Thursday, 05 April 2018 15:41

Thoughts on "Home on my Back" EP Launch - Mary Kennelly

More than just a wealth of talent to be seen on stage

On Wednesday 28th March, I left work around lunchtime to head to a meeting in Limerick. As usual the radio was on and I listened to the breaking news that verdicts had been returned in a Belfast courthouse. It was a case that had no winners. The lives of five young people had been dissected and laid bare for public censure and condemnation.
It’s a difficult job to raise a daughter in a society that frequently has very conflicting messages but it’s also a difficult job to raise a son. Social commentary is frequently stereotypical and harsh. It can be hard to find really good role models outside the world of sports. It’s an unfair burden that often proves too much for our young sports people.

After my meeting finished, I travelled to Ennistymon for the Launch of a EP by the Transition Year students from the Monastery. In my first year as Principal of the school, I had asked Mr. Galvin to oversee a project on song writing as part of the NAPD’s creative engagement scheme. Mr Galvin has been working on the project ever since along with Mr Meehan and others in the school. At some point during the year, I was told that Luka Bloom was the songwriter in residence this year. I was looking forward to catching up with the staff and students and I was familiar enough with the creative spirit and culture in the CBS to know that I was in for a good night as they launch their EP – ‘Home on my Back’

The current TY’s are special to me - most of them started in the Monastery as the same time as I did. They have grown! Boys that I remember as the babies of the school are now towering over me. Their faces are familiar but changed, morphing from boyhood to adulthood. Mrs Lyons and I talk frequently, so I know that these boys have faced a lot this year. As Mrs Lyons and I waited in the audience for the boys to perform, we talked about them, how they were when they first entered the school, their difficulties, their progress, and their triumphs. I was expecting a high standard of performance and I got that but so much more.

As a teacher, it was a wonderful to see the genuine surprise and delight in Luka Bloom, that he is in fact a really good teacher. Not all gifted singers or songwriters have the wherewithal to connect with others, to make students believe in themselves and their abilities, to shine. Luka Bloom did that - the results were in the respect and affection so evident between him and the boys. But there was more than just talent to be seen on the stage. The students were fearless, not because they were willing to perform their own work on stage – although that takes courage, they were fearless because they were so honest in the work that they shared. Through beautifully crafted songs and poetry they took on the loss and heartache that have touched their lives this year. Whether in the pain of the disconnected or that of the disposed and displaced -they looked into the reality of life’s vicissitudes and allowed their spirits to soar higher still.

Their willingness to listen and learn, their compassion and their hope were all on display as well as their musical talent. The latter packs an emotion punch but the former moved me to tears. I consider myself blessed to have watched the boys that I remember show themselves to be men of whom their school and families can be proud.

Of course, I want to say well done to all the staff and students involved on the night and to the parents who were present, I hope the CD sells. But I also want to say; thank you for inviting me along on the night. It was inspirational, it was moving and it reminded me once again of just why it is such a privilege to work with young students

Mary Kennelly


The EP is currently on sale in The Record Rack and Custy's Music Shop in Ennis or by contacting the school.

Click here to view some videos of the launch