Whole Child, Inc.

You get the occasional teacher complaining about missing classes (we, the notable and enthusiastic exception!), but there is plenty of evidence that our many guest speakers and class outings have positive effects on our students’ lives, academic and otherwise. Our Commissioner of Guidance, Gordon Weldon, naturally leads the way in organising these events, but our Religion teacher, Mr. Lonergan, is a close second. Just recently, their time-consuming efforts at organisation paid big dividends in terms of the students’ careers and wellbeing.

Above, you see highlights from SuperGeneration’s excellent Study Skills Seminars with our 5th and 6th Years and our TYs outing to a special Careers Fair, just a couple examples of Mr. Weldon’s never-ending push to get our students on that career path that will enable them to take care of you in your golden years! But it is not all about points and PAYE: we really do emphasise the ‘whole child’ at St. Conleth’s, with Mr. Weldon also leading our Wellbeing Department and Mr. Lonergan leading initiatives from the Religion side. His latest coup was inviting in Elevate Industries’ Jason Maupin, who humoured, inspired, uplifted, and even hugged, our Fifth Years at a special assembly, themed ‘Take Off Your Mask’. The stories he told of the changes in his life may very well prove to be life-changing for those fortunate enough to be present!

Retreat! Retreat!

Do you remember when retreats involved a lot of hushed voices, hastily drawn symbolic etchings, vague expressions of well-being and the occasional chorus of ‘Kumbaya’?  Well how about climbing, fire-starting, faith-leaping, archery, hockey and sing-alongs?  Yes, we believe that the Sixth Year Retreat to Ovoca House in Avoca has been a change for the better.

Never before have we heard a 100% approval rating from the students involved and it was not just because our excellent hosts at Irish Scripture Union kept them moving with fun-filled and challenging activities: the boys and girls did do proper, traditional retreat stiff too, such as goal-setting, reflection, scripture reading and bouts of outrageous silence.  It was just that the whole overnight trip was so well-planned and well implemented,  it satisfied both the needs and the wants of those involved.  A big thank-you to Mr. Gallagher for organising, Ms. Killen and Mr. Lonergan for taking part so enthusiastically, and Mr. Latvis for teaching the hockey girls the proper method of body-checking!

The Video Highlights (Edited, Hopefully Thoroughly Enough, for a General Audience)

Hockey Hits

Social Climbers

Table-Setters

Merry Men

Fire and Fun

Believe in Science!

After enduring the zealotry of the covid cartel for all things scientific, or those things apparently so, it was a relief to have a guest speaker who could reasonably and engagingly discuss these matters without invective or condescension. Fr. Conor, a Dominican Friar, led our Fifth and Sixth Years in discussions regarding the misunderstood, and misrepresented, nexus of Science and Faith. Fr. Conor impressed us with his knowledge, open-mindedness and manners, and our boys and girls returned the favour. The perfect precursor to the Sixth Year Retreat!

Fr. Conor shared the image below with the students before his talk. It is a tiny piece of parchment from the 7th century that can be seen in St. Maurice in Switzerland. St. Brigid is on top and our very own St. Conleth on the bottom!

Transition Years Are Go!

The Transition Year dynamic duo of Gav Maguire and Richie Morris have completely banished the covid error image of TYs sitting around, watching videos and breathing resentfully through cloying, dehumanizing masks. Especially since this current term dawned, full of renewed promise, the TYS have been all action and we can barely keep up with them! Just last week, they learned how to actually do something useful with their phones, thanks to the Smartphone Film-Making Workshop run by Burning House Productions. (We promise to share any forthcoming some moody, morbid, art-house mini-masterpieces taht show up in our In Box.)

The TYs also found time to show off the signing skills which they had learned from Jenny Healy in their regular classes (Sign with Jenny), on International Sign Language Day.

AND….in Religion with Mr. Lonergan, they began the Alpha Course, “an evangelistic course which seeks to introduce the basics of the Christian faith through a series of talks and discussions… providing an opportunity to explore the meaning of life”.

Deep stuff, indeed, but these boys and girls are ready and able! There was also time for less cerebral stuff such as PE and just messing around. Enjoy the pics and video below and stay tuned for more TY news!

Clear Your Mind!

