Former president of An Taisce and RTE broadcaster Eanna Ní Lamhna gave a stark warning to the 800 pupils, parents and staff at Kilkenny College Prize Day on Friday, October 19.
With her customary wit and good humour, the guest speaker nevertheless painted a grim picture of the future with a combination of rising population, exhausted resources and global warming, catastrophic climate events and widespread environmental degradation. She said that humanity is heading for a climatic disaster unless we radically change our impact on the world.
To control carbon and methane emissions, she asked that people regulate house heating, only travel when necessary, and tackle problems such as methane produced by livestock and biodegradables going to landfill. She also suggested that people plant a tree every year – and led the way by planting a hornbeam beside the school.
Mayor of Kilkenny Sean O’ hArgain praised the school for its role in the life of the city and surrounding counties. Referring to recent political statements about Protestant schools, he said that the local politicians and Government are very conscious of the unique situation of schools such as Kilkenny College.
Headmaster Ian Coombes reflected on one of the most successful years ever academically and in sport. In Junior and Leaving Certificates, the performances were outstanding with almost a quarter of all candidates achieving over 500 points and six gaining 600 or more points.
He was critical of the bonus points for Higher Maths, which had the effect of pushing up entry points to many courses and disadvantaging students whose aptitude lay in other areas.
Among the top prizes awarded were the Bill Corrigan Memorial Award for effort and performance in the Junior Certificate to Emer Crowley, Johnswell, who was among those to get all As at Higher Level, and the Philip Gray Prize to Andrew Levie, Clonmel, for exceptional contributions in extra-curricular activities and high academic achievement.
The Bishop Foy Cup for Music went to Andrew Burrows, Troys Gate, and the Parents’ Association TY Prize to Amy Armitage from Birr. Aoife Harte from New Ross won the Helen Batwell Art Price, and has also just won an entrance scholarship to NUI Maynooth.
Mr Coombes also singled out Grainne Burrows who has won three essay competitions recently including the APCK national competition on the significance of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.
Thirty three of the leaving class were honoured for achieving over 500 points and the Parents’ Association Prize – presented by chairperson Josephine Eviston – was split between Sam Morrow, Andrew Burrows, Sarah Dowley, Digvijay Jondhale, Adam Keeley Schmidt and Jack McDowell each of who secured the outstanding mark of 600 or more points.
Following a great year for college musicians and singers, taking top awards at the Wesley and Kilkenny Music Festivals, it was fitting that the college orchestra and Senior choir performed at the opening of the ceremony on Friday and the Chamber Choir followed with Ave Maria by Caccini and the Ugly Bug Ball by Sherman as a tribute to the guest of honour.