The tradition College ‘Trips Week’ takes place in the first week of June. As the Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate examinations begins, pupils from non-exam years go on a series of trips. Many pupils from Forms I & II travelled to the south of France while those remaining at home participated in a series of day trips, including Explorium science museum, Dublin Zoo and Emerald Park. Form IV (Transition Year) pupils travelled to Achill Island for a week of water sports, camping and outdoor adventures while our Form V pupils made the trip to the Burren in Co. Clare for biology and geography fieldwork, with opportunity for rest and relaxation too.

Below is a photo album from the various trips which took place last week. Many thanks to the staff who organised and accompanied the various trips and to the pupils for their excellent attitude and behaviour.

And so, another Transition Year ends and it has been a rollercoaster ride. Seventy determined, hard working and ambitious young people started the year as they began it – at full speed – with the aim of growing as a person and as an academic. Here is a breakdown of the final term.

In May, many members of our TY took part in a hike along the Wicklow Way, to earn their physical challenge badge for the Gaisce Award. In glorious sunshine, the determined walkers trekked over 50km across some of Ireland’s most stunning trails. There was a visit to Grease in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the annual visit to Causey Farm, for the usual fun in the mud!

Some TY pupils were invited to present work they made for the Architect in Schools Programme at the DLR Lexicon library. Our TY Skills Day took place earlier this term also, with pupils learned some basic DIY, hospitality skills and sewing.

The Transition Year Modern Language evening was held at Trinity College in late April. The overall winner was Delia Brady with prizes also awarded to Lucas Perez Soria and Lina Triebold. The judges were Dr Sarah Alyn-Stacey and Laura Le Cleach from the French Embassy.

The 29th annual Transition Year English Evening was held on Tuesday 28th May in the BSR, with Mr Jameson presenting this celebration of pupil writing. The visiting speaker was teacher Mrs Annie Donnelly, who was most impressed by pieces from Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood, Delia Brady, Finn Woolsey, Sofia Walker, Sophie Gibbs, Stella Borrowdale, Grant Fabian, Olive Mud, Cerys Mordaunt and Grace Koch.

Cerys Mordaunt won the TY Academic Prize for her excellent presentation on the brain of teenage girls. Many thanks for Alan Cox, principal of Templecarrig School for judging.

There was a great day trip to the local Explorium Science museum …. and, finally, the final Transition Year Award evening took place last night in Whispering House with multiple subject awards presented to pupils for their academic achievements. The Spirit of Transition Year Award was also presented, for encapsulating all that the Transition Year is designed for, to Safia Walker with Ignacio Suarez announced at the runner up. Full details of those awards can be found here.

Transition Year Photo Album 2023-2024

Leadership Awards were presented to ten more worthy recipients this week (Hughie Casey, Gabriel Murphy and John-Jack Beglan O’Connell received Leadership Awards for their excellent charitable endeavours earlier this year), recognising the fine example they set throughout the year to their fellow pupils. This year, the Warden highlighted our young leaders who best represented each of the College values (Kindness, Inclusion, Compassion, Determination and Responsibility). Over 100 nominations were received from both pupils and staff.

This year’s recipients were: Ebah Assebian, Alannah Starbuck, Archie Monaghan, Daniel Moran, Rebecca Flanagan, Harry Powell, Henrike Tertilt, Marianna O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Murphy and Safia Walker.

The long-standing Voices of Poetry event at the end of May provides a pause-point in the year. It is the last major event in the Big Schoolroom, and on a Sunday evening at the end of a busy weekend it gives us all a moment to listen attentively and appreciate great writing.

As always, it featured a mixture of English and other languages. It is remarkable how much one can get out of another language in terms of musicality even if the words are mysterious. Readers did give brief introductions to each of their pieces, and 23 poems were covered in 45 minutes, with Mr Girdham presenting and linking them.

Anton Demenko kicked things off in Ukrainian, followed by an utterly different language from a totally different part of the world: Bibiire Oke-Osanyintolu recited a poem in Yoruba from Nigeria.

