22 Jan 2022

Presentation Ballingarry celebrates 150 years

The celebrations were attended by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly

Presentation day 2021 took on extra significance for the staff, students, Presentation Sisters and former staff members of Presentation Ballingary as they gathered with the parishioners of Ballnigarry / The Commons and neighbouring parishes, in the Church of the Assumption for a concelebrated mass with Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly and Parish Priest and School Chaplain Rev. Fr. Derry Quirke.

The liturgy began with Head Boy, Anthony Grace and Head Girl Heather Gahan welcoming Archbishop Kieran O’ Reilly, Sr. Mary Hanrahan, Presentation Provincial, CEIST representative, Mr. Rob Halford, former Principals, Deputy Principals, staff members, students and parents.

Addressing the congregation, Archbishop Kieran O’ Reilly began by speaking of his own link with the Presentation sisters and how he was educated in the Presentation tradition. He then named the sisters who made the journey from Thurles to Ballingarry on August 22nd 1871, Mother De Sales Ryan, Mother Regis Croke, Mother Patrick Butler and Mother Magdalene, accompanied by Rev. Mother Aloysius Green and he went on to pay tribute to the trials and hardships these sisters endured as they established schools in an era without electricity or running water.

Despite these difficulties, Archbishop Kieran continued that the sisters added to the life of the parish, the diocese, and the country. Archbishop O’ Reilly reminded the congregation that, in those post famine days, the sisters were educating many of the students for emigration but these emigrants, thanks to the education they had received, were better equipped for life in new lands.

Referring to the Gospel, Archbishop Kieran praised the sisters for remaining faithful to the Christ’s message and for bearing witness to the Gospel at home and overseas.

In conclusion, Archbishop Kieran addressed the students urging them to reach out beyond the self, to be concerned about the world they live in and to remember, school is not just about exam results but also about, “fostering each other to place our talents and gifts to service the world.”

School Principal, Ms. Angela Cahill, also placed the foundation of the convent in Ballingarry in its historical context, a country recovering from the famine and Ballingarry an area in the aftermath of the rebellion.

Ms. Cahill went on to highlight how the arrival of the sisters marked the coming of better days as they lived out Nano’s vision of “not words but deeds. She continued by recalling how the arrival of the sisters in Ballingarry was compared by Fr. O’ Byrne, who celebrated the jubilee in 1921, to sisters who left home and family for unexplored regions in the USA and Australia.

In 1971, the sisters received a letter of congratulations from the then President, Eamon De Valera to mark their centenary. In congratulating the sisters, the President wished that the convent would witness many other centenaries and would continue to grow. Ms. Cahill remarked how the school has grown and continues to grow from strength to strength. She praised the work of those who had gone before her and on whose shoulders, she stands.

Ms. Cahill continued that she feels honoured to be Principal of Presentation Ballingarry, now a proud CEIST school, where the light of the Gospel message and the flame of Nano’s lantern burns bright.

Emma Murray and Heather Gahan were the first recipients of the Pope John 11 award in Presentation Ballingarry and it was wonderful that Archbishop Kieran presented both girls with the award as part of the 15oth celebration.

Emma is an active member of the Ballingarry Parish and to earn her award Emma, assisted in preparing altar servers for mass ; helped young people to practice their readings for the Sunday liturgy while she herself was a regular reader; Participated in Seinn Choir and was part of the Cathedral celebration; Assisted in preparation for school liturgies including today’s; coached a boys community games basketball team in the parish.

Emma was delighted to be a participant in this award and believes that in preparing for the award she was able to give something back to the parish where her faith was nurtured and supported. Emma feels very fortunate to be from a faith community at home, in school and in her parish and is very happy to share that message with others.

Heather represented the Parish of Mullinahone and to earn her award, Heather ; Assisted in preparation for school liturgies including today’s; Picked litter in the local community (every week); Participated in Seinn Choir and was actively involved in the Cathedral celebration; painted murals for Christmas and Halloween in her local village.; was a leader for younger scout groups.

Heather believes that preparing for this award gave her an opportunity to put her faith into action and to use her gifts and talents to help others. Heather hopes that her example, like the example of Jesus and his disciples, will encourage others to reach out and become more involved.

Both girls loved their involvement in Seinn and felt it gave them an opportunity to celebrate their faith in the company of their peers.

The liturgy concluded with Sr Mary Hanrahan congratulating the Sisters and staff who served in Ballingarry and she wished the school continued success. She thanked Ms. Cahill and Mr. Moran for their leadership and felt confident that the flame of Nano’s lantern would continue to burn bright.

It was a very proud day for all who gathered to mark this incredibly significant moment in the life of Presentation Ballingarry.
Unfortunately, due to the current Covid 19 pandemic many were prevented from attending but our thoughts and prayers were with each one.

As the sun set on this 150th celebration, the glow of Nano’s lantern shone brightly not only in the lanterns which our 1st years carried as they reenacted the life of Nano, but also in the hearts of those who are a part of this remarkable story and who daily go “one pace beyond.”

Our sincerest thanks to our school Chaplain Fr. Derry and to the people of Ballingarry & the Commons parish for allowing us to share in their Sunday liturgy.

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