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!

When The Music Is Over…

…but at St. Conleth’s, the music is never over! Okay, we planned on providing you with a full 4K Super HD video version of the graduation ceremony but our ‘video guy’ dropped the ball, and memory card, and he has justly been put on fully paid suspension, pending review. Thank goodness our ‘sound guy’, the multi-talented Micheal Horan, came up trumps and we have a lovingly mixed soundtrack of the performance pieces from graduation night. So, hit play, close your eyes and revel in teh voices and sounds of the Class of 2022!

Kerrang!

And with one poignant note of reverb from the guitars of Ollie and Finn, we finally banished the ghost of Covid and returned to our full school life. Covid never halted the learning: the perseverance of our ‘class’ class teachers and the co-operation of parents saw to the continuity of the ‘three Rs’ and more. But that which No. 19 did muffle was the just-as-important communal life of the school at No. 28. Now, with spring in the air, the once trickling thaw has become a torrent, with the biggest and best blast of all bursting on the scene last Friday afternoon: the return of the School Spring Concert!

When Peter Galllagher, princeps emeritus, first envisioned an annual school concert, he dreamed big, but started small: his first signed act was a whiskey jug and washboard band from the hillbilly hills above Stepaside.  He then gradually built up his stable of stars and supporting acts, handing over an established annual network staple to Ms. Fay and Mr. MacMullen.  Cable deals and pay-per-view soon followed under those maestros, and when show business called those two away, Mr. Sheridan and Ms. deBhal kept the business growing under their short but sparkling tenure.  Then, Ms. Fay and Ms. deBhal sweetly but sternly wielded the conductors’ batons together before Ms. McGuinness took over, and having just witnessed the first post-Covid edition of this extravaganza, we can now proudly say that the St. Conleth’s School Concert is back… and better (and quicker) than ever!

Yes, our Spring Semester ended on a high note, as Ms. McGuinness, with the patient, professional assistance of Mr. O’Neill, coached, coaxed and coddled a varied and star-studded line-up. It all began with Mr. ODulaing and Mr. Seamus Gallagher eloquently celebrating the day’s, and the season’s, significance; speeches two years in the making! Then, Second Year Lochlainn Hannon once again charmed us with his consummate play on the piano. Next up was the already well-established Second Year band of Jamie Effie and John Byrne on guitar; Paul Jackson on drums; Myles Moriarty-Smyth on bass; and Hannah Murphy and Ben Nolan singing Oasis’s ‘She’s Electric’. Hannah returned to the stage, solo, playing piano and singing ‘Wondering’ but only after fellow Second Year Michael Moore wowed us on the piano and Third Year Michael Horan further established himself as our chief resident diner/songwriter (and techno wiz responsible for our recording above!).  Sixth Year Rory Clarke then played guitar as Eva Stylianides sang a show-stopper version of ‘Thousand Years’ (audio with some video, separately below).

Sixth Year Rita Kelleher masterfully tinkled ‘Claire de Lune’ and then it was our resident rock & roll bad boys’ time: Fifth Years Finn Neilan and Ollie West eased their way on stage with all the casual cool, and just a healthy bit of the chaos, of the Replacements, and they treated us to a few of their award-winning self-penned tunes, with the consummate and ubiquitous James Moriarty-Smyth on drums. James stayed on stage (is he ever off?) as the rest of the Sixth Year Band joined him: Anna Downey, singing; Rory Clarke and Anthony Steyn on guitar; Igancio Sadofschi on bass. It was stunning and fitting finish to a fantastic way to end the term… and officially mark the return to life!

Culture Vultures

Long ago, Mrs. Patricia Kelleher initiated what has become a beloved Conlethian tradition: the Sheppard-Kelleher family invites Sixth Years out to the opera and all the young men and ladies (and a few select teachers!) get all dickied up and they enjoy a night of civilised, cultural entertainment.   Newly crowned CEO Tony Kilcommons proudly continued this tradition this year, delighted that his personal favourite, ‘Carmen’, was serendipitously appearing at the Bord Gais Theatre. Tony relates how he and the other forwards of the Athlone Rugby Football Club would often serenade (and console) each other in the showers after particularly tough matches with arias from the risqué Bizet, and, by all accounts, it was an amazing production, even rendering Oisín Power, noted opera aficionado, into a blubbering mass of tears at the most poignant moments… but that could have been the thimble of Jameson quaffed beforehand at The Palace. Ms. Fay and Ms. McGuinness, our dynamic duo of music, were also duly impressed, as were Form Teachers, Ms. NiAonghusa and Mr. Coleman, who worked wonders organising the outing on short notice. Good to see that the culture vultures, a migratory bird banished by the Covid reaction, have returned!