The first English poem came from Eoin Siegel – Robert Frost’s famous ‘The Road Taken’, with its resonant final lines 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

On the thin grounds that both languages start with the letter ‘I’, but on the more substantial ones that they are both beautifully euphonious, Italian and Irish followed, with four poems intertwined and recited by Anna Luisa Sanminiatelli, Euan Flanagan, Francesco Malacarne and Molly Mann.

Shannon Walker Kinsella chose to read Cassandra Wright’s ‘Clandestine Meeting’, and she was followed by three ‘Iberian’ languages – Spanish (Pedro Olea), South American/Venezuelan Spanish (Manuela Nassief) and Portuguese (Kayra Mbanefo).

Congratulations to Nia Jessup, winner of this year’s Junior Poetry Prize for her touching poem ‘My Love’, about her grandmother, which she read out movingly.

Quite a jump then to one of the most unusual European languages, Hungarian (unconnected to any other, apart from, peculiarly, Finnish), from Gaspar Kekessy and Kasimir zu Bentheim.

And another jump to Mr Swift, who marked his interest in golf by reading out John Updike’s tribute to Payne Stewart, who came to a tragic end in 1999 at the age of 42.

Neighbouring France and Germany came next, with poems read out by Olivia Borbath and Vito Wieser, followed by two major languages from further afield, Arabic (Cecilia Corti) and Mandarin Chinese (Merida Zhang).

English rounded things up: Hal Somerville recited Byron’s dramatic ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib‘ from 1815, followed by the Warden again impressively performing one of his many learnt-poems, Rudyard Kipling’s classic ‘If’. Finally, the awarding of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry was marked by the Sub-Warden reading out one of Isabella Treacy’s winning poems from her portfolio. Congratulations to her on winning the prize for three years in a row.

As Mr Girdham said at the end, there is nothing better than catching up with some reading in whatever areas pupils like best. And why not some poetry?

Over the last two weeks, the College has held two fabulous events for Old Columbans, one at the Athenaeum Club in London, attended by over a hundred guests, and the other the annual Grace Cup Lunch, for any Old Columban who left the College over 50 years ago; that event was attended by over 70 Old Columbans.

The latter has become an annual highlight of the College calendar, while the London event will hopefully become an annual event as well. Both events were reminders of the strength of the College community and how much it continues to mean to so many people.

Many thanks to Michael Essame OC for taking the photos below at the Grace Cup Lunch and an album from the London event can be found here.

Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part in this year’s Mountain Race which took place yesterday on Kilmashogue Mountain. Introduced in 2018, to celebrate the College’s long-standing running tradition, this is a now an annual event with the winners being awarded a perpetual trophy engraved with their name. The course follows the Wicklow Way for 4 km, starting in Kilmashogue car park, before returning along the same route and back to the starting point, totalling 8 km (5 miles). We are blessed to have so many wonderful trails around us.

Eighteen runners took part this year. Hughie Casey recorded a hattrick of victories in beating his old record by 27 seconds in an outstandingly fast time of 28 minutes 50 seconds, with Archie McKeever in second place in 31:43.

Two girls beat Thea Clare’s record of 38:03. Oleana Cowan ran the course in 37:37 and Alannah McCoole took the victory in 36:20 beating the old record by 1 minute 43 seconds.

Thanks to Mr Gibbs for driving the bus, Chaplain Owen for taking some great photographs, Mr Duffy for recording the half way stage and Mrs Canning for providing the water and a bucket of recovery jellies.

Harry Williams, Form V, writes on his recent experience taking part in the European Youth Parliament.

From April 3rd to the 8th I was invited to a European Youth Parliament National Session which took place between Cork and Dublin, concluding with a general assembly in the Dáil Éireann. I was in Dunmore East at the time meaning my dad had the pleasure of driving me about two hours to Cork for the registration and first day. After saying goodbye I made my way to the table at the back of Cork College FET, filled with faces that I’d soon come to know and, after a few technical difficulties, I was up and running with my very own lanyard and committee that I would soon be a part of. Since I was there by myself and didn’t really see anybody I could recognize from the regional session I had done a few months prior, I was slightly by myself. There were kids milling about the large conference room, laughing and chatting amongst themselves. They all seemed quite content in their little circles of comfort, so I decided to put on my big boy boots and walked towards the nearest group of people and introduced myself.