What are two Tipperary natives to do, come the first days of autumn when the breeze turns cold yet all of the RTE Player’s hurling highlights and All-Star lists seem to feature a certain Munster county, once known mostly for urban strife but now for winning three Liam MacCarthies in a row? Well, thank god it is not Kilkenny and take the Fifth Years on a hike up Howth Head!

Once again, Mr. Lonergan, and perhaps a prayer to the Child of Prague, provided the perfect weather for a school outing, and both teachers and pupils thoroughly enjoyed their perambualting circumnavigation of that lump of land you are usually admiring from afar, on the tip of Dun Laoghaire pier enjoying a Teddy’s ice cream. Well, it turns out the northside has pleasures of its own, and after sampling the flora and fauna and sights and smells of Howth Head, the merry gang returned to St. Conleth’s with sore legs but soaring spirits!

Sponge Dodge!

Mr. Lonergan was at it again: galvanising his students to get out of their screens and off their butts to raise money for a worthy cause… and giving them a chance for some unjustified (but understandable) payback!

Yes, the Charity Sponge-Throw, after a hiatus of a few years, returned with gusto to St. Conleth’s. Form Class 3B joined their Religion teacher in planning, organising and running this fun-and-revenge-filled affair, raising over €300 for Trocaire. We praise and thank all the participants, in particular the willing targets: Mr. Carvill, Mr. Morris, Mr. Gahan, Mr. Smith, Ms. Halpin and the main man, himself!

Retreat! Retreat!

Apologies for the delay in this report but our Special Sixth Year Photographer, Anna Downey, is as open-minded with shot selection as she is in conversation, and she returned from the wilds of Wicklow with many, many shot rolls of film. We have spent the last two weeks in the school darkroom and now, belatedly bring you, selectively, the story and some of those photos…

What… are the French involved in military action, again? Or do our shaggy-haired kids need another dose of nit treatment? No, silly, it’s time to get that tricky refrain of ‘Kumbaya’ down pat for the Sixth Years are going on retreat!

Actually, we got that quite wrong. The Sixth Years have retreated, and returned, and apparently there was hardly any cringe-inducing platitudes at all! Yes, we remember when retreats involved a lot of hushed voices, hastily drawn symbolic etchings and vague expressions of well-being.  Well how about zip-lines, fire-starting, fish-gutting and sing-alongs?  

Yes, we believe that the Sixth Year Retreat to Ovoca House in Avoca has been a change for the better.  Never before have we heard a 100% approval rating from the students involved and it was not just because the hosts kept them moving with fun-filled and challenging activities: the boys and girls did do proper, traditional retreat stiff too, such as team-building, goal-setting and reflection.  It was just that the whole overnight trip was so well-planned and well implemented, it satisfied both the needs and the wants of those involved.  A big thank-you to Form Teachers Ms. NiAonghusa and Mr. Coleman for taking part so enthusiastically. Before you go we have one last bit of media from Anna: a rather artfully shot bit of cinéma vérité, complete with a Truffaut-like ‘grass sequence’!

A Prayer for Peace

Our Religion Team of Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Lonergan united to bring Pope Francis’s powerful and unprecedented prayer for peace in Ukraine closer to home with moments of prayer and silence in the garden of St. Mary’s Church. Below we see Second, Fifth and Sixth Years taking just a bit of time out of their day to reflect on the situation in Ukraine, pray for a peaceful solution and reflect on our relative security and prosperity. Mr. Lonergan and Mr. Gallagher were inspired by Pope Francis’s historic invocation of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine in a ceremony Friday that hearkened back to a century-old prophecy about peace and Russia that was sparked by the appearance of the Virgin Mary to three peasant children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.

Francis invited bishops, priests and ordinary faithful around the world to join him in the consecration prayer, which opened with Francis entering St. Peter’s Basilica before an estimated 3,500 people and concluded with Francis sitting alone before a statue of the Madonna. There, he solemnly asked forgiveness that humanity had “forgotten the lessons learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two World Wars.” Here are texts of The Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Pope Francis’s homily.

Coming Back to Life!

