A report on the recent Transition Year Leadership Day, by Aeladh Bradley Brady.

On Tuesday the 29th of November, the whole of the Transition Year pupils were taken out of the college on a trip as a lovely surprise and to celebrate receiving our Junior cycle results. Throughout the day we participated in many fun-filled activities. Firstly, we went up Larch Hill to a scouting centre to participate in team bonding activities, organised by Branch Out. We completed many challenges such as trying to untie ourselves in a pair, herding “sheep” and mathematical challenges. This helped us utilise many skills such as communication skills, leadership skills and cooperation skills. This is extremely important and useful for many real-life situations and jobs. Finally, the last task and most rewarding task was to build a fire as we made hot chocolate and s’mores to heat us all up. We had to collect firewood and organise specific roles and jobs for team members to fulfil. The Larch Hill trip was great fun and truly an amazing experience. The Branch Out leaders were very helpful and kind to us during our time spent there. 

After this, we went to Dundrum to ice-skating and see a Christmas movie. It was so enjoyable going ice-skating with all of Form IV and it was thoroughly entertaining to see people who had never skated in their lives attempt to manoeuvre about the rink. Mr Jones and Mr Clarke took wonderful pictures of many pupils mid-fall, attempting to stop their inevitable collapse to the ground. The movie was a great way to end the day as we could all sit back, relax and rest.

On behalf of Transition Year, I would like to thank Mr Jones and Mr Clarke for accompanying and planning this truly amazing trip. Everyone loved it! See a collection of photos from the day below.

Senior Play: Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward

a review by Hannah Bergmann, Fifth Form. Photographs by the Reverend Daniel Owen

November 10th, 11th, 12th 2022

As soon as the BSR was filled with pupils, teachers, and parents, you could feel the positive excitement and anticipation of the audience for the upcoming play, the first full production since 2019. The stage had been transformed into an old-fashioned-looking room waiting for the first actor to appear. When the lights were turned off and the first tunes of the music appeared the spotlight was directed onto the centre of the stage, making the audience curious about what was going to happen in the next two hours.

From flirtatious ghosts to flying cucumber sandwiches, it was all there. Blithe Spirit is about Charles Condomine, played by Nikolai Foster, whose ex-wife, the ghost Elvira, (Isabel Warnock) is conjured up by the experienced medium Madame Arcati (Phoebe Landseer). This evoked a very well-expressed jealousy in Ruth Condomine (Emily McCarthy) as the current wife of Mr. Condomine and Isabel, relishing the discomfort she has created coming back from the afterlife. What followed was a darkly funny competition between two women, one dead, one living.

The whole cast showed great acting skills from the catchy “Yes, Madam” of the maid Edith, played by Anna Naumenko, to Emily McCarthy who conveyed the emotions of Ruth very well so that the audience could feel how jealous and outraged she was. But especially Phoebe Landseer captivated the audience. The entire room seem to engage in the play by laughing at the jokes which showed that the whole evening was thoroughly entertaining. One moment everyone will remember is probably the scene where Madame Arcati threw a cucumber sandwich into the crowd which caused great amusement.  Nikolai Foster was a great fit for the central character of the play, Charles Condomine, because the audience could really feel his emotions such as the relief he presented in the end when both women disappeared

The visual aspect was provided by the fantastic costumes which transported the audience back to the 1940s in London. While the women were dressed in beautiful long dresses one of them an elegant black one, worn by Violet Bradman (Diana Doenhoff), the men were dressed up in noble suits such as the one worn by Lorne Walsh who played Dr George Bradman. Towards the end of the play a mysterious scene caught the crowd’s attention as the shutters of the background rattled fearfully. But who had opened and closed them? This will forever be a secret.

The whole performance was a great success and everyone noticed the effort that was put into the production of this entertaining and enjoyable play. Therefore, a big thank you goes out to the cast as well as Messrs Ronan Swift and Tristan Clarke who directed the whole play. It was a great way to spend a Saturday night! 