I was terrified as I walked up, since you always expect a bit of shunning or some sort when meeting new children your age but, to no one’s surprise, everybody was extremely welcoming and considerate. Turns out there were a couple faces I could recognise from the Dublin session and after reintroducing ourselves (and, at the time, me remembering none of their names) we got to reminiscing on the whimsical things we took part in at the regionals. Remembering this helped a lot with reconnecting, and so did the absolutely amazing lunch of a cold service station sandwich they gave us. I would become very familiar with these in the coming days of the event.

After everybody registered they began with the introductions of the organisers of the event and ”energisers”. For those in the dark an “energiser” is just about the most mortifying thing you can think of doing as a cool and mysterious teenager, group singing and dancing. Typically an organiser will get into the middle of a large circle of adolescents and start singing a “sing after me song” in which the rest of the room copies what the organiser is doing/saying. After a couple of excruciating and also weirdly fun minutes, we assembled into our committees with our chairpersons making their own introductions. The chairperson is similar to that of the mom/dad of the group who is a couple years older and supervises the committee so we actually get stuff done. Then we moved upstairs and got to getting to know each other by playing name games, dancing, and debating morality and guilt.

Following this, we had some tea and biscuit (we were only allowed one) and went back to playing catch with the speaking ball or guessing which instrument the person next to us is likely to play. Once the group had decided I was a tin whistler, we had dinner (a slice of vaguely stale lasagna) and transferred over to our hostel for the next four days. After unpacking and meeting the roommates, I went down and began the nightly ritual of playing a game of cards with way too many people, putting a couple cards into my pockets, winning, and then heading to bed just as I was going to lose. The next day we continued with the team building, this time with competitions between committees.

After dominating every other group, we started thinking about ideas for our resolution. The committee I was on was called TRAN, or the Committee for Transport and Tourism. Our proposing question was “In light of the 2050 EU carbon target, how should the EU further improve the sustainability of domestic and international transportation?” As riveting as it may sound, for me it was actually my first choice. So I was happy to waffle on as much as possible about high-speed rails and how planes and rich people are bad. The following two days were spent on what was called “committee work”. In normal terms, a bunch of kids get together and try their best to come up with a solution to a major EU wide problem. It actually went quite smoothly, bar a few hiccups about monopolies and world domination.

Once we had finished with all of this committee work we were given a day’s break to go to Fotá, Ireland’s premier wildlife picture taking area. However the organizers of the event seemed to have forgotten that it was April in Ireland so Fotá, Ireland’s premier wildlife picture taking area, was closed due to storms. As such the organizers brought us to the next best thing, Kung-Fu Panda 4. After a mid-tier Kung-Fu Panda movie, we made the transfer to Dublin and had some delicious lunch (cold service station sandwiches). We unpacked our bags in a newer and nicer hostel and headed downstairs for more music and card games. That night every committee’s resolution was released for all of the other committees to critique and tear apart. This led to a few dorm wars but thankfully only a few lives were lost.

The next morning was a great healthy start with one apple for breakfast and the hope that I could make it the next 4 hours without eating anything. We made the ten minute bus ride to the Dáil Éireann and got our very own passes and metal detector tests before heading in. The chamber was exactly like on TV, but in real life. The whole situation didn’t quite feel serious until the speaker of the Dáil came and gave us a talk. At which point I began to understand that I was, in fact, sitting in the seat of major politicians in Ireland. After the Lord Mayor of Dublin spoke next, we began the General Assembly. This was a process in which one committee would give an opening speech, then there would be two position speeches (speeches given by opposing or agreeing committees), followed by three rounds of open debate.

