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Christmas Newsletter

Season's Greetings

from the Headmaster
Dear <<First Name>>

The longest of our three terms seem to have passed in the blink of an eye. A lot has happened since September and indeed over the last year. I am impressed by how much has gone on and is going on, very often behind the scenes.

We have assembled some of the highlights of these events which I hope you can enjoy over the Christmas Season. We plan to send similar dispatches regularly in the new year to provide a window to the school. I am very grateful to all those who have worked to draw all this material together.

Looking ahead to the New Year I know we have plenty to do - if I can be excused for using and modifying a clichéd phrase:  “some things done, a lot more to do.”

Thank you for your support and encouragement during the last term  - this brings every good wish for Christmas and every blessing for 2019.

Fr Simon

Solemn Midnight Mass

Solemn Midnight Mass is preceded by the Vigil Office of Christmas at 11.20 pm, and followed by refreshments in the school. The crowds tend to be large, so please do come early. The Mass will also be broadcast live on our  Church Webcam
‘For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leapt from heaven, from the royal throne….’ So says the Book of Wisdom and Christians have traditionally marked this great act of divine generosity by gathering when the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is ‘half gone’. In Glenstal, ‘Midnight Mass’ still takes place at midnight! As with all abbey liturgies, all are most welcome to attend.

A Christmas Story

by Fr Denis

When I was a student in Dublin I got a job as a temporary postman for the Christmas holidays. It meant getting up before 6.00 am on freezing mornings and cycling into the Central Sorting Office in Werburgh Street. Dublin city at that hour of the morning was a dark and deserted place, almost like a ghost town.

I was assigned to the Coombe area of Dublin and one of the places I delivered to was a small terrace of houses in a place called Blackpitts. At first glance, it looked as if no one could possibly live in those houses because the buildings were so dilapidated.

As I was passing these houses on my first round a little old lady emerged from the last house and called me over. She asked me if she had any post. I told her that there was nothing for her and she told me that she was waiting for some money from her son in America and that surely it would be in the afternoon’s post.

I noticed that the hallway of her tiny terraced house had grass growing in it and that it was damp and cold. Its condition was shocking by any standard. How could anyone live there in such awful circumstances? But at least if she got the Christmas money from her son that she was hoping for she could afford to heat a room or two in the place and make it somewhat comfortable for Christmas.

Day after day I looked for a letter to her when we were sorting the post and each time, nothing! She would come to the door and I could see her pain and disappointment each time she looked at me and knew from the look on my face that there was no letter.

Christmas Eve arrived. I decided that I would give her some money out of my postman’s wages if there was no letter. And at first glance, there wasn’t anything for her in that last postal delivery of Christmas. Then I noticed an airmail letter with the blue lines around the outside of the envelope written to her. It had arrived!

I couldn’t wait to get to her house although it was close to the end of my route. There she was waiting at the door and she ran out to me. She knew. The letter had arrived! There were tears in her eyes... and in mine. She opened the letter and took out a ten dollar note and gave it to me.

I have never forgotten that woman who always kept hoping despite her terrible situation. I don’t know what became of her. I do know that within a few years all those houses on her terrace were knocked down. I will never forget that old woman, her run-down house, her anticipation, her disappointment, her joy and most of all, her generosity.

I have had many nice Christmas presents but I know none was as generous as from that enormously kind old lady.

Who says there isn’t a Santa Claus?

Recent Events
All-School Christmas Dinner
The boys celebrate the festive season with Christmas dinner, Secret Santa - including some curious presents - and some good spirit and fun.
Image Gallery
The Annual Carol Service
The annual Advent Carol Service took place in the abbey church on Sunday 16 December 2018. As ever, the school choir was directed by Fr Columba, with both Br Cyprian and Fr Columba himself on organ and Br Jarek on violin. Fr Simon presided and preached. He spoke about the mood and sounds of Advent, and how the music, readings, colour and ritual of Advent offer hope and joy at the darkest time of the year. He challenged everyone present to ‘clear a space’ and ‘de-clutter’ and prepare their hearts to receive divinity so that Christ can truly be born in us this Christmas.

