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!