April Newsletter

   Dear <<First Name>>

The Lord is truly risen! Alleluia!

With these words of Easter joy, I am happy to take this opportunity to greet each of you and to send you our April Newsletter. We are only just back after the holidays, but even though the school time since the last newsletter has been short, the level and variety of activities has been extensive. With another bank holiday weekend on the way, there are only a few weeks left to the end of the academic year. These will be challenging weeks for all our students, but especially so for our 3rd Years and 6th Years. We will be paying particular attention to them in the weeks ahead. I look forward to seeing many of you on Sports Day on 26 May.

With every blessing,

Fr Martin Browne OSB
Recent News
RIP Abbot Celestine Cullen
Austin Brian Cullen was born on 6th July 1927. Both his parents were medical practitioners in Cavan. Having attended Glenstal Priory School from 1939 to 1945, Brian began studying Medicine at University College Dublin, but after one year abandoned this to enter the Glenstal Community, taking the monastic name of Celestine.

Br Celestine made First Profession on 18th December 1947. Following studies in Dublin and Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood on 11th July 1954. Back in Ireland, Fr Celestine taught French and Religion in the School. In 1961 he was appointed Headmaster, a post he held until 1979.

He was elected the third Abbot of Glenstal in December 1980 and was blessed as Abbot on 1st February 1981. In September 1992, the General Chapter of the Benedictine Congregation of the Annunciation, meeting in Trier, Germany, elected him Abbot President. Abbot Celestine held this post until 2004. During these years he visited every community of the geographically far-flung congregation, from California to India.

In retirement in Glenstal, a series of debilitating illnesses gradually restricted Abbot Celestine’s activities and he spent the last years of his life in a nursing home at a short distance from the monastery. He died on the morning of 10th April 2019.
Equestrian Team Win Clonshire Interschools Showjumping Cup
by Calum Blake
Winners of the Equestrian Interschools Open 80-centimetre Show Jumping
Competition: Michael Barry, Ben Quinn, Calum Blake and Aonghus Cooke.
The Glenstal Abbey Equestrian Team triumphantly took first place in the Equestrian Interschools open 80-centimetre show jumping competition that was held in Clonshire Equestrian Centre on Friday 12 April 2019.

The winning team comprised of:
  • Michael Barry (2nd year) riding ‘Lucy’
  • Calum Blake (2nd year) riding ‘Curious Pebbles’
  • Aonghus Cooke (2nd year) riding ‘Ardfry Caspian’
  • Ben Quinn (1st year) riding The ‘Affinator’
  • Chef d’Equipe: Ms Ann Aungier

Friday commenced with an early start at 6.00am for most of the team. It involved washing and grooming ponies, cleaning tack and riding boots along with organising horseboxes and transportation of the ponies to the venue in Clonshire which is based outside Adare, Co Limerick.

The Glenstal Abbey Equestrian team was one of 22 secondary schools competing from counties Limerick and Kerry. We had a long wait as Glenstal were the last team to compete on the day but this did not discourage our spirits, we were raring to go - “ravens fly together” (but in this instance, ponies!).

The show jumping course consisted of jumping two courses with nine jumps in each in succession, one course in the indoor arena and the second in the outdoor arena - both courses set with a completion time of 90 seconds each against the clock and no faults (no pressure!). Aonghus and ‘Caspian’ took to the course with gusto and speed, followed by Michael and ‘Lucy’ who had style and pace throughout the course. Calum and ‘Pebbles’ delivered the first double clear followed by Ben and ‘Alfie’ which enabled the team to qualify for the jump-off for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place - the excitement was unbelievable.
The team nominated Ben and ‘Alfie’ for the jump-off. Whilst he took to the arena for the final jump-off, we huddled on our ponies and watched through our fingers as one by one he cleared each jump, ultimately declaring Glenstal the outright winners in 1st place. What a fantastic win and great team effort, we could not have been happier - the riders and ponies really did fly today!!

A big thank you to Ms Ann Aungier, Fr Denis and Mr Felix Ross for organising the many training events, support and organisation on the day. It was a super day, a great team win, and an equally super equine achievement for Glenstal. I would strongly encourage any show jumping enthusiasts and riders to consider putting their names forward for next year’s Equestrian Interschool’s event and be part of a winning team!

School Clean-up Project
by Cormac Feely
This project started as a desire to join, or at least aid, in the protests against climate change that took place on March 15 worldwide as well as a possible addition to the #trashtag challenge. I wanted to do something to help the environment and I thought it would be prudent to start with the place I spend most of my time: Glenstal.

