Successful Border Conference in ‘Blayney School
Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney hosted a conference entitled ‘The future of the Irish border and the European Union’s role’ on October 26. Twenty speakers from academia, the community sector and students presented at the event. The conference was funded by Department of Foreign Affairs ‘Communicating Europe Initiative’. It was very much a day about learning that coincided with the introduction of Politics and Society as a Leaving Certificate subject in the school.
There was a strong student presence on the day with poignant input from 6th years Anais Maguire, Caoimhe Gibbons and Ellen McMahon. Contributors examined the troubled history of the border, the situation today on the frontier and possible future scenarios. Among the speakers was Marian Harkin (former Independent MEP), Sheelagh Brady (DCU), Dr Ed Burke (University of Nottingham), Dr Peter Leary (Oxford Brookes University), Dr Ida Milne (Trinity College & Carlow College), Damian McGenity (Border Communities Against Brexit), Dr Darach MacDonald (Journalist & Author), Dr Noelle Higgins (Maynooth University), Senator Ian Marshall and Professor Katy Hayward (Queen’s University Belfast). There was an opening address by Principal Eddie Kelly and a concluding piece from Dr Gary Carville, chairman Board of Management
In attendance was an audience of 100 including community leaders, students and local and national politicians. There was some really fascinating discussions from the floor with moderators Audrey Carville (RTE), Anthony Soares, (Centre for Cross Border Studies), and Dr Gary Carville ably facilitating debates. The event received tremendous support from local elected representatives who actively engaging in these discussions.
The conference was promoted on social media with the hashtag #borderschool trending on Twitter. The national broadcaster, RTÉ, had a live one hour outside broadcast from the event. The Cormac O hEadhra Show recorded a full episode with guests including MEP Matt Carthy, Ian Marshall and Heather Humphreys. Also, Northern Sound radio conducted interviews with a range of contributors. The most emotive moment of the day was when local poet, Dr Caitríona Ni Chleirchín, delivered a new work that explored the troubled history of the border. The sensitivity of the work coupled with the author’s mastery of the Irish language gripped the audience and encapsulated the mood of the day.
Reflecting on the day, school Principal Eddie Kelly stated ‘We wanted to put on a day that was about the study of Politics and to showcase the school as a centre of learning. There was a great committee who worked hard in organising the conference and everyone is delighted with how the day went. We got great support from all the local community and other schools in the area and I’d like to thank them for that’.
Mr Kelly continued ‘I would like to thank Dr. Mulroe and the organising committee of parents, staff and students for all their hard work in making the event possible. Dr. Mulroe in particular deserves huge credit as without his vision, contacts and hard work the conference would not have been the outstanding success that it was. Dr. Mulroe is a leading academic in this area and has recently published a book on the border, he has built up a huge knowledge and expertise that he was only too willing to share with the school community and wider Castleblayney area.’ Conference Organiser Dr Patrick Mulroe echoed Mr Kelly’s comments with regard to the success of the event; ‘This conference demonstrates the huge generosity that makes Irish society so special. We had speakers who travelled hundreds of miles to generously give their time on a Bank Holiday weekend. We had an organising committee that put hour upon hour into planning the event, producing programmes, setting up the hall, coordinating PowerPoints, organising parking, and looking after refreshments in both the school and the Iontas Centre. Everyone in our school community helped out including students, staff, parents, retired staff, past pupils, school management, the board of management and trustees, CEIST. That inclusivity is what we are all about.’
Huge Success for Our Lady’s at the Cross Country Championships
Congratulations to the Our Lady’s Students who took part in the County Cross Country Championships for Post Primary Schools in Scotstown. There were six races on the day, with Our Lady’s having the winner in two races. Hazel Hughes put in a strong run to win the junior girls race, while Jason Duffy won the senior boys race. Edel Murphy put in a super performance to medal 3rd in the same race as Hazel, while Oran Smith was top 5 in a highly competitive junior boys race. Gearoid Coyle was similarly placed in the senior event. Megan Kelly had a super 2nd place in the intermediate girls race. Overall, it was a very successful event with a number of our students competing in their first cross country race. It augurs well for the District Championship in January.
Below is a brief video showing all the latest happenings in our school since the start of this new term in September. We hope you enjoy!