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!