Honours Board unveiled to mark 50th anniversary of Patrician Academy Student Council

Student Council past chairperson Eoghan Kenny, past co-ordinator John Lucey, current co-ordinator Regina Glynn, Principal Elaine O’Regan, and current Student Council chairperson Kenny Dunne, with the honours board. Photo, S Murphy.

On Tuesday, 11th May, the Patrician Academy celebrated the unveiling of its Student Council honours board. The board showcases the names of past chairmen of the Student Council, dating all the way back to 1971, with plenty of room left for the names of future chairmen. This was the culmination of extensive research carried out by our 50th anniversary sub-committee, with the much-appreciated help of former teacher and past Student Council co-ordinator, Mr John Lucey. The sub-committee of the Student Council – dedicated to preparation for the 50th anniversary – spent months scouring past magazines and documents in order to compile a list of names. This committee involves four Transition Year students: Michael Corbett, Joe Power, Paidi O’Riordan and Cathal Sheehan. After they had gathered a generous list of past chairmen, they had John Lucey proofread the list. He helped amend mistakes and fill in some gaps in the timeline. Fionn Mullane and Robbie O’Brien made the board and the names were printed by Mallow Print.
Those attending the launch of the Honours Board included the current council, past chairperson Eoin Kenny, past teacher Mr. John Lucey, Vice Principal Jer Holland, Principal Elaine O Regan, as well as current and past coordinators of the Council, notably Michael Murphy, Edel O’ Donoghue, Annette Harte and Siobhan O’Donovan. Mr. John Lucey graced the launch with a wonderfully sentimental speech on his involvement in the formation of the council. See a copy of the speech below.
This is the start of a number of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Student Council. The next event will take place in September/October which will be the launch of our art murals painted by the students celebrating the work of the Student Council over the years. We also hope to have an Inter Schools Public Speaking event in November.
John Lucey’s Speech
“When I was a student in the Academy in the late ‘60s, the toilet block was situated at the end of the upper yard just behind O’Callaghan’s back wall where today there are garages and store rooms. The toilets were open to the elements and were stinking. To get to the loo, you had to walk a long walk of shame across the yard in hail, rain or snow. They became intolerable and unacceptable to the students and so a successful student walkout was organised in protest.
In 1968-1969 with the appointment of a new Principal Br. Maurice, a new toilet block and enclosed staircase was built, now known as the red corridor. Two years later the same Br. Maurice established one of the first student councils in Ireland. He was a man of vision who always said schools were for students who must be listened to and heard. Br. Maurice became the Student Council’s first co-ordinator and established the rules of election and procedures in conducting meetings etc. He diverted students’ attention away from buildings which were the responsibility of manage-ment and focused their attention on aspects of school that affected students most – internal school sporting activities, inter-school relationships, school journal, charitable collections and roll call-checks each day etc.
In 1981, Michéal Langford took over from Br. Maurice as co-ordinator. During my years as a teacher in the Academy, Michéal devoted his extra time from teaching to the Students Council.
I feel today I am standing in for these two mentors, both of whom have passed on. In August of last year, Br. Maurice died aged 95 in Newbridge and even though it was Covid times he was given a great send-off by his past pupils in Newbridge and Ballyfin who included Luka Bloom (brother of Christy Moore) and Donal Lunny. There is a bust statue of him in Ballyfin Domaine if any of you are privileged to visit there.
So, as well as honouring our past chairpersons, we remember also our past and present teacher co-ordinators; Mr. Murphy, Ms Harte, Ms O’Donovan, Ms O’Donoghue and especially our present co-ordinator Ms Glynn who has steered the ship admirably for 15 years. We also thank the foot soldiers – our student councillors who brought the voice of the Academy Student Council beyond the boundaries of the school and right up to Govern-ment, when in 1998 Student Councils were recognised in Section 27 of the Education Act as an essential part of all school communities.
Before I finish, I would like to say a brief word on the Inter-School Com-mittees which were founded as an offshoot of the Patrician Academy Student Council. Michéal Langford and I, from the Academy, Sr. Nuala and Mary Harrington from St. Mary’s, and Noel O’Connor and Eileen Burton from Davis College, established the Inter-schools Committee which brought together students from each of the three schools to further support the broader community of second-level students in Mallow.
Gorta tennis competitions with mixed teams from the three schools were held at lunchtimes in each school yard or tennis court. Debating, quiz com-petitions, céilis, concerts were also held throughout the year along with carol singing at Christmas.
So, for the present and future councils as a memento to all student councillors and their teacher co-ordinators past, maybe a rejuvenation of the Inter-Schools Committee might be a project to consider.
Thank you to your Principal Ms O’Regan, to your present co-ordinator Mrs Glynn and to you, student councillors, for this wonderful honour for me to be here today with you and to launch an Honours Board for the council’s past and future chairpersons.”