These rounds of open debate would start by the jury calling on around six points of interest from opposing committees and then after which the proposing committee would respond as best they could. Once these debates were finished, there was a closing speech and then all of the committees would vote on the motion and whether it should pass. Once the votes were tallied, and the resolution passed or failed, the whole process was restarted. On the first day, there were three committees before lunch, two after, and then a coffee break. After the coffee break (still one biscuit) we began the final two. We finished around four o’ clock after which we went back to the hostel to enjoy more live music and dancing and cards. The final day we had three committees before lunch and then the final committee proposing after lunch. TRAN (my committee) was third on the second day, so I had plenty of time to tear out my hair over every single word on our resolution in an attempt to predict what people would criticize. Of course, I wasn’t even close to any of them but at least I felt like I was doing something. When our committee was proposing the time went by a little too quickly in the run up to my turn. I was responding to the second round of open debate which was stressful enough, but the whole operation being televised and having every team member throwing sticky notes with valuable information on them at me didn’t help. But I managed to get through it without making a complete fool of myself which I was quite happy with. On top of that I managed to tear down another committees’ resolution as they had forgotten to include a way to solve one major issue that they had mentioned in their very own resolution. So if that’s not indicative of a great time I don’t know what is.

Our ending ceremony was emotional as the organizers had spent the last 9 months doing what their names suggest, so their attachment was definitely reasonable and if I was in their position I probably would’ve shed a few tears as well. After the closing, we got a goodie bag from the government and after a few photos, exchanging numbers, and collecting bags, I said my goodbyes and headed back to school. The whole ordeal left me quite exhausted but also very satisfied. There is something very special about the EYP program. It teaches you how to become fast friends, as well as slight enemies. The competition was good-spirited and at the end of the day we were all just happy to have done it. I would highly highly recommend the whole thing to anyone who is even moderately interested in not politics, but making a small change.

An interesting story I heard about during the session was that one of the resolutions that got turned down in a previous national session was then redone in an international session. This was passed in the international session, which led to a committee in the actual European Parliament proposing a real proposition that was noticeably similar to the international sessions, and it then getting passed. So if you ever feel as though nothing you do actually impacts those around you, maybe reconsider. It could be that by doing one of the silly little regional sessions you’ll find that tearing apart other people’s ideas while giving no solution in the meanwhile is actually very very fun. 

Fáilte!

As Seachtain na Gaeilge draws to a close, we want to highlight some of the events and competitions which took place throughout the fortnight of the festival. Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Week) is celebrated every year from the first day of March, all the way up to St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March. The festival aims to celebrate and promote the Irish language. The pupils’ enthusiasm throughout Seachtain na Gaeilge was outstanding and we want to extend our gratitude to all who participated and made it possible! 

We began our Comórtas Bileog G, or Bileog G Competition on the first day of the festival. The G stands for Gaeilge (Irish) and a bileog is a sheet or slip. Pupils can earn a ‘Bileog G’, if they are heard making an effort to speak Irish around the school. Every student can take part, and it is safe to say we heard more ‘Dia dhuit(s)’ around the school than ‘Hello(s)’ during the course of SnaG! Congratulations to Henrike Tertilt (Form V) who won 1st place in the competition, followed by Euan Flanagan (Form V) who won 2nd place, and Hughie Casey (Form VI) who won 3rd place. 

We had a Seachtain na Gaeilge chapel service on Friday the 8th of March. Thank you to Ms. Maybury who read the reading ‘as Gaeilge’. We also sang ‘Here I am Lord’ in Irish, and a big thank you to Ms. Lynch for the beautiful translation of the song and to the pupils for their excellent singing. 

The crux of the festival fell on the 9th of March, when we had our School Céilí! Each form had the chance to learn two famous Irish Céilí dances – Ballaí Luimnigh (The Walls of Limerick) and Ionsaí na hInse (The Siege of Ennis). Well done to all pupils for their boundless enthusiasm which made the evening unforgettable. Maith sibh! 

