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    After several months of arduous preparation Friday the 28th of June 2012 finally saw the eagerly anticipated arrival of President Michael D. Higgins to St. Patrick's BNS. He was invited by the principal, Mr. McCarthy and the Board of Management as part of the school's ongoing 75th anniversary celebrations.
The previous night had seen heavy rainfall and in order to avoid the floods President Higgins and his entourage travelled by helicopter to nearby Collins Barracks. The hum of rotor blades in the distance threatened to make the excitement unbearable but the boys managed to contain themselves which was quite a feat given that it was the last day of term and the summer holidays were only hours away.
In anticipation of the visit the 75 year old building had been given a lick of paint and the gardens were also given a bit of tender loving care by school caretaker Joe Kennedy. By the time the big day came around, it must be said, the grounds, (and a few of the staff) were looking quite spruce.

    President Higgins was welcomed to St. Patrick's by Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Foley outside the recently-built resource and after-school building, Áras Phádraig. After warmly greeting staff and parents the President proceeded to unveil a plaque marking his visit to the new facility. Inside the building he was treated to a display of the Sliabh Luachra set by Mr. Lettis' 3rd class under the guidance of their Irish dancing teacher Mrs. Helen Healy who later commented on how proud she was of the boys. Mr. McCarthy then introduced the President to members the many parents' groups in the school, including the knitting circle and parents for whom English is an additional language. After a few words the President made his way to the main school building where he became the first person to sign St. Patrick's new visitor book, a re-bound roll book from the early 1900s. President Higgins showed great interest in one past-pupil in particular, Frank O'Connor.

    Next on the agenda was a trip to the computer room where the President met with parents who are working towards achieving their ECDL. They take part in a computer skills course there every Wednesday, just one of the many courses open to parents in the school.
The main part of the President's visit took place in the halla where he spoke to over 250 pupils and staff. 5th Class boys Dylan Mulcahy and Paul Long read an extract from O'Connor's "First Confession", which is based on the writer's experiences in St. Patrick's in the early 1900s.The entire school also gave a hearty rendition of specially commisioned school song "Scoil Naomh Pádraig."
President Higgins spoke about the importance of the motto of St. Patrick's BNS, "Ó gach duine, a dhícheall" - "From everyone, their best" and how the school helps boys to realise their potential by providing a safe and nurturing learning environment. President Higgins also complimented all those involved in the Homework Club and stressed the importance of the contribution made by such a facility to children, parents and the community.

    Being a man of letters himself, he again touched on the subject of Frank O'Connor and spoke quite authoritatively on the short story which was of course O'Connor's chosen medium.
To mark the occasion and to express the school's gratitude for taking the time to visit us, 6th Class pupil Luke O'Donoghue presented President Higgins with a first edition of Frank O'Connor's Stories Collection Two. It must be stated that all staff were immensely proud of how the boys represented the school on the day. In the weeks leading up the visit they worked hard and were extremely enthusiastic in their preparations even though the end of term is usually a time for pupils to begin to relax. Many members of staff have pointed out their fantastic behaviour as one of the highlights of the day.

    After being introduced to the staff and representatives of the Parents' Group, the President finally bade farewell to St. Patrick's and the boys began their summer holidays having taken part in yet another little piece of the history of St. Patrick's. It was an occasion that the boys will never forget.      
- Mr.  Duffy

Remarks By President Higgins On A Visit To St. Patrick’s Boys National School, Cork, For Their 75th Anniversary, Thursday, 28th June 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, thank you for that very warm welcome. I am delighted to be here today at St Patrick’s Boys National School in Gardiner’s Hill. This is, of course, a very special year for the teachers and pupils of the school; the year you celebrate the school’s seventy fifth anniversary on your present site and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to take part in the celebrations.

I know that your school motto is “Ó gach duine a dhícheall” (From each person, their best). I think that motto is one of the many things which make this school such a special place – a place that doesn’t simply value a pupil by how well they do at their lessons, but also by how hard they work; by how well they treat each other; and of course by how much use they make of all of the individual talents they have been given.

The pupils of St Patrick’s are very lucky to go to a school that fully understands and acts on the basis that all of the boys here are equally important and that all of you should have the opportunity to achieve your full potential – to be the very best you can be, whether that’s at lessons, or sport, or art, or music, or being a good leader or a helpful team member or all of the other things we can do to make our contribution to the school and in our community.

St Patrick’s is, of course, a school that is committed to giving every pupil the opportunity each boy deserves to fulfil his true potential. I commend the teachers and support staff here for their dedication to their pupils; for their constant willingness to go the extra mile and to give that little bit more in order to fully nurture and support all of the boys in their care.

St. Patrick’s School has a proud history which actually dates back to 1841 when the school was established on its previous location at St. Luke’s Cross. Since then, many pupils who passed through its doors went on to distinguish themselves in sport, politics and academia – including Tomás O’Leary and Donal Lenihan on the rugby field.

Tuigim go bhfuil sibh thar a bheith bródúil as an baint atá ag an scoil le Frank O’Connor. Bhí O’Connor ar cheann de na scríbhneoirí Éireannacha is fearr dá raibh ann. Dar ndóigh bhí sé ar cheann de na scríbhneoirí gearrscéalta is fearr dá raibh ann sa domhan mór. Ní haon ábhar iontais go dtugann saol ildánach, cruthaitheach agus samhlaíoch Frank O’Connor spreagadh do na buachaillí scoile sa lá atá inniu ann. Ba mhian le bhur dtuismitheoirí agus bhur múinteoirí go ndéanfadh sibh a ndícheall i gcónaí.

[I know that the school is particularly proud of its association with Frank O’Connor, who was not only one of Ireland’s greatest writers but also among the world’s best short-story writers. Perhaps it is the spirit of the genius of Frank O’Connor that inspires so many of the boys at school today to be so talented, so creative and so imaginative. That is what your parents and teachers want – to see all your talent and creativity blossom to its full potential. ]

Of course, Something else that makes St Patrick’s very special is your After School Building, where forty five lucky pupils are provided with homework assistance and recreational sporting activities from Monday to Friday after the normal school day has completed. This is a wonderful facility which has already, since its completion in 2009, made a valuable contribution to the lives of the children and parents in this community.

We know that quality after-school childcare facilities like these are the best way of encouraging good work and the development of effective study habits. This positive environment, along with the games and recreation that are available makes after-school attendance a great experience for the 45 boys who attend. I am sure that your parents must also be delighted that you are doing well in this after-school programme.

Today is an important occasion for all those who have contributed to this project and who have worked hard to make the After School programme a happy and beneficial experience for all involved – for the boys, for their families and for the wider community.

Before I finish, I want to congratulate all the boys for making such a special effort today to welcome me to the school and for being so attentive during my remarks. As this is the last day of school before the summer holidays, I can only imagine how excited you all are at the prospect of two months off without any school. But I suspect that by mid-August many of you will be secretly looking forward to returning to school and meeting up again with your friends and teachers. And even if you are not, it’s a certain bet that your parents will be.

I hope that all of the boys, teachers, staff and families have a wonderful summer; that you all get a relaxing break and an opportunity to refresh tired minds and bodies; and that you return here in September full of energy and enthusiasm for another school year. I send my particular good wishes to the boys in 6th class who won’t be returning because they will be taking the next exciting step in life’s journey into secondary school. It’s a big step but one that St. Patrick’s School has well prepared you for.

Finally I would like to thank you all, once again, for the wonderful welcome you have given me here today. I would like to convey my appreciation to Joe McCarthy, Principal of the school, and the Board of Management for inviting me to join you all and I wish you all the very best for the future.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

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