Springtime always brings a natural and impulsive sense of de vivre and the lambs gamboling in the fields and the students gambling in the yard are just testaments to the irrepressible urge we all have for living life to the fullest. This year, with the Covid thaw finally taking place and yet with darker tidings filling our news-screens, the preciousness of life is even more apparent. It is the perfect time for Mr. Lonergan to drum up interest in the Life Advocate Awards, an essay competition which celebrates the protection of all life, and one in which our very own Caoimhe Moore won a prize last year! The details are on the posters pictured and linked below (along with some related videos) and Mr. Lonergan will give further guidance, but we will give the last word to St. Conleth’s Past Pupil, and Former Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights Commission, William Binchy:

A constant discourse on human rights – particularly in respect of protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in society – is something that should be encouraged at every level of education.

Competition Details

Poster

Related Videos

A Polite Lenten Push!

St. Conleth’s Chaplain Fr. Michael Collins makes the rounds, and delivers an Ash Wednesday blessing to the students. He also included some relevant anecodotes, delivered in a friendly and humourous manner, but packing a punch!

The Children’s Crusade (and Competition!)

In a fitting conclusion to Catholic Schools Week, Mr. Lonergan led 28 First Yeasr student volunteers on ‘A Pilgrim Path’ around Dublin city, visiting churches and significant Catholic sites. Sites and shrines visited included St. Theresa’s of Clarendon Street and the pro Cathedral, with its crypt fileld with over one thousand happily reposing residents! A special stop, considering recent restrictions on worship, was the Church of Immaculate Conception, otherwise known as the Adam and Eve’s Church, in Merchant’s Quay which was built on the grounds of an old tavern where secret Masses were held during the Penal Times. By all reports, the day out was an informative, uplifting and spiritually enriching experience. Also pictured are those who chose to stay behind, and who, instead, were brought to see the first blooms of Spring in Herbert Park. And with Lent just around the corner, Mr. Lonergan is not letting up! He has organised a Project Presentation Competition for Transition Year Religion Class with real cash money (€25, €10 and €5) for the prizes! Render unto Caesar… indeed!

Yes, That’s ‘SAINT’ Conleth’s!

There have been various attempts over the years to separate the Irish people from their ancestral faith, but such measures as the Penal Laws and Covid restrictions only served to further strengthen their resolve.

Of course, we at St. Conleth’s welcome all faiths in our student and staff body, and our Mission Statement reflects that diversity, but our ethos is firmly, and proudly, founded in the Catholic tradition. This coming week is Catholic Schools week and Mr. Lonergan has provided us with all the resources necessary to make it a special week for St. Conleth’s. Each day has its own theme and we will tweet ‘thoughts of the day’ for both Senior School and Junior School. (Below is an early glimpse of Monday’s!). Here are the official flyers for the Junior and Senior Schools, and this link has plenty of age-appropriate resources attached for both parents and teachers which will enable them to make this week spiritually significant.

Junior School
Senior School

First Years Get ‘Booster’!

Last Friday, our First Years enjoyed a day of faith and fun with the dynamic Christian group, An Tobar Nua, just as Second and Third Years did in October. And the reviews have once again have been rave. Our Religion Department, namely Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Lonergan, have found the perfect antidote to students with low energy levels and, perhaps, a lack of a faith-filled background: a retreat that is large parts fun and ‘generally’ applicable, yet also true to our Christian ethos and mission. Just think of these retreats as faith and wellbeing ‘boosters’… but with only positive side effects!

Of Faith… and Fun!

Rapid changes in technology, and our society as a whole, have made the currents students’ attitudes sometimes seem very foreign to those of us of previous generations, even for such relatively young teachers at ourselves! We remember the tantalising promise of ‘We will watch a filmstrip in class if you are good…’ being met with barely suppressed yelps of intense excitement, and glared silent warnings at the messers that might derail this rare break from the routine… even if the filmstrip was akin to the one memorably mocked on the Simpsons: Meat and You: Partners in Freedom. Nowadays, the visually sated kids react with a bored shrug if you promise a YouTube video. Whatever.

Retreats, the same. Yes, we did think the Kumbaya sing-along sessions were a bit cringy, but we got to go somewhere and do something different! And maybe, just maybe learn something about ourselves. Nowadays: groans. Well, the young men and women at An Tobar Nua may have just changed that. Our First Years will soon be enjoying a day of faith and fun with this dynamic group, just as Second and Third Years did in recent weeks, and the reviews have been rave. Our Religion Department, namely Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Lonergan, have found the perfect antidote to students with low energy levels and, perhaps, a lack of a faith-filled background: a retreat that is large parts fun and ‘generally’ applicable, yet also true to our Christian ethos and mission. And only one verse of ‘Kumbaya’!