Looking around at the main grounds of the school I’ve noticed a fair amount of trash. Whether it be on the main drive or behind the main school building, there was trash to be seen everywhere and I found it to be both a blight on the general atmosphere of the grounds and a detrimental addition to the environment. So, when I heard about the protests against climate change as well as the #trashtag challenge, I resolved to organize a group of students to help me in cleaning up the grounds.

On the day of the event, my volunteers and I excused ourselves from the class after lunch and went to our dorms to put on clothes we were comfortable with getting dirty. We used trash bags and gloves that I sourced from the laundry room. We met up at the reception and immediately got to work cleaning up the grounds. Starting towards the back of the school we split into two small groups with one group wrapping around the back of the school and the other group cleaning up around the old science labs before going to meet up with the first group. After we finished behind the school we started cleaning up the main drive and the surrounding vegetation; eventually making our way all the way down to the bridge before we called it a day.

In total, we collected around 8 full bags of trash during the clean-up and we most certainly didn’t get to all of it. I hope that this event isn’t the last of its kind on these grounds and I would love to start clean-ups like these as a way to benefit this community and our environment. However, I feel that it would be better if these clean-ups weren’t necessary at all in the first place and I urge my fellow students to please put your trash in the bins along the road. Really, it isn’t that hard and it makes a world of a difference to the environment and the general atmosphere of the school.

Uiseann Cooke takes Bronze in National Swimming Championships
Uiseann, far right, congratulating fellow winner of 200 metres Breast Stroke Open.
Congratulations once again to Uiseann Cooke (5th Year). Uiseann took Bronze in the National Swimming Championships in the 200 metres Breast Stroke Open.

Uiseann has now qualified for the European Youth Championships in Russia this coming July. He has every reason to believe that he will qualify for the World Junior Championships in Bucharest this coming August.
TY Parents' Day
On Thursday 11th April, the Transition Years made a presentation of their year's work and activities to their parents. Among the highlights of the presentations was the Camino Walk, work experience, sculptures and art, TY Talks, Delbarton and Australian Exchanges. After lunch, Fr Denis celebrated mass for the TY's and their parents. Then it was off into the sunset for the group whose next big adventure will be their foreign language exchanges for which we wish them every success and look forward to welcoming them back as 5th Years in September.
Karaoke for Trócaire
On 28th March a karaoke session took place in the Atrium. The admission fee was €5 and there was lots of talent on show. Shane Lait was amazing with his many and varied renditions of - it seems - every song on the machine. His final song with Conor Clancy had to be the highlight of the afternoon. There were lots of other singers and performers who were called to stage by MC Jack Given.
It was all great fun and the final amount raised for Trócaire is in the region of €890. Many thanks to everyone for their generosity for this most worthy cause.
Fifth Year Classical Studies Trip to Greece
by Matthew Lyne
The fifth-year classical studies group recently enjoyed a wonderful three-day trip to Greece, accompanied by Fr Denis and Mr Ian Murphy. Matthew Lyne has written a detailed account of the trip. 

Fifth Year Classical Studies Trip to Greece
by Matthew Lyne

Some of the lads decided to get a quick nap in before we departed for Dublin Airport whereas others, including myself, just waited, awake, until we assembled outside the front entrance of the school at a hot 1:45 am. The bus arrived as expected and we all stacked our bags at the back and took our seats. In total, we numbered 14 students and 3 teachers. On the bus at this point we had one teacher: Mr Felix Ross, well Ms Honan was also accompanying us (but she only required a lift as far as the airport for her trip to Brussels). We were lacking Fr Denis (as we would be picking him up along the way); and Mr Ian Murphy (as he would meet us at the airport). The 13 students: Matthew Lyne (myself), Hugo McElligott, Donagh Hyland, Mark Kelly, James Fitzgerald, Clovis H Tenison, Art Keane, Mathew Cannon, Sean Carey, Patrick Browne, Tim Hyde, Richard Enright and Alexander O’Dwyer. 13 out of 14 students, so one was missing. Michael O’Donnell was power sleeping, determined to milk every second, he could, of rest before getting on that bus. What an inspiration. So Sean went up to substitute as his alarm and before long we were on the road to Dublin.

Things went more smoothly at the airport as we dropped off Ms Honan at Terminal 1 and met up with Mr Ian Murphy at Terminal 2, at roughly 4:00 am. We collected our boarding passes and crossed through security relatively easily, Fr Denis got searched (as per usual). We boarded at 06.20 and took off at 08:20 after an hours delay and thoroughly enjoyed our4 hour flight, wonderful. Due to the delay, we ended up arriving later than expected at our hotel “The Dorian Inn”, in Omonia, Athens. We got there post 4:00 pm when most monuments were closed for the evening, so, unfortunately, no sight-seeing was to be had that day. But we got something even better, free time! More importantly, FOOD. After some exploration, we reassembled at the hotel and went (via the metro) to have dinner in Plaka. Once we had enjoyed our meal, we returned to the hotel and enjoyed the rooftop view of the Acropolis for a few hours, socialized with some other students from Italy and France and then went to sleep at, what I’m sure was a reasonable hour.

