St Brendan's students take a trip to Lourdes

St Brendan's students have been involved with Kerry diocesan pilgrimages to Lourdes since the 1970s

Tadhg Evans

It's a tradition that dates back to the 1970s at St Brendan's, and over the past week, a group of five sixth-years became the latest students at the Sem to take part in Kerry Diocesan Pilgrimages to Lourdes.

Ian O'Connell, Diarmuid O'Donoghue, Michael Horgan, Niall O'Doherty, and Christopher Carey were the five students to fly off last Thursday for Lourdes - they'll be returning today (Wednesday, August 4) - and they did so in the company of teacher Paul Barden. While they were over there, the lads performed a wide range of tasks, Principal Seán Coffey explained, and he told  The Kerryman that the trip represented a great opportunity for the five students.

"The five lads are the latest layer of students from this school to participate in this," he said.  "There were a number of schools in Kerry involved, but St Brendan's involvement goes back to the 1970s, and I'm not sure any other school has been part of this for that long.

"While they're over, the lads will be helping make sure that all those attending ceremonies will have access. These might be older pilgrims, people in wheelchairs, and so on.

"The lads will also be participating in ceremonies themselves, helping out at meal times, and providing entertainment. Two of them are involved with music in the school, and they brought musical instruments over with them for this. "It's an extraordinary opportunity, and a life-changing and life-enhancing one. They're all Leaving Certs, and it'll be heads down with the books after this, but in the meantime, it's a wonderful opportunity." Mr Coffey also had a few words of appreciation for teacher Paul Barden, who has a long-time association with this initiative. "Paul is at this a long time," Mr Coffey said.

"I think he has been involved in organising these trips for around about 18 years."