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Ravens Fly Together in Dublin

A hallmark of Benedictine life is the strong sense of community which binds the monks together on their search for God in the monastery. Glenstal Abbey School also places a high value on this practice of community life, considering the students and their families, the monks and their school colleagues all constituting one community in a ‘School of the Lord’s Service’ (RB Prologue).

Indeed, the sports department’s motto – ‘Ravens Fly Together’ – reminds us that not only do Glenstal students stick together in their various pursuits whilst in the school, but they also maintain strong connections to one another and to the Abbey and School long after they have finished studying at Glenstal.

One such example of this sticking together were two gatherings which took place in Dublin for students who have left the School in recent years. These gatherings are a way to get to know one another better, to build a network of support with each other and to maintain a connection to Glenstal.

Fr Luke Macnamara OSB and Mr Kieran Sparling organised two gatherings for the 50-something Old Boys who are studying in the Dublin area.

The first gathering took place on 10th October at Trinity College for students of Glenstal Abbey School between 2018-23. After a brief prayer service led by Fr Luke, the group enjoyed a fraternal meal and catch-up in a nearby restaurant.

Later, on 17th October, students at University College Dublin met with Edward Burke (Old Boy class of 2000) who is now serving there as Assistant Professor in the History of Warfare since 1945. The group gathered in St Stephen’s Oratory for a word of welcome by Fr Brendan Ludlow, a chaplain at UCD and a regular visitor to Glenstal. After a period of prayer with Fr Luke, Edward introduced himself and welcomed the recently-arrived students to UCD. The group then enjoyed an evening of pizza in the Blasta food hall of the university.

It is hoped that such gatherings will continue to be organised in the coming months so that networks of support and connection can be maintained and strengthened, and so that Old Boys of the School remember their connections to one another and to Glenstal. “Ravens Fly Together!”

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Bats at Glenstal

Monks, students and housemasters are not the only residents of Glenstal, as our five-hundred acres of forests, fields, farmlands, lakes and streams are home to a wide variety of wildlife.

Students of the Abbey School recently had the opportunity to learn more about the different bat species that inhabit Glenstal, particularly the rare lesser horseshoe bat which has recently been detected here.

Dr Kate McAney of the Vincent Wildlife Trust – a charity concerned with mammal conservation in Britain and Ireland – visited students and gave a presentation in the monastery library on the types of bats which might be found and the spaces which they inhabit.

After supper, the students went for a walk in the twilight in order to detect bats with Dr McAney, who has loaned to the School bat monitors for walks next Spring and bat detectors which will allow us to carry out long-term monitoring throughout the coming months for bats, particularly of the lesser horseshoe variety.

It is hoped these activities will help students to have a greater appreciation of and sensitivity towards their surroundings, and to help them recognise the contribution that each element of life makes towards the wider ecosystem at Glenstal.

“Because all creature are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on each other.”

-Pope Francis, Laudato si’ 43

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The “Hot Topic” in Health and Development

On Friday 8th September 2023, students from across senior years at Glenstal Abbey School attended a talk and presentation in the Monastery Library about inequality and climate change given by Professor Martin Cormican, a world-renowned Professor of Bacteriology at NUI Galway and director of the GUH National Microbiology Reference Laboratory who has contributed immensely to his scientific fields.

His talk focused primarily on the impact of climate change on individuals’ health and the steps we need to take in order to improve and enrich the lives of future generations. An interesting point that resonated with the gathered students was how if goods were to be equally distributed and only what was needed was consumed, the lives of each and every one of us would be enhanced.

Professor Cormican supported his point with evidence from Second World War Britain, where the population’s life expectancy rose as people had to distribute goods more equally and consume less. This led to increased quality of life for those less fortunate and helped to raise the nation’s life expectancy. This astonishing point amazed the students in attendance.
Towards the end of his talk, Professor Cormican began a discussion with the audience about inequality and our duty towards others’ wellbeing and quality of life. This in turn sparked many fascinating conversations which enabled the audience to gain a better overall understanding of the problems facing humanity and the steps that we can take to resolve them.

The students concluded by expressing their gratitude to Professor Cormican for his fascinating talk, and to Fr Luke Macnamara OSB from Glenstal Abbey for his work in planning and organising such an inspirational and interesting talk.

Peter Purcell, Transition Year student

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Togo 2023

The Togo Team ’23 has arrived back safe and sound in Ireland.  We were very well received by the ‘Agbang’ Benedictine community in the remote north of their country.  Though they have few funds we got what we needed: a generous welcome, lots of water, sufficient food, etc. In fact each of us had a private bedroom – though it is only fair to add that scorpions were quite frequent visitors to them, and when the fan did not work the rooms became like cauldrons.

The school at Agbang serves the Funali tribe, as well as young people from the other tribes in the area.  Our roles were primarily in the classroom and on the sports field.  Four of the team members taught IT; four others taught music and song (tin whistle, guitar, Veni Sancte Spiritus and Hey Jude….etc.).  Our peers taught us to play some of their instruments. We introduced elements of hurling and rugby – to their fascination.

