Raising the Green Flag at Scoil Mochua Primary School, Oulart
Scoil Mochua Primary School
Oulart, Co Wexford
18 June 2012
Fr Browne, distinguished guests, TDs, teachers, and pupils of Oulart's Scoil Mochua. Good morning!
I would like to begin by thanking the Principal, Mr John Brennan, for the invitation to return to Oulart primary school after thirty five years.
Thirty-five years is a long time to be away, so this invitation to raise the Green Flag is very welcome; indeed it's a real honour for me to have this opportunity to congratulate the School, and the Green School Committee, for the success in being awarded a Green Flag for water conservation.
It's a great achievement. From the turnout here today we can see that the whole parish is proud.
It might be easy, living in such a beautiful green environment as we have here in Oulart to take it for granted, but of course nothing should be taken for granted. Our environment is precious. And water conservation in particular needs our care and attention.
By winning the Green Flag, you, the pupils of Oulart's Scoil Mochua primary school have shown your awareness of the need to conserve water. You are part of a global understanding that this liquid is not to be taken for granted. Children all over the world, on all continents, are taking the lead in water conservation.
Water conservation was unheard of in the 1970s when I started as a pupil here. Indeed this fine school building itself was not here – I attended what is now the community centre or the ‘Old School’, the same one that my father attended in the 1930s. Indeed both my grandparents attended Oulart National School in the 1890s – that small place now called 'The Hall'; my grandparents were Pat Prendergast and Anastasia Dempsey. They were great conservators too, growing much of their own food and, for most of their lives, the water they used was brought in buckets from a nearby stream. Only later on, when electricity came in the 1950s, did they sink a well and install a pump to deliver water to taps in their house.
I would like to thank my teachers from all those years ago: Ms O'Riordan, Ms Flood, Mr Stack, and the Principal in my time here, Mr Bracken. They set me on the academic road to the position I have now and I will be forever grateful to them. I came here as a four year old in 1970 and I have very good memories of school:
- I remember marching up Oulart Hill on history lessons with Mr Bracken, looking for the 1798 monument which is now, of course, easy to find. But it wasn't back then – it involved climbing over a lot of ditches. As for geography, I still know three towns in every county in Ireland … …
- We won the Nicky Rackard league in hurling, I think it was 1978. Now I can't claim much credit for that victory but I see at least one of my classmates from back then who certainly can. The one thing Oulart The Ballagh is known for all over Ireland is hurling, people are always congratulating me up in Dublin for Oulart's successes.
But memories of actual school fades with time, and one is left mainly with impressions and general feelings of goodwill towards everyone from all those years ago. And that is certainly how I feel. Best of luck to all the pupils of the school in the years ahead.