Rockwell Union Annual Report 2016

Rockwell Union Annual Report 2016

The Rockwell College Union Governing Body

Annual Report 2016


The President and Governing Body of Rockwell College Union are pleased to present the Annual Report of the Union for the Year 2015/2016

Overall the focus for the term 2015/2016 was to define the Unions offering to past pupils and improve how we communicate the valuable resource that the Union is in supporting the Spiritan Mission and development of the college, as well as creating opportunities to renew old friendships and the forming of new ones.

We can all take great pride in the fact that we are part of a great school, but not just a school, its an entire community that transcends all ages and gender. It is true there have been many famous names walk up and down the Main Hall over the years and people from all walks of life can trace the origins of their success to the friendships, the values and the knowledge gained during their time in Rockwell. In this year of celebration for our nation we proudly salute our past pupils; Thomas MacDonagh (1901) and Eamonn Dore (1914), of Glin Co. Limerick, and former staff member Eamon De Valera, for their participation in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Most importantly, as Rockwellians, we are ordinary citizens, parents, taxpayers carrying the values and traditions of Rockwell with us every day. We are tied together by the shared experience of our time in Rockwell and this binds us as a community. The objective of our community is to support the Spiritan Mission overseas, to support the continuing development programme at Rockwell College and enable opportunities to bring us together through social, sporting and business events.

Being in existence for over 90 years certainly brings its own challenges and right now our Union is experiencing those challenges. It is a huge undertaking to bring off any event; it requires a strong commitment to not only logistically put it together but also a commitment from past pupils to support and attend the event. Our Union is an open forum, but its existence relies entirely on the participation of its past pupils.

As we navigate through this time of transition the Governing Body shall maintain a steady course. With the support of Donal Higgins V.P., Brian Kavanagh 2nd V.P. and the Governing Body members, we have acknowledged the importance of refocusing and restructuring our Past Pupils Union but most importantly, that these changes will not come overnight but more gradually over a few years with a consistent and strong approach from the Presidency.

AGM 2015

The 90th Rockwell College Union AGM was held in Rockwell College on the 12th May 2015. Ms. Dearbhail Gildea was elected President; Mr. Donal Higgins was elected Vice-President. Ms Cathy ODonoghue was elected Honorary Treasurer and Mr. Tim Murphy was elected Honorary Webmaster. Bermingham & Associates were proposed as the auditors for the 2015 financial year. The election of 2nd Vice President, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Membership Secretary was delegated to the Governing Body and appointments made following the June Governing Body meeting. Existing GB members along with new members Eimear Burke, David Butler, Susan OReilly and Ed Horgan were voted in en masse by the AGM.

Prize Day

Rockwell College Prize Day was held on the 15th May 2015. It was a pleasure for the President to be able to participate in such a day of pride for the students, their parents and the entire staff of Rockwell College.

The guest speaker was the French Ambassador to Ireland, Monsieur Jean-Pierre Thebault. Monsieur Thebault was deeply honoured by his invitation to Rockwell and acknowledged the colleges expression of sympathy following the Paris attack of January 2015 Je Suis Charlie. He also expressed a wish to maintain close contact with the school. The musical society provided a wonderful repertoire to enhance the occasion.

The Union Medal recipients were:

Betty Barlow        Student of the Year

Imogen Kavanagh    Thomas MacDonagh Literary Award

Conor Joy        James Joy Senior Debating

The afternoon concluded with a meal in the senior ref attended by all. A sincere thank you goes to the Principal, Audrey OByrne, and all the staff of Rockwell for hosting a most memorable day.

Civic Reception

On June 17th 2015, the President of the Union attended a Civic Reception by Tipperary County Council in recognition of the contribution Rockwell College has made to the county of Tipperary. Cathaoirleach Michael Fitzgerald, class of 1973 and the first chairman of the unified Tipperary County Council, welcomed College Principal Audrey OByrne; Provincincial of the Spiritans, Fr. Marc Whelan; other members of the order and past and present staff members of Rockwell College. Cllr Fitzgearld had a special welcome for Muriel McAuley, grand-daughter of 1916 leader Thomas MacDonagh, who attended the College from 1892 to 1901.

The Cathaoirleach congratulated Rockwell College on 150 years of learning and its immense contribution to Tipperary, Ireland and the world in the way it had prepared so many young men and women to go out in the world. Cllr Fitzgearld stated We are all very proud of Rockwell College, and Tipperary is a better place because of it. It is one of the most prestigious schools in the country based on excellence of its academic, sporting and cultural achievements and has stood the test of time over the last 150 years.

