St Mary’s girls win Chinese competition

On Thursday 3rd May four Transition Year (TY) students from St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow were invited to partake in a Chinese culture and language exhibition organised by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in conjunction with UCD Confucius Institute. The purpose of the event was to launch a new Transition Year Unit in Chinese Studies which will broaden accessibility to Chinese to all secondary schools. The Unit will begin in September 2012. In attendance was Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn who used the opportunity to announce that Chinese will shortly be offered as a Leaving Cert subject. The event involved twenty-two schools already studying Chinese as part of their curriculum and was held in the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise.

Sinead Ahearn-Ford, Aisling Nunan, Sarah McCarthy and Katriona Kot had to create a display based on their experience of learning Chinese as part of the TY programme in St. Mary’s. There was great excitement when the girls from St. Mary’s were chosen as the best overall display. Their display was inspired using the themes of calligraphy, paper cutting, music and poetry. The judges who interviewed the girls were particularly impressed by their Chinese masks. As a result of their success they received a Chinese calligraphy set as well as a selection of chocolates.

The minister also announced that Chinese language and culture will be an optional short-course which will be made available as part of the new Junior Cert programme from 2014. Dr. Anne Looney, CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment commented on the enthusiasm of the participating schools. It is hoped that the new TY programme in Chinese will whet the appetite for students to study Chinese in the Leaving Cert.

First Year History Tours

May Day was all about history for the first years of St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow as the History Department endeavoured to organise not one but two school tours! The first tour involved Mr. O’ Connor’s students from classes 1 Eilis and 1 Siún who set out for a wet and windy Killarney. The weather proved to be no obstacle for the girls of St. Mary’s as spirits remained high on a jam packed day of history related activities. First on the agenda was the Ross Island Mining Walk followed by a guided tour of Ross Castle. As well as learning about the mining history of Ross Island which took place both in pre-historic times and in the 18th and 19th centuries, the girls also looked at some of the geological and natural features visible along the trail. Ross Castle sits on the edge of Killarney’s lower lake and was built by O’Donoghue Mór in the 15th century. Ross Castle was the last stronghold in Munster to hold out against Cromwell. Once the obligatory tea and sandwiches were consumed, the girls were allowed time to do a bit of shopping in the Killarney Outlet Centre. Having thoroughly raided Claire’s Accessories the girls got back on the bus and headed for the spectacular Torc Waterfall. A visit to Muckross Traditional Farms rounded off what was a wonderful day for everyone.

Mr. Cahill’s 1 Neasa and Mrs. Foley’s 1 Clár headed north to Tipperary. Similar to the Killarney brigade, neither wind nor rain could dampen spirits as they arrived at their first port of call, Cahir Castle. The castle is situated on a rocky island on the River Siur and is one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles. The castle retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. Following this, thanks to the advice of the bus driver, the students stopped for some light and not so light refreshments! Having stuffed themselves with all things sweet, they arrived at the pinnacle of the trip, the iconic Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman Invasion.All the girls arrived back in Mallow suitably shattered from a day full of activity. The debate on who had the better tour would have to wait until the next day!