St. Leo’s College Carlow News – May 2019

180 Years of Education in St. Leo’s College

Bishop Denis Nulty celebrated 180 years of Mercy Education in the convent chapel at St. Leo’s College on Thursday May 16th  2019.

St. Leo’s College Carlow is celebrating 180 years of Mercy Education in Carlow this year. A beautiful mass took place on May 16th in the convent chapel adjacent to St. Leo’s College. Members of the Mercy congregation and the school community gathered to participate in a moving and memorable Mass of thanksgiving to mark the opening of St. Leo’s College in 1839. The mass of thanksgiving was celebrated by Bishop Denis Nulty. It was fitting that the mass was celebrated in the convent chapel because this is where the story of St. Leo’s College began on April 2nd 1839. Initially the first Mercy congregation lived in a small and unprepossessing residence to the left of the entrance to the present convent. The fledgling community was so anxious to open a “pension school” for young Catholic girls that they opened the first classroom to students before their own accommodation was completed. This marked the beginning of a long tradition of Mercy education in Carlow town.

Bishop Nulty welcomed members of the Mercy congregation as well as the principal, staff and students from St. Leo’s College. His homily paid a fulsome and comprehensive tribute to the educational legacy of the Mercy sisters. He reflected on the challenges the sisters would have faced in the Ireland of the early 1800’s and the relevance of the Mercy tradition for contemporary Ireland. During this unique liturgy the prayers of the faithful acknowledged the rich tradition of Mercy and the responsibility of the lay Management and staff to continue to bear witness to the rich heritage and philosophy of education of the school’s foundress Catherine McAuley. Bishop Nulty referenced Pope Francis who reminds us in Christus Vivit that, “roots are not anchors chaining to past times and preventing us from facing the present and creating something new. Instead, they are a fixed point from which we can grow and meet new challenges … we are sent today to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in a new age. We need to love this time with all its opportunities and risks, its joys and sorrows, its riches and its limits, its successes and failures”. He concluded his homily by encouraging those gathered to see 1839 as that fixed point, from which the Mercy story continues to unfold in St. Leo’s College.

The school’s folk group concluded this moving liturgy with a wonderful rendition of the Circle of Mercy. The group were expertly led by teachers, Aine Sheils and Aishling Byrne.

The assembled group then joined the current congregation of Mercy for a cup of tea in the convent refectory.  The spirit and charism of Catherine McAuley remains firmly embedded in St. Leo’s College. This liturgy marks the beginning of a series of events planned by St. Leo’s College to celebrate 180 years of Mercy education in Carlow.


Young Social Innovators

Congratulations to St. Leo’s College Y.S.I. team who presented their project “Crossing the Line” as one of 31 Y.S.I. teams shortlisted from across the country to present projects on a wide range of social issues at the Young Social Innovators Awards in Croke Park on Wednesday 15th May.

The shortlisted teams made their final pitches to judging panels at the event, having come through a rigorous selection process of more than 370 entries.

The Crossing the Line project was shortlisted as one of three projects in the Sexual Health and Relationships category. The Young Social Innovators of the year 2019 were selected from this category; Bush Post Primary School, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

The St. Leo’s Y.S.I. team outlined the various activities they undertook to raise awareness of the meaning of consent among their peers and their efforts to campaign for changes in how victims of sexual assault and rape are treated in the Irish courts to a panel of judges at the Y.S.I. Awards. They spoke eloquently about the support they received from the staff of Carlow and South Leinster Rape Crisis Centre, Garda Elaine Rowe, solicitor Mary Morrissey and Minister Charlie Flanagan in progressing the goals of their project.

They outlined the work they have done to date in St. Leo’s College which includes  the production of a short film on speaking up and speaking out about consent and sexual assault, a poster campaign, a PowerPoint Presentation which was given during the Purple Day event for all Transition Year students and the meeting with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

More than six thousand teenagers from all over Ireland took part in Young Social Innovators this year, creating and implementing innovative solutions to social issues facing communities and wider society. Some 600 teenagers from more than 30 second level schools around the country gathered at Croke Park on May 15th, 2019 for this year’s awards ceremony and celebration.

The St. Leo’s Y.S.I. team were delighted to be part of the celebration of social innovation and experience the creativity and innovation of so many other young social innovators from across Ireland. They would like to thank all who have supported them in any way with their project thus far and the Young Social Innovators Organisation for a memorable day in Croke Park at the Y.S.I. Awards 2019

St. Leo’s College Y.S.I. team at the Young Social Innovators Awards 2019 in Croke Park on Wednesday 15th

YSI #SpeakOut at the Lyrath Hotel


Salter’s Chemistry Festival:

Sarah O’Gorman, Sahara Akter, Ava Dunphy and Aisling O’Gorman attended the Salters festival of Chemistry at Trinity College on Saturday 18th of May.


Enrichment Programme:


Members of the 2018-2019 TY Enrichment Programme St. Leo’s College, who attended “Carlow Volunteer Centre’s Thank You” coffee morning in the Seven Oaks Hotel.


Leinster Schools Athletics

Inter girls 4x100m relay who gold at the Leinster Schools Athletics Championships

Congratulations to all our athletes who competed so successfully at the Schools Leinster Athletics Championships in Santry, on Wednesday May 15th. The team not only brought home a great haul of medals but also were awarded a shield for the best school in the Minor Girl’s category at South Leinster’s.

Amongst the medal winners were:

  • Sophie Myers, 1st Year – 2nd in the Minor Girls 75m Hurdles and 3rd in the Long Jump
  • Niamh Graham, 1st Year – 6th in Junior Discus and 7th in Shot Putt
  • Audrey Byrne, 1st Year – 10th in 1,100m
  • Aoibhinn Doyle, 1st Year – 8th in 500m
  • Seoighe English 2nd Year – 2nd in High Jump
  • Elsa Doyle, 3rd Year – 3rd in U16 Mile
  • Ciara Moore 3rd Year – 2nd in Shot Putt
  • Sarah Graham 4th Year – 3rd in Discus and 4th in Triple Jump
  • Sarah Doyle 5th  Year – 3rd in 800m
  • Dami Adesina 5th Year – 2nd in 100m
  • Intermediate Girls’ 4x100m Relay of Lily and Lan Gaffney, Ciara Moore and Dami Adesina won gold!

Well done to all competitors and best wishes to those who have qualified through to the All-Ireland finals.


Awards Day St. Leo’s College Carlow

Winner of Student of the Year Award Khawla Yousif with her mother Manal Gabir and Principal of St. Leos’ College Clare Ryan

St. Leo’s College celebrated the achievements of all students over the last school year on Friday the 24th of May. The awards day ceremony acknowledged the tremendous achievements of the girls across the whole spectrum of the school community. Awards Day recognizes that the school’s pursuit of excellence is not just confined to academic achievement but also encompasses a whole range of extracurricular activities that makes for a rounded and balanced education.

The ceremony was punctuated by a variety of musical performances from the school’s trad group and newly formed gospel choir. There were also some magnificent solo performances.

The awards ceremony lasted for over two and a half hours with presentations being made to students who had achieved excellence in the arenas of sport, music, science, languages, art, mathematics, public speaking, film studies, drama, politics, social justice, the environment and volunteerism. A number of students were awarded academic scholarships in recognition of their academic excellence.

Five of the most prestigious awards were presented by Ms. Clare Ryan, principal in the closing part of the ceremony:

St. Leo’s College Legacy Award was presented to Anna Keogh from third year in recognition of her consistent kindness and caring of others.

Julia Kazimierovska from sixth year received the CEIST Leadership Award. This award reflects Julia’s strong leadership skills, her generosity of time and talent and her humility.

The Sports Student of the year was presented to Louise Colgan for her involvement in school sport throughout her six years in St. Leo’s College. She was a successful member of the school’s Athletics Team throughout her junior years and a stalwart of the Senior Hockey team at Senior Cycle. She was a member of the team that won both cup and league titles for the past three years. As a Transition Year student Louise coached many junior teams. Ms. Ryan paid a fulsome tribute to her commitment to sport in the school.

The Catherine McAuley Medal was presented to Hannah Keogh sixth year. This award was presented to this popular recipient in recognition of her consistent kindness and empathy for others. The Catherine McAuley Medal is always presented to a student who embodies the characteristic spirit of the school’s foundress. Indeed Hannah was praised for her participation in all aspects of school life and her dependability and strong sense of justice.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Student of the Year trophy to Sixth Year, Khawla Yousif. To rapturous applause from her fellow students, Khawla was recognised for her potential for greatness, her consistency in her studies and her commitment to every aspect of school life both curricular and extra- curricular. Khawla was joined on stage by her proud mother, Manil Gabir. Paying a comprehensive tribute to this very worthy student of the year, Ms. Ryan recalled that “Since her first days in St. Leo’s College this student has approached her journey of learning, growing and developing with quiet determination. She has consistently challenged herself and others in the setting of the highest of standards and embraced the wonderful opportunities St. Leo’s College offers to excel both in the academic and non-academic fields.” She concluded by saying that Khawla was an exemplary student and some of her defining characteristics included her deep commitment to her faith, her passion for human rights, social justice and global development. This student of the year is a young woman who has a lot to offer society in the future and is a wonderful ambassador for her family, St. Leo’s College and her country of origin. Congratulations Khawla!

Anna Keogh winner of the St. Leo’s College Legacy Award

Hannah Keogh Sixth Year winner of the 2019 Catherine McAuley Medal St. Leo’s College

Julia Kazimierowska Sixth Year winner of the CEIST Leadership Award

Louise Colgan Sixth Year winner of Sports Person of the Year Award

Ms. Clare Ryan Principal of St. Leo’s College with Student of the Year Khawla Yousif


Graduation Mass 2019 St. Leo’s College Carlow

There was a beautiful Graduation mass for Sixth Years and their parents at the Cathedral of the Assumption on Tuesday evening the 21st May. The ceremony was celebrated by the school’s chaplain, Fr. Brian Maguire who welcomed the congregation to the celebration and complimented the graduation class on their choice of theme “a new Chapter”. Fr. Brian’s homily reflected on his own missionary experience and Luke’s gospel where Christ reminds his disciples not to worry. Those listening were reminded that life was full of infinite possibilities for personal renewal and new beginnings. Freed from the past it is safe for us to grow!

Sixth Year students took responsibility for coordinating the liturgy under the watchful eye of the R. E. team. At the conclusion of the liturgy Ms. Clare Ryan, Principal, spoke to the congregation remarking that the evening was an emotional time for parents. She reminded the students that they were on the cusp of a new period in their lives and encouraged them to be the best that they can be where ever they found themselves in the future. Ms. Ryan thanked the religion department for their meticulous preparations for the evening and especially thanked teachers, Aine Sheils and Aishling Byrne who organised the music for the occasion. Before the congregation left the cathedral, the class of 2019 were presented with a commemorative gift. Everyone was then invited back to the school for refreshments in the school refectory. This was a wonderful opportunity for students, parents and teachers to chat together. After twenty minutes the refectory bell signalled for everyone gathered to proceed to the school gym. Hannah Keogh from sixth year played the Uileann pipes as parents, students and teachers filed in. A wonderful hour of entertainment followed. The sixth years sang along to their favourite Kodaline song and nostalgically watched a video of their school life over the last six years. Deputy Principal Ms. Imelda Whelan spoke about the school’s 180 year anniversary, acknowledging the vast number of young woman who have graduated from St. Leo’s College over these 180 years. She also spoke about both the pride and the characteristic values of being a Mercy girl.

The class presented beautiful bouquets of flowers and gifts of jewellery to Ms. Ryan and to each of her management team. Year Heads, Ms. Ruth McHugh and Ms. Angela Kirwan each received a bouquet of flowers. The sixth years also presented Ms. Mannion and Ms. Scully with bouquets of flowers in recognition of their assistance with the debs committee. Finally Head Girl Jessica Byrne delivered a valedictory speech where she recalled the last six years of their lives in St. Leo’s College. She quoted C.S. Lewis and commented on how from day to day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different. Food for thought indeed. Go n’éirí an t-ádh lib go léir.


Sixth Year Pilgrimage 

On Friday 3rd May all Leaving Certificate students took part in their annual pilgrimage in advance of their graduation Mass. The group of 128 students walked along the Barrow Way stopping periodically to reflect as they walked towards St. Lazerian’s Holy Well. It was both a glorious and poignant day for students and teachers alike. The group were delighted to have their Year Head Ms. Ruth McHugh lead the pilgrimage which was initiated by our former Chaplain Fr. John Cummins over fourteen years ago. When the pilgrimage group arrived at St. Lazarian’s Holy well the group took time to reflect on how Fr. John had inspired this significant day in the school’s calendar year.


