Saturday 20 January 2018

Human shamrock record bid puts sprig in pupils' steps

Fergus Black

HOW do you get hundreds of students to sit perfectly still for five minutes?

By carefully arranging them in the shape of a giant shamrock.

Donning specially made green T-shirts, more than 800 schoolboys put their lessons on hold as they attempted to set a new world record – all in the name of charity.

The boys from Blackrock College and nearby Willow Park in Dublin were attempting to form the world's largest-ever human shamrock. They had to hold the position for five minutes in order to stick to strict guidelines set down by officials from the Guinness World Records offices in London.

"As soon as the whistle was blown to begin the attempt, they immediately went quiet," said Blackrock College principal Alan MacGinty. "I'm thinking of arranging classes in the shape of a shamrock from now on."

The event was part of the school's annual fundraising campaign for GOAL and the Aidlink charities. Since it began in 1988, the campaign has raised more than €2m and has managed to sell more than 3.5 million badges in Ireland, the UK, France and America.

Maurice Buckley (16), from Roscommon town, who took part in the record attempt, said the students had been training since November.

Mr MacGinty said they wanted to do something different to mark the 25th anniversary.

"We will be sending evidence of the attempt off to London and then we just have to wait and see if we were successful," he said.

GOAL chief and former Blackrock student Barry Andrews described the campaign as "tremendous".

"The fact that they are attempting such a feat is indicative of Blackrock's imaginative approach to charitable fundraising. It was this college, after all, that came up with the idea, 25 years ago, of making shamrock badges and selling them on St Patrick's Day, with all proceeds going to charity."

Aidlink CEO Anne Cleary said it had made a huge difference to some of the people the organisation had helped in Africa over the past quarter of a century.

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