Certainly not Principal Donal ODulaing or Sixth Year, and Irish Debating Team member, Daniel Gilligan! It was the stirring oratory of these two which really made St. Conleth’s Flag Day a memorable occasion. Mr. ODulaing brought the mystified and mythologised events and words of 100 years ago into the light of the present day, telling the students how some great ideas are transcendent of time and place, and translatable to the lives of ordinary people today. Daniel, warming to the occasion as you knew a champion debater would, struck a more Ciceronian note, challenging his audience to examine modern Ireland and their place within it, in the still-shining light of a singularly bright act of defiance and unity: ‘Some have questioned why we must commemorate or remember what was a complete military failure, and for some, a tragic loss of life. I, equally, am worried that our remembrance might be worthless should we fail, as a nation, a changing nation, to look within ourselves and ask whether we are proud of what we find. When we hear a proclamation which asks us to cherish all the children of the nation equally, and to guarantee religious and civil liberties to all people, we are looking into the heart of a revolution which wasn’t only about nationalism and winning freedom, but was also about how we might best use that freedom.’ (Link to Daniel’s full text)
Poignantly, the Proclamation itself was also read out by a group of Transition Years with due reverence and emphasis and, fittingly, considering Pearse’s privileging of the role of the arts in the Gaelic resurgence, our Music and Arts Departments also helped make it a perfect Flag Day: Ms. Long’s art classes, from the youngest forms through her LC class, created a stunning backdrop of the hand-painted GPO and patriots’ portraits and Sean Keane, Cian O’Connor and Ms. deBhal once again regaled us with hauntingly beautiful traditional pieces on flute, fiddle and harp, transporting those assembled into a timeless place inhabited by Irish men and women throughout the ages. We all then went outside for the actual flag-raising, performed by Sixth Year Kitty McGuinness, the great-granddaughter of original signatory, Thomas MacDonagh with the musical accompaniment of ‘Reveille’, performed expertly by Junior Daniel Cody. The whole school then joined in a rousing rendition of ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’: a fitting unifying closing for a day when all who were there felt as one.