Maggie’s Classics Coup!

Conlethian alumna Maggie Tighe (Class of 2019) was recently presented with one of the most selective and competitive international academic prizes. Maggie’s research combined her two loves of Classics and Music and it earned her a Global Undergraduate Awards, one of only 25 given… in the whole world! Each year thousands of students from around the world submit their undergraduate research projects to The Global Undergraduate Awards (GUA), the world’s leading pan-discipline, undergraduate research awards programme. More than 600 academics volunteer as judges for the programme, assessing entries for their academic originality and rigour, and must pick the single best entry from each of the 25 categories. Maggie was named Global Winner of the Classical Studies & Archaeology category for her work titled “Ovidian New Pastoral: The Transformation of the Pastoral Genre through Music in the Metamorphoses”. With that honour, she presented her research to the 150 academics and other winners in attendance at the Global Summit and received the Thomas Clarkson gold medal at the black-tie Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on 8 November.

Below you see Maggie at the summit and the ceremony, but you also see evidence of a different side to Maggie: less worldly perhaps but still important. Earlier in the term, and before all the high-brow hoopla, Maggie dropped by No. 28 to visit her old Classics teacher, just to say hello and deliver some inspiring words to a class full of eager, noisy Classics I students. Maggie may be now bumping elbows with elite scholars in the Long Room but she remembers her roots and has kept a warmth and openness as deep as her intellect. And the good news is that Maggie is now just down the road, at Trinity working on a Master’s in Classics… a resource her old teacher may well call upon ion the months to come!

Alternate Power

On Monday, June 27th, at about 17:03, upon the completion of the Leaving Certificate Latin Exam, a quiet will descend upon St. Conleth’s College which has not been ‘heard’ for about five years and ten months: for Oisín Power will have left the building. (And, no, we don’t whip out the future perfect tense just for anybody!). Yes, it has been a long, garrulous reign for the uncrowned king of diatribe, insinuation, invective, contradiction, conspiracy, sedition and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Each Thursday, we personally endured no less than six class periods with Oberstleutnant Power and though we shortened our life span considerably, due to the pressure applied to our brain, heart and spleen, we also learned a lot and enjoyed the barracking barrage of biblio-babble immensely. Do we need to know the religions of every US President’s Vice President’s wife? Or that a Bulgarian vagabond princeling has a legitimate claim to the title of Roman Emperor? (Or is he Finnish?) Maybe not. But maybe the plight of the Auslandsdeutsche after WWII is worth the occasional tangential discussion, or, perhaps, the underreported flouting of Geneva on the Ukrainian side in the current conflict or, god forbid, a reappraisal of Reagan’s blue collar Democrat mass conversion.

These were the kind of conversations intitiated in class and the hallways and in hyperspace by Oisín over the years; often aided, abetted, moderated or contradicted by step soul-brother Evan. Perhaps not many LC points were secured for them en route, but certainly our knowledge was deepened and persepctive altered, and perhaps theirs, too … and it was fun! Well, Oisín’s talent for edgy cultural commentary has also been recognised and lauded outside the walls of No. 28, too, as his alternate history story Failure of the Falklands has been featured on the popular and respected Talkernate History Youtube channel. Hear the hosts’ enthusiastic reception of Oisín’s story above and read it in full here. Oisín will soon be gone from these hallowed halls but we will long savour the lingering echoes of his beneficial bombast, and eagerly await news of his further rhetorical adventures in halls and chatrooms and on street-corners further afield.

Cool Classics Kids!

We foretold the impending godhood of one Turlough Dineen below, and, it turns out, that we were as prophetic as the Delphian oracle, herself! For Turlough has won the Gold Prize in the Classical Languages category of the Young Classicists Symposium competition. Turlough’s prize is appropriately titled the Palma Lingua Antiqua and he won it in the national competition as the judges were ‘particularly impressed with the spoken Latin and the creativeness of his project; bringing Latin to life again!’ Even more importantly, Turlough pushed Gonzaga into second place! Enjoy his full project Ambulatio in Paradisio below (a brilliant walking and Latin talking tour of flowers and their mythological significance) as well as an earlier work on aqueducts which Turlough created on a whim, while touring Gaul, with the help of soror, Dineena.

Our other classics kids also had a ‘cool’ end-of-term. Below we see our Classics I class on a very localised tour of neoclassical Georgian architecture (pointing out a volute on Wellington Road); those same First Years enjoying a lecture and presentation by Maia Nolan, an American university student (and cousin of Peter Murphy) who kindly and passionately detailed her classical archaeology adventures in Greece; our LC Latin Class in various settings: the Classics Room, the Art Room (suitably edgy, cum manes, that day), the Herbo and on one last Zoom, for nostalgia; our Classics VI duo of Eliza and Julia constructing a Doric temple, literally (and we mean, literally!) on the board; and our small but mighty Classics V class absorbing the sun along with Medea’s parenting tips. Two of these Fifth Years, Finn and Ollie (aka: ‘The Husbands of Helen’; aka: ‘Pants on Fire’) actually won a Bronze medal in the Classics category of the same Young Classicists competition and you can hear their original song, Classic Mortal, here. We had hoped to have a matching video, but Finn and Ollie were last seen, on the last day of school, jumping into a Surfer Boy Pizza van with guitars and amps and a roadie or two, and have not been seen since!