The Seachtain na Gaeilge Poster Competition ran throughout the fortnight also. Pupils based their posters on Irish ‘seanfhocail’ (proverbs). Congratulations to Hannah Fitzgerald (Form III) for winning 1st place, and to runners-up Harry Bowles (Form III), Chenjie Long (Form III), Bay Bunbury (Form III), and Alice Castagna (Form III). 

All in all, it was a fantastic fortnight which was all made possible by the pupils enthusiasm, curiosity and participation. Remember – Beatha teanga í a labhairt (The life of a language is to speak it.)

Congratations to Form IV pupil Herbert Feng who achieved fourth place in the All Ireland Programming Olympiad (AIPO) in UCC and, in doing so, has qualified for the national team. He will now go on to represent Ireland at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) 2024 in Egypt next September.

Herbert also recently competed in the 37th Irish Mathematical Olympiad (IrMO) at the end of January, finishing in tenth place, once again earning him a spot in the national training squad. This squad will be whittled down to a team of six, who will represent Ireland at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) 2024 in Bath, UK, in July.

In other mathematics success, Form I pupil Laurence Sun took part in the Irish Maths Teachers’ Association 1st Year Maths Quiz, which has been taking place since 1994. The quiz, which was sat by over 14,000 students around Ireland, consists of 15 multiple choice brain problem solving questions, to be answered within a 40 minute period. Laurence was one of only 63 who achieved above 84% and was awarded a trophy. He scored a hugely impressive 93%.

Aeladh Bradley Brady, Form V, reports on the Art History trip to Florence at the end of January.

The senior art and culture trip this year say us travel to beautiful Florence, Italy to immerse ourselves in the culture and to see the art we have been studying in class. We took an early flight on Friday morning the 26th of January and arrived at our Bonifacio hotel later that day. We unpacked, settled into our rooms and then went to the San Marco Restaurant for a three course evening meal. (The tomato pasta dish was absolutely delicious.) After we sat, ate and caught up with each other we were brought to see the Duomo for the first time. The Duomo was absolutely beautiful, the sheer size and detail that went into the building of the cathedral was breathtaking. The detailing on the doors in particular caught my eye. I was amazed at how someone could create such a technically detailed piece of art.

On our second day we got up at around 7:30 am for breakfast. We were greeted by a spread of delicious pastries, cold meats, bread, cereal and fruits. After our breakfast we got ready for the day and collected our sketchbooks to go on our way to the Galleria Dell’Accademia. The gallery was full of people from all around the world who had come to see pieces like the sculpture of David and the numerous collections of paintings and sculptures. I was taken aback by the realistic aspects of the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. The musculature and veins were particularly impressive. My favourite part of the tour was the sculpture room. Numerous sculptures of men, women, young boys and girls were littered throughout the expanse of the room. It was very interesting to see the process of how they would have been made on a video also. I really enjoyed my time in the Galleria Dell’Accademia.

After this we went to visit the Piazzale Degli Uffizi. We saw paintings by Giotto, Cimabue, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raffaello, Michelangelo, Titian and Caravaggio. We saw paintings we had studied by Giotto and Cimabue, both their renditions of Madonna enthroned. The sheer size of the paintings were incredible. We went around the town to find somewhere to eat.

Myself and some of the other fifth years went to get pizza. It was so delicious. Possibly the best pizza I have ever had. After lunch we went to the museum of the Medici Chapel. The Medici’s were a patron family who sponsored the artists and commissioned some paintings. In some cases they even paid to be in some of the paintings. Many students were drawing in their sketchbooks during our visit here as they were rightly very impressed by the architectural style and beauty of the chapel. That evening we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. There was a large selection of meals on offer from burgers to Caesar salad. All were thoroughly enjoyed. We were allocated free time. We went around and admired the architecture and tried some deserts such as tiramisu and macarons. Later on in the evening when we all met back at the carousel a man was playing the accordion. Soon a dance had begun in the square started by two fifth form pupils and many other pupils on the trip and locals joined the conga line.

