On March 15th, there was a great sense of celebration and importance of the occasion when the entire school community in St. Paul’s Community College assembled in the sports hall which had been beautifully decorated with students art work commemorating the 1916 Rising.
The Mayor of Waterford City and County (and PE Teacher in St. Pauls Community College) Mr. John Cummins, Mr. Kevin Lewis, Chief Executive Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board, & Ms. Noreen Reilly, Principal were escorted into the packed hall, by members of the Student Council, as the school choir led by Teacher Mary Minchin sang Ó ró sé de bheata bhaile the words of which were composed by Padraig Pierce.
The Principal welcomed the school community to the celebration of Proclamation Day, which she said was “a day of national pride and commemoration, a special day in the history of our school and in the history of the Irish Nation”.
Mayor Cummins officially opened the celebration, saying how delighted he was to be sharing this very special day with the students in St. Paul’s. He reminded students that Thomas Francis Meagher unveiled the Irish Tricolour for the first time in March 1848 from 33 The Mall in Waterford City. A month later he presented the Irish Tricolour in a speech to the citizens of Dublin at a banquet in April 1848.
Ms Reilly suggested that the centenary celebrations invite us to reflect on the events of the past so that we remember and honour the ideals that inspired our nation.
She told the students that history matters. As the 1916 Irish volunteers did, the great American poet Harold R. McAlindon advises “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Mr. Kevin Lewis then addressed the gathering saying he was honoured to attend the celebration; it was his first formal function in a school since his appointment. He complemented the students & staff present on the work that had gone into today’s celebration and referenced the wonderful artwork displayed in the hall. He said he looked forward to working with St. Pauls Community college in his new role as CE, WWETB.
A Candle was lit to remember Children of the Rising by student Council member Amelia Mc Sweeney, an Irish air way played by the “The Libra Trio” who was accompanying the school choir.
The Proclamation was read as gaeilge by muinteoir Miseil Ni Dhonnabhain, and in English by Dr. John Hearne history teacher in the school.
Ms. Reilly then raised the Flag while the choir sang the National Anthem.
Presentations were made to student Ben Neald & his Woodwork teacher Ms. Wilson by the CE Mr. K Lewis. Ben attained 3rd place nationally in his Junior Certificate WW exam OL.
The ceremony concluded with the entire gathering joining with the choir to sing “Ireland’s Call”.