, our preparation for exams is much more of a sure thing. Below is the Summer Exam schedule but, rest assured, between now and then, you will be well prepared by your teachers and you have already passed the most important test of the year by just getting back to school and restarting some semblance of the normal living and learning processes. So, check out the schedule, ask your teachers any questions you have, and remember: The Force is Within You!
Summer Exam Schedule 2021 (PDF)
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!
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!
The cynic suspected that Gardner’s ‘multiple intelligences’ theory gained traction because we wanted to find something, anything that our kid was good at. We ourselves, for example, scored very highly, when we were younger, on the ‘Preserving Valuable Collectible Comicbooks’ intelligence, despite once almost suffocating in an epic battle with a 3 mil mylar bag. And Transition Year Ollie West just makes a mockery of the whole Gardner thing, showing world class talent in acting, singing, musical composition and performance, artistic illustration and, most importantly, maintaining a sense of humour. Ollie, you are only supposed to ace one or two categories! Our resident polymathic renaissance man’s latest coup is a new album, We Can See Blue, just released on Spotify. Enjoy it here, and have a peak below at the album ‘cover’ and some of Ollie’s previous feats: performing as Hamnet in the one-boy, world-conquering, all-award-winning play; his illustrated homage to Mr. Porzadny (who is now officially skirting the line between guru and god!); and his essential, friendly charm!
‘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.
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!
Where would we be without the scientists and the statisticians during this Covid crisis? Why, in the pub, or enjoying the company of friends and family, the wag might say, but we may also be someplace much worse off. Yes, never before have those with an advanced analytical skill set been more front and centre on the world’s stage. And this trend is set to continue. Apparently, Pangolin Pathology at Carlow IT is pushing 600 points!
Well our Maths and Science teachers are doing their best to improve our students’ STEM skills and, just as importantly, show them how much fun numbers, angles and floodplains can be! Ms. NiAonghusa took her Third Years to Herbo to put their Trigonometry in action and Mr. Carvill (The Younger), always one to emphasise teh Physical over the Social, had his First Year Geography students map out the stages of river development. Check out the pics above and below!
Ms. Fay and Ms. Dorman attempted to run their annual Poc Fada during Zoom classes but there were a few ‘incidents’ involving broken cutlery and one smashed fuinnneog; so, instead, the múinteoirí waited till all the classes were back sa craiceann. It was a beautiful day down at the Herbo and, no surprise, both Third and Fifth year featured a Weatherley at the top of the leaderboard. Sean was followed by Andrew McGoey and Louis mcGovern and deartháir mór Daniel pipped Anthony Steyn and Darrach Smyth. Maith thú!
In the rough and tumble (if agriculturally prosperous) hinterland of County Tipperary, whence Mr. Lonergan proudly hails, there is only one kind of stick swung and that will feature in our next article, but Mr. Lonergan is a real pro when it comes to PE and he provides his classes with a smorgasbord of sporting delights. This past week, it was badminton’s turn, and he, Mr. Carvill the Younger, Mr. Gahan and, of course, the students themselves, had a ball… we mean… a shuttlecock!
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!
Transition Year Siobhán Fitzgerald is once again making waves with her poetry. Along with the works of several nationnally known established poets, Siobhan’s poem ‘Much Too Young’ is featured in the anthology Empty House, edited by Alice Kinsella, which has been launched by the Doire Press. Siobhan featured prominently in the official, livestream launch of the book last Thursday and we can see and hear her read and discuss her poem below (starting at the 22nd minute mark).
With the Covid crisis (hopefully) passing, our attention should return to the more perisitent problem of climate cgange and wider environmental degradation, and it is this issue which Siobhan and her co-contributors address in the collection. As Doire Press says: Empty House is a multi-genre anthology of Irish and international writing responding to the climate crisis. The leading challenge facing our world today, here writers share pieces that address what it is like to live in a world imperiled by climate chaos. Interpretations vary from celebrations of the natural world we are at risk of losing, anxious prophecies of the Earth we may soon live in, to constructive hope of how we can prevent environmental catastrophe. Together they form a rallying cry of human responses to a systemic problem.
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.
With all this moaning and groaning about restrictions and our rather depressing obsession with ratting out covid non-compliers, we needed a ‘good news story’ to lift our spirits and remind us that, on the whole, people are decent, and do ‘do the right thing’, even the young’uns. Case in point: those handsome, daring Conlethian First Year boys (Ben Nolan, Peter Crimmins and James O’Kelly) who, like modern day musketeers three, did not hesitate to act when a Man and his Dog and his Shoes got into trouble off the Forty Foot. Don’t get involved? Keep your distance? Not these fine fellows! Must be all those CSPE and SPHE classes which honed their sense of citizenship and heroism. And a bit of PE, too, as Peter actually entered the water to assist the man, who subsequently thanked the boys profusely and then signed up for a Geography class with Mr. Smyth about tidal movements. The boys were nonplussed about their heroism, and insist it was nothing, with Peter claiming that he takes more pride in consistently beating his old man, Charles (Class of 1990) in their regular sea swimming races. Nevertheless, well done, boys. St. Conleth’s is proud of you!
