Posted: 18th December 2017

Last week the five Australian GAP students (or Gappies), who have graced the groves of Clongowes since their arrival here in January, began to make their way back home for a bit of sunshine before embarking on the next stage of their lives at Third Level. William Hartwig, Jack Kofod, Andrew Choek, Joe Flannery and Philip Playoust (left to right above – and preparing for their close-up below…) have added much to the rich tapestry of Clongowes life over the last year and before they left Jack addressed the school on their behalf…

“Well everyone the time has finally come where we leave you strange Irish people and go back to the land down under. To say this year has gone quickly is an understatement; I still remember the first night we arrived here, everyone staring at us walking into the ref for our first dinner and people asking us to say there’s a ‘shark in the water’. And to think that all that happened over eleven months ago is crazy because it feels like yesterday. Now Clongowes does have a reputation for being a great school but one thing that you can’t get from your fancy website is the genuinely good, nice and friendly people that are here in the college.

There are some people in particular we really want to thank publicly, beginning with Mr Gray our GAP Co-coordinator: thank you for everything this year, which has been a good one for all of us. I know it is a tough job to take on five rowdy nineteen year olds straight out of school, and we thank you for that. Thank you to the Headmaster, Mr Lumb for your continued support of the GAP programme and Mr Kelly, who helped us along the way so many ways. Mr Egan always knows the right thing to say and has been a great source of humour and wisdom, not to mention refereeing tips.

Ms Goulding, you have been like a mother to all us GAPs this year away from home making sure we are always happy and without you, this year wouldn’t have been the same. To the Chief and all the kitchen staff, thank you for providing us with great meals and for your overall friendliness throughout the year as well as the extra scoop of gravy when we needed it. To all the other prefects thank you for putting up with us in the dorms where we often ended up being more of a distraction than anything else. I can’t thank everyone this morning so to anyone I have left out thank you too.

Now to you lads. Everyone talks about a GAP year being a year to travel and explore the world, live away from home and so on – but the people you meet are what makes it for us. Each of us has gotten to know each of you in a different way – be it through boarding life, coaching, overseas trips, sitting down at the concourse café or just meeting you in the corridor. So if any of you is thinking of going on a GAP year I cannot recommend it highly enough; I think I can speak for all of us when saying that this has been the best year of our lives so far.

To my fellow GAPs – what a trip it has been – without you this year would not have been nearly as enjoyable. The endless Joey’s vs Riverview arguments and the craic in the GAP flat have only added to a wonderful year. So to Twig, Cheoky, Flan and Phil thank you for an unreal year and I hope that there are many more to come. So again thank you to everyone; I think I can say on behalf of the five of us, that we have had the time of our lives over here and if you’re ever down under in God’s country then hit us up and we can show you just how much better Australia is than Ireland…

Jack Kofod

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