The Roman emperors were often declared divus by their successors in gratitude for a lifetime of toil and trouble on behalf of the SPQR. Apparently, of all the deified emperors, only Vespasian saw the humour in this designation being generally a posthumous one, declaring “Dear me, I think I’m becoming a god’ on his deathbed. Caligula and Domitian, however, saw the inherent irony in the situation and jumped the gun, claiming godhood for themselves, while still very much enjoying lives of unfettered debauchery and despotism. Things did not end well for them but we believe young Turlough Dineen’s fate will be different, despite us anointing him the divus novus of St. Conleth’s Debating while he is till very much alive… and speaking, scowling, and staring into the distance with substance.
Turlough takes his place in a storied pantheon of Conlethian oratorical immortals. You have read below of White, Gilligan and Roche’s passing on of the Irish Times Debating crown like a house heirloom, and names like Costigan, Coleman, Hastings, O’Dwyer, Quinn et al litter the annals of Irish (and the world’s) schools and collegiate debating. Turlough’s meteoric rise rivals any of those storied greats. After cutting a stylish swathe through Junior Debating, he entered the Leinster Schools Senior Debate as an outright outsider: a mere TY in a competition made up of nearly all Sixth Years in its final stages and as an individual, lacking the one-two punch of being part of a team. Yet when all the various rounds were done, Turlough could lift his head from his hands, where it lay in rhetorical mock agony, and hold it high as he finished second in all of Leinster!
Enjoy Turlough’s full final speech above, and snaps above and below, of our kid Cicero in action, but we must also praise the part played by two other individuals essential to Turlough’s triumph: Auditor of Debates Oisín Power and Debating Coach Rory O’Sullivan. Yes, Oisín is that kid in your class who thought he knew better than the teacher: the problem with Oisín is that he often does… and he always makes his points powerfully and sometimes, politely. Well, when Oisín was prevented from entering the competition on a debating cabal concocted technicality, he did not sulk (for long, anyways) but took all that intelligence, energy and splutter and put it to use exhorting onwards Turlough and a whole stable of young Conlethian debaters. And Rory O’Sullivan was also there, every step of the way, teaching the actual nuts and bolts, points and parries of schools debating. Rory is a brave man, being the first non-Conlethian, and a Corkonian at that, to take up the mantle of Debating Coach at St. Conleth’s but when he showed up at Number 28 with a carpet bag full of Greek epics and dirty French novels, we knew he was our man!