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Welcome to our Summer 2020 E-Síol

We are heading towards the end of May and what for many of you would be the end of another school year and for some, the 'exam season'. But as we all know, this is no ordinary year. None of us - young or old would have envisaged that remote classes, on-line assignments and zoom calls would become our new normal.

Covid-19 has also initiated another new normal. While you have been forced to keep separate to stay safe, you have also come together to reach into your communities in an amazing number of ways. I know that many of you are volunteering in your towns to check in on or bring shopping to older people. You have started fundraising campaigns to support frontline workers and local charities. Still more of you are doing things like making masks or delivering hampers. This is fantastic work and is building caring communities throughout the country. It is this sense of togetherness that will bring us through this pandemic and will make our future a brighter place. Maith sibh go léir!

Gerry Bennett

Edmund Rice Feast Day 2020

We are grateful to the many schools that submitted short videos for our Blessed Edmund Rice Feast Day on May 5th. The compilation of these videos is available on our website at and also on the website for Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders website here 

A number of videos were submitted by schools after the video was compiled. These will be added to the compilation on our website in the coming weeks.

EREBB Global Education Response

There are currently 1.5 billion (91%) young people out of school globally due to COVID-19. As borders around the world go up due to this pandemic, EREBB aims to bring them down (safely) through global education and connection. As a worldwide community EREBB is committed to supporting teachers and parents to provide a quality education for all students during these challenging times. The website, is available to all schools across the world to support you.

Teachers, students and families are encouraged to visit the site and make connections with people in Edmund Rice schools around the globe.

Edmund Rice Schools Help Frontline Workers during Coronavirus Crisis

Donation of Personal Protective Equipment by Ardscoil na Mara

Ardscoil Na Mara was delighted to do their small bit in the nation’s fight against the Corona Virus. On the 30th March the school donated Personal Protective Equipment to their local hospital, Waterford University Hospital.

The equipment, which included gloves, visors and goggles, was for their three new Science Labs that are near completion as part of their school extension.

The school was keenly aware that they have many parents fighting on the Frontline in the hospital and other healthcare sectors and wanted to help them in their work. Past pupil, Brendan McCann who is Service Lead in the Emergency Department in UHW was delighted to receive the donation.

For Ardscoil na Mara it was another way to look outside the school's window and see how they could reach out, as Blessed Edmund would, and help those who are in need in their community. Often it is these simple actions that bring the charter alive in the here and now. #allinthistogether.

Face Shields Production at High School Clonmel

A former student of the High School currently working with Benchspace in Cork to produce PPEs for Health care workers. She had heard from her son that the school had recently invested in a 3d printer and laser cutter for the Technology Department and wondered if we would be interested in helping in the fight against Covid 19. The Principal immediately contacted Chris Allen (Head of Technology- High School) and by Saturday morning he had been in contact with Benchspace and began production.

A week later the production team of Chris Allen, Sean Parkinson & Brian Phelan produced 350 shields and other staff of the school delivered them to a variety of healthcare settings in the Clonmel area.

The school has the material to produce up to another 800 if needed.

This process has only been possible due to the purchase of both the 3D printer and Laser cutter prior to Christmas; a decision the Board of Management approved for the benefit of the High School students.

Following some research we sourced a laser cutter file designed by Georgia Tech in America and on Tuesday 31st March, Brian and Sean started running test pieces. We found that the designed worked really well and best of all the laser cutter could produce 40 units per hour.

The visor is made from A4 Acetate sheets which Sean sourced from Cashel office supplies. We used up all stock in school by Thursday having produced 250 units and in conjunction with other staff members we contacted and then delivered units to Clonmel hospital, local nursing homes and health care facilities. There was a huge sense of gratitude from the people in charge of these facilities.

Tony Murray a former student and currently working in the Ambulance service contacted us when he heard what we were doing requesting some units so as to test them out. The feedback he provided has confirmed we have a very good product that will provide an extra layer of personal protection for our frontline workers during these challenging times.

On Friday we purchased new stock and now have the material to make 800 more units of which 100 were produced on Saturday 4th April. Staff members delivered these to 3 nursing homes on the following Monday.

CBS Charleville supporting the frontline during Covid 19.

When An Taoiseach announced on March 12th 2020 that schools would close for an initial 2 week period in response to the growing Covid 19 pandemic, there was a sense of uncertainty that permeated schools everywhere. CBS Charleville was in this same position. The priority on that day was ensuring students and staff were equipped with what they needed to work remotely from home. The development of Google Classroom over the previous 2 year period meant that the business end of things was set up for teachers and students. But what of the day – to –day human interaction, relationships and community that schools are founded on? This would prove a different challenge...and one that teachers answered with Zoom classes, video lessons and Google Meet. Year Heads met with management in this way, the Additional Educational Needs support team met. 

However, as the figures rose and national concerns rose in the fight against Covid 19, there was still more we could do.

Leading the charge in this regard is Mr Barry McGill, Construction/Woodwork Subject Department Coordinator in CBS Charleville.

