From a Distance…

One of the unexpected effects of this series of lockdowns is a tendency to be more tolerant of schmaltz. Easy listening ‘gems’ of the 70s and 80s, which previously would have prompted a quick skip or turn of the dial, are now listened to in their entirety, prompting wistful, melancholic smiles and maybe even a tear… Well, Bette Midler was referencing a more celestial watcher but her time-tested sappy chestnut of a tune can serve as the theme song of our new way of learning: from a distance, indeed. Both St. Conleth’s Junior and Senior teachers have hit the ground running (literally, in Mr. Lonergan’s case) as they have shifted education on-line but carried on with same professionalism, enthusiasm and care and concern for their pupils as always.

And to be fair to the students themselves (and the accommodating and ‘nudging’ parents), it has been a continuation of the partnership that has made the in-the-flesh version of St. Conleth’s such a great place to learn over the years. Attendance has been near 100% and the variety of teaching methods and adventures has been impressive, from PE activity diaries to ‘Zoom Pet/Cactus Day’ in Classics and as gaeilge to spontaneous dress-up English classes to traditional classroom note-taking and discussions. Yes, we would prefer to be in the same classroom, but until that is possible, St. Conleth’s stays together… from a distance!

Leo, Leonis: 3rd Dec. Masc.

Quick! Someone go and get Mr. Carvill (The Younger) and his nunchucks… there’s a lion loose in Transition Year! Oh, wait, it is just Leo Nolan, once again showing the swagger and chutzpah of his namesake. A few weeks back, we published the various projects of our Cool Classics Kids which were entered (and won laurels) in the Classics Now competition, but we neglected to include Leo’s: not very nice, especially considering that Leo is the widely acknowledged Dear Leader/Beloved Mascot of that quirky gang of kids known as TY-A. Well, we make amends here, and see and hear Leo reading, in fine Classical Latin, the opening of Virgil’s Aeneid Book I.

Classics Kids Cash In!

Get a life, Westlife! Step off, Steps! Back off, Backstreet Boys! There are some ‘new kids on the block’ when it comes to boppy beats and illuminating lyrics: Yes, the Temple Bards (formerly known as ‘James and the Sirens’) are here and they have just won Second Place in the Classics Now student competition. They have €100 worth of drachma in their pockets and record companies clambering for their signatures on contracts. Stay tuned for more heroic, homeric hits!

The CAI-T, the Irish Association of Classics, Latin and Greek Teachers, may not number in the thousands like the hordes associated with Maths, Irish and English, but, like the Spartans at Thermopylae, we make up in enthusiasm and chutzpah what we lack in numbers. Every year there are numerous events run by the group for our enthusiastic students: from Latin Day to the Classics Speech Competitions to the Young Classicists Symposium and, famously, the Ides of March Table Quiz. And Conlethians have made a habit of winning laurels and medals at all these events. This year, the CAI-T learned from the fate of Pericles, dead from a plague in 430 BC, and ran a student competition completely on-line in association with the Classics Now Festival. And, yes, once again Conlethians were to the fore!

Charlie Plant’s painstakingly built Minoan Labyrinth (the child labour by baby brother and sister was completely voluntary) won an Honourable Mention and the sassy lyrics and snazzy looks of the aforementioned ‘TheTemple Bards’ absolutely blew the staid judiciary of Classics Professors away. Apparently, several of the judges are interested in purchasing the single on vinyl! And behind this melodious vanguard of James, Eliza, Eva and Julia, there were plenty of other laurel-worthy projects which you can see above: a tour of Charlie’s labyrinth is followed by Patrick Devlin’s exquisite animation of the fall of Icarus; Marcus Far’s digitised Labours of Heracles; Senann Corry and Jacob Alexander’s delightful maritime and arboreal creations; Fergus O’Reilly and Michael Sweeney’s ‘first person shooter’ version of the Labours; and Oisín Power’s Latin versions of the finest moments of Presidents Clinton and Nixon. We also have Harry Collins’s innovative reconstruction of Troy, here. And with over forty First Years taking Classics right now, there is plenty more to come in the years ahead!

Gaeilge agus Clasaiceach agus Baseball sa pháirc!

Some Covid restrictions are more fun than others… like the encouragement for learning al fresco! Right now, we hear the rains of Storm Alex hammering down on our tin roof rusted, but last week the weather was intermittently divine and we did not need much encouragement to follow the government diktat to get the children out where the the zephyrs roam.

