St Pat’s pupils through to semi-finals of All Ireland schools’ debating competition

Back Row (L. to R.): Evan Costello, Darragh McNulty, David Conneely, Camryn Ward. Front Row  (L. to R.): David Bohan, Gavin Powell, Sasank Donthu.

Back Row (L. to R.): Evan Costello, Darragh McNulty, David Conneely, Camryn Ward. Front Row  (L. to R.): David Bohan, Gavin Powell, Sasank Donthu.

Pupils from the city’s oldest primary school have got through to the semi-final of the All Ireland Primary School Debating competition.

The team from St Patrick’s School in Lombard Street, which is famous for its sporting and musical achievements as well as its rich tradition providing a warm, nurturing learning environment for children, compete against St Mary’s school in Strokestown today (Thursday ).

This follows on from the Galway school’s success last year when its students became Galway Co Champions.

St Pat’s, as it is affectionately known, is an all-boys school and was founded by the Patrician Brothers in 1827. It is the junior school for St Joseph’s College (The Bish ). This boys’second level school, which is situated at Nuns’ Island, offers priority enrolment to pupils from St Pat’s.

The ethos of the school is Catholic but is inclusive and welcomes children from all religious, social and cultural backgrounds, says its principal Noel Cunningham.

Nicola Van Der Valt, the chairperson of St Pat’s Parents’Association, says it welcomes and values all children and provides a warm nurturing environment for them.

“It places a strong focus on literacy and numeracy and encourages a culture of academic excellence and high achievement. It has an excellent and caring teaching staff and cares for children with special needs,” she says.

“It a happy school and parents and pupils share ownership of it and are proud to belong to it. It is a school of excellence which strives to make all pupils winners.”

One of the school’s great strengths lies in the support and co-operation of its parent body, outlines Mr Cunningham.

“The parents’ association is fully involved in every aspect of school life and has been responsible for many worthwhile initiatives. They have set up and staff the excellent school library. The harmonious relationship between parents, the board of management and staff helps create the happy climate and high standards of behaviour and good manners of the boys of St Pat’s.”

The school has a long and illustrious sporting history. Children are coached in hurling, Gaelic football, soccer, basketball and handball. The school participates in athletic track and field events and has won medals at All Ireland Primary Schools’ Swimming Galas. In 2012 it won both the County A Gaelic Football and the City League Hurling competitions. Another major achievement last year saw their U-11 Olympic handball team win the All-Ireland Competition. The U13 team were runners-up.

St Pat’s is also renowned for music - its Patrician Brass Band is well known to all Galwegians from its appearances at St Patrick’s Day parades and other occasions, according to Mr Cunningham.

“In recent years a music teacher, employed by the board of management, provides tuition, on the tin whistle, free to all children. Free violin lessons are also available. The school choirs have received high praise and many accolades.”

“As well as being champion debaters, students are also involved in cultural and social activities. Each year they participate in quizzes and book writing competitions. The annual Nativity play and Christmas concert is much anticipated and greatly enjoyed.”

The principal outlines that the school is well resourced. “The school library, managed by the Parents’ library committee is well stocked, with over 6,000 books. All classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards and PC’s. Senator Hildegard Naughton, who is one of the teaching staff, during her term as Mayor of the city, opened the fully equipped computer room. The school also boasts a dedicated art room, PE hall and a play and therapy room for children with special needs.”

He adds that a sense of social obligation and care for those less well off is an important feature of the culture fostered by the school.

“In keeping with the Patrician ethos the school has a long tradition of helping those who suffer disadvantage and deprivation. Each year families in need are prioritised and assisted with the purchase of school books and uniforms. The school raises funds for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Temple Street Hospital, Enable Ireland, Cystic Fibrosis and many other charities. Last Christmas the Carol Singers raised €3,500 for Galway Hospice. Third class boys recently won a national award for a project highlighting poverty and disadvantage in Burkina Faso in Central Africa.”

For further information contact St Pat’s school at (091 ) 568707.

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