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!