Day three we went to the Pitti Palace (Galleria Palatina) and the Boboli Gardens. It was a lovely warm, sunny day so walking around the gardens was very relaxing. We soon after walked over the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of Florence’s six bridges. It is one of the city’s most famous images. The shops housed under the porticos first belonged to the Commune. Towards the 15th century, they were sold to private owners and they began to develop them further structurally.

That night for our final dinner out we went to the Vecchia Firenze Restaurant for our final three course evening meal. We had a lovely pesto pasta, chicken and also an ice cream dessert. We then headed back to the hotel for an early night as we were going on an early flight back to Dublin.

I would like to thank Ms Murphy for organising the trip and I’d like to thank Ms. Cullen and Mr Finn for the amazing trip also. We all had an excellent and unforgettable time and made many new special memories in Florence.

In the first weekend in March, the Wesley Interschools Music Festival took place at nearby Wesley College. Hundreds of secondary school pupils from all over the country gathered to take part in over fifty competitions, including twenty two pupils from St. Columba’s College, competing in both singing and instrumental competitions. We were delighted when Laurence Sun took first place in U14 piano, Lauren Ng was placed second in O17 piano while there was a number of third place finishes. Below are the notable results from the competing pupils from St. Columba’s. Congratulations to every pupil who took part; we’re exceptionally proud of all our wonderful young musicians.
Laurence Sun, 1st Place Piano U14
Eric Wang, 3rd Place Piano U14
Sarah Bruder, 3rd Place Popular Singing U17
Lilei Spies von Buellesheim, 4th Place & Highly Commended U17 Singing Classical
Sarah Bruder, 3rd Place Singing Classical U17
Cerys Mordaunt, 3rd Place Singing Popular U17
Lauren Ng, 2nd Place Piano O17
Alison Wang, 3rd Place Piano O17.
Saul Fitzgerald Hollywood, Highly Commended & 4th place O17 Piano.

Old Columbans, parent and friends of the College, who live in (or regularly visit) the UK, are cordially invited to attend reception in the Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London on Thursday 9th May, 2024 between 6:30 – 8:30pm. 

At the event, I will bring you up to date with news of the College and its plans through the Foundation. We will also hear from a number of OCs about their careers and what they are doing now. 

This event will provide a great opportunity for our community to get together and is very kindly being hosted by a current parent and OC who is a member of the Athenaeum (a private members’ club which is not open to the public). Joining me at the event will be Sarah Love (Chairperson of the Fellows), former members of staff and current staff members. 

The event is now full. For queries, email Sonia Young using the details below.

The club dress code: as a private club, the Athenaeum has a strict dress code which it describes as jacket and tie for men and for women to dress with equivalent formality. Please see the club’s website for more details.

Whilst the Foundation is, of course, willing to meet the cost of refreshments we would very much welcome a voluntary contribution of £25 per person per ticket, if you are able to do so, so that we can concentrate our funds on the College itself. For more details, please email Sonia Young directly at: foundation@stcolumbas.ie. 

I very much hope that you will be able to join us for what will be a most enjoyable evening in London. 

With very best wishes, 

Mark Boobbyer Warden 

Form IV pupil, Philomena Schneider, reports on the recent College trip to South Africa.

During half term, the Warden and Mrs Boobbyer took a group of 12 senior pupils to South Africa on a school trip. I was one of them and in the following report I’m going to describe the activities in which we participated, as well as our experience in a country unknown to all of us.

The Friday before half term, the 9th of February, we went set off; first stop, the airport. We had two flights; the first one, 7 hours long, to Doha airport which was mind-blowing to all of us in its greatness and creativity. The next flight to Johannesburg took us about 8 hours, which we didn’t notice much, because we were sleeping most of the time. As we arrived in Johannesburg airport, we quickly found our luggage and went off to take the bus to Tiger Kloof, the boarding school where we would be staying. The Warden was the former principal of that school, so he knew almost everyone already. It was a very warm welcome, equally by the people and by the weather. Because we had a lot of traveling behind us, we just unpacked and got to know four very nice prefects who were greeting us in the evening.