Adveniet!

An unintended positive outcome, even blessing, of this Covid year has been the opportunity provided to stop and take stock of what really matters in one’s life: with life aired down to its bare essentials, we have learned what we have lost that really matters… and what we probably did not need in the first place.

Perhaps, this Christmas will also be seen and experienced in a new light: yes, we will suffer from the restrictions on the meeting of families and even those placed on the religious celebrations of the holy day, but we may also have found a new appreciation for the significance and the importance of Christmas, with some of the trappings shorn away.

Our Religion teachers, Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Lonergan, certainly have done their best to make sure that St. Conleth’s stays true to its Catholic ethos, and the true meaning of Christmas, as they arranged for the Student Council to represent the St. Conleth’s community and attend the Mass for the Feast of the immaculate Conception at St. Mary’s Church and for students and teachers share in the symbolic lighting of Advent Candles. Yes, despite Covid, the man in the red suit is coming, but so is He, whose arrival was never in doubt!

All in the Family!

With students and teachers from across the globe, it is very evident that have a diverse community at St. Conleth’s and we are very proud of it.  This, of course, does not mean that we have no common ground (or double negatives): our agreed ethos, rooted in the lay Catholic tradition but welcoming to all, assures a unity that underlies any difference in opinion or particular of debate.

Last week was Catholic Schools Week in Ireland and St. Conleth’s did its part to reaffirm this great tradition of education and faith.  The Religion teachers engaged their classes with activities based upon the theme of ‘A Family of Families’ and we all gathered for a special assembly.  Mr. Gallagher, our Pastoral Director, outlined the significance of the week and the special emphasis made by the Pope and our bishops, tying it all in to the Celtic calendar and the legacy of St. Brigid and Mr. ODulaing made an impassioned connection between our greater mission and our everyday school life.

This year’s theme was particularly suited to a school that prides itself on its family atmosphere.  Students took part through their Prayers of the Faithful and special musical performances by Matthew Rockett, Elizabeth Counihan and Joe Gallagher (see above and below).  In a time of global fracture and uncertainty, it was reassuring to see our family of  St.Conleth’s so multifaceted but united and at peace with itself.

Good News: There is an Afterlife!

Well, those of us fully infused with the ethos of St. Conleth’s never had a doubt, but, still, it is great to see budding young intellectuals such as Hugh Etchingham-Coll and the Oisín Dowling use logic and wit to back up a basic tenet of all the old time religions.  The motion at the 2017 Bouchier-Hayes Debate was actually more about the positive practical results of a belief in the afterlife (regardless of its existence) but the debate quickly encompassed all the related ‘big’ questions, especially relevant at this time when religious fanaticism implies more than just horrendous traffic jams at the Galway novena.  The Bouchier-Hayes family, long associated with the school and the sponsors of this award, would have been proud at the deep-thinking and repartee tossed around the Conference Room, as would the past winners of the prize, from Frank Kennedy and Barry Ward, currently crossing rhetorical swords at the rostrum of the Dublin City Council or Michael O’Dwyer, Philip McDonald and Ian Hastings, now further intricating the intricacies of tort in various world capitals at law firms such as Slaughter and May.  As you can see from the pictures below, all our debaters were in fine effusive flow, and used hand gestures and raised eyebrows with such emphasis that the actual spoken words were almost superfluous to the point!  On hand to adjudicate were Debating Czar John Carvill and alumnus Christopher Costigan, currently studying History and Politics at TCD, as well as an unnamed, cloaked representative of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.   They did not find it easy picking a winner of this team award, with Harry Mansfield proving the best individual speaker and everyone scoring points against each other, including some devastating tidbits from the History Boys, Oisín Herbots and Sean Moiselle, and a much-anticipated showdown between the Pettitt Brothers, which made that Iron Man/Captain America tiff seem trite in comparison.  In the end, the winners the Bouchier-Hayes Plate for Impromptu Debating 2017 were Dean McElree and Simon Pettitt, who argued so forcefully about the benefits of the afterlife that they themselves experienced Pauline conversions and, at the close of debate, shed their wordy possessions and left to join the Trappist monks.  Just wait till Simon hears about the vow of silence!

 

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