As the national concerns about lack of PPE grew and was reported on daily in the national media, Barry saw that CBS Charleville had something to offer. He quietly set about producing face shields using stocks of acrylic plastic available in the school. His design based on a face shield which had veen desgined initially by Georgia Tech, a technology focused college in Atlanta. The acrylic face shield allows the user to regularly replace shields, to add to Infection Control Practices. An initial sample of the face shields was given to the HSE in Limerick for review and testing. Barry worked with school management in sending the word out that we had the capacity to make more if funding or materials were available through local businesses. In comes the support of Charleville Chamber of Commerce and this becomes truly a community endeavour in the spirit of Blessed Edmund Rice. With Charleville Chamber supporting the search for materials and funds and word spreading through the power of social media local support was activated. Kerry Foods Kilmallock Rd; The Oriel and Office Assist Main Street; EM3 Energy Solutions Charleville Town Centre; Flow Technology and Response Engineering/Ward and Burke Railway Road, got on board. Charleville Lions club have also come on board. Their substantial financial support has allowed this endeavour to continue. Materials have been ordered and delivered and further production is underway. Zurich Insurance Ireland are also working closely with the school through Anne McLoughlin and supporting us in providing materials to be used in local nursing home facilities in our area. Further pledges of support are still coming in and we look forward to thanking all of those involved for their commitment to this worthwhile project.

Further deliveries took place on Saturday 11th April to St Gobnaits Nursing Home Ballyagran, St Martha’s Nursing Home Charleville, Beech Lodge Bruree, St Joseph’s Foundation, Church View Retirement Village Support Staff, and vulnerable members of our community with ongoing nursing care.

We are very proud of the work undertaken by Mr McGill and the support from Ms Sinead Costello in linking in with services in our local community and arranging deliveries.

Production continued right through the Easter break and into April allowing for supplies to be issued to nursing homes in Churchtown Co Cork, New Castle West and Askeaton Co Limerick, Solas Children’s Services, Croom Hospital.

In these uncertain times one thing has remained constant for our community – together we are stronger. CBS Charleville is delighted to be in a position to support the frontline workers who are caring for those with Covid 19 or vulnerable to its devastating symptoms.

Ní neart go cur le chéile. Follow us on Twitter @CBSCharleville and Facebook

Rice College Bus In Action

SCHOOLS may be closed, but the wheels on the bus of one Ennis secondary school are continuing to go round in support of the local community.
Students at Rice College are carrying out their studies at home as efforts to control Covid-19 continue across the country. And while the youngsters are hitting the books from the safety of home, the school’s mini-bus is being put to good use.
The school has begun a Community Reach Out, using the bus to provide support for the elderly and vulnerable. Principal Louis Mulqueen and Deputy Principal John Burns explain, “Thankfully all of our students are engaged in Remote Learning and we continue to support parents and teachers in ensuring ongoing teaching and learning as we navigate our way during this difficult time. Teachers are doing phenomenal work in this new educational landscape.However Management at Rice College are anxious to do what we can to assist our community in this very difficult time in other practical ways.
“As restrictions tighten some elderly and vulnerable people may feel trapped and alone. We have our own minibus and are offering to collect prescriptions, food and other essentials. If a person needs to go to a shop, post office or visit their GP we can also help.”
The service was only launched in recent days and is already proving popular. “Since our offer went out on Facebook last week we have been getting a steady stream of calls. As demand rises we will put a schedule of “Pick Up and Drop Offs” and get to anyone who contacts us.”
They confirmed that strict social distancing protocols will apply and that Ennis Gardai have been engaged with.

Community Outreach by Senior Management at Rice College Ennis.

In 1802 when Edmund Rice had decided to move away from a very successful business career for a life dedicated to prayer and devotion he was moved by the plight of the poor in Waterford.

With encouragement of the sister of Thomas Hussey, the then Bishop of Waterford, Rice focused the rest of his life to the education and care of marginalised youth.

His legacy and history are now well documented and Rice has been recognised as an educationalist well ahead of his time.

His was a holistic vision. Education could only be successful if it went to the margins of society and alleviated the bigger issues of poverty, exclusion and social isolationism. You can’t effectively teach a hungry child.

Edmund Rice schools today have never forgotten this legacy. Our students and staff reach out to the whole community.

From visiting care homes, to co-teaching in schools for Special Needs children, bag packing, Christmas food drives and countless more practical responses to need, we, today in Rice schools continue to embody the charism of Edmund Rice.

The recent campaign against Direct Provision Centres by Edmund Rice Schools with the encouragement of ERST is having a profound impact and has helped to change the lives of those most affected.

Now in Pandemic shut down since March 12th 2020 Rice College Ennis continues to enact the spirit of Edmund Rice…..moving to the margins.

Our teachers are immersed in Remote Teaching and Learning keeping a special focus on students with special needs and those who need practical support with the technology needed to make this new learning experience a reality. Career Guidance and Pastoral Care still feature in our Remote Teaching Model.

Our students, always brimming with that positive energy which makes teaching so fulfilling, have done numerous challenges directed by Ms. Lorna Bourke. She has sent on videos which speak themselves. Lots of money and resources have been raised.

Once the Remote Learning had been established Louis Mulqueen, Principal and myself asked ourselves what could we do to serve the community as a school with has a mandate to reach out.

We fixed on the emerging needs as the lockdown became more limiting especially for those asked to cocoon.

Working in conjunction with Ennis Garda Station we decided to reach out to people in isolation who needed to:

  • Visit the shop or doctor.
  • Go to the pharmacy.
  • Get shopping or medication.

Louis and I both have D1 driving licenses so we loaded the Rice College Minibus with hand gel, water, gloves and other essentials. We took to local media, The Clare Champion and to the social media platforms to offer this service to our community.

A dedicated mobile number has been given out.

We are delighted to continue offering this service to our community throughout this difficult time in Irish society.