Business Lunch

Earlier in the year the value of this function came into question and it was suggested that the event may even be cancelled. The 21st Rockwell Business Event was held on Friday 6th November at Fallon and Byrne, Dublin and commenced at the later time of 4pm. It was attended by 104 people. It was evident that the change in both venue and start time contributed to success of the evening.  

Our Speaker for the event was Mr John Brennan (class of 1995) of Goldman Sachs who flew from London to join us on the day. It was wonderful to see so many of our Past Presidents in attendance on the evening and the President, Dearbhail Gildea, expressed her deep gratitude for their support at the event.

Special thanks also goes to our main sponsor Fergal Buttimmer (class of 1995) of Buttimmer Engineering and the numerous past pupils who generously provided vouchers and other gifts as raffle prizes. The President would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Governing Body, in particular Mr Shane Canavan, for their hard work in reviving this key event.

Annual Mass

The Annual Commemoration Mass for the deceased took place on the 19th November 2015 in Rockwell College. Ms Dearbhail Gildea and Mr. Brian Kavanagh represented the Union. It was a beautifully organised Mass with a poignant lighting of the candles ceremony which represented all those who had passed away in the previous twelve months.

Recently Deceased

Sadly again this year we have lost a number of devoted Rockwellians. In August we lost Mr. Myles Ryan. Myles joined the staff of Rockwell in 1976 and is fondly remembered by decades of students, In September 2015 we lost Dr Douglas Butler, former teacher of Biology and Chemistry from 1972-2006, a devoted teacher and true gentleman. In November we lost Fr Sean Casey CSSp. (Past President of Rockwell College) Fr. Casey contributed much to both the College and the Union over the years. In February 2016 we lost Mr. Liam ODuibhir, his passing has been deeply felt within the college and amongst past pupils. Finally, in April 2016 we lost our dear friend and Past President Mr. Hugh Garvey (class of 1984). Hugh was an inspiration to all of us; his passing has touched us all deeply. We pray for all Rockwellians who passed away this year of which sadly there were many. May they rest in peace.

Past Presidents Dinner

Our immediate Past President, Mr Mark Moran, organised a most enjoyable evening at the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club on the 8th December 2015. In attendance were the Principal, Ms Audrey OByrne, the Vice-President Mr. Donal Higgins, the President Ms. Dearbhail Gildea and a large number of Past Presidents. Although traditionally not a night for speech making the President took the opportunity to thank the Past Presidents for the honour bestowed on her by becoming the first Lady President of the Union. Dearbhail also personally thanked Gay Mangan for his untiring devoted service to the Union specifically his work on the Fr Lehane CSSp. project. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.

Spiritans Dinner

The Annual Spiritan Five Schools Dinner was held at The Herbert Park Hotel, Ballsbridge on the 12th February 2016. This years event was specifically raising funds to support the Berkely Tragedy last summer. Mr Niall Gogley - past pupil of St Marys spoke of his daughter Clodagh and the injuries she sustained as a result of the Berkely Tragedy. The event was well attended by Rockwellians. Thanks goes to Mr. Joe Barrett, class of 1984, for organising a most enjoyable evening.

The Union was represented at all four dinners of our sister schools, St Marys, Blackrock, Templelogue and St Michaels. Relations with the other Unions continue to be positive and constructive.

London Dinner

The 14th Rockwell London Dinner took place at the Radisson Bloomsbury Hotel on Friday 26th February 2016. This years event saw a surge in numbers with 76 Rockwellians and their guests enjoying a wonderful evening. The President of the union, Ms Dearbhail Gildea and Principal, Ms Audrey OByrne were both in attendance as guests of Mr. Pat Mulcahy. Several past pupils travelled to London from Ireland for the event. It was very encouraging to see a strong young contingent of Rockwellians on the night.

It has been 28 years since Pat organised the inaugural Rockwell London Dinner and the President took the opportunity to thank Pat for his hard work and dedication to making the event happen. Pat thanked those who helped in the organisation of the event especially Mike OConnor of the Radisson group for his influence behind the scenes. For all of us present we had a tremendous night and will certainly look forward to this event in 2018.