The monks organised for us to make some cultural visits. For example we were brought to a base of the nineteenth century slave trade, to a wild life reserve, to a ‘heritage’ homestead’ and to a forge.  In the latter we saw how the main farming instrument to this day, an iron hoe, is made by hand!  They are used all over that part of the country as if nothing had changed since the iron age.

The ‘Togo team’ received fifteen good quality laptops and €28,000 in funds for Agbang following our fundraising efforts.  Every cent of that sum goes to their school.  We have allocated €20k to the furnishing of a library for the school; at present they only have the husk of a building (recently
funded through German Benedictines).  We spent some of our fund on educational and sports equipment. For example we filled the lacuna of only one punctured soccer ball for the 404 pupils with a dozen Irish footballs, rugby balls, etc. The remaining funds will be spent as worthy objectives
are clarified.

We learnt how fortunate we are in Ireland to have warm water, a clean and healthy environment and lots of food!  We learnt from the generosity and good humour of our Togolese hosts and young people. We thank them very much.

In fact the project was so well supported at every level at home
and abroad that it must have been a work of God! Deo Gratias!


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Leavers’ Dinner for Sixth Year Students & Parents

Sixth Year Students, parents and staff enjoyed a wonderful night on Friday 28th April.  It was a celebration of the culmination of many years of friendship, learning and growing-up together here at Glenstal.  The attendees looked so smart, the parents proud, and the school played its part too, looking amazing as it hosed 130 guests for a drinks reception and delicious meal. 


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Glenstal donates funds to Murroe Boher Golf Classic

We were delighted to sponsor our local Murroe Boher Bord Na nOg Golf Classic “hole in one” competition. 

Trevor Fitzgerald of Glenstal Abbey School presenting the cheque to some of our Golf Classic committee.

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Golf Fundraiser for Togo Africa Trip

Fr. John O’Callaghan has once again organised a trip to Africa with some Fifth Year students; this year to a Benedictine Monastery in rural Togo.  There are eight boys travelling with the intention of donating computers and teaching the Togo students some IT skills and English.

To raise funds, one of the students, Zach O’Connor organised a golf tournament in Ballyneety Golf Club. It was very well supported by the student body and their parents.   Many thanks to all the team sponsors, the tee sponsors and the prize sponsors including Fine Wines, Gleeson Sports and Supervalu Castleconnell.

The event was won by Team Blake but notably the third year team of Dan McCarthy, Conan Kochhar, Logan O’Connor and Tadhg Buckley featured in the prizes.  A signed Munster jersey was donated by SCT coach, Ian Keatley.  This was won by Conan Kochhar in an elaborate game of “heads or tails”.   Also Dan McCarthy won PAX engraved cuff links in a “rock, paper, scissors challenge between the Third years
and Fifth years.

The event raised €3,036. Thank you to all who participated and donated and to Fr. Denis for the team photos.

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U16.5 Gaelic Football Team Win

Well done to our u16.5 footballers who defeated Mungret Community College in the Limerick Post Primary Schools quarter final recently.

It was a very tight game throughout with Mungret leading at half time with the score 2-07 (13) to 3-03 (12). The final score saw the advantage exchange in Glenstal’s favour. Glenstal Abbey 6-06 Mungret CC 2-16

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Young Economist of the Year Winners for Glenstal

On 28th April  the Young Economist of the Year Finals took place  in University College Dublin. The BIG NEWS from the day were the following two key awards for one group of First Years:

Prize 1: Environmental Sustainability Award 
Prize 2 Overall National Young Economist of the Year Junior Award 2023
Project: DRS – Can money back Economics deliver change for good?
Students: Michael Owens, Benedict O’Sullivan and Kevin Cooney

The boys also featured in an article in Country Living – The Farmer’s Journal the following week:

Transition Year: Gold Medal Winner and Second Place in the Special Central Bank Prize:
Student: Callum Hughes
Project : Energy Challenges/Crisis in Ireland – Why are we so Energy Dependent on other countries & What can we do about it?

Amazing achievements by these Economics students, to receive national recognition for their work – warmest congratulations to them, their teacher Mairead O’Sullivan, and their parents too, who must be very proud.

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Fifth Year Classics Trip to Athens

At the end of April a group of our Fifth Year Classics students travelled to Athens and embarked on a tour of many ancient Greek archeological sites including the Parthenon at the Acropolis, Delphi, the 4th century Amphitheatre of Epidaurus, the remains of ancient Corinth, Agamemnon’s Palace and the Tombs at Mycenae. 

They also visited the Corinth Canal – the narrow canal that cuts through the isthmus of Corinth, linking the Ionian Sea with the Aegean, one of the most significant infrastructural feats the world has ever seen.

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Glenstal Abbey provides external links as a convenience to our users. The appearance of external links does not constitute an endorsement by Glenstal Abbey of the views, activity or content contained therein.