The next morning, after re-fuelling at breakfast, we got together in the lobby at 9:45 am and began what would be a very long, yet enjoyable, walk around Athens. Firstly we strolled to the National Archeological Museum, chiefly to view the Antikythera mechanism and the treasures of Agamemnon. After this we walked to the Museum of the Acropolis, to gain an understanding of its original structure. We spent quite a while perusing the various sculptures and designs that were once part of the great feature. From here we went to the site of the Parthenon itself, where not only did we get to experience one of the most famous historical monuments in the world, but acquired an incomparable view of the city of Athens. From here we walked northward to the Agora (the earliest recorded indoor shopping centre) and from there to the old Roman Forum. We didn't actually enter this site, but Tim did spot a small tortoise strolling along the grounds, (sadly despite clear motivation, he abandoned his idea of kidnapping the tortoise). Moving slightly east, in Plaka, kebabs were bought and eaten. Finally, we moved south-east, where we passed the temple of Zeus, and arrived at the Panathenaic Stadium (which was used as the finish to the marathon and for the archery in the 2004 Olympic games). No one ran the course in it as we were already tired from the walking we had done, instead, we just walked up to the top of the seats on the north side and sat up on the wall. Clovis pushed himself up onto this wall using his recently fractured arm and caused himself quite a degree of pain, nice one. Then we walked back to the hotel; on the way Alex, Mark, Donagh, Michael and Mathew Cannon noticed that the back of their necks had suffered quite a lot from the sun and were significantly red.

We got back just in time for the closing of the pool, so we all got to enjoy not going for a swim. Therefore we settled for showers. At 8:00 pm we met in the lobby and took the metro once again to Plaka. Mr Ian Murphy made the foolish decision of letting us decide where to eat, so there was much procrastination before Hugo solved the situation by just picking a place. The meal was enjoyed and we returned to our hotel once again. Some of us went to the rooftop later in the evening to socialize with some Italian students that were residing in the hotel at the time. We made our way back our rooms later and got some sleep in before our journey the next day.

The majority of us managed to get some breakfast in before packing and checking out. Funny how when you leave somewhere, you always feel like you've left something behind. I certainly felt this way, closing the door to room 612. We were all on the bus at 8:00 am and were on our way.

First stop was the place of The Battle of Chaironeia, where Alexander the Great gained an exceptional victory over the Theban Sacred Band. Save for the Museum the most noteworthy site there was a 7 metre tall Lion made from 4 pieces of marble, to mark the burial place of the fallen members of the Sacred Band. We looked over the Museum briefly before returning to the bus. We left the place, however, with only 13 students as Richard Enright had taken it upon himself to get in a quick toilet trip. Luckily Richard, being a speedy man, caught up with the departing bus.

Next, we went to the centre of the universe, Delphi, one of the most important places in classical history. Delphi was where any man worth getting a prophecy came to get one. The Pythia was said to have spoken the words of Apollo or maybe she was just getting high from hydrocarbon gases, same difference. We walked through the museum at Delphi before moving onto the site itself. The ruins were amazing not only for their significance or quality, such as the Treasuries, the Temple and the Theatre but also for their placement, the surrounding landscape was breath-taking. All the same, we made our way back to the bus eventually. The priority now was food so we stopped fairly soon at a small traditional Greek restaurant. Myself, Mathew and Art enjoyed some fried squid and chips, which by the sounds of it was greatly superior to what the other boys got. Nevertheless, we all re-fuelled and sat back in the bus for what would be a long journey to Napflio (the former capital). Thankfully we made one pit-stop along the way in Plataea, an ancient city that was invaded by the Spartans and shortly after converted into a hotel! Here we wandered around the dilapidated walls, many of us searching for pieces of pottery, Richard found almost half of a cup with some glazing left on it. I myself found a rusted shovel but no one accepted my belief that it was an ancient Plataean shovel.

We arrived at Napflio at around dusk. The hotel kindly provided us with some food and we all retired to the rooms. Some wandered around the city in the evening, Donagh remarked that the naval fortress, on the hill overlooking Napflio, kind of looked like a spaceship if you didn't think too hard. It was raining pretty heavy so we didn't linger.