Stories from our Schools
St. Aidan's CBS

Young Entrepeneurs, St. Aidan’s Transition Year students, Max Bennett and Patrick Moran won the Dublin City Student Enterprise Awards in City Hall. Their company called Bee Dynamite competed against twenty one other schools. They were due to represent Dublin City at the All-Ireland Student Enterprise Awards in Croke Park on May 1st.

The company produces, markets and sells flower bombs. This product is made using 100% wildflower seeds. The aim of the company is to encourage people to plant flower bombs in their gardens so the bees can pollinate the plants.

The company recently featured on Diarmuid Gavin’s live Instagram programme and has gained a lot of admirers such as Cassie Stokes the TV personality. On the first weekend of “Lockdown” The Sunday Business Post featured an article praising the students’ business initiative.

The product is available in six stores in Dublin and Wicklow and orders can be made online through Bee Dynamite’s Instagram page.

St Aidan's Basketballers are Silver Medallists

As a school community we united in congratulating our fantastic under-16 basketball players and coaches on their terrific achievement in reaching the All-Ireland final against Castletroy on the 26th February. It is a huge achievement to reach such levels and an indication of the efforts of all involved. It's worth remembering that they ran close a very strong team which had pretty much obliterated every other team they had played. So well done on that terrific performance.

On the day, team members were: Dakota Callally, Sam Cummins, David Fanning, Aidan Geraghty, Callum Keogh, Jerard Laureta, Thomas McGorry, Darragh McGowran, Jack Moore, Sean O'Reilly, Paul Ryan and Gabriel Tang who all played an amazing game.

Our Principal, who attended the match, said that the team gave everything they had to the game and it was a great occasion even without the win. Everything that happened as they left school that morning was a credit to all our school community. He thanked Ms. Melbourne, Ms. O Brien and Ms. Peoples for all their efforts in helping the team achieve so much.

The supporters were a credit to the school on the day, respectful at the right times and loud at the right times. At the end of the game while the winners were having their photograph taken our players came to the side to thank their supporters. It was a moving image that summarised what the school is all about. That dignity, respect and support for each other is part of what we are as a school, contributed to by us all. Well done to all involved.

St. Aidan's Immersion Experience

Immersion 2019: No Stone Unturned

Every second year, the seniors of St. Aidan’s CBS, Dublin 9, embark on the life-changing and mind-opening experience that is the Tanzania Immersion Project. Undoubtedly this year was no different, with 13 students and four teachers undertaking the journey on Friday 25th October. This was the sixth edition of this trip.

We had heard the stories, the highs the lows, the general gist of what to expect. We had formed preconceptions, assumptions and to a degree, stereotypes of what we had been told. The expectation that it enhances your gratitude for life in Ireland,that you will hastily bear the brunt of culture shock, and by the end of it you won’t be afraid to shed a few tears. And until we landed in Kilimanjaro, nestled in the heartlands of the East African savannah, we took these preconceptions, assumptions and stereotypes as fact. But as soon as we proceeded through the bustling urbania of Arusha, this had all changed.

And this didn’t take long. A brisk walk around the city the first Saturday proved to us that we were truly in unchartered territory. On pathways of mud and rainwater, we ventured through the local thoroughfare, abundant with bustling, vibrant marketplaces. The bright, effervescent colours of the fresh fruit, vegetables and meat was reflected in the people that sold them. Sauntering around the markets taught us a valuable lesson about the culture of Tanzania, that although superficially different, on a personal level, they were as welcoming and open as any “céadmílefáilte”.

This equipped us well as we attended school. The Edmund Rice High in Sinon, although among the more renowned in the region, was a stark contrast to school life at home. On Sunday, we attended mass in the school assembly hall. The jovial, expressive nature of the music and dance that accompanies their profession of faith was something we will not forget. It set the tone of our school week. A week of celebration of diversity and mutual appreciation, sentiments that would be shared with our partner students.

These students would become our eyes and ears for the next five days, navigating classes, study-periods and break-times alike with us, always with a friendly smile and a keen interest in our lives and backgrounds. This made the assimilation process a great deal easier and certainly gave us a more holistic view of a Tanzanian education, showing us that although different, the ends justify the means. They still share a common goal to succeed and quite possibly, are driven towards that more so than ourselves, something that particularly resonated with me.

This emerged further in our visit to the local primary school that Tuesday, a place that really emphasised the divide between the people of Arusha. We were instantly struck by the school’s exterior, in distinct contrast to the modernised layout of our national schools. Despite this, the teachers and children of the school community were the truest representation of the place, beaming with pride and joy as we exchanged national anthems, gifts, and pictures around the classroom, reaffirming the belief that education transcends the classroom.

However, feelings had to be put to one side for the hotly-anticipated annual football match that Thursday. Tensions ran high. Yet after 90 minutes with 13 tired bodies carried along by a second-half header from the always-formidable Jake Millar, we made history again. We’d retained the title in a spectacular 2-1 victory. However, withheld emotions would all soon come flooding back to us as the final whistle went and jerseys had been exchanged. Aidan’s celebrations soon turned to mutual celebration of a coming together, a unity through sport, something that can’t be defined by a scoreline.

This could be felt in our parting trip, the Safari to Tarangire. With our partners, we ventured out to the fringes of Northern Tanzania to experience something truly unforgettable, not only by seeing the various lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes and impalas graze and roam the Maasai homelands, but to experience it alongside our partners and our guide Reggie, to have a shared outlook on something the majority of us had been seeing for the first time. The visit to the Maasai Village also extended the human aspect of the Safari for us to make the trip all the more meaningful and memorable. This however, was tinged with sadness as we said our goodbyes to our Tanzanian counterparts and wished them the best, their contact details and shared memories of the way in which we had enhanced each other’s lives ingrained within us, easing the disappointment of goodbye.

