With the belated arrival of the polar vortex and the permanent problem of dampness, this year in particular we needed Mr. O’Dulaing’s warming words about the coming of Spring on St. Brigid’s Day. And with help from words of wisdom and delight in Irish, as well as a bit of Gerald Manley Hopkins (early GMH, thankfully), our annual Catholic Schools Week Assembly was off and running, and the patter of sleet drops on our Performance Hall roof was rendered pleasant accompaniment. Of course, there were student musicians to join the ensemble: Gavin Roche Griffin, Caoimhe Moore and Rory Clarke captured the mood perfectly.
There was also serious work to be done: the presentation of our State Examination awards for 2018. Zachary Carr scooped the Murph Cup for highest Junior Certificate results (named in honour of longtime St. Conleth’s teacher) and a trifecta of genii ( Simon Pettitt, David Loftus and Conor Power) won the coveted Bernard Sheppard Medals for highest Leaving Certificate Points (all three earning 589). Bernard Sheppard founded St. Conleth’s in 1939 and though that seems a long time ago, he was not actually a contemporary of St. Brigid. The story is though, that St. Conleth, himself, got along famously with St. Brigid, and we like to think of the two Celtic saints watching over our endeavours to this day.
Winners of the Bernard Sheppard have a tendency to go on and do memorable things, and we have no doubt that the three fine young men named above will follow suit. Ann Sheppard, St. Conleth’s CEO, recently had a first-hand experience of the persistence and vitality of her father’s legacy: a friendly chat with an acquaintance recently revealed that the woman’s son was none other than Desmond Maurer of the Class of 1987 and the winner of that year’s Bernard Sheppard Medal. He was the first Conlethian to sit Ancient Greek in the Leaving Certificate and, having been inspired by the legendary John Rooney, Desmond went on to study Classics at the University of Edinborough, winning academic acclaim each year and graduating with a first. Desmond then worked with the United Nations in Bosnia, met his wife, settled down and retreated into blessed academia in Sarajevo. And now, Desmond’s own son Ian is due to join our Transition Year class in September. Desmond is also notable for having tempted absolute damnation (and social exclusion) by daring to leave the deified Peter Gallagher’s History class for Physics in Fifth Year. Let him try to get a good table in any swish restaurant around this town if word of that gets out!