President in Corduff for a very special party
Published 10/05/2006 | 00:11
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese was in jovial form as she officially marked the centenary of Corduff National School, Lusk last Thursday.Following an unveiling of a sun dial and a brief tour of the school, the President was given a warm welcome into a specially erected marquee, where she gave an entertaining speech.She began by wishing the school a happy 100th birthday and remarked
By Robin Kiely
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese was in jovial form as she officially marked the centenary of Corduff National School, Lusk last Thursday.
Following an unveiling of a sun dial and a brief tour of the school, the President was given a warm welcome into a specially erected marquee, where she gave an entertaining speech.
She began by wishing the school a happy 100th birthday and remarked that ‘all the children looked well for a 100’ without a beard or grey hair in sight. ‘I only really get invited to 100 birthday parties these days,’ she joked, before praising the hard work of the pupils.
‘The children have worked really hard, what with all the cleaning of the classrooms they’ve had to do! Some may say they’re the best kids in Lusk, or the best kids in Dublin, but I would say they’re the best kids in Ireland.’
Mrs McAleese spoke of every pupil’s most hated subject – homework – comparing it to ‘taking the medicine that makes you better’, before negotiating a homework-free day with school principal Seamus Tynan, much to the delight of the pupils.
‘This is a special day in the life of the school and the community,’ the President continued. ‘How many different faces of Ireland have passed through this school? How many thousands of different lives and how many different times have passed through?’
The President then spoke of the life of Thomas Ashe – the former school principal who died while on hunger strike in prison following the 1916 Rising – and his fellow volunteers.
‘Thomas Ashe gave his heart and soul to Ireland. He lived in a time when there was no access to education, a time of poverty. Their eyes were on a different Ireland and they invested their lives in that time and day.
‘We are now living in an Ireland at the best of times. The children will build on it and make it better still; a more happy, loving, inclusive place.’
Mrs McAleese went on to say how the school was ‘deeply indicted in Ireland’, that the children carried their schoolbags for Ireland and that there was a long chain of connection to the school.
‘Your parents chose this school for you because they want the best for you. I’m glad to be in the company of people who love the school.’
The President concluded by congratulating the board of management, parents, pupils and the community and wished everyone and enjoyable birthday.
Two of the school’s 82 pupils had special memories of President McAleese’s visit and spoke of her sense of humour.
‘She was really funny,’ said eight year old Seamus Cummins from Lusk. ‘She kept making jokes and she asked us did we like homework and we all told her “no”.
‘We were all really excited and when we heard the pipers playing, we thought she had arrived, but they were only practising.’
Emir Kirwan, 11, from Corduff, said the President was very interested in the school’s centenary. ‘She asked us what it was like to be in a 100 year old school and we told her it was great.’
A huge amount of preparation went into the celebrations and the two pupils mentioned how busy everyone had been.
‘We had to do loads of practice and learn the music,’ Seamus continued. ‘We had to get plants and a marquee, tea bags and cakes, and cement for the flag pole.’
Emir then told of her special link to her school: her house was once home to former school principal, Thomas Ashe, who was heavily involved in the 1916 rising.
‘Thomas Ashe used to live in my house,’ she said, ‘and Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera came to visit him there.
‘I feel really proud. He would have walked there once and now we walk there too.’