Pupils and staff of Castlelyons NS pulled out all the stops in their celebration of Lá Forógra na Scoile, Proclamation Day, on Tuesday, 15th March 2016. Invited guests, Mrs Prudence (Kent) Riordan, niece of the 1916 patriot, Thomas Kent, along with her son Michael Riordan, former teachers Mrs Marie Crowley and Mrs Margaret Cashman and a large group of parents gathered in the school hall at 12.00 noon for the celebration. Mr Nelius de Róiste, principal, welcomed everybody, especially Mrs Riordan and Michael and hoped that all would enjoy the presentation by the children.
Pupils from Junior Infants opened the performance with representatives from each class in the school outlining the programme of events and the background to the 1916 Rising. Seven pupils from the senior classes, in full costume representing the Seven Signatories, read the Proclamation. Rang 6 had composed their own “Proclamation for a New Generation” as part of the activities leading up to Proclamation Day. This newly-composed proclamation set out the pupils’ vision for Ireland for the next 100 years, which was a forward – looking, inspiring composition, Léigh páistí ó rang 3 píosa as Gaeilge ag cuimhneamh ar na laochra go léir, go mór-mhór ár laoch féin, Thomas Kent, a fuair bás ar son na saoirse dúinn.
Then pupils from rang 4 told us about the contribution that the Kent family of Bawnard made to the cause of Irish freedom, culminating in the deaths of two of the Kent brothers. Richard died from wounds received in the battle at Bawnard with the RIC on 4th May and Thomas was executed in Cork prison on 9th May 1916.
This presentation was followed by the singing of “Óró ‘Sé do Bheatha Bhaile”, followed in turn by a short explanation of the origins of our National Flag and the protocol surrounding its use. Finally, the children sang “The Soldiers’ Song”, accompanied on the guitar by Angelo Presta, a pupil in rang 5.
Mr de Róiste complimented the efforts of the children, especially that of teachers, Ms Cotter and Ms Finn. Both teachers had put an enormous effort into preparing the children for the occasion. Mr de Róiste thanked everyone for attending, especially Mrs Riordan and Michael. He said, “Not many schools can claim to have someone with such a close connection to an executed 1916 leader. It is a great honour and privilege that Mrs Riordan and Michael took the time and the effort to attend on this historic occasion”. Mr de Róiste went on to invite everybody back into the school after the flag-raising ceremony to view the children’s 1916 projects and accompanying art work on display as well as two Roll Books from 1874 with Thomas Kent’s name recorded.
Then it was time to go outside for the flag-raising ceremony. This was done in great style with Ger Broderick, piper with Castlelyons Pipe Band leading the children, playing “Wrap the Green Flag Round Me Boys” and “A Nation Once Again”. Everybody gathered round the flag pole to the front of the school and as all present sang “Amhrán na bhFiann” accompanied by Ger on the pipes, Mrs Riordan and her son Michael hoisted the tri-colour.
A great sense of pride and satisfaction with a job well done prevailed. A comment from a parent present at the event summed up the whole event, “I feel proud to be Irish today and proud of the school which my child attends”.