Above and below we see some Wellbeing, Irish, Classics… and baseball learning going on in the friendly expanses of Herbert Park. Yes, we will all be happy to see the tail end of this virus but we can make the most of the special opportunities which have arisen because of it in the meantime. Someone has to help Gav Maguire keep Lolly and Cook’s in business!

Conleth’s Classics Kids Kick ‘Aes’!

Marcus Aurelius, our departed deified emperor emeritus, would not be happy if he looked down from his heavenly abode and witnessed the current state of his formerly glorious empire:  war rages across ‘our sea’; dangerous cults proliferate within our borders; provinces are breaking away and, due to the poor state of the roads on the Roman periphery, it takes over a fortnight for word to reach us of the outcome of our brave legionnaires’ battles!  An exhausted rider has just returned from far-off Goatstown with this despatch:

Mount Anville was once again the setting for the ‘Ides of March’ Classics and Latin Teachers Table Quiz and, once again, the panis et circenses were staged with the most pleasant hospitality.  But do not let the camaraderie amongst the small and tight Classics set fool you: this was a battle royale and no quarter was expected or given!

St. Conleth’s always shows up with strength of numbers for these affairs and this time we fielded three strong teams:  Sixth Years Paul Ralph, Eoin MacNally, Cian O’Mahony and Sterre Van Egmond formed a solid testudo-formation phalanx to do the grunt infantry work.  Fifth Years Johnny Barry and Andrew Latvis united with Third Year ‘Ancient Wars Wunderkind’ Matthew O’Farrell and polymath Hugh Etchingham-Coll (called up from the Chemistry auxilia) to perform a function befitting their equestrian status, outflanking many of the barbarians and scouting for future engagements. TY Zachary Carr bravely took on a legate’s roll with one of the more outlandish barbarian outfits, St. Mary’s of Drogheda, though the language difference did hamper communications amongst this motley crew.  And let us not forget the all-important rear guard: Fifth Years Maria Azzia and Diletta Santuari (from the Roman ‘home’ counties),  dogged TY Joe ‘One Poem’ Downing and another Chem Kid Auxiliary, Oisín Gilligan, intentionally took up a position at the back of the legion to enable the vanguard make a grab for the laurels and the lucre.

In the end, all of our teams did the eagle proud but we just could not match the zealots of Gonzaga where, reputedly (as in ancient Sparta) their hatchlings are cast into a Renalagh ravine if they cannot name the six rivers of Hades soon after birth.

Classics

Classics VI Notes:

Like the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Classics and Latin Department may be surrounded and outnumbered but they are fiercely proud, frenetically active and quite blissfully unaware of how many ‘likes’ they have on Facebook.  All students take Latin in First Year.  It is a proven perfect primer for further studies in language, history, mathematics and cavalry battles. A bit of Latin also presumably helps in the fields of law and medicine, but its real attraction for mere dabblers is the ability to drop a pro bono or alia iacta est in mixed wine-and-cheese company. For the chosen few, Latin continues through Second and Third Year and here the pueri become viri, once they can command the Stephen Fry-dubbed ‘Rolls Royce’ of Latin grammar: the passive periphrastic.

For the Leaving Certificate, students may take either Classical Studies or Latin, but not both, as the exams run co-currently. Rumours abound that one Conlethian in the past, the ambidextrous Ambrose MacGillycuddy, managed to take both exams simultaneously, writing with both his left and right hands, but others claim that the Classics paper was actually completed by his conjoined twin, Umbrose.

Latin shifts to an early morning start for the Leaving Cert, and the small class size allows sufficient time and space for extensive discussions, which make the grammar, vocabulary and history go down like a leisurely cena in the luxurious triclinium of some splendidly idle patrician in the last, golden days of Rome.

Classical Studies is the broadest Leaving Certificate subject, mixing drama, history, epic poetry, biography, art and architecture in a delightful but challenging combination of different disciplines. You will analyse Alexander’s use of light infantry, measure the intentionally skewed lines of the Parthenon and voice the anguished rage of Jason as he weeps over the fate of his young sons. The abilities to read, write and think are the only pre-requisites but a taste for adventure is recommended.

Our phalanx of Classics and Latin students are quite active extra-murally. We are perennial laurel-winners at both the Classics and Latin Teachers’ Speech Competition and the Ides of March Classics Table quiz. (Click here for a write-up of our most recent expeditions to these competitions.) We also visit the interactive Classics Museum in UCD, wander amidst the neo-classical Georgian splendor of Dublin and every second year, head to Rome itself!

The best site for further useful links is the webpage of the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers: www.caiteachers.com