 

Charles Condomine: Nikolai Foster

Ruth Condomine: Emily McCarthy

Elvira Condomine: Isabel Warnock

Madame Arcati: Phoebe Landseer

George Bradman: Lorne Walsh

Violet Bradman: Diana Doenhoff

Edith: Anna Naumenko

Daphne: Alice McCarthy

Lighting and Sound: Messrs Julian Girdham and Ronan Swift

Backdrop: Ms Lynn Murphy, Ms Derarca Cullen and TY Pupils

Costumes: Ms Elaine Healy, Ms Megan Kilpatrick and Abbey Costume Hire

Props and Staging: Ms Elaine Healy, Ms Megan Kilpatrick and Abbey Costume Hire

Stage Hands: Alice McCarthy, Lexi Hunter and Josefien Hutchinson

Artwork: Georgia Goodbody

Directors: Messrs Ronan Swift and Tristan Clarke

 

On Tuesday 8th and Friday 11th of November, the Form V and Form VI Art sets visited the fascinating ancient burial site at Newgrange Co. Meath. In the afternoon they went to the NMI where they carried out an in depth examination of the pre-Christian artefacts they have studied as part of their Visual Studies Leaving Certificate course. Felicitas Ratibor and Joy Orogun report on the Form V trip.

Newgrange, Co. Meath.

Our tour of Newgrange began in the visitor centre where we were able to explore the Neolithic culture, landscape and monuments of Brú na Bóinne. It was a very interactive centre with beautiful light reflections on the floor representing the flowing water of the River Boyne and simulated forests with shadows of terrifying dogs creeping around. There was also a game in which you had to grow crops and harvest them which the whole class had fun trying out. It was all amazing and helped us to submerge into the experience.

After this we took a little shuttle bus to Newgrange, and I think that it’s worth mentioning that all of the staff were so friendly and we were also welcomed so kindly by our tour guide at Newgrange.

On arrival at Newgrange we split into two groups: one could take a walk around the passage tomb, examine the highly decorated entrance stone, Kerbstone 52 and take photographs whilst the other group went inside. Our tour guide talked about the unknown purpose of Newgrange, as well as the many theories. Since remains of the dead were found in the mound, the most definite theory is that it was used as a burial tomb. He also explained to us that as we enter and walk into the passage the ground level grows higher. This is an important feature of the construction at Newgrange as it allows the sunlight on the shortest day of the year to shine through the light box. Some of the theories to explain this phenomenon include sun worship or perhaps a celebration of the new agricultural year. When he talked about this he turned the light off and stimulated the sunlight coming through the lightbox shining directly into the chamber on the Winter solstice, which was a magical experience.

The thing that stuck to my mind the most is that the corbelled vault made everything much smaller than we expected and also that the chambers seemed more like one room with three protrusions rather than three different chambers. This trip to Newgrange was so very impressive. Standing in this tomb which has remained intact since its construction, without one single drop of water coming in, made us realise how amazing, innovative and inventive the Neolithic people were 5000 years ago!

Felicitas Ratibor.

National Museum of Ireland.

The trip to the National Museum of Ireland was a truly enlightening and clarifying experience for all pupils that went. The exterior of the beautiful building had intriguing information about some artifacts- one that was even formerly owned by the College- The Míosach! Once we got inside we began examining the different Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age artifacts we have studied. Some of the standout artefacts we examined included; a model of one of the passage tombs (though we had already seen the real thing at Newgrange). The Lunula from the Early Bronze Age, which was made by hammering gold into a thin sheet, cutting out the shape and incising the designs. Ribbon torcs from the Middle Bronze Age, made by hammering gold into thin sheets, cutting and twisting them to fashion neck ornaments. The beautiful Gleninsheen Gorget from the Late Bronze Age was made by hammering gold into a thin sheet and using the technique of repousée to make the designs stand out; another very ornate necklace. We also saw the stunning golden Broighter collar from the Iron Age. We even had a look at some of the bog bodies which was almost surreal, to say the least.

 Later we all took a picture beside the book Shrine of Míosach. Had we had more time, we would have gone upstairs to view the Ancient Egyptian Gallery. It just means we have a reason to go back! However, the experience we had was very fulfilling as it solidified what we had already covered in class while giving us a new perspective as we see them in person.

Joy Orogun.

Our Bullying Awareness Week provides an opportunity to reflect on how we build and protect relationships across the College. Our theme this year was a simple one – friendship – the cornerstone of any good anti-bullying strategy. Last week, our pupils took part in a wide range of activities with friendship at the centre of the conversation. There was a poetry competition on friendship, won by Delia Brady in Form III while a gratitude tree stood proudly in Whispering House, inviting submissions from every passerby, friendship-themed movie nights, friendship-building games and even an ice-cream van. Fourth Form painted jam jars while Sixth Form spent an evening in Larch Hill doing some friendship and team-building exercises (photo above, more here).