The next day we were up and on the bus again at about 8:00 am. The rain was absolutely pouring down. First, we went to Epidaurus and viewed the massive Theatre there. We didn't spend much time there as it was lashing rain. Then we moved on to the running track and to the ruins of the residential areas and healing areas of the complex. Again we couldn't spend much time here, as Greece had decided it was Monsoon season. It wasn't long before we were back on the bus, but significantly wetter. Next, we rocked on up to Mycenae and the Palace of Agamemnon. It was still raining so we gladly rushed into the Museum and procrastinated in there as much as possible before braving the wet and wind outside. We eventually came out to explore the Castle grounds, where we viewed the grave circles and the inner chambers and, as per usual in an ancient Greek fortress, we got a spectacular view from the top. The rain hurried us back into the bus where we were carted down to the Treasury of Atreus, a Tholos tomb that bore an uncanny resemblance to Newgrange, just, quite frankly, done better.

Next stop was the decision of our bus driver, Nemea. It was definitely worth the stop. Unlike previous sites, there was very little restriction to where we could go on the grounds, to the point where we could walk onto the Tomb itself.  Apart from the Temple of Zeus, very little remained of the original structure. After a quick scan of the museum, we moved onto the Nemean Stadium. The entrance was via a tunnel roughly 20 metres in length. The majority of students raced each other across the wet mud of a running track in the centre of the stadium, some facing the consequences of brown painted packs, or, as in Alex’s case, a lost shoe. Now the weather was starting to clear up so we took our time returning to the bus.

After a long bus ride, we arrived at the Acrocorinth, a large fortress on a hilltop overlooking the ancient city of Corinth, it was once the Corinthian equivalent of the Acropolis. It was remarkably well preserved and many of us made it to the structures highest point and were rewarded with a phenomenally incomparable view of, not only Corinth but everything around.

Once everyone was crammed back into the bus, now feeling better after some sun and not having to endure the downpours any longer, we finally went to Corinth to get something to eat. We feasted quite hungrily and went on to peruse ancient Corinth from the outside, as unfortunately, it had closed before we got there. From here we went over to the Corinth Canal to see the reality of its massive size, first from the perspective of a new bridge and later we drove over to the old slipway, where the Ancient Corinthians used to drag ships on rollers over the headland. Here we pooled together some money and Michael was given the job of passing this generous tip onto our bus driver, who had added so much to our trip. There followed a long drive, and then we finally returned to our original hotel, “The Dorian Inn”. Here Michael passed on the money, which was received with many thanks.

We took one last trip on the metro to Plaka, where we had our last dinner in Greece. On returning to the hotel, close to all of us migrated to the rooftop. A Belgian class was staying there at the time. Unfortunately, their standard of English was poor, but this gave many of us the opportunity to test our ability in French. Michael, Donagh, Matthew and myself took pride in leading some top quality Irish songs, including Michael's personal favourite “Men behind the Wire”. Mathew made the ambitious attempt of starting “Africa” by Toto, it didn't go down very well!

For the most part, we stayed up on the roof until it was closed for the evening. There was, what for me seemed like, a universal feeling that once we went to sleep, our time in Greece was over. In all, we had had a really enjoyable experience and it was somewhat saddening to know it was coming to an end. So despite our best efforts of procrastination we made our way to bed and eventually to sleep.

The next morning, the lucky among us, got up for breakfast and some, including Art, Alex, Sean and myself, snuck in a quick swim in the rooftop pool (which was unholy levels of cold), before packing up, checking out and getting on the bus for the last time. Our bus driver treated us with doughnuts and cold water, which was an absolute godsend to many of us.

We collected our boarding passes and went through security at the airport. Michael lost his boarding pass, just to make things interesting. However, everything was resolved fairly quickly. Surprisingly no one was noticeably alarmed by Michael’s issue, either we were all just very tired or just trusted that everything would work out. A bit of both probably. Once again we were treated to a lovely uncomfortable four-hour plane journey back to Ireland. Everything went smoothly from here and we were back in Glenstal by around 9:00 pm.

Overall the trip was beneficial, not only in an educational sense, from our amazing experiences of these marvellous relics of ancient history, but also in a social sense. As a group we became a lot closer, I learned a lot about other students that I, previously, did not perceive. I saw several students care for others quite admirably, I saw unconditional generosity from everyone, but most of all there was mutual respect earned between all of us, teachers included. I believe this trip is a great practice, one that should be continued as long as possible, quite frankly because it teaches lessons that are impossible to acquire in the confines of a classroom.

Thanks to Mr Ian Murphy for organising the trip. 