After years of encouargemnet from Dora the Explorer and other education experts, we boomers finally got used to the idea that learning should be as co-operative and ‘hand-on’ as possible. And then Covid hit and that all went out the ever open, no matter what the weather, window: we had to live and learn in little isolated bubbles, more in touch with Netflix characters than our colleagues or classmates. Well, TY Czar Gav Maguire and Czarevitch Richie Morris are now bringing the ‘touch’ back to TY! MInd you, it is just the touching of well-wiped CPR dummy torsos, but, hey, it is a start. It is nice to be able to reach out and touch someone…. even if it is just to compress a cold, rubbery simulated chest cavity! The TYs are also getting out and about for a Phoitography module.: more on that later. Slowly but surely normal life, for the TYs and the rest of us., is returning!
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)
We all know about the 10% ‘extra’ you get on the Leaving Certificate for completing your exams; the ten points Coláiste Eoin gets at the start of every basketball match versus against sassenach schools; the career express lane in the civil service for those with more than a cupla focal (and at Tesco Extras in the Gaeltacht); and the palatial homes inhabited by the TnaG weather girls… but going gaeilge also pays off at the rather anglophilic confluence of Waterloo, Wellington and Clyde Roads! Yes, these Conlethians will someday look back at their school days, especially their participation during the Seachtain Gaeilge competitions run by the Irish teachers and think: Bhíomar go léir ar mhuin na muice san am sin!
Lockdown has taught us many lessons; probably the most positive and important one is to cherish what is really important in our lives: family and friends; physical and mental wellbeing; expensive designer dogs who are getting noisier and slightly, just slightly, less cute by the day; and, most of all, the absolute necessity of access to a good barber or hairdresser. Little did we know how essential their services are, and how difficult it is to distinguish between ‘ Natural Light Ash Brown’ and ‘Natural Medium Cool Brown’ or to operate the Aldi All-In-One Beard, Body (?) and Facial Hair Trimmer. Well, not everyone is embarrassed by their overgrown manes or the honest if amateur efforts applied by whoever in the family drew the short straw or was most fortified by a glass of decent Bordeaux. The lads of 2C, at least, came back to school proud of their improvised style and willing to compete for the title of King of the Covid Cuts!
We had almost full attendance, nigh 100%, throughout the Senior School this past Monday. We figure this rare feat was probably due to the ancillary health benefits of our lockdown, with no good old ‘regular’ flu and few colds making the rounds or, perhaps, after two weeks of holidays and months of distanced learning, ye parents were very eager to see the back of them!
Well, we hope you enjoyed the quiet and the calm and reduction in refrigerator door openings. We enjoyed seeing all the students back in the flesh and eager to learn, or at least eager to go for a walk with their classmates in Herbert Park!
After weeks, nay, months of baking, tasting, deliberating and speechifying by the First Year Form teachers, we finally have a Grand Final winner of the Great First Year Bake-Off! Well done to Maude Kinlay and her multi-layer chocolate creme cake! Enjoy Mr. Morris’s wrap-up documentary below.
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!
Who needs the Easter Bunny? Is he not just a leporine American capitalist tool? And what kind of bunny lays eggs, anyways? We have better: Fifth Year Adam Rafter, who treated his whole Maths class to an Easter treat!
Just before the break, Classics V (and special guests) celebrated Easter and the Ancient Greek springtime festival of Anthesteria with dolmades, feta, olives, grapes, pomegranate and some weird kind of pork slices. Alas, we had to substitute the traditional beverage of wine with cranberry juice. May Dionysus forgive us! And, of course, all the goodies were devoured quickly during the briefest of momentary mask movements!
Yes, the votes are in and the announcement of the winner is pending… but, meanwhile, have a look at the amazing final round creations of the Great First Year Bake-Off!
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!
We did Múinteoir Quirke a disservice, not including him or his Irish class in our round-up of the Irish Department’s Comórtas Ealaíne- Seachtain na Gaeilge. So, is fearr go mall ná go brách!
Visual Art speaks in every language, as we saw this past week when múinteoirí Ms. Fay and Ms. Dorman ran a special Comórtas Ealaíne i gcomhair Seachtain na Gaeilge for First and Second Years. The response was brilliant and it was tough call for the teachers but below you see the prize-winners (and a few runners-up). Well done to all who took part!
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!
Ms. McGuinness and her First Year Artistic Performance Class have not let you-know-what get them down. All lockdown long, they have been singing and dancing and having fun- and, if anything, the Zoom element has just made it more enjoyable, as the the class have been forced to come up with novel ways of performing. You have already seen the sweeties of their St. Valentine”s Day celebrations; now share in some of their St. Patrick’s Day ceol agus craic!
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?
