Mount Mercy College, Cork News Snippets!

The following is an account of a recent trip by students and teacher to South Africa as part of their volunteering work with the Niall Mellown Township Trust. At the end of the page are photos from other events within the school.

We began Transition Year knowing we will be taking part in the greatly anticipated Y.S.I competition. We pondered over various issues we were concerned about but eventually decided on poverty in third world countries.

We researched many different charities involved in volunteering abroad but finally decided on the Niall Mellon charity who organise a Building Blitz every year in South Africa. We contacted Eimear Murphy who gave us invaluable help and advice through-out the year. We set out with the difficult task of raising over €22,000.

We put up a fundraising chart on our wall and made a real life shack and put it on display in our school. We had various fundraisers such as cake-sales, teacher baby photo competition, table quizes, non-Uniform days, coffee mornings, take-me-out night, bag-packing, sponsored swims, door-to-door collecting, raffles and many many more. 

After a difficult but worthwhile 6 months of fundraising, we prepared ourselves for the interviews to gain a place on the Blitz. There were only 4 places available for students. Our teacher Alex Savage would be accompanying us on the trip. After a long interview the four places were awarded to Niamh O’Shea, Aoife Brady, Grace Kelleher and Eimear O’Callaghan. We had a further €1,800 to raise each over the summer to reach our fundraising target.

November came fast as we prepared ourselves for a week that we knew would be a life changing experience. We gathered in Cork airport and headed off on our flight to Heathrow and then our connecting flight to Cape Town. We arrived in Cape Town and each one of the Niall Mellon volunteers was greeted personally by Niall Mellon himself.

We exited the baggage area only to be greeted by a group of local people singing with banners, posters and signs that welcomed the new Irish volunteers. On the bus we saw our first glimpse of the stark difference between the wealth of Cape Town and the township life in the shacks.

That day we went to the site and listened to an inspirational speech made by Niall Mellon. We were then brought to our team house and welcomed by our team and the team leaders.

The following day we arrived on site at 7:45 and were allocated our jobs for the day. We were slightly apprehensive about the work we would be doing as we were unskilled, but everyone on site helped, encouraged and supported us throughout the week.

We never felt we were a burden and we always felt we were contributing and making a real difference. Aoife was involved in drilling on doors on hinges while Niamh was involved in plumbing assembling taps and baths. Eimear was involved in Plastering for the entire week as she had a flare for “floating” and labouring for the plasterers. Grace was involved in painting and enjoyed the comrade antics with the other painters.

We took part in shack tour on the first day for half an hour. Here, we witnessed firsthand the inhumane conditions of the shack people have been living in for over 15 years. It was truly remarkable the hardships these people endure daily. We worked hard with our fellow volunteers for the week for 9 hours daily in temperatures reaching 35 degrees. We were given the opportunity to visit a local Creche and play with the children.

It was devastating to know that the majority of these children suffered from HIV. It was hard to comprehend how we can complain about anything back home when you look at these people and see how they cope even though they have nothing. 

We all participated in a group task of tiling a roof which was one of the most difficult challenges we faced while on site. With the high temperatures and the work load conditions were difficult but we were lucky to have our team mates to help us through.

The week wouldn’t have been the same without the people we were working with and the friendships we made.

Every person on our team had a good heart and they were all genuine people who worked hard and supported each other through the emotional week.

One of the foremen, Mary, decided to paint the Mount Mercy crest on one of the houses. Eimear along with the other plasterers had plastered the house the day before, Niamh had plumbed inside, Aoife helped the carpenters hang the doors, Grace sanded and painted the doors and Alex painted the interior of the house.

We e-mailed the school to get a copy of the crest and organised for a volunteer who was particularly good at painting to draw on the crest.

We were very proud of our Mount Mercy house as we were all involved in the building and completion of it. We knew this house will be here for years to come and it would signify our hard work and the other volunteers’ hard work, not just during the week building houses, but throughout the year of fundraising as well.

Overall, it was an experience we will keep with us for the rest of our lives. The volunteers, the locals, the Niall Mellon charity all made it a journey that changed our lives, and the shack dwellers life forever. It truly was “building more than houses”.










Pictured above 5th Year students of Mount Mercy College Grace Kelleher, Niamh O'Shea, Eimear O'Callaghan and Aoife Brady with their teacher Ms. Alex Savage who travelled to South Africa on Nov 12th to build houses for the Niall Mellon Township Trust.

Click here to view article on the students work published on the Young Social Innovators Website.

Other News and Photos











Group picture of Mount Mercy College Díograis Awards including, Sr. Patricia Walsh, Board of Management, Padraigín Uí Riordáin, Principal, Chief Executive Officer, CEIST, Ms. Anne Kelleher, Ms. Siobhan Lankford, Barrister and former pupil of Mount Mercy College, Mr. Michael Redmond, Research and Development Officer, JMB and Ms. Ellen Van Walleghem, Deputy Principal pictured with two retirees Ms. Noirin Barry-Waugh and Ms. Maureen Ahern.











Mount Mercy College Recipients at the Diograis Awards, pictured with Ms. Ellen Van Wallegham, DP, Ms Anne Kelleher, CEO CEIST, Mr. Michael Redmond, JMB, Ms. Siobhan Lankford, former pupil and Padraigín Uí Riordáin, Principal.











Mount Mercy College Recipients at the Diograis Awards, pictured with Padraigín Uí Riordáin, Principal, Ms. Siobhan Lankford, former pupil, Sr. Patricia Walsh, Board of Management, Mr. Michael Redmond, JMB, Ms. Anne Kelleher, CEIST, Ms. Brid Higgisson, Chairperson Parents Association and Mr. Donal O’Connor, NEWB.











Staff of Mount Mercy College at CEIST “Finding space for the Spirit in a busy world” Seminar, Ms. Ellen Van Walleghem, Deputy Principal, Ms. Vanessa O’Neill, Ms. Karina O’Mahony, Staff MMC, Padraigín Uí Riordáin, Principal, Ms. Amalee Meehan, Faiths Development Officer, CEIST, Ms. Mary Horan, Staff MMC, Ms. Margaret Bermingham , Staff MMC and Ms. Therese Culligan, Staff MMC.