An historic Green Flag Raising ceremony took place in Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré on Friday 14th May. This special event was attended by students, staff, members of the Parents Association and Board of Management as well as local and national politicians.
George Cunningham cuts the tape to officially open the Recycling Facility at
Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré.
Guest of Honour George Cunningham raised the flag and declared open the new recycling centre. It was fitting that George Cunningham was bestowed this honour as he has always expressed a great love of the environment, both natural and man-made and understands the importance of one’s own place.
An assembled group watching the raising of the Green Flag
The afternoon’s events began in the school hall, with contributions from a number of speakers to mark the occasion. Amongst those who spoke were John Hogan, Chairperson of the Board of Management, Noel Coonan T.D., Denis Ryan, local Councillor and Mayor North Tipperary County Council, Alan Kelly M.E.P., George Cunningham (Guest of Honour) and Mr. O’Brien, Principal; Mr. Haugh, Deputy Principal acted as M.C. for the occasion. Members of Staff, Anne-Marie Mulrooney and Mr. Willie Smyth who are members of the Green Schools Committee, explained to those present the origins of this Green Schools initiative and the work carried out by the Green Schools Committee to achieve our first Green Flag.
They said that “The Green Schools Committee comprising of Parents, Staff, Students and Caretakers was established at Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré in September 2008. The motivating factor was to build on the good practice of waste management and recycling already established in many of our feeder schools and to increase awareness of the importance of protecting our environment. To facilitate this there were many activities run in the school and the wider community including a poster competition and a ‘Green Day’ where a new hedge and trees were planted close to the hurling wall.
George Cunningham gets ready to raise the Green Flag at
Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré:
Members and Guests: John Haugh (Deputy Principal), Gerard O’Brien (Principal), Fr. Lorcan Kenny, Willie Smyth, Alan Kelly MEP, Gillian Wallace, Anne Marie Mullen, Noel Coonan T.D., George Cunningham, Cllr John Hogan (Board of Management Chairman), Cllr Eddie Moran, Cllr. Denis Ryan (North Tipperary County Council Mayor), Colette McMahon
and Anne Marie Mulrooney.
The current school year identified the need for a central location within the school grounds to give a heart to the project and it was decided to construct a shed where the recyclable material could be segregated and the bins stored. This shed was built almost entirely on a voluntary basis and was a monumental achievement for our school. Its construction also brought about a clean up of the site where it was built and led to a landscaping project behind it. The green living roof on the shed was a novel idea which really ties in with the green philosophy. The shed has brought awareness of waste management in the school to a new level amongst both pupils and staff.
The poly-tunnel area was also refurbished this year and now boasts excellent facilities and a boundary hedge was planted around our new car parking area. These projects were achievement without the loss of class time and many teachers gave up their free classes and contributed many hours after school. The whole area of recycling within the school was promoted this year and little by little, the message is getting through to teachers and students alike. It is the Green Schools’ Committee’s ambition to build up respect for the environment so that eventually we will do the right thing naturally.
With so many outstanding milestones achieved in the school year it was a great boost when we were awarded our first green flag for litter management. Great credit for this must go to the whole school community, teachers, students, parents, cleaning staff and especially to our hardworking Green Schools Committee.
George Cunningham addressing the congregation
There are many people in the wider community who need to be acknowledged without whom these projects would not have been realised. Mr. Tim Quinlan, Ms. Deirdre Rafter and Mr. John O’Carroll supplied the ESB/Eircom poles that acted as a support for the shed structure. The local hardware stores of Neville’s, Doherty’s and Douglas contributed the roof timber. Murt and Paul Dwyer were only a phone-call away when there was any digger work to be done and Mr. Darragh King of the local tool and plant hire gave generously the use of any equipment needed. Timothy Teehan, Ballaghmore was on hand at very short notice with the use of a tractor and trailer and Sean Loughnane of Loughnane Concrete, Birr supplied the concrete floor. Mr. Paddy Smyth of Glasshouse, Shinrone is responsible for the excellent timber-work surrounding the shed and gave many days in freezing conditions to complete it. The black guttering which adds the finishing touches was supplied by Mr. John Ormond of Clonlisk, Shinrone and Mr. Noel Reid and Mr. Kevin O’Donoghue never failed to answer their phones on the numerous occasions when gravel was needed to be delivered or taken away.”
They emphasised that much gratitude goes to Mr. Gerard O’Brien (Principal) and Mr. David Leahy (C.E.O. North Tipperary V.E.C.) whose support for the project was evident throughout. They reiterated that the completion of these projects is a testimony to the goodwill of the wider school community. Finally, they thanked the invited guests for taking time out to attend the ceremony.
The Principal Gerard O’Brien welcomed all to the raising of the Flag ceremony. He described the Green School Project as one of the best initiatives started in the school. He described how it started with a little litter control but it now comes into almost all areas of school life. He pointed out that the biggest achievement of the project is the awareness it has generated about our living and working environment. He highlighted the campus improvements that have taken place such as hedge sowing, car parks, horticultural tunnel, new green areas, cleaning up of shrubbery beds. He commended the Committee on the building of a recycling shed with an appropriate vegetative green roof. He remarked that this structure had given a visible focus to the project. He reminded students that this was a work in progress and it needed their continued support. The next projects included development of external seating / lunch area along with water and energy conservation measures.
He thanked all committee members, teachers and pupils as well as all those who helped out to transform the campus for the occasion. He committed to supporting the project with available resources to ensure a continuation of the great work.
George Cunningham, Guest of Honour, stated his speech with a quotation
“Shoot if you must this old grey head But spare your country’s flag, she said”
Famous lines, George explained, from the Barbara Frietchie poem during the American Civil War which emphasises the enormous symbolism of a flag. George said “From time immemorial, a simple piece of cloth has stirred nations and innumerable peoples. And today’s Green Flag here at Coláiste Phobal will prove to be a powerful symbol too, when we unfurl it in just a few minutes time it will proclaim to all that here people care. It is truly a significant and historic day for the school and for Roscrea and its environs”.
He then went on to congratulate the school and all the pupils, particularly the Green Flag Committee for “a truly great team effort with lots of hard work to get to today”. He paid tribute too, to the memory of past pupils and teachers.
He congratulated ‘An Taisce’ on the development of the Green Flag Project and noted with pride that all the Primary Schools in the Roscrea area now boast at least one Green Flag. He said that some are going for their fourth.
He lauded the “ever increasing and welcome awareness of the environment – an environment that is under threat like no other time in the history of the world”. He emphasises that much of the destruction of our environment is through ignorance so that awareness is vital.
He pointed out that the Green Flag for Coláiste Phobal is “a significant statement that great steps are being taken here today in our historic town and district so rich in heritage and a sense of place”.
He concluded by congratulating again all “who have brought this day to fruition” and said “May this great green symbol send out a strong message that Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré cherishes its environment”.
Afterwards, everyone present assembled outside where George did the honours by raising the Green Flag and cutting the ribbon on the recycling centre. Fr. Lorcan brought the official part of the ceremony to a close with a simple blessing. Guests were then cordially invited for refreshments in the new Library provided by Ms. Deirdre England.
This was a wonderful afternoon at Coláiste Phobal filled with a great sense of pride, positivity and hope for the future. As a centre of education, it is our duty to instil in our students a love of our environment and a caring attitude towards it. We must always lead by example and there is no doubt that ‘what we do is far more important than what we say”.