The Kenya Project - Also during the service, Art Keane made an appeal on behalf of the group of 5th Year students who will travel with Fr John next summer to work on the Oloika project in southern Kenya. The project aims to provide two cement classrooms, chairs and - hopefully - laptops for the schoolchildren there. The overall goal is €30,000. A retiring collection was held and the Kenya Crew are very grateful for the €2,616 that was raised. This is a great boost to begin the appeal, and the boys and Fr John will be working hard to hit the goal in advance of their departure next summer. Travel and subsistence costs are covered by the boy's families so that every cent raised goes directly to the project in Kenya.
 
Watch The Carol Service Now
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Here's a link to a short video of the performance 
On 5th and 6th December, performers thrilled audiences with their outstanding production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the Cinema Gym. Exquisite use of colour and wonderful stage props complemented the energetic performances of each cast member, with Calum Blake putting on a superb performance in the starring role.
 
Highlights of 2018
Academic Successes
Leaving Certificate - It was another great year for our students, with the class of 2018 attaining an average 480 points and everyone securing a place at third-level.

University Awards - George Downing scored the maximum of 625 points and also secured, along with Darren Halpenny (2017), an Entrance Exhibition Award at Trinity College. Four of our graduates were awarded scholarships to UCD - Zac Thompson (2017) (Medicine) William McAleese (Veterinary) and Arthur Moore and David Kelly (both studying Economics & Finance).

International Mathematical Olympiad - In July, Lucas Bachmann was part of the Irish team at the 59th Olympiad in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where he won Ireland's tenth ever bronze medal in the competition since Ireland's first participation in 1988.

National Maths and Science Olympiad - Joe Gilbride and John Fisher were invited to participate in the National Maths and Science Olympiad, as they were both high achievers in both Maths and Science in the Junior Certificate Examinations of 2018. This is a very big honour for the school. Joe Gilbride went on to win the gold medal at the Irish Junior Science Olympiad and represented Ireland in Botswana recently at the International Junior Science Olympiad.
 
Munster Senior Cup - 79 Years in the Making
The wait for our first Munster Schools Senior Cup ended on 18th March 2018 amid memorable scenes at Musgrave Park. Full-time score: Glenstal 18, CBC 17.
In a game played in bitterly cold conditions, the opening half saw plenty of endeavour from both sides and the early exchanges were tense. But our Glenstallions played the better rugby after the break and ultimately deserved the win, with Caolan Dooley and Patrick Prendergast scoring the all-important tries while and points coming from the boot of captain Ben Healy.
 
Image Gallery
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - Africa's Highest Mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet (5,895 metres). An intrepid group of 23 Glenstal students and parents departed for Tanzania on Saturday 9th June 2018, intent on climbing this awe-inspiring peak. There was great excitement but also some trepidation. We flew from Dublin via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Tanzania. Read more about the trip in My Kilimanjao Experience by 6th Year James Fitzgerald or the Expedition Diary by John Cannon.
 
Image Gallery
Escolania De Montserrat at Glenstal
On Monday 16th April we were delighted to welcome the world-famous choir, the Escolania de Montserrat to Glenstal. While they were with us they stayed in the vacant TY dorms in the Castle. The Choir performed to a packed church and for those who were there, it was an unforgettable experience. The acoustics in the church added to the mystique of the singing.

On the following morning, it was the turn of the school to hear them sing and they did so at Morning Assembly. Judging by the reaction of everyone afterwards and the sustained applause from students and staff alike, their unique sound was greatly appreciated.
 
Image Gallery
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Glenstal Abbey School
Murroe
Co. Limerick, V94 HC84
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Glenstal Abbey School · Glenstal Abbey · Murroe, Limerick V94 A725 · Ireland

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