Annual Dinner

The 2016 Annual Dinner was held on the 11th March 2016, in the Conrad Hotel, Dublin. The dinner proved to be a very enjoyable night despite numbers being down on previous years. There were 150 people in attendance.

The Rockwell College Union Person of the Year Award was given to Mr. Willie Duggan, class of 1967. Willie, renowned for his direct talking, did not disappoint on the night. He held a captive audience which is a rare achievement for any Rockwell gathering. Fr. Jack Meade spoke of the dedication and support Willie has given to rugby in Rockwell over the years. Truly, Willie was a most deserving recipient of the Union award. There was a strong turnout from Willies year in attendance and a most enjoyable evening was had by all.

The President used the platform of the dinner to remind past pupils of the purpose of our Union. All too often the question is asked; What is the benefit of the Union to the individual? The President felt it was necessary to highlight what is achieved with the participation of its past pupils.

On the night the President paid tribute to two of our longest serving Union members; Mr. Domhnall Blair (1961) and Mr. Gay Mangan (1959). Both gentlemen have given and continue to give a valuable service to the Governing Body. Their wisdom and counsel is deeply appreciated by us all.  

The Vice-President, Mr. Donal Higgins, announced the details of the upcoming golf event to be played in September at Kilkenny Golf Club. Participants will be playing for the Union Cup, a most prestigious trophy. It is wonderful to see this event being restored to our calendar after a long absence.

Mr. David Butler was Master of Ceremonies on the night. This was Davids first year taking on the role and he did an outstanding job. The President would like to extend her deepest gratitude to the team of people who worked on the ground on the night. It is these people who work tirelessly behind the scenes that make any event a success.

The task of sponsorship is always an onerous one. We are sincerely grateful to our generous sponsors: Matheson (Paraic Madigan) Prochem Engineering (Donal Higgins), Applegreen (Joe Barrett), and BNP Paribas Real Estate (Pat Curran). Thank you also to the many past pupils who contributed raffle prizes on the night.

The night was full of great memories, however getting past pupils to attend the event, in particular younger past pupils has been an arduous task over the past few years. The Governing Body has reflected carefully on the format of the event and at its most recent meeting took the decision to move the dinner out of Dublin. The dynamic of Rockwell Union is changing and we need to embrace this change. The date for our next Annual Dinner has been set for the 31st March 2017 at Cahir House Hotel.

U.S. Dinner

From recollection the last U.S. Dinner was held in 2002 in Boston and is remembered as being a wonderful event. This year the President was determined to re-establish this event and reconnect with the many Rockwellians who now reside in the States. Despite some logistical challenges, the U.S. Dinner was held in Boston on the 2ndApril 2016. The President, Principal Audrey OByrne, Gay Mangan and Fr. Jack Meade travelled to Boston for the event.  

It was an intimate evening with 26 Rockwellians and guests in attendance. Despite the low numbers it proved to be a wonderfully memorable evening. Everyone present was delighted to see the Union re-engaging with its past pupils stateside. As a result of the evening we have connected with some very enthusiastic Rockwellians who will work with the Union to maintain the connection now made and build on this going forward.

Website & Social Media

A sincere thank you goes to Mr. Tim Murphy who has acted as webmaster for the Union for the past year.

Mr Hugh Garvey devoted considerable time to LinkedIn and Facebook and did a remarkable job keeping us all connected. These tools have proved to be a most valuable resource to the Union in enabling us to stay connected with past pupils. Going forward we need to capitalise on these mediums to further build connections.

The President spent considerable time engaging with Bestsoft to improve the service provided. There has been much criticism regarding our website and our service provider over the past few years, however the onus is on the Union itself to work diligently with Bestsoft to get the most out of them. The website now has a refreshed new look but effort must be made to keep the site updated.

Membership Database

The membership database has been an ongoing issue for the Union over the past few years. Due to the declining numbers of the Governing Body we were without a dedicated individual in the role of Membership Secretary for some time. Mr David Butler has now been appointed as Membership Secretary and has enthusiastically embraced the role.

Alison McGrath worked on a pilot project last year focusing on the recent past pupils. This exercise proved very beneficial. However, the view was expressed that a capital donation was going to be required in order to expand the project. This was duly undertaken by Mr. Shane Canavan and with the assistance of Pat Curran a donation of 5,000 has been received from Mr. John Brennan of Goldman Sachs.

The president has formally written to Mr. Brennan expressing deep gratitude for the donation and assuring John that the funds will be used