With this, we realised that the experience was certainly mind-opening. This was even more apparent in our visits to the local Children’s Village, the Plaster House, and the Emusoirefuge centre. Although the children of these centres are often labelled different, it was clear by our visits that these were only in circumstance. The love, hope and happiness in their characters and faces was tangible and completely overshadowed the adversity of the situations they faced, showing us, through music, dance and general contentment in life, that your situation and your troubles are what you personally define them as, not how they are used to define you, Despite illness, bereavement, grief and hardship, and the tear or two we couldn’t help but shed in reflection, the fact that they were happy was in actuality, the only emotion that really mattered. And in my own reflection, I endeavoured to sum it up by noting their laughter and how it truly was “the best medicine”.

Unfortunately, it was not long after, that this wonderful experience would come to what finally felt like an abrupt end. The bonds the group had shared, the songs we’d sung, the happiness we felt, the change we, in ourselves and I hope in the lives of others, we had made, had come to an end, as all good things must do. However, the memories and moments we hold dear and can never forget have sustained us, on our journey home, our re-integration into school, and returning to our friends and our families, and these are the aspects of the trip that are wholeheartedly indelible. They are the constant reminders that we, without a shadow of a doubt, had left no stone unturned.

Written by Jack Nolan 6th Central

Keeping In Touch at St. Aidan's


Tutor time at St Aidan’s celebrates and acknowledges a community within a community. The morning get-togethers marry the bland necessity of roll-call with shared activities encouraging reflection and mindfulness. Students are guided towards a variety of themed activities to support this. Recent disruption to the school routine made the pastoral element of Tutor time even more important. A community dislocated from its school classroom maybe but still tightly-knit cohesive unit.

Over this time Ms Dunne and Class Tutors invited students to challenge themselves with varied activities including quizzes and puzzles. Such dilemmas ranged from time-honoured teasers of identifying countries’ flags to the shiningly contemporary task of naming Dublin areas as depicted in the language of emojis.

Students channelled their artistic energies in an art competition. They marshalled the immense power of words to describe the colourful ordinariness of the places they walked. If there is any positive to take from the recent upheaval it might be an enhanced appreciation of what we had previously considered mundane. Suddenly we see that the ordinary is extraordinary.

We did not stop learning either. A Geography-week quiz highlighted the effect of rainwater on Limestone landscapes. A Gaeilge quiz sharpened knowledge on county names, while a Music quiz certainly separated the experts from the mere enthusiasts on knowledge of 1970’s music. We had fun, frivolity, and feverish enthusiasm for the bars of chocolate which awaited the curious early birds who managed to capture these teasing and elusive worms at tutor-time. It provided a quirky angle on material that can appear mundane in the classroom.

None quirkier maybe that a celebration of World Bee Day. Another positive from the pandemic might be that we have become more aware of nature. Birds seems to chirp louder, foxes roam the normally hostile environment of Grafton Street, videos of bears and deer strolling deserted streets in European towns abound. Celebrating the Bee – one of the key cogs in the ecological wheel was fitting.

We looked around but also looked ahead. More senior students in the school were invited to write notes of advice to incoming students reflecting on their own experience of the transition to Post-Primary school. This was especially timely given the disruption those leaving Primary school have experienced recently. A ‘free hugs’ video was an antidote to a time of social distancing and reminded us that sunnier days lie ahead, while an anti-racism week included a feature on black footballers and focussed on an a theme which, despite great progress, never ceases to be relevant in our globalised and fluid environment.

If much of what was available to students celebrated the ordinary, we managed to speckle it with the more exotic too. Through the wonders of technology students were invited to meander through the Louvre and wonder at its artistic treasure-trove. In a term which featured on-line instruction how better to appreciate what the virtual world has to offer than by savouring one of the world’s wonders in one of its great cities? Just one of a multitude of possibilities for students in these challenging times.

My Green Schools Campaign - North Monastery

Signing up for my school's Green Schools committee, I didn't really know what to expect. I thought it would be something no one took very seriously, something that only the small percentage of students would care about. Almost two years on the committee, it's been fun. Under the guidance of Ms. Coleman, we started out with a committee consisting of 1st years, 2nd years and 5th years. At this time, we were aiming to get our third Green Flag for the Water Theme. At first, it was easy tasks such as monitoring the work of the other two flags (Litter and Waste and Energy). Eventually, we had to do more things like an environmental review of water usage in our school, visiting places like the Lifetime Lab Waterworks, cleaning up beaches, and even doing a presentation in front of the whole school on water pollution and conservation. We also worked on our flag in other ways, such as river clean-ups, celebrating World Water Day, visiting water treatment plants, senior students planning for a school water fountain to cut down on plastic bottles. Also, a few students, along with me, applied to be part of the Water Ambassador Program.

Since September 2019 we have been working harder than ever. We even improved the committee itself in ways such as having a student chairperson who leads the meetings, and a secretary who takes meeting minutes. The committee meets every Monday at lunch time. Every week there is a different focus as there is a famous ‘7 steps’ process if any school is to be awarded a Green Flag. After a few months of hard work, our committee finally applied for our Water Flag. I am proud to say that North Monastery Secondary School has been awarded the Green Flag in Water!