It wasn’t all fun and games though, with plenty of time for the serious conversations around bullying too, in particular online bullying. We were thankful for a series of excellent targeted presentations from Internet safety expert Pat McKenna on “friends online”, reminding everyone of our need to stay safe when using the Internet. Also, we were delighted to welcome Clinton Wokocha who spoke with our younger pupils about the power of words while our Prefects spoke in chapel every morning about the College values and why they matter in the bullying conversation – we even learned a new song in chapel, written by Form V pupil Cameron McKinley.

Many thanks to everyone who took part in a great series of events, reminding us how to be good friends to each other. A particular thanks to Ms Maybury for coordinating the week’s programme.

An Déardaoin seo caite, tháinig athláithritheach ó Chonradh na Gaeilge anseo chun labhairt linn faoi spreagadh na Gaeilge agus deiseanna fostaíochta agus bealach chun staidéir as Gaeilge ag an tríú leibhéal. Láithreachas idirghníomhach a bhí ann le Clíodhna Nic Gafraidh.

Ar dtús báire bhí díospóireacht siúl againn. Chuir Clíodhna ráitis chugainn faoinár gcuid tuairimí agus bhain gach duine taitneamh as an ngníomhaíocht iontach seo. Bhíomar ag plé tábhacht na Gaeilge sa lá atá inniu ann.

Ina dhiaidh sin, chuaigh muid trí shleamhnáin Chlíodhna faoi na deiseanna fostaíochta agus na háiseanna atá le fáil timpeall na hÉireann agus ar fud an domhain. D’fhoglaimíomar go bhfuil Gaeltacht i gCeanada! Ní hamháin sin ach thaispeáin sí dúinn fíricí suimiúla faoi theangacha i mbaol. Ag an am seo tá thart ar seacht míle teangacha ar fud an domhain, ach i gcéad bhliain ní bheidh ach seacht gcéad fágtha, de réir tuairisc na Náisiún Aontaithe.

Chomh maith leis sin, luaigh Clíodhna tábhacht ár gcearta teanga agus na háiseanna gur féidir úsáid a bhaint as trí Ghaeilge. Rinne chuile dhuine sár-iarracht chun an Ghaeilge a labhairt an t-am ar fad agus bhuaigh roinnt dínn duaiseanna!

Go raibh míle maith agat Clíodhna agus Conradh na Gaeilge!

————–

Last Thursday, a representative from Conradh na Gaeilge came here to talk to us about encouraging Irish, employment opportunities and ways to study Irish at third level. We did an interactive workshop with Clíodhna Nic Gafraidh.

At first, we had a walking debate. Clíodhna gave us statements and we discussed our opinions about them and everybody enjoyed this brilliant activity. We were discussing the importance of Irish in the present day.

After that, Cliodhna made a presentation about the employment opportunities and the services that are available throughout Ireland and all over the world. We even learned that there is an Irish speaking community in Canada! On top of all this, she showed us interesting facts about endangered languages. At the moment, there are around seven thousand languages around the world, but in one hundred years, there will only be seven hundred left, according to a report by the United Nations.

As well as that, Cliodhna showed us the importance of our language rights and informed us of facilities that are available through Irish. Everyone made a great effort to speak Irish throughout the workshop and some of us won prizes for it!

Thank you very much to Cliodhna and Conradh na Gaeilge!

Following the researchED conference on Saturday 24th September, ticket-holders were sent an online survey, and here are some of the comments (all thrown together in no order). 34% of attendees had been to the event in 2019, so 66% were new to the experience.

General comments:

Thank you so much for a wonderful day of professional development … Excellent day all round. So practical and useful. Well done! … Such a brilliant day. Thank you so much for organizing it … It was a fantastic collaborative, energising experience that blew away some of the ennui generated after the impact of Covid restrictions in our schools. It was lovely to meet so many teachers from all over the country & meet up with old friends again. It was very interesting that this was an initiative led by educators not any of the agencies that impose conditions on how we carry out our practice … Superb event. Thank you …. Thanks so much for everything, including the communication in the lead up to the event … Brilliant. So welcoming. So worthwhile  … thank you for a wonderful and inspiring day … A great event for classroom practitioners … A fantastic experience from start to finish. Well done to all involved! …. An extremely beneficial and necessary experience if you wish to enhance your individual contribution to education in schools. … Superb day on all scores. I’m returning to school tomorrow uplifted and grateful for all … A fantastic day. So well organised and so informative … Well done, super organised, good range of speakers. Food amazing and the venue is special … Beautiful venue, lots of very friendly guides and great speakers. Well done … a perfect conference – well done to all those front of house and behind the scenes! … Buzzing from it. Please host it again. You are really good at it … Thank you for hosting such an exceptional event and I’m delighted to have been a part of it … The atmosphere and organisation of the event was outstanding and very welcoming. The volunteers showed enthusiasm all day – all fantastic. The Research Ed booklet was clear and very informative about each session.

