The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins paid a visit to St Agnes’ School in Crumlin, Dublin on 12th December 2011. He was welcomed with ‘The Presidential Salute’ played by the children, parents and grandparents of the school’s Violin and Orchestra Project and this was followed by a 20 minute programme of music, songs and a Nativity scene.
Afterwards President Higgins addressed the children, orchestra and 250 assembled guests. He said that this was a community that was right to feel proud of all that they have achieved and asked if there was anything more democratic than the achievement where 400 children receive free weekly music lessons?
The crowd were very appreciative when he told them “In a time when we are coming out of a dark place, the work of transformation doesn’t just take place in institutions, but in our own thinking. There is no limit to the capacities that you have”. Sentiments which echo the vision of Sr Bernadette Sweeney RSC who wants every child in the school to have the chance to find their own inner creativity.
The project (managed by Joanna Crooks) has proved to be a model of intergenerational music making and community involvement. In 2010 a Parents’ Orchestra was formed (conducted by Eimear O’Grady) and now has more than 70 members, almost none of whom had an opportunity to learn music in childhood. In 2011 St Agnes’ Musical Society for adults was formed and they will be staging their first production, “Oklahoma”, in March 2012.
The visit was featured on R.T.E. Radio 1’s ‘Morning Ireland’ programme the next day and you can hear the segment of the broadcast HERE.
Just before the end of the visit 9 year old, Rebecca Sutton read a poem she had written especially for President Higgins’ visit to the school and which we are delighted to reprint here:
President Michael D. Higgins is coming to our school,
He is meeting Sr. Bernadette and all of us too.
We are playing our violins and singing our songs,
I hope he will enjoy it and sing along.
We are wearing our uniforms, red and grey,
We will wonder what he might have to say.
I hope he will give me his autograph
And it would be a great honour to get his photograph.
He is cute with his glasses and white fluffy hair,
We hope he will represent Ireland with his loving care.
He lives in a big house in the Phoenix Park,
For the next seven years he will make his mark.
As President Michael D. Higgins is leaving us today,
We will give him a big Hip-Hip Hooray!
Ms. Doherty’s 4th Class, St. Agnes’ Primary School, Crumlin, Dublin 12
12th December 2011