Visit of President Michael D. Higgins

Photo copyright Aidan Flynn 2012


Friday the 16th of March marked the beginning of the Arts and Culture week in Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin. The week was met with much enthusiasm from teachers and students alike.

A number of guest speakers were brought in to address the students on many different culture related topics such as, special effects make-up artistry by Deirdre Fitzgerald, drumming by Rory Doyle famous for playing with The Walls and BellX1 and also James Durney, author of The Titanic – Kildare Connection, spoke to the 5th Year history students . These talks captivated the minds of the students and opened their eyes to the many professions available in these fields.

Friday saw the start to the Arts and Culture week with an Irish Ceili for the Transition Year students who were accompanied by the school’s traditional music group and music teacher, Ms Begley. This proved a great hit with the students who came to appreciate the traditional music and dance of our culture even more.

The theme of music spread throughout the week as on Tuesday the 6th Year music students held a lunchtime concert in the school’s Assembly Area which showcased the many talents the students have to offer. The following Thursday these very students visited the NUI Maynooth Music Department and had the privilege of getting to work with lecturer and composer Gordon Delap and composer and performer Bryan Quigley in a workshop on composition using computer music.

On Wednesday two of the school’s teachers, Mr Aidan Flynn and Mr Damien O’Rourke took centre stage and performed their very own concert, playing flute, guitar and low whistle, attempting  to match the high standard set by the students the previous day. They succeeded in doing this and showed that the week was for both students and teachers.

On Thursday a surprise Flashmob was held in the school canteen where students of all ages  displayed their dancing ability with help from dance teacher Breda Kelly Lynch. A French play, based on a goodluck charm, was also held on Friday for the 2nd and 3rd Year pupils, which was very well received.

The 1st Year students also got strongly involved in the week by holding a debate where they argued the topic ‘computers should replace teachers.’ Luckily for the teachers  it was the class of 1A1 that emerged victorious who opposed the motion.

Junk Couture, the art and fashion competition where students create outfits out of recycled materials, slotted in well with the theme of the week. A 1st Year team, consisting of Niamh Hurley and Jessica Habenicht, got to the Regional Final and T.Y students, Siobhan Hardt, Sarah Anderson and  Emma Carroll, have reached the All-Ireland Final on the 20th of April.


Photo copyright Aidan Flynn 2012


The successful week ended on a high with the arrival of The President, Mr. Michael D. Higgins. This was a great honour for the school which was greeted with open arms from every member of the community. When the president arrived on Friday he was greeted by school Principal Paul Murphy and Vice-Principal Deirdre Doyle. The President was accompanied by his military Aide, and secretary and then The President was guided through the school where he was shown many displays of students work along the way. A photograph was taken of the President with the members of the School’s Student Council, a fitting photo as those on the Student Council are the elected representatives of each class in the school. While this was happening everyone else was assembled and seated in the school’s hall, where on the arrival of the President a standing ovation was given by all, the Presidential Salute was played by the schools traditional group, and MC Olive Keenan introduced the School Principal, who thanked the President for coming to the school and congratulated him on behalf of the school on his election to office, and wished him the best of luck in the rest of his term in office. Before the President spoke, students from the school performed for him. Lisa Reddy and Niamh Fitzpatrick performed an Irish dance, which was followed by a selection of tunes from the traditional group and rounded up by songs from the school choir.

When President Higgins rose to speak, you could see the pride in the eyes of all those in attendance. He addressed the audience as Gaeilge and then in English. He spoke about age and how wonderful it was to see that age didn’t seem to be a barrier, not only in the school, but society too. He commented that pupil of all ages were involved in everyday life in the school, referring to work done by the students, including helping the elderly with computers. He spoke about how he thought the idea of Arts and Culture week was brilliant. He commented on the displays which he saw and mentioned the work of student Vahe Sasunts who represented the school at the BT Young Scientist awards earlier in the year. During the speech you could hear a pin drop. It really was a credit to the school that everyone in attendance respected the day. When the President had finished his speech there were several presentations made to him, including a book of poetry composed by students, flowers, and a bowl made by a student in the Art room.  After these presentations were made the President was again thanked and as the crowd rose and clapped he began to walk out the hall waving and shaking hands with several people on the way, and just like that he was gone. He wasn’t in the school for much more than an hour but his presence in the school will be remembered for a life time. What better way to end the week than with a visit from the man who has contributed so much to Arts and Culture which is so prominent in the Irish society that we live in today. How fitting it is for our President to embody these great attributes and help us to retain our Irish Heritage.


Written by: 

Rebekah Dempsey, Aisling Nolan and John O’Byrne