A great day! … Excellent Day – very well organised; super staff. Thanks so much … Wonderful campus for such an event, great organisation and staff willing to give up their time on Saturday is very impressive and a sign of a good working relationship between management and staff … A totally amazing day – Thank you so much … Well run.  Great topics.  Hard to make a choice at some sessions … Thank you for all of your hard work in organising this incredible event. It was like going outside for a breath of fresh air!   … Overall, a really fantastic day which went by so quickly. Left with so many ideas and reflections. This is what professional development should be about. Well done to everyone involved … thank you SO much for organising. It was an amazing community to be part of and to speak to so many other teachers and listen to their experiences … Thank you for such a great day. Far more inspirational than ‘regular’ in-services… Brilliantly organised. Thoroughly enjoyed the day. Thank you for setting it up … Brilliantly organised and venue was very well laid out for all the various talks . Unfortunately couldn’t bilocate so missed some events as so many good speakers on at the same time … Well run.  Great topics.  Hard to make a choice at some sessions … PLEASE run this again! It was the most amazing day. My only complaint is it wasn’t long enough! I absolutely loved it and couldn’t believe we were getting all of these speakers for the price we paid- unbelievable value. Thank you, thank you, thank you! … The food was excellent!!! I couldn’t believe the standard, so impressive … Everything about the day was first class and the best CPD ever Thank you to the whole team … I felt invigorated after it … I am in education for over 20 years and I honestly think this is the best event I have been to by far. The energy and positivity was amazing. I would definitely go to it were it to happen again. Thanks so much to all the organisers.

What were your main takeaways from the day?

Loved Paul Kirshner and Kate Jones … Felt really empowered after listening to others. Aine Hyland’s voice needs to be amplified … My idol Miss Olivia Derwin, legend to all of us biology teachers! … Kate Jones was great – nice mix of theory and practical tips … I thoroughly enjoyed all speakers who delivered their ideas in an entertaining and clear manner. Dáire Lambert was excellent, giving us an honest and realistic insight into his classroom practice … Barbara Oakley was outstanding. So clear and concise and her way of getting her point across was soft but with clarity.  It was amazing from beginning to end … It was amazing to be able to hear such big names such as Barbara Oakley and Paul Kirschner… The whole day was superb … The two main Keynote speakers were excellent and I enjoyed Kate Jones’s presentation on retrieval practice. Generally, the more practical the talk, the more I enjoyed it! It is great to get some ideas for classroom practice … Barbara Oakley was superb: her visuals in her presentation really made a great impact on me … As a Science teacher, my eyes were on stalks: I had lab. envy & I love my own lab. but perhaps not as much as I did before my head was turned by yours!) … The entire event was superb. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Dr Barbara Oakley and Kate Jones. I loved the smaller seminars on spelling and giving boys feedback. Thank you  … There was a strong thread on “how students learn” that ran throughout the whole day.  I found this good as multiple perspectives helped to reinforce the basic science and practical applications … Retrieval Practice by Kate Jones and Junior Cycle Planning by Clare Madden were exceptional … Barb was outstanding. I’m teaching twenty years and she is the best I’ve seen! … Barbara Oakley & Kate Jones were very impressive and informative. One day at researchED would save teachers countless days of CPDs!  …