Piece written by Presley Osagie-Alli, 2nd Year

Culture, Diversity & Inclusion in St. Fintan's

Our fledgling Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Programme at St. Fintan’s High School, Sutton, recognises the individuality and diversity across our school in a range of areas and fosters a community of acceptance and inclusion. We aim to raise awareness of Diversity and Culture across the school, culminating each term in a day of Celebration and Inclusion.

A Culture Club and C.D.I. Forum was established and promoted by our Student Culture Ambassadors, Dylan Duffy and Dario Regazzi.

The Culture Club has grown in popularity throughout the year. Each week students across the student body share what is meaningful about their language, culture, foods, pastimes etc. We’ve learned how to play Briscola (an Italian card game), we ate Polish dumplings and Paluszki (pretzels), we learned how to say hello and thank you in Thai, Chinese, Latvian, Lithuanian and Afrikaans and about the Japanese art of Manga to name just some of our new knowledge. Through our CDI Forum, students can learn of upcoming school, national and international events and useful resources on an ongoing basis.

On 6 December we concluded our term with a schoolwide cultural celebration: “Happy Holidays” which celebrated Winter Festivals Across St Fintan’s High School and the World. The event highlighted the way in which languages/religions/ethnicities in the school and across the continents celebrate Christmas and other Winter Festivals such as Bodhi Day (Buddhist), Hanukkah(Jewish), Dhana Sankranti(Hindu), Eid Milad Un Nabi (Muslim) and Thanksgiving (America and The Pilgrim Fathers).

Events on the Day began with a visit from Minister Richard Bruton to our Flavours of Fintan’s-A Feast of Festivities display. Here, both the Minister and students were invited to sample culturally significant foods from around the world from Lafkas to Sweet Potato Pie and Stollen to Halvas.

Throughout the day, students also had the opportunity to practice the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding at an Origami Christmas Decorations Workshop led by our very own TY student, Rian Roche. Junior students took part in a Dreidel Tournament facilitated by the First and Second Year Prefects. Much fun was had playing the traditional Jewish spinning game with many students even winning a few Gelt (chocolate coins)! 1st Years were also invited to participate in some Kite running, getting active decorating and racing kites which play an important role in many Hindu and Muslim celebrations. Our Where in the World Quiz proved popular also with students finding the answers from the colourful displays adorning the school, all created by the students themselves to mark the many celebrations.

The cafeteria had a makeover for the very special day. Santa's helpers in the Cafeteria created a Special Limited Edition Menu for the day with festive treats including Chicken Tikka Masala with Poppadoms and Naan to celebrate Indian cultures and Jelly Doughnuts to celebrate the Miracle of the Oil at Hanukkah with fried foods to name but a few. The lunchtime festive cheer was topped off with a wonderful musical session in the Cafeteria at lunchtime led by Irvinas Karkauskas and Patrick Smullen with many students joining in.

A wonderful and colourful day was had by all due in no small part to the energy and hard work of the students and teachers involved.

The celebrations continued into January and February with St. Fintan’s High School partaking in Chinese New Year festivities to commence the Year of the Rat. The cafeteria was transformed by the colourful red and gold of Dragons, Chinese Lanterns and Oriental Decorations thanks to the ingenuity of our Transition Years. On our C.D.I. Forum, students discovered what their Chinese animal was and interesting facts about the Year of the Rat.

On January 24th, the school came together to celebrate Chinese New Year. The day began with our first years, Edward Liu, Michael Zhang and Alan Gao (Gow) wishing us all a Happy New Year in Mandarin.

Fun activities and games were held throughout lunchtime in the Cafeteria. The Chopstick Game for which small prizes were distributed in red envelopes, associated with the celebration, proved very popular with students and staff alike. Our Principal and Deputy Principal proved very adept, even managing to win themselves a little prize! Our Creative Space had a Chinese theme creating Paper Lanterns. Fortunes were told using a Miracle Fish and students enjoyed fortune cookies and some Chinese pop music with lunch. We ended the day ready to begin New Year buoyed by the colourful Chinese festival.

As with all things 2020, our plans for our Second and Third Terms have had to change and adapt due all things Covid 19. We had hoped to have an Ability Awareness Day in school on 2 April which coincided with World Autism Day. A Non- School Uniform Day was set to take place in which students were asked to wear blue as a show of solidarity, raising awareness and funds for Autism Organisations. This unfortunately had to happen remotely but by all accounts students and teachers nonetheless joined in the spirit of the day wearing blue.

We also had to cancel a workshop by Enable Ireland in which students would learn about physical disabilities and challenges through presentations, wheelchair games and discussion.

Our awareness program was set to culminate in the Third Term with a Colour Run for our Final Year students. It was set to mark diversity in a fun way and to mark the end of their journey with us in St Fintan’s High School and the beginning of their journey into the diverse and colourful big world. No doubt we will rise to the challenge and find a way of bringing us all together in awareness though apart in these challenging times.

While our plans have had to change this year, we have been greatly encouraged by the success and the participation of the student and teaching body in promoting awareness of Culture, Diversity and Inclusion across the school. While it is ironic our programme began in a school year that ends with the necessity of keeping us apart, if anything the Covid 19 crisis underpins the ethos of our Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Program at St. Fintan’s HIgh School which is regardless of colour, creed, sexuality or abilities, we are all as human beings in this world together for better or worse! We look forward to coming together again when circumstances allow us to celebrate with renewed appreciation, our humanity and diversity throughout the school community and the wider world.

