Posted: 2nd September 2015

Last Tuesday heralded the start of a new journey for our incoming first years. While the rain may have helped mothers (and fathers) disguise the tears it certainly didn’t dampen the wonderful atmosphere in the dorms and throughout the school. Dropping off their sons for the first time was an eclectic mix of parents, some new, some established and some who had themselves experienced a first day in Clongowes, albeit many moons ago. Eugene Ward OC’52 was on hand to see his grandson James start his part in the adventure that had begun for the Ward family generations before him.

The previous day school captain Conor Slattery and his excellent house leaders began their final year in Clongowes, where they were introduced to the new headmaster, Mr Chris Lumb. The reaction to his loyal support of Manchester United was affirmed by quite a few of the boys who could empathise with the heartbreak of recent years.

Having the ‘huge’ men from Rhetoric on hand to support and encourage the boys through their first few days was a huge help and the manner in which Elements have settled in these formative times is testament to the hard work of the house leaders.

The relaxed atmosphere in the school over the course of the first week also helped, and by the time a Barton’s double decker pulled up outside Donnybrook stadium on Friday night thoughts of home had disappeared for many of the boys as they tried to keep count of the score in a very much one sided affair between Leinster and Moseley RFC. The fact that so many of the Leinster team had themselves made the trip up the long avenue clearly resonated with a lot of the boys and every time Peadar (Timmins) and Gordon (D’Arcy) got the ball in the first half there were loud cheers from the Bective end. This only grew as the second half got underway and the fact that Fergus (McFadden) and Tadhg (Beirne) both scored right in front of the lads was a bonus. Bryan Byrne played a big part in Tadhg’s try and he almost got in under the posts himself, which would have made it a Clongowes Hat Trick.

Before the honeymoon merged into the serious business of class and study the house leaders, under the direction of Mr Egan, finished the week on a (sugar) high of roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate accompanied by a singsong. This was made possible by the wonderful Ann Cooke who already knows all of the boy’s names.

As the first ‘exeat‘ Sunday approaches many of the boys can’t quite believe how fast the first week has gone by, with so many new ideas synonymous with Clongowes (Declamation, Ref, AMDG) to learn and the geography of the school (1929 Building, Serpentine Gallery, People’s Church, Boys’ Chapel) to master, the journey still seems like a long one. However, after experiencing a week in the school it’s definitely manageable.

Mr Barry Bowen – Elements Prefect 

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