Barbara Oakley, Kate Jones and Aine Hyland were brilliant to listen to. … Delighted to spend time with other teachers in earnest and substantial discussion of pedagogy (as opposed to much “CPD” in recent years)… Prof Barbara Oakley was an excellent start to the day.  Could have listened to her all day … Really impressed with the high quality programme and mix of topics and speakers.  I particularly enjoyed Barbara Oakley, Mark Roberts and Kate Barry … Barbara Oakley was amazing, John Tomsett really impressed with curriculum discussion also. Oliver Caviglioli, Paul Kirschner and Neil Almond were real highlights … The aspects of the programme that were about research and engaging in research at schools were great – Jenny McMahon from UL and Liam Guilfoyle from Oxford gave real practical ideas for getting involved which were great … Barbara was outstanding- so warm, encouraging, knowledgeable and interesting. That said, all speakers were superb! … Kate Jones was fantastic. I thought Sonia Thompson was inspirational … Really loved Emma Regan’s ‘Why set up a Professional Learning Community’ and the SWOT analysis ..They all impressed me from Barbara to Paul to the discussion with Annie, Simon and Clinton … Really impressed with David and Jennifer Keenahan’s work and energy put into discussing physics textbooks and Paul Nugent delivered an excellent session of effective questioning for students. As for takeaways, elements of Brendan O’Sullivan’s and Barbara Oakley’s speeches stuck with me the most … Barbara Oakley was the most enthralling on importance of retrieval practice. Áine Hyland was excellent on state of curriculum development in Ireland at the moment … Barbara Oakley was very impressive as was Áine Hyland. Good to hear somebody of the stature of Áine Hyland express concerns about the direction of the Irish education system particularly around Senior Cycle Reform and presented in a humorous fashion as well … James Maxwell – inspiration leadership of an Evidence Informed School .. The architecture of the brain and how this relates to learning. The importance of understanding working memory and long-term memory. The necessity of retrieval practice in education … Kate Jones, Claire Stoneman were both great …Still digesting it now – so much information.  Need to think how it can be put into practice in school … All brilliant, but I particularly enjoyed Barbara Oakley and Kate Jones’s practical takeaways … Sonia Thompson and Paul Nugent were excellent …. All good – Barbara Oakley super … Barbara Oakley was a particular stand out. Absolutely fantastic presentation. .. Really enjoyed the keynote speakers, main take-away, not to become complacent – our research informed journey has started but this is for the long term! … Really enjoyed all speakers. I loved Barbara Oakley- learning about her own background and her achievements today. I loved her presentation and feel like her presentation really simplified the learning process for me.   Paul Kirschner was excellent as well. I had so many takeaways from all talks that I will use in my own teaching. I loved Kate Jones as there were so many real life applications and examples from the classroom. I am only new to researchED and some of the buzz words at the minute. I would be honest and say I do not keep up the latest educational research and feel like this day really kick started me back into keeping my teaching methods current. I feel like I lost my ‘mojo’ in certain ways throughout covid and online learning … Paul Kirschner was amazing and brought his book and so excited with all the knowledge that I possess …

Both keynote speakers were excellent – Barbara Oakley and Paul Kirschner … Quality of speakers and how ideas that were relevant to the classroom … Really liked how Kate Jones presented retrieval practice and Olivia Derwin on video learning. To be honest, I really enjoyed everyone I went to see, just wish I could have gone to all of them … Barbara Oakley was excellent. Really good explanations of how learning happens … Oliver Caviglioli was really interesting … Paul Kirschner’s keynote was excellent …Daire Lambert was really interesting, funny and directly applicable to the classroom … Barbara was incredible. A great keynote. Plenty to take away from it. Kate Jones is a marvel. Her session was excellent … Jerome Devitt was superb in his talk on the new politics and society LC course … Kate Jones, Clare Madden and Barbara Oakley were very insightful … I was very interested in the discussion on retrieval practice. Barbara Oakley, Kate Barry, Paul Kirschner were great. However, I enjoyed all the sessions I attended … this is what we need to be preaching in universities! Clare Madden brought everything we learned back down to the issues we constantly face… the curriculum. Amazing, realistic approach to learning … Kate Jones- have read lots of her books and she was just as brilliant as I hoped …. Dáire Lambert- really stuck with me and thought he spoke really well! … Good practice comes from evidence and a lot comes from having professional conversations … I was especially impressed by Annie Asgard’s talk about providing for refugee children effectively within our education system … Professor Áine Hyland was brilliant and summarised all the key points about Senior Cycle reform so clearly. Jerome Devitt was also fantastic and I learned a lot about trying to implement vague syllabi in the classroom … I’m from the US, and the fascinating take away for me was the matrix of similarities and differences among our school systems … Ms Oakley was brilliant – but everyone was very good … Professor Barbara Oakley and Aine Hyland were both outstanding … Barbara Oakley, fabulous example of weaving stories into content. Kate Jones – brilliant! … It was a fantastic day, very enjoyable. The workshops were brilliant. Paul Kirschner, Oliver Caviglioli and Barbara Oakley were outstanding.

Back in pre-pandemic times in 2019, the College organised and hosted the first-ever researchED conference in Ireland, a hugely-successful gathering of over 350 educators at the cutting-edge of best practice in teaching and learning. The 2020 conference was cancelled for obvious reasons, but the school was delighted to put on the second event on Saturday 24th September, organised by Mr Girdham and Mr Jones.