On Sunday we started off with our programme, which this day included a walk around the school grounds after breakfast. This ended up being a 7 km walk, as the school is around 10 times bigger than St. Columba’s. On this walk we discovered the quarry and some ruins of old buildings. Chapel in the late afternoon was a very different experience than what we are used to. People were dancing and singing out freely, which, from my point of view, was great fun and not at all comparable to our chapel services. During this service, we first came across the amazing marimba band. This day was very exciting for everyone, so we talked about our experiences while playing cards after dinner, before we went to bed at around 11.00 pm.

Monday, the actual work started. Again, after breakfast, we made our way to the nearby primary school where we were supposed to help with classes and play with the kids. There was a little awkwardness on our side, but the kids soon were all in and had us playing with them until we couldn’t do anything any more. But that was not the end of the day yet! We had lunch after the primary school project and at 4:00 we went on to have two workshops. The first one was about how to do gumboot dancing and the second one about how to play the marimbas. Nobody from our group knew anything about either of these activities, so we watched and learned. It was very interesting to see how they would dance and it was very funny seeing them trying to tell us to loosen up a little.  It took us a few tries, but in the end we mastered at least the basics. Later that night we went out to dinner, where we got to witness a thunderstorm, which was really impressive. The rest of the night we played cards again until we went to sleep.

Something different was planned for us on Tuesday. We went to help Mamma Maria cook and serve food in a soup kitchen which she supervises. Because we were done with the food quickly, we went next door to play with the kids in day-care who were about 2 or 3 years old. Then it was time to serve the  aforementioned food to the people who came. The soup kitchen was located in Vryburg’s township, Huhudi, so most of them were starving and very happy about the meal they got. At around 2:oopm, we went to get our own lunch, of course, after helping Mamma Maria to wash the pots and plates. In the afternoon, we went to church again, where this time, a cultural evening was held by the Tigers. The marimba band as well as the gumboot dancers were performing. From our side Cerys was the only one brave enough to go forward and play something. It was rather spontaneous, so everyone who wanted to contribute anything could do so. For dinner we were supposed to cook our own meal, which was a chicken stew. Split into 4 different groups, we cooked it over an open fire and in the end, a “Jury” got to test it and determine a winner. This evening we went to bed early.

We got to hear the early bird song on Wednesday, at 5:30am. The sunrise walk was, in my opinion, very early, but totally worth it. It was really spectacular seeing the sun rise above the quarry, from where we were watching. Because it was so early, most of us went back to sleep right after it, to have a little rest before breakfast. This day, we were again doing the primary school project and got to see the kids again. Sadly, just short this time, because at 11.00 we drove off to another school to hand out sanitary pads as a part of the HER project at a school with major social issues. Right after it we went to have lunch and to go to a farm which had a huge wedding venue. There, we could do things like horseback riding or Kalahari surfing, but we mostly just played football. For dinner we had a barbecue, or braii, and went back to Tiger Kloof after that.

On Thursday we went to a disabled home, not far from the soup kitchen. It was very humbling to see the conditions under which the staff had to work and the people being taken care of. They were mostly children, but there were also 2 or 3 adults. We helped with feeding them and after a short break, where we went to see a lion farm, we got to play games with them outside and give them their lunch inside. We picked up our own lunch and later that day we went swimming in the quarry, where we played a few games like Marco Polo. For dinner we went to Orexi’s,a steakhouse in Vryburg, and after eating we went back to pack our bags for the next day.

Friday morning after breakfast we got a bus to take us to Pilanesberg. We said goodbye to everyone and off we went. The bus travel was about 5 hours with two short breaks. When we arrived at the game park, welcomes by monkeys, we had to hurry to bring our bags inside and go out almost immediately after, because we had a safari booked for 15 minutes after we arrived. On the first game drive we saw a lot of elephants, wildebeest, and even a warthog and three cheetahs, among many other things. This drive lasted for 3 hours, so when we came back, we jumped in the pool and went straight to dinner. We also went to bed quite early as we had to get up at 6 am the next morning.