Christmas Crooners and….KERRANG!

No, it was not the usual wholesome, whole-school Christmas Concert experience but Mr. ODulaing, Mr. Seamus Gallagher and Music Maestro Ms. McGuinness managed to organise FIVE (!) separate Christmas assemblies and concerts, one for each remaining year of students. The readings were perfectly picked by Mr. Gallagher and sincerely delivered by select students in each year and Mr. O’Dulaing’s talk on the various (and, some, long-lost) traditions of Christmas in Ireland was eye-opening for both the audience and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Wrens. Mr. O’Dulaing delivered his messages with friendly emphasis and good humour; in fact, we were privileged to a trend all five assemblies and have to say that his jokes really hit their peak with their fourth rendition! But what was no surprise was the display of an absolute abundance of musical spirit and talent in each and every year. Somehow, on very short notice, Ms. McGuinness cobbled together the various soloists, duos and groups into a slate that once again proved that St. Conleth’s is a ‘music school’ above all else, especially now that the Parents Association-purchased instruments and equipment have hit the stage. We had pianists from First and Third Years, full pop bands from Second and Sixth, the singular talent of Third Year Michael Horan and that barnstorming, reverb-surfing duo of Ollie and Finn from Fifth Year. Enjoy some highlights below, and stay tuned, as all this talent will once again take the stage… hopefully together!

The Artist Formerly Known as Cassia

Cosha… Bonzai… Cassia... the name may have changed but the undeniable talent and irresistible charm have remained consistent, even while the level of success has skyrocketed. Yes, Cassia O’Reilly, of the Class of 2013, is making waves in the music world to an extent not seen for a Conlethian alumni since Conor O’Brien/Villagers (2001). Cassia is now Cosha, and the most reputable of the musical press are singing her praises, enjoying the blossoming of a creative, organic force whose first fruits and flowers were displayed in the Music Room and on the stage of St. Conleth’s hall. Cassia/Cosha’s new album ‘Mt. Pleasant’ is garnering rave reviews from every corner. The Examiner gushed: Cosha is one of the bright new names releasing their debut album this summer. Mt Pleasant – named after the area in Dublin where Cassia O’Reilly was raised – is a heady, sexy swirl of RnB. Hot Press enthusiastically went further into detail: Throughout the invigorating 8-song project, Cosha uses an eclectic range of drum beats, mantra-like choruses, spacious production and emotive songwriting as a lens for her experiences. The end result explores the electrifying sensuality and desire in a beautifully unapologetic and vibrant way.

Even the notoriously sanguine Guardian waxed poetically, as it recounted Cassia’s brave decision to walk away from her Bonzai persona (and a lucrative recording contract) to try something new and free: Previously releasing a frenetic blend of rave-inflected R&B and elasticated pop under the name Bonzai, she scored herself a major label record deal that soured, leaving her artistic vision compromised. Striking out alone, she changed her name and started from scratch. The result is Mt Pleasant, a luscious, confident and carefree record that could only have been crafted by someone in control of their artistic intentions. The brash beats and harsh electronics of Bonzai have been supplanted for something more sensual… We will leave the rest of the review to be found by our more mature readers, but let us just say that Cassia is certainly all grown up, and is now bringing a more developed and refined version of the same energy and beauty with which she regularly graced our school assemblies and concerts. Cassia’s talents were obviously evident even back then, and we all knew she was destined for bigger stages, but we also have fond memories of her and her brother Omar on a more normal plane: both were warm and engaging students, classmates and friends, and we hope St. Conleth’s benefitted them at least in some small way as they did us: making 28 Clyde Road a happier, hipper and acoustically improved place!

How West Won!

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!

The Last Waltz?

‘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.

Christmas Carollers Crush Covid!

Ms. deBhal was not going to let a tiny, little virus completely wreck our Christmas: she was determined to somehow produce our usual term-ending, spirits-lifting Senior School Christmas Carol Concert, despite all the Covid restrictions. And, somehow, she and Ms. McGuinness, and a supporting cast of dozens of eager music students, did! Ms. deBhal grabbed the ancient skeleton keys of St. Mary’s and led a two week occupation of the recently acquired stately old home. During that time, our Darth Vader-like breathing was periodically quickened by the hearing of stray notes, angelic whispers and occasional sharp shouts wafting over the gardens. Yes, we would have preferred a performance in the flesh, but the video below (edited on short notice by our saviour, Second Year Michael ‘T’ Horan) shows what is possible in even the toughest circumstances when there is the will… and plenty of talent!