Again, the campus was packed (the tickets sold out in May after under 3 weeks on sale), and from 8.00am people arrived from all over Ireland (including a strong showing from Northern Ireland) and abroad. Talks were held between 9am and 4.30pm, starting with the brilliant opening keynote by one of the giants of world education, Barbara Oakley from the United States. She was followed by a mixture of third-level academics and ‘ordinary’ teachers covering all aspects of education, such as leadership, Senior and Junior Cycle, diversity, feedback for boys, the asylum experience, digital content and retrieval practice.

A lovely lunch provided by one of our sponsors, the College caterers Sodexo, was followed by three sessions in the afternoon, culminating in the closing keynote by another legendary figure, Professor Paul Kirschner from the Netherlands. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and the school is proud to have played its part in having a positive impact on Irish education.

Presentations are available here, and the programme and a photo album of the day follow.

Form IV pupil Aeladh Bradley Brady reports on the recent art expedition to the National Botanic Gardens.

On Friday the 16th of September the Form IV art pupils went on an outing to the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin to see the art exhibition, Sculpture in Context. The purpose of this trip was to get inspiration for our own artwork and exhibition based on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Once we arrived we were separated into two groups and each group was accompanied by a tour guide to show us around and tell us about the individual pieces. The tour guides were very interesting and had extensive knowledge of all the pieces we visited. This made the trip thoroughly enjoyable.  

Some of the art work was intricately made, such as a shark piece that was made out of recycled seaglass. A mother and son collected the seaglass over eight months and created the piece during lockdown. 

After the tour of the outside area we were led by our guide into a separate room. Large transparent plastic sheets hung from the ceiling almost in the format of a maze. The transparent plastic created a distorted view which represented the media and how everything is not always as it seems. This piece felt quite ominous and yet the idea was so simple. It really goes to show when you really look into a piece many deeper meanings can appear. 

This outing really helped us develop new ideas and concepts for our own pieces that we will be able to make soon. It was an eye opening experience to see that with the simplest of recycled resources you can create art.

Thank you very much to Ms. Murphy and Ms. Cullen for organizing and supervising such an enjoyable art trip.

We are delighted that we can, for the first time since 2019, have a full and unrestricted Open Day. This takes place on the morning of Saturday 1st October 2022, and all prospective pupils and their parents (for entry any year) are welcome. It starts at 10.00am and ends at 1.00pm, and visitors are welcome at any time, though we advise not arriving after 12pm, since there is not then enough time for a tour.

Just drive into the school, and you will be met at the car parks by Transition Year pupils, who will greet you and then guide you to the reception point, Whispering House. Small groups of visitors will then be shown around the campus, seeing facilities like the Chapel, Library and Science Block, and seeing activities taking place like choir practice, House speech practice, art work, science experiments and sports sessions. Staff will be available to answer questions.

No booking is required, but any advance queries about admissions to the College should go to our Admissions Officer, Mrs Amanda Morris.

 

One of the highlights of 2019 was the College’s hosting of the first-ever researchED conference in Ireland on October 5th of that year. 350 educators from around Ireland and the world came to hear a top-class line-up of academics and classroom teachers talk about best practice. Of course, it was not possible to repeat the experience in 2020 or 2021, but now we are getting close to the second event, on Saturday 24th September (when the pupils are on Exodus).

Again, all tickets were long-ago sold out, and again there are some extraordinary speakers, including the keynote presenters Professor Barbara Oakley (from the US) and Professor Paul Kirschner (from the Netherlands).

The timetable will be released before long, but for the moment here are the session details, in alphabetical order.

We’ll have more here in the next couple of weeks: meanwhile, here is a report on the 2019 event.

The first girls entered the College 51 years ago – just four of them, who lived in Mrs Caird’s house. Through the rest of the 1970s, the numbers built up in Fifth and Sixth Forms, before in the early 1980s girls started to arrive in the Junior Forms, creating the House called Beresford, and full co-education developed. On Saturday, an event (delayed by the pandemic from last year’s 50th anniversary) took place in the College to mark this important event in our history.

53 Old Columban women returned on a pleasant day; all had entered the school between 1971 and 1981. Before lunch there was a short service in Chapel, followed by a tour of the grounds, and then a lunch in Whispering House, at which the Warden, and Sarah Love (the first female Chair of the Fellows) spoke. We were delighted that Gaye Caird was able to be present as the Bursary in her name was launched. Lunch went on well into the afternoon! Particular thanks go to Sonia Young, Foundation Manager, for organising the whole event so well, and Natalie Campbell (Catering Manager) and her staff.

