Lorcan Balfe's Prize Night Principal's Address:
'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way -
in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.'
These words were written by Charles Dickens in 'A Tale of Two Cities' in 1859 referring to the time around the French Revolution of 1789. In a strange way they may also refer to today and the difficult economic situation in which we find ourselves. The major problems and uncertainties of the Fiscal Treaty, Austerity, Greece and the future of the Euro and perhaps the future of the European Union as we know it.
Ireland faces a very unsure future. What will happen if we vote for or against the treaty?
One thing is certain - never has education been more important!
Never has it been more important to work hard at out studies so that we will be well placed for the future - whatever that may hold.
The longer we stay in education, the better our own chances of prospering will be, and the better the chances for Ireland as an entity.
I congratulate you all tonight. As Prize-Winners you have worked hard and impressed your teachers and you should be justifiably proud of yourself! However I am also aware that there are many other students in the College who have worked well but did not receive a prize. Our budget is limited, but we should acknowledge nonetheless the efforts of all.
Education is a journey - not a destination - and there is still a long way for you to go! So don't rest on your laurels - push on - there is so much more excitement ahead! And you don't travel alone! Your parents and your teachers have been your guides, showing you the way, encouraging you when you are weary and losing heart, and providing you with direction and encouragement.
I want to commend the teachers in this school and publicly acknowledge the great contribution they have made and continue to make, despite the education cutbacks. You are very lucky to have such hard-working, dedicated and professional teachers here in De La Salle College. Individually they do so much to help you the students. Together they form a brilliant staff with great expertise, experience and energy. The care and attention that they have provided and continue to provide is truly astounding, and so much of this is done quietly behind the scenes. On your behalf I want to thank them for all their dedication and commitment.
I would like to wish those who are doing State Examinations this year the best of luck. You have prepared well and now have the opportunity to show your best over the coming weeks. For our Leaving Certificate students, who will be finishing in the College soon and will hopefully going on to further study next year, it is a tense time. Keep your focus on the road ahead - don't be distracted by the side-shows and the detours. You have worked well. Now go and do your best.
To all our other students - enjoy the forthcoming summer holidays. Your prizes tonight - the books you have chosen - will provide you with enjoyment and enlightenment! I would encourage you to read as much as possible over the summer.
Congratulations also to all our performers here tonight - those we have heard so far and those who have yet to perform. You have all been brilliant. Thank you for entertaining us. Thanks are also due to Brian Wynn and Mr Gerry McCann who do so much work and provide so much encouragement for the musicians. I am sure you will agree 'Salle has got talent'! I would like to thanks all those who helped to organise tonight but especially to Ms Mary Sullivan who co-ordinates everybody and everything! On behalf of the students and their parents, Mary, thank you very much. Before I hand over to Mr Gerry McCann my final wish is:
Stay safe and return to us again next year, renewed and ready to work!