A Wake Up Slap By Stephen O’Neill, St. Mary's Academy Carlow

An award-winning essay published in the Carlow Nationalist in March 2020

Let’s face the facts. The world’s going through a pandemic. Entire countries are being forced to go on lockdown. Economies are crashing. Educational systems around the world are struggling to hold their heads above the water by clinging onto last-minute short-term solutions. News industries around the globe have journalists pulling their hair out trying to soften and censor news stories to prevent global unrest.

The world’s medical systems are stretching themselves thinner and thinner every day as cases of COVID-19 rise . This virus is plaguing more and more people every day as it menacingly rushes around the globe. We’re living through history. This time will be remembered as we remember the bubonic plague, the Spanish flu, and other historical pandemics of the sort. It’s a harsh time in all of our lives.

But the worst part isn’t the damage to the economy or the educational system or even the medical system. The worst part is the damage this virus is having on people on an individual level. The way I look at it, and the way everyone should look at it, death can’t be statisticised. To me forty-eight deaths is forty-eights names. Forty-eight real people with real families, real friends, real jobs or schools. Forty-eight people with real lives. Just like you and I.

I choose what I write. And today I choose to write the truth for you. To all the people that come across this. It’s brutal, but it’s honest. And every single one of you readers, no matter who you are, what you do for a living or how old you are, deserve to know the truth. No matter how brutal or dark it is.The best way I can deliver that brutal, although honest, truth is via a story. A story that, to all too many, could become a reality.

Ben had just turned 14. He had heard about COVID-19 non-stop every day for a couple months now. He’d often see his mother watching speeches by the taoiseach about it. He’d hear his sisters talk about the amount of new cases and deaths from the virus every day. About two weeks ago the taoiseach had announced that the country was going on lockdown. He said people couldn’t meet up with friends and had to stay inside unless it was absolutely necessary that he went out. Ben heard the speech. He listened. But he didn’t care.

He woke up at ten the next morning. He had a shower and got dressed. He ate his breakfast and brushed his teeth, the usual. He grabbed his phone and left the house before anyone else woke up to stop him. COVID-19 wasn’t a big deal to him. Nobody he knew had ever got it, so why should he care? He went to the corner shop where he and his friends often met up. His two best friends Jack and Seán were there. Their girlfriends Ellie and Alice were there too. But Ben’s girlfriend wasn’t. They skitted him saying he got stood up but he knew they were joking.

They all walked to the park after they realised Heather, Ben’s girlfriend, wasn’t showing up and wasn’t answering any of their calls. They hung out at the park for a while. Ben sneezed and he and his friends laughed at the irony and shook it off. Then Jack sneezed. Then Alice. Ben’s throat started to feel weird and he had a bad feeling about all of this from the start so he made up an excuse and walked home as fast as he could.

When he got inside he walked into his living room. His family looked up at him with a look in their eyes he could only describe as pure anguish. His older sister Hannah sat him down and explained why Mam wasn’t home. She’d gotten the virus. And the hospital was full. Hannah told Ben that they weren’t sure if she was going to make it. And that everyone in the house was going to need to stay strong for her sake no matter what happened.

A few hours later, a doctor visited Ben’s house. Ben tested positive. So did his Dad. And his three-year-old sister Betty. He got separated from Hannah, for her safety. The next morning Ben woke up feeling like a trainwreck. He knew he’d be fine, but what about Betty? What about his mother, who had a compromised immune system? The doctors told Ben that he’d most likely caught the virus from one of his friends, and that he’d most likely spread it to his Mam, his Dad and his little sister. Then Ben got a phone call. Heather was extremely sick. Ben looked back at the past couple weeks and regretted every time he’d left the house. Every time he’d ignored the warnings.

The doctors said they couldn’t guarantee anyones survival except Ben’s. His father had recovered from lung cancer a couple years ago, and would struggle a lot with the virus. His mother had a compromised immune system. Betty was only three. Heather had asthma. All of it could’ve been avoided. Ben wished he could go back in time and punch himself in the face.

Just a day ago Ben had seen COVID-19 as “No big deal”. He’d refused to take any guidelines into consideration. He’d pretended that none of it would affect him, even though deep down he knew it could. And eventually it did. Ben was a boy. All boys, and all humans, make mistakes. There are people like Ben out there that regret their choices. They aren’t bad people. They don’t deserve this.

If you don’t want to end up like them, don’t follow in their footsteps. Just stay inside for a while. The virus will pass sooner or later, and I’d much rather it be sooner. If you refuse to listen to the warnings and dig deeper than the surface of this virus. You accept the possibility of you having to dig graves. Wake up, people! Before it’s too late. It’s all gonna pass in a couple weeks if we all just band together and listen to the people that know best.

In short, next time you’re at your door, about to go out to your friends. Think about people like Ben’s family. And while I made up the story of Ben, his life is very similar to all too many people around the world. For the sake of you, your family, your country and even your planet. Stay inside. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. And when you 100% need to go outside, social distance. It shouldn’t take a thirteen year old boy to write an article about this. But here we are. Someone has to tell you this and today I realised that someone’s gonna have to be me. So instead of forgetting about this in five minutes, let this be the article that sticks. Wake. Up.

Doon CBS visit to Mt. Sion

Pupils and staff of Doon C.B.S. Primary School, Co. Limerick at the tomb of Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers, at Mount Sion, Waterford.

