Past v Present Debate - Clongowes Wood College

Posted: 26th November 2014

Past pupils, parents, staff and guests attended the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Debate in the new Music Performing Centre on the evening of Friday 7th November 2014. This special bicentenary celebration of debating in Clongowes was contested by two teams each comprised of two O.C.s and two present pupils. Chairing the debate was Mr. John Bruton (Former Taoiseach, 1994-1997).

The motion was a particularly relevant and challenging one: This House believes that a Jesuit Education is more relevant today than it was in 1814”.  Defending the motion were Matthew Gibbons, James Lochrin (O.C. ’08), Sam Powell and their captain William Courtney (O.C. ’08). Matthew Dundon captained the opposition which consisted of Peter Griffin (O.C. ’87), Louis Gunning and Geoff Kenny (O.C.’ 87).


William Courtney got things under way with a rousing speech, providing the appreciative floor with great arguments and also a welcome display of rhetorical humour. Matthew Dundon managed the tricky task of vigorously opposing the government’s opening gambit with a fantastic speech which was reinforced by his teammates.

The time flew and, before we knew it, the captains were summing up their teams’ arguments. In the opinion of the present reviewer, this was where the debate was won and lost. William Courtney’s lively torrent of rebuttal won the hearts of the audience and ultimately carried the motion for the government. In addition he was awarded best speaker of the O.C.s and Matthew Dundon won the corresponding award for the present pupils.


The evening provided a fantastic display of courage and confidence which entertained all present. Mr. Bruton also took a straw poll, which revealed that the floor agreed with the adjudicators and had been similarly convinced that a Jesuit Education is more relevant today than it was in 1814. Appropriately, in our bicentenary year, the event proved to be a coup for the aeterna non caduca

View footage of the event here

Barry Murphy, Poetry

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