As I mentioned, the second game drive was at 6:00 am. This time, the most seen animals were rhinos, which was very exciting. After this safari, we had breakfast and packed our last things. At about 10:00am, we took the bus to Johannesburg and first visited an African market, where everyone got souvenirs and later visited the Apartheid Museum. This taught us a lot about the apartheid system, which was very interesting to me and I wish we have had more time to spend in it. Finally, for the end of our journey, we drove to the airport, where we went on the 8 hour flight to Doha followed by the 7 hour flight to Dublin.

I think this trip was a once in a lifetime experience and I would recommend it to anyone considering it for another year. I brought back lots of memories I won’t ever forget.

Congratulations to the winners of the Junior Art Prizes 2024. Harry Bowles, Form III, is awarded the Earl of Meath Art Prize (Junior) for his piece ‘Gazing’ – an evocative painting of a squirrel. Angela Ge, Form II, is awarded the Junior Craft Prize, for her sculpture ‘Under the Sea’ . Finally, the Junior Photography Prize is awarded to Sophie Dobbs, Form III<, for her photo  ‘Rugged Connemara’. Congratulations to all pupils.

This year’s Junior Play is made up of three short pieces ‘sandwiched’ together, hence the production title: Junior Sandwich. Two acted pieces Now Hear This and The Shadow of the Glen provide the bread while the central piece (the mature cheddar and pickle) is Blackout Number, a narrated item involving creatures seldom seen on an Irish stage.

The Junior Play is open to pupils in Forms I, II and III and from the eleven Columbans involved all three forms are represented.J.M. Synge’s ‘Shadow’ is as playfully twisted as his more famous full length play, The Playboy of the Western World. Michael Frayn’s Matchbox Theatre collection is the provider for the other two mini-dramas: wordplay and humorous observations abound.
Junior Sandwich will be performed in Friday evening (February 24th) at 7:15pm in the BSR, with two further performances on Saturday evening (7:00pm and 8:15pm).
All are welcome!
Update: See some photos from the first performance below:

Mental Health Awareness Week is under way, with a jam-packed programme of events, workshops and themed lessons focusing on gratitude as a central theme. On Tuesday, we welcomed the award winning Shona Project who spoke with Forms I to V. There are further workshops with psychologist Tom Tate with Form VI, morning walks and evening yoga, mindful music in chapel and movie nights. There is also a gratitude wall and art display in Whispering House and, finally, on Friday everyone is encouraged to wear “odd socks’ to celebrate our individuality!

Also, check out our Spotify Playlist! We hope everyone enjoys this important week.

It has been another busy half-term for the Transition Year pupils. Some braved the elements in the first week of January for an early-morning hike up Kilmashogue and the following week we had a TY Bake-along and made delicious chocolate cookies. We had a fascinating talk from Law Ed on the Irish legal system and Irish classes had a two-hour drama workshop which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. TY Geography classes visited Irish Aid and the EIPIC Museum in the city centre.

The highlight of the term so far was the TY Carousel Day. Pupils tried out at least three different activities throughout the day, including Barista Training, Segway Driving and Hurling or Croquet. We also had a very impressive talk and workshop from The Reptile Haven and we all had the chance to get up close and personal with tortoises, iguanas, lizards and snakes.

This week, TYs are out on their second week of work experience and some are heading off to Kolkata with The Hope Foundation and others on the South Africa Trip. We look forward to hearing about all of these experiences upon their return.

Last year, the Warden introduced a new set of awards called Musarum Comes to recognise a pupil’s contribution to the arts in the College. Awards for this year were awarded at an assembly yesterday to the following pupils:

Art: Georgia Goodbody, Ella Taylor and Isabella Treacy

Music: Harry Powell, Lauren Ng and Coco Xu

Drama: Naoise Murray & Phoebe Landseer

Debating: Cheuk Yin Wong

Congratulations to all the pupils who received these awards; each of them have made a wonderful contribution to the artistic life of the school and, in many cases, multiple disciplines.