Back Row: Joanne O’Connell (Doon C.B.S. School Principal), Bro. Peadar Gleeson (Mount Sion, Waterford), Bro. James Dormer (Doon C.B.S., B.o.M.) and Denis Moloney (teacher, Doon C.B.S.)

Street Retreats

Ardscoil na Mara

EREBB Street Retreat February 2020

Deputy Principals Ann Hennebry and Anthony Leahy – Ardscoil na Mara, joined school leaders and teachers from across the network in England for a street retreat. Hosted by Roisin Maguire, Ann Nichols and Tom Murray on behalf of Edmund Rice England, the retreat allowed the group to continue to strengthen the links between Edmund Rice schools while also getting first-hand experience of some of the work being undertaken by Edmund Rice in England.

The retreat began with the morning being spent in Asylum Link, Liverpool. Asylum Link is a vital resource for asylum seekers in the Liverpool. Brother David met the group and explained the work being done in the centre while centre manager Ewan Roberts, as well as treating the group to a spontaneous sing song with some of the guests in the centre, outlined the plight of Asylum seekers who actually manage to reach the centre following their perilous journey from their home countries. After lunch prepared by our hosts in the centre, we moved to the Whitechapel Centre. The Whitechapel Centre attends to the needs of the many homeless people currently living in Liverpool. Hettie Miles outlined some of the interventions they have put in place to assist those who find themselves homeless while also suggesting ways that we, as school leaders can help change the perception of homeless in society. Day one ended with a meal close to the Edmund Rice Office HQ and Brothers Community at Woodeaves – but not before the group diligently prepared scones to bring with them on their travels the following day.

Despite the weather taking a turn for the worse, spirits were high as the group moved to Salford and SERV’ – Salford Edmund Rice Volunteers. Here we were met by two Irish Brothers Ger O’Connell and Tony Twomey, who explained the work of the Edmund Rice Brothers in the community. Along with volunteers, Wilf and Anne Hammond, we heard from asylum seekers who outlined their journey to England and some of the experiences they had in getting there. The centre offers support, guidance and education to those who access it and provides a listening and attentive ear to all. After kindly inviting us to share lunch with them in their home, Br. Ger and Tony explained in difficulties in achieving asylum in England. They have worked in the area for many years, and from the energy, enthusiasm and spirit we witnessed, they will be there making a huge difference for many years to come.

On the conclusion of lunch, the street retreat was brought to a conclusion. It was fantastic to see the work being done in the network and the vital impact the Edmund Rice brothers continue to have while working with those who struggle in society. We would like to thank Ann, Tom and Roisin for inviting us to partake in the street retreat. We would also like to offer our thanks and gratitude to Simon Duggan – Principal, St Anselms College, Louise Baines Head of Sixth form, St Anselms College, Kerry Kilminster - St Aidans Catholic High Schools Sunderland, Bernadette O Keefe - Teacher at Runnymede Prep school, Liverpool, Anna Smith St Mary’s College Liverpool & Dan Wilkinson St Josephs College Stoke. We hope we will see you all very soon.

Léargas Exchange

Mount Sion C.B.S Secondary School Leargas Exchange

Hola! Before all the COVID 19 madness took over 15 students from Mount Sion CBS travelled to Spain as part of our KA2 School Exchange Partnership. Their project, “Learning together and from each other" is funded by Erasmus + and organised by Léargas, our national funding agency.
They paired up with IES EL Carrascal, a secondary school in Arganda, 27km from Madrid. The boys had to adjust to early starts and long commutes every morning! The initial meeting was nerve wrecking but the incredible welcome they received put a quick end to that! They were treated to a typical Spanish breakfasts and many friendships were formed.
From attending school to visiting palaces, there wasn’t much in Madrid that they didn’t see! They visited the Bernabeu Stadium, the Royal Palace, the Prado museum and they tasted typical Spanish tapas y mucho más. They spent their last day together in the beautiful city of Toledo. An incredible experience for todos! Spanish and Irish students worked together on ongoing eTwinning projects by getting to know each other and playing football was their favourite part! Their Spanish counterpart had planned to visit Mount Sion in April, however due to COVID 19 this has been postponed until further notice. They are looking forward to and already planning their next exchange. Viva España!

Coláiste Mhicíl, Sexton St Limerick

Coláiste Mhichíl CBS, are delighted to announce that the DES has granted approval for a €15 million rebuilding programme, to begin immediately.This is fantastic news.

Coláiste Mhichíl CBS is one of Limerick’s oldest schools.. Founded in 1829, this city centre landmark school has given a rich education to Limerick celebrities such as JP McManus, hurling star Eamonn Grimes, and Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health.

Now, with the updating project confirmed, the school can continue making history with the advanced technology and facilities.

Principal Denis O’Connor described how the project will be a “transformational” upgrade both for students and for the building itself. The number of students attending will see an increase from 330 to about 550. 

As well as a full upgrade of mainstream classrooms, an ASD suite will be constructed.

Principal O’Connor discussed how this will impact the school, saying, “This is going to ensure the future of the school and transform the campus for students, parents and teachers. This is a massive investment and as a school community we are absolutely delighted.”

Ardscoil Rís Limerick raises awareness of Climate Change.

My name is Adam Stapleton and I am a fifth year student in Ardscoil Rís, Limerick. I had the wonderful chance to travel to Geneva and the UN with the ERI. In my time as a Youth Ambassador I was taught how to spread the work of Edmund Rice and advocate for issues affecting young people, with a particular focus on climate change. Our hopes with holding climate change workshops were to bring this knowledge to other students so that they too can teach their community the importance of climate action.

