President McAleese honours St.
Mary's High School.
Tuesday April 30 was a red-letter day for St. Mary's
High School, Midleton, when President Mary McAleese
visited the school to perform the official launch of
its Centenary Celebrations. Now East Cork's oldest and
largest girl's school, St. Mary's opened its doors for
the first time in September 1902 to a student body of
Since then it has become noted throughout the country
for its academic and sporting prowess, as well as for
the social consciousness which it actively encourages
among its students. Adjoining streets were closed to
traffic as The President arrived at St. Mary's, where
she was greeted by a Guard of Honour comprising of 100
first year students.
President McAleese first contribution was to unveil
a School Centenary Plaque, which has been fashioned
with the help of Grainne Sheedy, stone-sculptor and
former student of St. Mary's. Following this ceremony,
The President proceeded to the school Assembly Hall
to meet The High School's six-hundred-plus staff and
Officially welcoming The President, School Principal
Mr Donal Cronin said that the school's Centenary Year
would evoke wonderful memories of the past. "We are
extremely and justly proud of our great Presentation
Tradition", said Mr. Cronin, "but while tradition is
cherished dearly at St. Mary's, so equally is innovation
and change". The Principal recalled numerous changes,
many of them of a pioneering nature, which have been
wrought within The High School. These innovations ranged
from academic reforms in the realms of Leaving Cert
Applied, Transition Year and Senior Certificate Courses;
to the outstanding prominence, which the school has
played in a wide variety of sports both at national
and international levels. Mr Cronin referred also to
the active and often courageous stands for which St.
Mary's has been known in matters of Civil Rights and
in favour of poor and oppressed people both in Ireland
None of these changes, Mr Cronin pointed out, could
have been achieved without the imagination, verve and
outstanding hard work in every department of what he
described as St. Mary's dynamic staff. Mr Cronin ended
by thanking and saluting the staff on his own behalf,
on behalf of preceding principals and on behalf of the
President McAleese expressed her delight at having the
opportunity to salute Midleton's High School on this
important milestone of its proud history. Excellence
in education, she said, was a vital foundation on which
Ireland's social, economic and political future is based.
The President paid a warm tribute to the Presentation
Sisters for their long, distinguished and priceless
role in the social and educational development on Midleton.
"These women," said the President, "are prominent among
the largely unsung heroines of our nation. They have
devoted and continue to devote their energies, their
expertise and indeed their lives to The People" President
McAleese also paid tribute to the excellence of St.
Mary's as an educational institution, to its staff and
to its friendly and impeccably-mannered students.
Following her Presidential Address, President McAleese
performed the official lighting of the School Centenary
Candle, after which members of the School Orchestra
presented a brief musical interlude. A vote of thanks
to The President for her visit and her kind remarks
was then proposed by Mr. Denis O' Sullivan, Chairperson
of the High School's Board of Management. At the conclusion
of the very pleasant ceremony, flowers were presented
to President McAleese by a member of the student body.
The presenter was Ms Karin Lam, a fifth year student
who this year transferred to the High School from a
post primary school in China.