Fingal Community College joined in the national commemorations of 1916 by hosting several events throughout the year. The History Department spent many months planning and organising events such as the Raising of the Flag, a Drama and Musical Concert, participation in the Fingal 1916 parade, Art Competitions, Creative Arts Workshops, debates and many more. Newly composed poems and songs were written by many talented students also. Throughout the year the History noticeboard was updated with newspaper articles, photographs and maps concerned with the 1916 Rising. Ms. O’Keeffe also created a Wall of Relatives to enable students to connect the event with people from the local community.
The formal commemorations started on the 7th of March when Head Boy Conor and Head Girl Daria, Seán from 1st Year, Ms. Rooney and Mr Burke set off to Croke Park to collect our Irish Flag from an Uachtarán Michael D. Higgins. Seán was chosen to attend the ceremony as he had won a 1916 Project competition organised for first and second years. All of the projects submitted were fantastic, but Sean’s was especially so as he had presented his project to transition year students, displaying excellent knowledge and superb confidence.
This flag was then raised in the school grounds on Tuesday the 15th of March as part of a nationwide campaign to reflect on the events of 1916. The proclamation was read by a 6th Year student, Brian and followed by the college’s own Proclamation for a New Generation, drafted by the Student Council, reflecting our vision for a modern inclusive Ireland (click here to view). The school choir, along with all the entire school community, sang Amhrán na bhFiann as a closing to the ceremony.
The next day, the school was in for a real treat as a 1916 Concert of Music, Dance, Poetry and Drama was held in the school hall. This was the combined effort of the History, Music and Drama departments led by Jessica, a 5th Year student. The Drama group had two very different pieces, the first a series of monologues remembering the leaders of the Rising and the second piece informing students of the tragic deaths of a number of children during this time. One account was of Bridget O’ Kane, a 15-year-old girl who died when a bullet went through her father’s shoulder, in her home and then killed her. Hannah, who performed the role of Bridget, is in fact her relative. It was a fitting reminder to everyone watching of their own ancestors and what happened to them during the Rising.
The mood was then lightened as the stage came alive with impressive Irish dancers (Sarah, Elzabetha, Ava, Jelena) and a bagpiper. The piper was past pupil and All Ireland Winner Christopher Russell. He is a member of the Black Raven Pipe Band which was set up by Thomas Ashe. Thomas Ashe was also remembered as he fought in the battle of Ashbourne and was imprisoned. He later died from pneumonia caused by being force fed as he was on hunger strike. Several students read their own 1916 poems, including sixth year student Nadine and congratulations to all of them for doing so well in the A Poem for Ireland Competition. Chloe and Hannah performed their song ‘Abhaile’, which was entered into an All-Ireland Song competition Song for 16. Mosesalso performed his own penned song called ‘Republic’. Special guests for the concert were Bernadette Marx, of Fingal Heritage centre and Liam Clare also of the Fingal Raven Pipe Band. This event would not have occurred were it not for the great vision and dedication of the History and our new Music (directed by Ms. Kennedy) departments.
In March and April, transition year students were led on a 1916 Walking Tour with Ms De Butléir and Ms Rooney. Students visited iconic Rising locations such as Liberty Hall, the GPO and Dublin Castle and listened to the history and significance behind each location. Students visited a 1916 exhibition by Dublin Fire Brigade in City Hall to show the extent of the fire and destruction which destroyed Dublin city during the Rising. The tour concluded in the National Photographic Archive where students could see photographs of the destruction of the city.
Many students participated in the Swords 1916 parade on Sunday the 24th April. The drama club once again represented the college so well and the Art department lead by Ms. Lynch captured the moment with their 1916 imaginative float.
Waves, a unique arts education initiative that connects young people and art. Irish artists, Ruth Lyons and Seán Lynch were invited to devise a series of artist-led workshops to students within Fingal Community College, in response to the rich context of the Easter Rising 1916 Commemorations. During this enquiry Fifth year students and Ms Lynch explored ideas of zeitgeist, civic agency, public art, memorialization, and the use of visual and material language in our culture, past and present. Videographer Jenny Brady documented these dynamic investigations and the resulting film which was shown in the Draíocht Arts Centre on the 12th of May.
Then on Wednesday the 18th of May, Ms Rooney organised a 1916 debate with St Joseph’s of Rush. The motion for the debate was “Should we be celebrating the centenary of a failed rebellion?” and as the home school, our fifth years proposed the motion. Bernadette Marks was once again invited to the school to act as adjudicator, along with our own Ms. Digan and Mr Cashin from St. Joseph’s. On the day the motion was carried so Fingal were the winners and Aoife from St. Joseph’s was awarded Best Speaker. This was concluded with 1916 food having a modern twist. Students sampled bacon and onion potato cakes, along with a spicy vegetarian version. This was finished off with apple and oat muffins and of course the essential cupán tae! The debate was a fantastic conclusion to our 1916 celebrations.