Anyone wandering down Clyde Road last Friday evening very well might have thought that they were passing by a performing arts school at No. 28, such was the quality of sounds emanating from the sweetly reverberating edifice of the KD Kelleher Wing. Master of Ceremonies Mr. Carvill presided over a fitting finale to the Graduating Class of 2019’s time at St. Conleth’s and though his mixture of humour and gravitas was as well-measured as ever, but the stars of the show were undoubtedly our musical talent.
From the opening strains of Gavin Roche Griffin’s exquisite version of Clair de Lune and our pre-eminent flautist Maggie Tighe’s Morcean de Concours through two contrasting but equally beautiful piano pieces, Georgia Weir McErlean’s Woodbrook and Isabel O’Farrell’s Where is my Mind?, we knew early on that this night was going to more than match the impressive musical legacy already laid down by graduating classes past.
The Class of 2019’s resident singer-songwriter then took the stage: Joe Gallagher played guitar and sang the self-penned Slipping, and it is clear that those lonely sounding Villagers may soon have company! Turning up the volume, our version of ‘The Highwaymen’ took the stage, covering the Waterboys’ Fishermens’ Blues, but with a Dixie twang. Surely, by this stage, John Kelleher, Brian Keenan and Eoghan Fitzmaurice, permanent fixtures of all our musical happenings, have logged as many miles, whiskies and women as Willie, Waylon and Mr. Cash. And our Mr. Kelleher then emulated his heroes and commandeered the stage for an unscripted encore! The Man in Black, indeed! Then the talented Matthew Rockett took to the ivories with his self-composed magnum opus Take Flight, stunning the audience into raptured silence and then thunderous applause. Could anything top that? Well, Stephen Allen expertly channelled Sam Smith but also made Writings on Wall his very own and Jacq Herbots absolutely brought the house down with his Muse masterclass. The shy clarinettest who so charmed us in years past had confidently taken the stage and just blown us away with his vocal talent and passion.
Incredibly, the other non-musical partcipants in our ceremony managed to hold their own with the superstars. Mr. Gallagher’s opening liturgy once again reminded us all of the ethos which helps make St. Conleth’s such a warm and welcoming place and the speeches and awards which followed both recalled the good times of the past and the promising deeds of the future. Of course, this being St. Conleth’s where we are never at a loss for words, the musical challenge was more than met on the rhetorical front by Captain Tomas Clancy, Vice Captains Georgia Weir McErlean and Jack Cosgrave, Principal Donal ODulaing and PPU Treasurer Ronan O’Kelly. Their speeches captured perfectly the nostalgic nature of the evening and Jack’s carefully composed and hilarious slideshow provided the perfect backdrop for their musings. Of course, awards were on the agenda and the The Mr. Porzadny Show is getting so popular we fear we may soon lose him to the Oscars, or at least the Emmys, such is his talent of combining genuine warmth, good humour, cupla francais and technical wizardry. You can see our winners and their prizes on the slider below. And Ms. Sheppard closed the ceremony with succinct words of celebration, and surely making Mr. K proud. There was a bittersweetness to the night, as it was the first graduation ceremony in the wing named after Mr. Kelleher, and many of the graduating boys had grown up at St. Conleth’s, with Mr. K. being powerful and formative constant in their lives. And on this night, Mr. Kelleher’s physical absence only highlighted his spiritual presence in terms of the legacy which he has left behind and which was so evident in the words and songs: the legacy of a school which is ‘a home away from home’.
After the ceremony, it was on to the RDS for a classy dinner for students and staff and surely some classy activities afterwards at the Clancys’. For specifics of those nocturnal celebrations you must, carefully, check social media, but for pics and video of the ceremony and details of the award-winners look above and below (and with more tocome in the next few days). And here is the Graduation Booklet, a testament to the hard work put in by Messrs. Carvill, Porzadny, Gallagher and Ms. DeBhal and Ms. Hopkins.
IMTA Maths Competition Participants: