Last Friday, the school community convened in the Boys Chapel to mark the beginning of the bicentenary year in the life of Clongowes. There was a palpable buzz in the air as Fr. Moloney SJ formally welcomed the 200th class in the school’s history. In the course of his remarks he brought us back to the arrival of the first pupil James McLornan as he set out on his Clongowes journey in 1814. While much has changed since that time, the essence of a Clongowes education remains the same.
Although distinctly foreign to Rhetoric 2019, behind the Headmaster sat many similar faces amongst the staffing contingent. There were one or two notable absentees however – namely, Mr. Martin Nugent and Mr. Tony Pierce, mainstays of the Clongowes classroom for many, many years. But Clongowes is not a static institution and new members of staff embody the continuing growth of the school. A warm welcome was extended to the incoming Fr. Jim Culliton SJ (Asst. Prefect to Lower Line), Ms. Anna Cooper (Library), Mr. Adam Conry (Latin & English), Ms. Ann-Marie Dolan (Ethos Dept.) and Ms. Alexis Fox (Learning Support), while Mr. Martin Wallace was formally introduced as the new Assistant Headmaster.
When the academic term draws to a close, the doors of Clongowes remain open. The Headmaster noted and praised all that happened in the school during the summer months, particularly the work of the school support staff in catering for the constant stream of visiting guests. Perhaps most noticeably, the school has undergone significant aesthetic changes in that time and Fr. Moloney commended the vision of Helene Broderick (mother of Pierce Hickey, Rhetoric) in reviving the concourse.
In recent weeks Rhetoric 2012 received their Leaving Certificate results and duly set the bar high for their successors. The Headmaster acknowledged their legacy before handing the baton over to the School Captain, Peter Stapleton for the coming year. Peter addressed the school and urged his peers to lay down their own marker for the year ahead. In what was a simple nod to the past but a clear indication that Rhetoric 2014 intend to seize their final year, Peter said: “the school is now ours.”
Finally, Fr. Moloney returned to the lectern for an important announcement. He commenced with a quote from his favourite poet, Mary Oliver:
‘Every day now, as Percy grows
Into the beauty of his life, we touch
His wild, curly head and say,
“Oh, wisest of little dogs.’
A hush descended upon the chapel once again as the boys moved to the edge of their seats in anticipation of such significant news. With a bark, Trampas, a Golden Labrador, emerged. Elements were not the only ones beginning their Clongowes adventure it seems…