Win at HTAI Junior Cycle History Quiz
by Jack Nolan (3rd Year)
Having qualified through the regional final in Munster, our team comprising of James Cannon, Daniel Kennedy, Jack Nolan, and Luke Nicholas marched on to the National Final in UCD which took place on Saturday 6th April. This was the inaugural year of the competition and as a result, motivation was high to become the first name inscribed on the Cup. Cruelly denied by Árd Scoil Rís in a tie-breaker in the regional final, we were particularly keen on achieving vengeance!

On the day of the National Final, we boarded an early bus to Dublin, with our mascot - Br Colmán! We arrived in Dublin and after a scintillating Starbucks we journeyed on to UCD whereupon we commenced the Quiz. We led through nine rounds by a narrow margin...but we were caught by none other than Árd Scoil Rís in the final round. In a replay of the Regional Final, a dramatic tie-breaker was to again separate the men from the boys (as long as the Industrial Revolution didn’t come up, we knew that the day was ours!). Thanks to a Nazi propagandist filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, victory ensued. Árd Scoil would have to settle for second place. Our Munster defeat behind us, the inaugural History Teachers Association of Ireland Quiz Cup was coming to Glenstal.

Many thanks to Ms Helena Foley for preparing the team so well.

SCT Win Munster Schools Plate
Captain of the SCT, Caolan Dooley presented the Plate to Mr Nick Miller, Fr Denis, and Mr Trevor Fitzgerald after Assembly.
Congratulations to our Rugby SCT on winning the inaugural Br Matthew Corkery Plate on 10th April. They comprehensively defeated Castletroy College 24-5. The scorers were Darragh Hanly with one try; Conor O'Shea one try; Taylor Gleeson one try; and Harry Benner one try. Captain Caolan Dooley converted two of the tries.

It was a fitting end to a long season. Gamesmaster Nick Miller paid tribute to the SCT at Morning Assembly and made particular mention of the Sixth Year players who had put in so much effort over the years and who were receiving a just reward for those efforts.

TY Australian Exchange Programme
by Iarlaith Reilly
The Australian Exchange was a trip of a lifetime, and I will never forget it. The journey started in Dublin at the end of January. We flew from Dublin to Dubai airport and then a 14-hour flight to Sydney. We arrived late Thursday night, and our exchanges and their families greeted us and took us home. I was quite jet-lagged, so I slept in the next morning and went to school during the afternoon. At the school, Central Coast Grammar School everybody was very welcoming and friendly although many people had difficulty with pronouncing my name. I had a meeting with the headmaster Mr Low in which he welcomed me formally to the school. I then went to Liam my exchange's classes for a week until I chose my classes. They had a wide variety of subjects and great teachers teaching them. I also received a complimentary CCGS hat.

My host family, the Macleods, gave me ample time to recover from the jet lag. We landed just before the weekend, so there was enough time to recover. The first weekend my host and his family showed me around the area they lived in, Gosford and brought me to the beach. The weekends were mostly like this going places and having amazing experiences like going to two Waratahs rugby games, the Australian reptile park where we saw all the unusual and unique Australian animals such as koala, spiders and kangaroos and much more. I also had cousins in Sydney whom I visited twice. They also showed me around Sydney, and it was very nice to meet them as you are not in Australia every day! The Macleods also showed me Sydney and its beautiful sights. I got an opportunity to go to an Eminem concert in Sydney which was an incredible concert.  They brought me to a farm where I experienced the wilder side of Australia as well which was very enjoyable and they also brought me to Canberra the capital of Australia where I went to the Australian parliament building and the National War Memorial of Australia which was intriguing to me.

During my time in CCGS, as well as going to class I also participated in fun activities such as bush food tasting where I tasted different bush foods and sauces and kangaroo which was very interesting, to say the least. I took part in an excursion to the beach where we collected data for biology class as well as attending a school drama production of the complete works of Shakespeare (abridged) which was very playful and entertaining.  

I made many new friends in Australia. Everybody was very friendly and very interested in hearing all about Ireland and the Irish accent. I obviously spent quite a lot of time on the beach, and the landscape of Australia is so beautiful and unique and I was always trying to make myself appreciate more that I was in this amazing place and that it was an experience of a lifetime. I am so grateful to Liam my exchange his family the Macleods for everything they did for me and for the great time they showed me I will never forget it and I would 100 per cent recommend this exchange to anyone who has the opportunity to take part in it because it really is the experience of a lifetime.

Upcoming Events and Activities

Darkness into Light 2019

Register for this year’s Darkness into Light taking place in Murroe @ 4:15am on 11th May. 

Register Here

We look forward to a day of fun-filled friendly competition with our annual sports day taking place on Sunday 26th May.


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