Christmas has come to Ballinasloe! The Christmas tree is alight and the store-windows are decorated beautifully!
It'll be a festive month ahead, thanks to the wonderful Festive Gathering we had at the weekend. MC Pat Vaughan, of B'sloe Panto, presented the evening, where Christmas carols were provided by local national schools, and Santa Claus turned on the lights.
Catch up on the events from the evening below!
The transition year students of Ardscoil Mhuire, ably assisted by some of their talented neighbours from Garbally College, wowed audiences in the Town Hall last week with a great run of the Lionel Bart- penned classic Oliver. Directed by local man, Eoin Croffy , the accomplished and mature performances of this young cast belied their youth and expertly captured the light and dark shades in this Dickensian inspired drama.
Jane Corbett brought a wide-eyed innocence to the titular role. Her sweetness as Oliver was a perfect foil for the more cynical Artful Dodger, played by the charming Aisling Murphy. Laura Finn was a revelation as the ill-fated Nancy. Her plaintive rendition of “As Long as He Needs Me.” proved to be one of the more poignant highlights in this highly entertaining show. The Ardscoil Mhuire cast were equally gifted in capturing the more comedic moments in this musical standard. Kate Kelly played Mr. Bumble with bombastic pomposity and her scenes with Sarah Fletcher’s Widow Corney were a comic delight. Lauren Miller and Róisín McCollum were hilarious as Mr and Mrs Sowerberry , the mean-spirited undertakers who bought young Oliver.
Christopher Feeney played Bill Sykes with a menacing physicality and his threatening presence provided some of the show’s most dramatic moments. Matthew Comerford invested Fagin’s sly shenanigans with an energetic mix of humour and pathos. His gravel-voiced cockney was another of the show’s highlights.
The musicality of the cast was evident throughout this fine production. The cast shone from the memorable opening strains of “Food, Glorious Food” to the hypnotic harmonies of “Who Will Buy” and were a credit to their hardworking and equally talented musical directors, Caroline Jackson and Maeve Higgins.
Overall this was a confident and hugely entertaining production. Well done to all involved.
By Ken Kelly
The school year in St. Augustine’s NS in Clontuskert finished with several accolades being showered on the teachers and the 38 pupils.
The Head of Microsoft Ireland and Microsoft Corporation, Dr. Kevin Marshall, praised the school for becoming the first in Ireland to create Chekhov eBooks in Irish and congratulated the principal Kate Murray on being awarded the inaugural Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator Fellow Award for the Republic of Ireland.
In an open schools’ competition, St. Augustine's came out on top from 24 local schools who were invited to submit a history and presentation on World War 1 by the organising Heritage Group.
They won the plaudits of the three judges and staged their presentation at an open night in Gullane’s Hotel. To round off a hectic year’s activities, the Clontuskert school hosted thirty students and teachers from France, Spain and England, culminating in a Community celebration night in the school hall, where the local students performed a concert to celebrate the two year partnership of the Comenius project. At a “Red Letter Day” in the school, Microsoft’s Dr. Kevin Marshall said St. Augustine’s had “led the way in primary school one to one technology integration in Ireland” while TD and former school principal, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said she was “blown away by the wonderful, innovative work of the pupils and I congratulate St. Augustine’s on being a school of excellence.”
Microsoft had presented each student with a Surface Device, which is a hybrid tablet with keyboard and pen that gives the pupils an outlet to write, code and create. As part of the celebrations the children presented their work on Chekhov Story author and the Literacy for Life Initiative. They are now the first school in Ireland to create Chekhov eBooks in Irish while Principal Kate Murray is one of twelve Expert Educators from around the world who have worked and designed new models of learning that better prepare learners for life in the 21st century.
In a separate function, there was “standing room only” in the school hall where teachers and students from schools in the UK, France and Spain were entertained to mark the end of a two year Comenius project. In recent years students and teachers from the Clontuskert school traveled to each of the above countries to learn more about their cultures and education. The visitors were also treated to a walking tour of Ballinasloe town as well as visiting places of historical interest in the locality. Under the guidance of principal Kate Murray, fellow teachers Emil Scott, Nicola Egan and Colette Baynes are basking in the glory of the school’s unique successes during the last year. And rightly so!
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