Transition Year Tour

72 Transition Year students and 8 teachers travelled to Italy during the Easter break during which they visited Milan, Veronia, Venice, Gardaland, Monte Baldo in Malcesine, Lake Garda and Sermione. While they were greeted with rain in Milan, this was not to dampen spirits and the sun soon shone on their journey to Verona where they visited Juliet’s Balcony in search of their Romeo.

Monday was spent in Venice learning about the wonderful architecture and history of this beautiful city. Some of the girls journeyed through the city by Gondola while others enjoyed the many sites, shops and wonderful ice cream on offer.

On Tuesday, both the girls and teachers enjoyed the many thrills that Gardaland had to offer with many reaching new heights on the Tornado and Oblivion while others were happy to take to the Colorodo Boat and the Mono-Rail.

On the final day, a trip in the Cable Car to the top of Monte Baldo surpassed all heights reached in Gardaland. The girls captured the wonderful views of the snow covered mountain top and Lake Garda. This was followed by a boat trip across Lake Garda to visit the beautiful town of Sermione. The students were just incredible and it was a truly wonderful experience for all who travelled. Fantastico e grazie Italia!


French Trip 

Students from St. Leo’s College assembled in front of the Sacre Coeur the day before the devastating fire that destroyed this iconic landmark. 

In the early hours of Saturday morning April 13th, sixty nine girls and eight teachers from St. Leo’s College took to the skies to embark on an exciting four day tour of Paris. And what an adventure they had! Their tour began which a guided tour of this iconic city with stops at the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadero, shopping on the Champs Elysees and of course a wonderful cruise along the river Seine. There is surely no better way to view the wonderful Louvre, the famous Pont Neuf and of course the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la cite than from a boat in the sunshine. Day two, being Palm Sunday, began with a visit to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. What special memories the group will always treasure of their morning together in that beautiful Cathedral on the day before the fire which destroyed its roof, spire and many treasures. From Notre Dame the group continued onto Versailles for a guided tour of the Palace. In beautiful sunshine they wandered through the vast grounds and imagined themselves in a different era. The hall of mirrors was of course a highlight for so many. Later that day saw shopping in Montmartre, with snails and frog’s legs being sampled at the foot of Sacre Coeur and many Macarons and Souvenirs being purchased for those at home! Day 3 was a jam-packed day of fun in Disneyland Paris. There was great fun and lots of laughter with students trying out as many attractions as possible in the theme park. Our intrepid travellers managed to capture several photos with all the core Disney characters and later again at the amazing Disney Illuminations show of fireworks, music and lights. The group was particularly delighted that one of our students, Molly Zinn Collis was performing in a spectacular show in Videopolis and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Day four began with a swim and then on to view the damage to Notre Dame en route to the Eiffel Tower. A climb up the iconic landmark stretched the legs and tested the heads for heights. From the Eiffel Tower it was back to the Champs Elysees for some last minute purchases before heading home. What an amazing experience this trip was, with unique activities and such lovely memories for all to treasure.


Wellbeing Week 

The staff and students of St. Leo’s College joined together in a wonderful collaboration to celebrate Wellbeing Week. Each day of Wellbeing Week is themed around one of the Five ways to Wellbeing. With the guidance of P.E. teacher Ms. Fiona Farrell the school committed to a programme of events which embraced the five steps to help improve our wellbeing. These five steps include; giving, Learning, Being Active, Taking Notice and Connecting with others. The week commenced with a drop Everything and Dance initiative on Monday morning and concluded on Friday last with a 5Km Fun Run. Staff and students all made the effort to get out to walk or run a mile every lunchtime. One of the highlights for the Staff was a beautiful lunch in the school Staffroom. There was a mouth- watering array of food on display with each staff member bringing along their signature dish to share with colleagues. This lunch could not have happened without the strong organisation skills of Ms. Veronica Doyle. The week was an unqualified success in terms of getting everyone out of the school building at lunchtime but most importantly, it reminded everyone in our school community about the importance of spending time with others through enjoyable leisure activities. Making connections in this way can go a long way to building strong relationships with others in our school or work environment. Most significantly our Week of Wellbeing served to build a strong sense of belonging amongst Staff and Students. This was very evident during the Whole School fun last Friday. This was a wonderful and positive way for the whole school to conclude Wellbeing Week in-the-midst of a very frenetic term. Thank you to everyone who participated in any way this week but most particularly to the PE Department for their meticulous preparations.