This year’s Transition Year came (almost) to an end on Thursday evening, with the annual Final Presentation and Awards Evening, led by the TY Co-ordinator Ms Kilfeather, who described what a formidably busy year the pupils have had, term by term. She picked out events such as, in the Michaelmas Term, the Causey Farm and Dublin Zoo visits, the talk by John Lonergan, the sleepout on College grounds and the Architects in Schools programme. Elizabeth Hart and Amber Cotton described the many activities that formed the Gaisce programme, co-ordinated by Ms Lynch, and Alannah McKee presented on the F1 in Schools, co-ordinated by Ms Hennessey. 

In the Hilary Term, there were powerful talks by Patricia Carey and Jackie Fox, the Activities Day, Work Experience (which Oisin Germaine talked about) and Careers in Screen. This term, there have been presentations by Raoul Empey on climate change and Alex Hibbert on his adventure career. The TY Academic Prize evening took place, as well as the English and Modern Languages ones. There was sailing in Dun Laoghaire. Recently we heard that Cameron McKinley was runner-up in the Music Section of the Mary Elmes Prize in Holocaust Studies for Transition Year students from Holocaust Education Ireland, and Cameron accompanied himself on piano while singing his piece.

Ms Kilfeather paid tribute to the nine other full-time teachers who also take on responsibilities as part of the Transition Year team: without them nothing would happen. Before the evening ended with a photo collage of the year, she announced the winners of the academic subject prizes, and of the Spirit of Transition Award:

Music – Lauren Ng

Economics – Michael Onyeka-Patrick

Art – Georgia Goodbody

Irish – Kate Dementyeva

History and French – Elizabeth Hart

PE and Spanish – Hannah Bergmann

Biology and Classics – Rachel Shaw

Chemistry -Daniela Gasull Algas

Design, Physics, Mathematics & joint English – Calvin She

Geography, Business, RE & joint English – Cayden Wong

Spirit of Transition Year: Hughie Casey and Lara Hunter.

The 28th Transition Year English Evening took place last night in the Big Schoolroom, compèred by Mr Jameson, after its two-year hiatus. The guest of honour was the author Richie Conroy, whose comments on the individual pieces are in italics below

Nine members of the Fourth Form read out pieces of writing: Phoebe Landseer opened up with a piece on her first home, in which we were transported by the power of words, followed by Zara Chohan (‘The Watcher’, a piece of fiction, which was gripping with lots of tension), Isabella Treacy on the joys of books (read by Raicheal Murray, a superb piece that made us feel we were in a second-hand bookshop), Daniel Murray (on censorship, an effective piece), Lara Hunter with a fictional piece which was superb, Georgia Goodbody (on her grandmother and her home, now sold, an amazing picture), Belen Olea (on the oldest person she knows, a fine piece which showed how important it is to pay attention to the older generation), Lily Boyle on learning poetry in primary school (a lovely window into the past) and finally Alannah McKee on her last day at primary school (a real journey in her piece, and a really powerful ending).

Mr Jameson presented the annual trophy to the editors of The Submarine magazine, this year Elizabeth Hart and Isabella Treacy. He then handed over to Richie Conroy, who used his experience of running the Dublin City Marathon for the first time to give the pupils important advice about writing. We all have a voice in our heads (for Richie, ‘Kermit’), which discourages us, but we need to say yes to new experiences. No experience is wasted. Reading is so important. Richie handed out writers’ notebooks to the presenters and advised them to jot down ideas, characters, good lines, dialogues. He spoke funnily, accessibly and with great encouragement to all the young writers in the audience.

Finally, the following were congratulated as winners of Premier Awards this year: Hannah Bergmann, Lily Boyle, Alison Coogan, Elizabeth Hart, Alannah McKee, Cameron McKinley, Belen Olea, Rachel Shaw, Calvin She, Isabella Treacy, Cayden Wong.

 

Sunday evening saw the special event that is Voices of Poetry return to the Big Schoolroom in its long-lasting and infallible format: a pupil or teacher reading a short poem after a brief explanation in a darkened room, picked out by a single spotlight. Some of these were in languages other than English: it is amazing how powerful such readings can be, even if you don’t understand the lines. The evening was organised by Mr Swift, and the presenter was Mr Girdham.

Marianne Lee from First Form opened proceedings, with her own evocative poem ‘The Witching Hour’, followed by Mr Jameson from the English Department with a translation of a poem by the Swedish Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer, ‘The Tree and the Sky‘.

