Students asked to 're-imagine the concept of Irishness' at Leinster House awards ceremony
Secondary-school students from across Ireland were asked to “re-imagine the concept of Irishness” at an awards ceremony in Leinster House yesterday.
The ceremony, attended by the Ceann Comhairle Sean O'Fearghail, was organised by the Thomas F Meagher Foundation to celebrate the best in annual Flag Day projects.
Named after the Irish Patriot, and later U.S. Civil War hero, who flew the first tricolour in 1848 the Foundation aims to promote ‘pride and respect’ for the Irish flag.
“We encouraged young people irrespective of ethnicity, creed or gender to work together under the Irish tricolour and live its message of peace and unity,” explained Reverend Michael Cavanagh, Chairman of the Foundation.
He added: “We encourage active citizenship through our Awards and Scholarship Programme with emphasis on the exploration by the next generation of inherited traditions so they can embrace what it means to be Irish in the modern world.”
Kate Lynch, a fifth-year student from the Regina Mundhi College in Cork City, received a scholarship of €3,000 from the Foundation for her work in promoting the values of the flag.
“I’ve a passion for Irish history but also believe we can use those values from the past in shaping a bright future,” she said.
Kate put together a project which sought the views of students, both Irish and visiting, and older citizens about what Ireland and its flag means to them.
Broadcaster and former Rose of Tralee Maria Walshe, who presented the ceremony in Government buildings, told the Irish Independent:
“Events and awards schemes like these are so important in helping support young people who want to promote peace and understanding in an Ireland which is changing so fast. It gives them a local and national platform and they’re choosing to use it to shape our nation.”
And Senator Mark Daly, a co-founder of the Foundation, said that its focus is now on the years to come rather than commemorating the past.
“In 2015 we presented flags to every secondary school in the country to mark the centenary of the Rising and we encouraged young people to think about the vision Meagher and others had. But now we’re looking ahead to a country built on peace between all communities on our island, shared values and inclusiveness.”
To date the Foundation has raised funds for a variety of charities including Pieta House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Amongst those to benefit is a Trocaire project, backed by the Ceann Comhairle’s office, which brings clean drinking water to a region in Ethiopia.
Funds are raised through the sale of flag lapel pins given free to schools around the country.
Other award-winning schools were Cork’s Mary Immaculate College, Colaiste Phobail Cholmcille on Donegal’s Tory Island, Colaiste Bride (Dublin), North Monastery School (Cork City), Castleknock College (Dublin) and Christ Kings Girls School from Cork.