Mr. ÓDúlaing and Ms. Fay, noted hurlers from the banks of the Liffey and the Suir, respectively, may have met their match in Ms. Dorman, who brought her Connaught cunning to the annual Seachtain Gaeilge display down at Herbert Park. Our Sixth Year Irish teacher set new staff records and passed on some useful tips to Luke, Ted and the like, who are more used to handling the Molten and the Gilbert than the sliotar!
We imagine that in some Northern European countries, the enforced social distancing has not been as noticeable or lamented as it is here: self-sufficiency, logic, Calvinism and all that… but we Irish are a more gregarious lot and, yes, we are herd creatures. And this whole lockdown thing, with its Zoom parties and solitary walks and distanced classroom messing, especially does not suit us. And it is not just the pub, it is the bus-stop and the tea room at work and the hallways of a school and the walk in the park: all places where we would gather and chat and perhaps slip further down the national efficiency tables but have a darned good time en route.
Well, Mr. Dónal ÓDúlaing, Ms. Siobhan Dorman and their Sixth Year Irish classes reclaimed that last locale, the neighbourhood park, for Seachtain Gaeilge and for Ireland and for us last week with a long awaited return of the Poc Fada. Yes, the competition itself was keen and the celebration of our sporting culture important, but it was also great to just see teachers and students chatting and laughing and doing what we have always done so well!
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 let Mr. Morris’s ‘Science Guy’ persona fool you! Behind those safety goggles, and beneath that pocket protector, lie the mind and spirit of an avant-garde film auteur! We have seen his TY cinéma vérité short films already, and now he has turned his talents to a new challenge: chronicling the ongoing Great First Year Bake-Off. We are impressed with his directorial efforts, as well as those of the ensemble cast (credits below) but we wonder: will he run out of film before the last cherry is placed atop the cream?
The Great First Year Bake-Off: The Movie
Starring: Mr. ‘Keanu’ Gahan, Ms. ‘Winona’ McGuinness and Ms. ‘Sigourney’ Speller (and a special selection of First Years’ confectionaries)
Directed by: Mr. ‘Quentin’ Morris
Narrated by: Mr. ‘Khan Noonien Singh’ Toal
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!
Who ate all the pies? Well, don’t look at us! Sadly, we only get digital samples of the Great First Year Bake-Off which is now entering its 23rd and penultimate stage. Each week, the confection gets even closer to perfection and we feel that our First Year Form Teachers (Ms. Speller, Mr. Gahan and Ms. McGuinness) may well decide to open a cookery school on Clyde Road, one to rival the famous Ballymaloe!
Yes, in some pursuits ‘how’ you do it, matters as much as what you do… ‘style’ does count! Here, Ms. Halpin’s Second Year Art Class took ordinary, everyday objects and stylised them through drawing. You may never look at your toothbrush in the same way again!
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:
Do you remember the US Presidential Election in 2000, when the Democrats dragged out the process with innumerable court cases and we thought we would never get a winner…. well, the various rounds of the First Year Bake-Off are nothing like that! We love seeing a new selection of our student bakers’ creative concoctions each week. Keep them coming! First Year Form Teacher Ms. McGuinness has kindly supplied the slides for this week’s Semifinal Round, but, alas, she did not send in any samples!
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.
Word is just in from the Principal that the Leaving Certificate Mock Exams will just not be happening this year. Mr. ÓDulaing will go through the sound pedagogical reasons for this with the Sixth Years and their parents. Basically, it means less stress and more class time in preparation for ‘accredited grades’ and the actual LC Exam. Best of luck to the Sixth Years going forward during these difficult and changeable times.
Hexofinals? We are not quite sure what to call the final 14 in the Great Bake-Off competition but it seems like there are no Maths teachers amongst the First Year Form Teachers! Well, the more… the meringuier! We also are not sure if these sublime creations just qualify as baked goods: surely, they are also works of art! Enjoy and stay tuned. There are an untold number of rounds to come!
Well, things are getting a little clearer… so we issue the following adjusted LC Mock Exam Schedule with a good bit more confidence!
Leaving Certficate Mock Schedule
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.
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!
Both the Junior and Senior School Art teachers are keeping me busy with an avalanche of art, produced by their students during Zoom classes. This time, in is Ms. Halpin’s turn to show off some of the creativity and craft of the Senior School Art classes, from burger fantasies to sneaker design to CBA project sketches. Enjoy quickly, as I already hear the rumbling of more art on the way!
First Years’ Burgers and Experimental Drawing with Coffee
CBA1 Influences and Brainstorming Sheet
Fifth Year Lettering and Poster Development Work (Emotive and Illuminative)
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 –
Junior School Art Teacher Ms. Mellon and her protégées completed this inspiring project weeks ago but we saved it to brighten up any midterm doldrums. First up is Ms. Mellon’s explanatory slides and then each Junior Class (just click on any slide to expand), as well as one very impressive commentary from a student!