The other languages kicked in: poems in Italian (Alexia Fantacci), German (Toni Ladanyi), Cecilia Corti (Arabic), Irish (Dairbhre Murray) and Chinese (Harry Wang). The aural contrasts were fascinating.

Mr Girdham then read out ‘Resistance’, recently written by the British Poet Laureate Simon Armitage in solidarity with all those under fire and bombardment in Ukraine, which led on naturally to Pavlo Shvalov reading a piece in Ukrainian celebrating his country’s independence.

Another step change was to Leonid Mylvaganam, who read out his own flowing work, close to performance poetry. Three European languages came next: Dutch (Josefien Hutchinson), French (Eole Mignot) and Spanish (Mateo Aliaga). Again, it was remarkable to hear the differences even though you can drive from one country to the next.

This year’s Junior Poetry Prize was won by Delia Brady, and her poem ‘The Moon‘ was read by Anna Rose McManus.  She was followed by the Warden, who said that from a young age at prep school he had to learn poems off by heart, and he recited G.K. Chesterton’s ‘The Donkey’.

Then, Slavic languages were represented by Polish (Dr Pyz) and Czech (Phoebe Landseer).

The next two poems brought us close to the end, with two people who are soon to leave the College: Ms Heidi Kavanagh (Yeats’s ‘When You are Old and Grey’) and the Senior Prefect, Evie Pringle, with Stevie Smith’s ‘In My Dreams‘.

And finally, Mr Canning announced the winner of this year’s Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry (pictured), Isabella Treacy, and read out a poem from her winning portfolio, ‘Knots‘.

To conclude, Mr Girdham recommended Pádraig Ó Tuama’s podcast Poetry Unbound: a short podcast twice a week on a single poem, with Ó Tuama’s reflections. It does what poetry should do for readers: provide a space for attention away from the busy noise of the world. And that is just what Voices of Poetry does too.

In October 2019 the College held the enormously successful first-ever researchED event in Ireland, with 350 visitors on the campus throughout the day listening to a series of stimulating presentations on best practice in education. Read a report on that day here.  Check out the short video below.

The 2020 event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, but now plans are advanced for the second event in Ireland, on Saturday 24th September.  Again we have a truly excellent line-up of speakers: see the conference page.  Tickets are just €40, including lunch, and can be purchased there, or directly from the Eventbrite page. In 2019 tickets went very quickly, so get in early…

researchED Dublin from St Columba’s College on Vimeo.

We are delighted that our first open event on campus for prospective pupils since September 2019 will take place on the evening of Thursday 19th May, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

This will be an opportunity for pupils seeking entry in 2023, 2024 or 2025 at any age to see around the College with their parents. There will be a reception, followed by introductory talks, and then short tours given by Junior pupils.

If you would like to come to the Open Evening, please contact us via email – admissions@stcolumbas.ie – or phone 01-4906791.

There has been lots of activity in Transition Year since their work experience week and half-term, especially for those involved in the Gaisce President’s Award scheme. Some community service was carried out in and around the school while the pupils were also thanked for their contribution to The Hope Foundation. Recently, they helped raise €860 for the charity which works with street children in Calcutta. We were grateful to Alpana Delaney from The Hope Foundation who visited the College to speak with the pupils about the work they do and present them with certificates recognising their work. The Gaisce pupils also volunteered at a charity auction for The Hope Foundation at the Ballsbridge Hotel, which yielded over €20,000 for the charity.

Some TY pupils took part in the Careers in Screen Day 2022, a joint initiative from the Irish Film Institute and Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.  The day started with a showing of The Racer followed by a discussion panel including the film’s Director Kieron J Walsh along with his producers and the Director of Photography. There were talks on Costume Design, Casting, Animation, and the National Talent Academy along with model-making and interviews. It was a terrific day!

Finally, TY pupils from Sustainability and Gaisce modules recently volunteered at our local Whitechurch National School to prepare the foundations for the construction of their outdoor classroom (pictured above). They did fantastic work and we look forward to continuing this work seeing the final product after the Easter break.

Again, many thanks to Ms Kilfeather and all her team for the great work they do with our Transition Yeat pupils.

Our annual Mental Health Awareness Week takes place this week, with a busy programme of activities promoting positive mental health. This year’s theme is based on the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, with a different focus on each of the days. Pupils were encouraged to be active, connect, give, take notice and keep learning, through a variety of activities, both inside and outside the classroom. These include early morning walks, mindfulness moments, movie nights, pottery classes, yoga, judo and much more. Be sure to check out our social media channels for photos of the week’s activities.