Visit of Michael O’Leary
The Ursuline Secondary School was flying high last week when Michael O’Leary chief executive of Ryan Air ‘touched down’ in the school for a visit. This giant of the aviation industry came at the invitation of tenacious Business Studies teacher Ms. Hynes working in cohoots with Michael’s niece Megan who is a fifth year student in the school. On Thursday, November 28, he arrived with his wife Anita and his mother, shortly before 11am and was formally welcomed to the school by the Sixth Year members of the School Council.
He then proceeded to the staff room and had break time with the teachers introducing himself to everyone and posing for photographs with great joviality and affability. Then he was shown to the general assembly area where all Fifth and Sixth year students had gathered in anticipation of his words of wisdom. He had a captive audience from the start with his promise of free flights to the students who, in his estimation, asked the best questions. He spoke first about Ryan Air, the business world and life in general, dispensing some valuable advice. His message was very positive and relevant but above all entertaining. He told them there is no great mystery to getting ahead in business. There can be no success without hard work. He said he worked hard throughout his twenties and thirties first as the proprietor of a Newsagent in Walkinstown and then with Ryan Air building it up from humble beginnings to a carrier of 105 million passengers annually.
He advised the girls to use their summer holidays productively by getting employment and gaining valuable work experience in a variety of jobs. In his opinion work experience is as important as academic qualifications. He put up a powerpoint display with a list of statements for the students to think about. Top of the list was that life is not fair – get over it and if you think teachers are tough wait until you have a boss. He told them they were lucky to have parents and teachers who care about them and their education. He hoped that they would be ambitious for themselves and not settle for mediocrity. One important aspect of his speech which the girls could all relate to was his insistence that women should have a career of their own and strive to be independent. He said that many companies would be better if they had more women at the top and that he hoped Ryan Air would have a female chief executive some day in the near future.
The student who asked about how terrorism affects a company like Ryan Air and how they recover from something like the attacks in Paris got the tickets to Amsterdam. Another, more daring student asked him if he was worried now that people had more money in a recovering economy that they might switch to a more quality airline. His immediate reply was that Ryan Air was a quality airline but he admired her courage in asking this question and she won the tickets to Madrid. The final question which he felt was deserving of free flights to London was asked by a Leaving Cert student who wondered if he personally felt a responsibility to his employees. He replied that he felt a responsibility to his staff, to the people who fly with Ryan Air and to all the people who are employed indirectly by the company.
He was asked what he had learned from Tony Ryan. His reply was that Tony Ryan had taught him to set his vision high and not to be content with being a success just in Ireland but to be international in his outlook. He finished by reminding the students to never stop learning and that he is still learning even at his age. He wished them all well, hoping that they would have incredibly happy and fulfilled lives. He spoke for well over an hour and anyone who heard him and met him admired his energy, infectious enthusiasm and charisma. Well done and thanks to all involved in helping to organise his visit and to Michael’s niece Megan for persuading him to come.
November Prayer Service for the Holy Souls
On Monday last the school community gathered together in the Sr Ursula Memorial Hall to remember relatives and friends who have died. The theme chosen was a famous quotation by the Indian poet Tagore: “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
In preparation for the prayer service Niamh Browne, Fifth Year, drew an image of a parent and child walking hand in hand towards the sun. This was then cut out in wood by Pat and Niamh painted the parent in bright yellow which was also reflected onto the child figure who is walking out of the darkness into the light. This image was used to convey the idea that God is the loving parent leading those who have died out of the darkness of death towards the light of eternal life.
The students wrote the names of the deceased on yellow paper which they placed on the sun. The Cecilian choir sang a version of ‘See You Again’ by Charlie Puth, Cloud’s Veil by Liam Lawton and Bridín Ryan sang a beautiful Sean Nós rendition of ‘The Night Visiting’ song by The Dubliners. During the Prayers of the Faithful, candles were lit for those who have died by terrorist attacks, in road traffic accidents, as a result of old age, illness, famine, natural disasters, natural causes and by suicide. Thanks to Fr. Hayes, the school chaplain, for leading the prayer service. He gave a very moving homily about an Irish man, Brendan McManus who walked the Camino in memory of his brother Donal who died tragically. This epic pilgrimage of 500 miles helped him to find a way out of the darkness of his grief. Many thanks to Nuala Fitzgibbon, Fifth Year, who wrote out the theme in calligraphy for display on the wall during the para-liturgy. Thanks also to the Religious Education department and the Music department for helping to make the service so special and touching.
UCT Cadettes (under 16) were involved last week in the Cadette Midlands B League Semi Final. In this away game to Clonaslee the girls knew that they were facing a tough game. They put their hearts and souls into their play but unfortunately Clonaslee proved too strong. The final score was Ursuline 25 Clonaslee 33. It was a great display by the girls in a very competitive game. Hard luck but well done on a brilliant effort.
The Senior As played Loreto Kilkenny in a challenge match and won by UCT 2 – Loreto 1. Well done girls.
Last week, eighty-six First Year hockey enthusiasts travelled to Limerick to participate in a blitz. The games were divided between two venues, Villiers and Crescent. All teams played four games each. It was a great day out and the lovely weather helped to make it all the more enjoyable. Many of the TYs who play for the school are taking hockey coaching as part of their Gaisce challenge. So sixteen Transition Years travelled to Limerick with the first years taking on the duties of coaches and umpires. The TYs made decisions about play and tactics and guided the younger students on the day. These TY hockey players were also responsible for the hockey display on Open Evening. They are gaining valuable coaching skills and more personal confidence under the watchful eye of the hockey teachers in the school. On the day of the blitz in Limerick the TYs did a great job minding their young charges and were helped by First Year Hockey Coach, Ms. Creagan and her assistants Sandra O’Gorman and Reidín Fogarty.
In the Senior A Munster championship the Ursuline travelled to UL to play Laurel Hill in the 1/4 final of the Senior A cup last Monday, November 23. The game was played on astro-turf because of the deteriorating conditions of most fields. UCT won the game, the final score being UCT 4-6 Laurel Hill 2-10. This win sees UCT face St. Joseph’s, Tulla in the Munster semi final in the coming weeks. The Junior Camogie team is playing old Cork rivals, Coachford, on Monday, November 30 in the next round of Junior A championship. Well done to Ms. Hogan and Ms O’Friel
Christmas Lunchtime Fun
The countdown to Christmas began two week ago with the Fifth Year School Councillors organising fun activities at lunchtime on Thursdays. They have decided to parody well-known television shows and so far they have had teachers and students getting down and dirty in the jungle and lining up to find a date. On UCT TV the week before last they introduced us to ‘I’m a teacher, get me out of here.’ There was a team of three teachers Ms. Callanan, Ms. Keating and Mr. Cleary versus three students, Erin Ryan, Ruth Everard and Kate Williams. Thankfully there were no slugs, worms or cockroaches to be eaten! Instead there was a sock challenge, a ball challenge and animal charades. Well done in particular to Ruth and Mr. Cleary who wowed us with their animal impersonations.
Last week saw Mr. Kirby looking for love from among his colleagues in the Teachers’ version of ‘Blind Date’. Mr. Kirby had to choose between three teachers who were hidden from him. There were lots of intelligent, witty, edgy replies to his questions. He even threw in an unscripted question to test their powers of improvisation. In the end he chose Ms. O’Friel over Ms. Slattery and Mr. McLaughlin, who had disguised himself as Hawaii Barrie. Well done to all involved in the organisation and to the Teachers for being such good sports.