Our specific plan with these student led workshops was to bring awareness and presentation skills to older members of the ERST student community. I believe that a student lead approach is much more accessible for these types of workshops as sometimes when a teacher presents we might think that there is no way, we, as young people could do the same. By seeing people similar to us advocate and speak about these issues, we can gain the confidence to do the same.

With regards to the schools that attended I would first like to extend my sincere thank you for their participation. The cohort of students that we met that day were not only friendly and polite but also shared our great enthusiasm for advocacy and making changes for the better. We had students from Rice College Ennis, Nenagh CBS, Ardscoil na Mara, Villiers, Coláiste Nano Nagle, Crescent Comprehensive and St. Munchins. Our hope was that these students would return to their respective schools and use what they had learned at this workshop to spread the word of climate action across the ERST community.

The day began with introductions and chats with all the students as they arrived. John McGuinness, Harry Frost and I then presented one section of the workshop each. By splitting up the presentation in this way we were able to hold the attention of the students more effectively. Our sections were Climate Change, Plastics and Earth Hour. We made sure to involve the audience with questions not only to hold their attention but also to hear to ideas and information they could teach us. Each section ended with an exercise or game for the groups which could then be discussed with the room. Seeing the enthusiasm of the students gave us great hope for the future. Not only were the discussions extremely interesting but their impact was surely felt by all. After the presentations we took any questions from the floor and were able to chat to all the students and teachers as we got some food. We offered any resources we could to help the schools in their advocacy efforts including our source of reusable plastic bottles. After many pictures and sending each school away with their own presentation pack we were done for the day.

One of the most important initiatives which was discussed in the presentation was Earth Hour. Last year we began our first large scale effort in and around our city. Not only did we hold workshops with first and second years about Earth Hour and how they can take part but we also got many of the landmarks around our city to turn out their lights in solidarity. These included King John’s Castle, St. John’s Cathedral, St. Mary’s Cathedral, City Hall and The Treaty Stone. Our hope was to raise awareness across our locality regarding climate change and the importance of meaningful climate action. The initiative was a huge success and we had similar results this year. We mean to continue this in the future.

We would like to thank all of those who attended our workshops and ERST for their support for all of our initiatives. Hopefully many more schools can hold similar workshops to help spread the word on climate change.

St Joseph's Drogheda Culture Week

Jennifer Mc Kenna (S.P.H.E Teacher)

In the tradition of the Edmund Rice Charter and The U.N.’s World Cultural Diversity Day( May 21st) our school hosts Culture Week each year; an event recognising and celebrating the contribution to school life of almost 40 different nationalities and cultures. Ordinarily the school becomes a bit noisier and colourful as students perform music, display their projects, participate in sports events and workshops. Although circumstances were unexpectedly different this year and the noise diluted, teachers and students connected online to engage creatively under the theme ‘We Are the World’, sharing artwork, poetry, delicious traditional recipes and so much more. It was certainly different this year but the sense of community was palpable and the enthusiasm of students vibrated over the internet bringing everyone that bit closer.

Culture Week

By Ciaran Devine 1F

In our school we have lots of nationalities,

And we all know how to accept all their personalities.

We know to forget our differences,

And strive to have the best experiences.

Cultures are intriguing and deserve to be respected,

As many we know, like to be represented.

By their families, practices and especially countries

And we learn about who they are in social studies.

This could include Poland or India,

Spain, France, Denmark, Israel or Syria.

It’s great to learn what makes them, them

And to know that they are a gem.


By Abraham Odukoya 1N

67 million people live in my country

Thousands of people visit it monthly.

For its beautiful terrain and delicious cuisine

From art to music, everything in between

Paris, the city of love

Bordeaux, beautiful skies above.

Masterclass football in Lyon

Notre Dame overflowing with tradition.

Breathtaking designs of Madeleine Vionnet

And great compositions of George Bizet.

To L’arlesienne we will dance

Vive la France!

Young Translators 2020 / Aistritheoirí Óga 2020

Coláiste Íosagáin

‘Aistritheoirí Óga’ is an annual translation contest organised jointly by the European Commissionand the Irish Government. Over 90 students from 34 schools took part this year.,  The competition has three goals:

– to promote a high standard of Irish;
– to encourage multilingualism among secondary school students;
– to encourage interest in linguistic professions.

Comhghairdeas mór le hAoife Ní Bhriain, Coláiste Íosagáin..

End of Year Ceremonies

Well done to all our schools on the creative ways you devised to mark the end of year for students using various online platforms. We copied some of these from twitter accounts and have posted links below.

Roscommon CBS Article

Bunscoil McAuley Rice, Kilkenny Assembly

CBC Monkstown Principal’s Address

Nenagh CBS Trip down Memory Lane

Oatlands College Choir

Coláiste Mhicíl, Sexton St Limerick TY Graduation

St. David’s Artane, Graduation video 6th Years 2020

St. Mary’s Academy CBS Carlow Graduation Video

Blarney Street CBS, message to 6th Class

Synge Street CBS, thanks for the memories

Scoil Mhuire Marino, Quarintine


Summer Holiday are Here

As we reach the end of the school year, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust wishes our students, teachers and families a relaxing Summer break.

To those leaving school, best wishes for the future.

Edmund Rice Schools Trust

Meadow Vale, Clonkeen Road, Blackrock, Dublin A94 YN96

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