Really… We Must Be Going …

Art Class Cake and Afterschool Study parties… the Jameses starting early on the debs date hunt… graduation mortar boards… one last classic Classics picnic.. and some artsy filters: all part of the Class of 2022’s rather clingy (but reciprocated) good-bye hug to St. Conleth’s!

Quo Vadis?

Like Captain Oveur in the movie Airplane, Sean Ingle is a huge fan of gladiator films, so when the St. Conleth’s Classics Department was looking for volunteers to help escort our massive phalanx of students to the UCD Classics Museum, Sean jumped at the chance… and he even stayed onboard after finding out that the notoriously severe imperator, Helena Spella Maxima, was in charge.

And Sean was glad he did, for along with the 60+ students in First and Second Year, he enjoyed the UCD professors’ impeccable xenia and impressive epistêmê as they broadened and deepened our view of the classical world with a carefully connected tour of a museum chock full of amazing artefacts and led us through interactive classes in Ancient Greek and the iconography of the gods. A great, learning day was had by all!

Choices, Choices, Choices!

Junior School Principal Brian Nolan reports on one of the many bridges between St. Conleth’s Junior and Senior Schools.

This week our Sixth Form Transition Action Plan saw Phase 1 of our ‘Making Informed Choices’ session take place. Students heard from our resident experts Ms. Killen, Ms. Crowley and Mr. Latvis about all things Modern (and Ancient) Languages. The enthralled crowd peppered the teachers with questions related to French, Spanish, Latin and Classics and were left with a lot to consider before making their choices next month. A follow up session in March will focus on STEAM subjects. The Senior School teachers were very impressed with the maturity of the Sixth Formers and the quality of the questions: seems like we have more true scholars on the way!

Transition Years Are Go!

Yes, TY Co-Ordinator Gav Maguire does spend most of his time at L&C’s in the Herbo… actually, that is not fair to Gav: he is also known to frequent ‘Happy Out!’ and ‘The Butler’s Pantry’ in Donnybrook, and he is a regular at Tolteca on Baggott St. (So much so, that he merely mutters ‘The usual.’ when ordering and is greeted with rapturous cries of ‘El Gran Gringo!’… due to the size of his tips.) Well, you would think all those coffees, donuts and burritos would leave little time for actually co-ordinating of the TYs… but you would be wrong! The TYs are bigger ‘go-ers’ than the Thunderbirds! How does Gav do it ? Like all great armchair generals: delegation. Below, you see some of Gav’s minions in action: Tom O’Connor leads a photographic adventure in Herbert Park; Mr. Carvill (The Younger) ignites a heated chess tournament; Nutritionist Hannah O’Neill inspires healthy eating; Mr. Latvis leads a flying (Ionic) column to peruse the neoclassical splendour of Georgian Dublin; and Ms. Halpin does double duty: she escorts the TYs to Glasnevin cemetery for a history tour and somehow teaches the TYs how to use a Stop/Motion Application… in forty minutes!

TY Action: Landscape

TY Action: Portrait

Stop… Motion!

Io, Saturnalia!

Yes, Jesus’s arrival was the game-changer, and Christmas and Easter are holy days of a different class, but in the years B.C., the Romans already had a calendar as full of holidays as an Educate Together Sports Day is full of medals. And our Classics classes dutifully and enjoyably mark as many of them as they can! Saturnalia is the festa most linked with Christmas and was infamous for its bacchanalian excess and its subversion of the usual social order: slaves would even be served their dinner by their masters on this one day when the world turned upside down. We settled for the magister serving his discipuli the symbolically, mythically rich pomegranate and demonstrating the wonders of the Pythagorean Cup: an ingenious vessel that rewards moderation but punishes excess by emptying completely of wine (or cranberry juice, in this case) if filled too high. See some snaps from our Saturnalian parties below as well as some from Classics hijinks earlier in the term and our Young Classicist Symposium Award winners from last year. There is a new competition in the new year so stay tuned!

Io, Saturnalia!

Young Classicists Symposium Winners

Classical Kellehers!

The Kellehers, from Lorcan (Class of 2008) through to Joe (2025) have been, and still are, are an essential part of the St. Conleth’s culture and community. In between Lorcan and Joe, there were John (2019) and the shining sisters pictured below: Bridget (2011), Lois (2017), Mary (2015) and Rita (2022). They are seen on the Quad, celebrating Lois and Mary’s earning of their Trinity College Classics degrees. Yes, Mary may have wandered a little ways down a STEM pathway, but she was drawn back to the light, and the right, side and now can have those sisterly chats with Lois in the real mother tongue… with Rita, a Leaving Certificate Latin student, soon to join them!

STEM 2- Culture 1

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.

Classics Kids Got Talent!

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

Ross McPartlin 

Saoirse Aherne Grey 

Honourable Mention Runners-Up

James Power (Click for PDF)

Kristen Harty and Chloe Egan (Click for PDF)

Pavan Vellackal

It’s All Greek to Them!

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!

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