Alien Creatures invade MCS!

The entire school and Parents' Council representatives turnes out for the official opening of the Kevin McMahon led art installation of "Unknown Creatures in a Known Environment." This is an incredible display of fantasy creatures built in the school by T.Y.s in conjunction with Kevin. The N.A.P.D. provided sponsorship for the project and the school is grateful for their support. The creatures are now happily inhabiting an oak wood behind the gym and will evolve over time as their colour changes and spikes emerge...

See the photos here:

Watch the video of the opening here:

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Exciting New Development Education Initiative! Educating for Equality- WorldWise Global Schools


WorldWise Global Schools (WWGS) is an initiative of Irish Aid.  Its aim is to support the integration of development education in a wholeschool approach and WWGS has given a grant to our school enabling a number of initiatives to take place in the school during 2014-2015.

This is an exciting new educational initiative and students can look forward to workshops include Ethical Consuming and Fair Trade; Introduction to Development Education; ‘Just Forests’ conservation of the world’s forests; ‘Mind the Gap’ using acrobatics, juggling and puppetry and ‘ECO UNESCO’.


Q. What is development education?

Development education is an active and creative educational process to increase awareness and understanding of the rapidly changing and unequal world in which we live in.

Q. Why is development education important?

•             It challenges perceptions and stereotypes by encouraging participation and action for a more just world.

•             It is skills-based and learner-centred, which makes it very relevant to the junior cycle and senior cycle curriculum

•             It provides a structure for cross-curricular learning and whole-school community participation.

Q. Is it another subject on the curriculum?

No.  Development education is very much a cross-curricular approach to learning about the interdependent and unequal world in which we live.

Q. How will development education help my son/daughter now and into the future?

It will instil in them:

•             Knowledge about how the world works

•             Skills of critical and creative thinking, teamwork, research and analysis

•             Values and attitudes such as solidarity, respect and empowerment

•             Behaviours and actions that bring about positive change and make the world a more equal place for all.

Short term aim

•             To enable all members of our school community to become more aware of how our interconnected our lives are with people living in developing countries.

Longer term aim

To ensure that students:

•             have the opportunity to become familiar with development education issues

•             are able to identify links between the local and global communities

•             can identify ways in which they can play an active role in both, and to feel confident enough to do so. 

To embed development education as an integral part of life in Millstreet Community School

How might development education be encountered in our school curriculum?


•             Examining the currency exchange rates in developing countries.

•             Interpreting graphs showing statistics relating to developing countries, for example, infant mortality rates, climate, or debt.


•             How does burning fossil fuels have a negative effect on the rainforests?

•             What are the most effective means of generating energy as alternatives to the use of fossil fuels?

•             Why do the wealthiest countries have the highest level of treated water?

Construction Studies

•             How do we know if the timber used in our houses is ethically sourced?

Home Economics

•             What are the possible effects of our food and clothing purchases on communities in developing countries?

Religious Education

•             Fostering an awareness of the root causes of injustice and inequality, an openness and respect for those who campaign for justice, including those who are motivated by religious beliefs, and an appreciation of what being a good steward of Creation involves.


•             Der relevante Wortschatz im Beƶug auf Klimaverānderungen in der Welt.

Business Studies

•             Is our foreign trade with developing countries fair?


•             How might unfair trading and the rise in debt repayments continue the cycle of poverty in developing countries?

•             The world-wide environment is being harmed.  What immediate action can be taken to reduce global warming?


•             What was the impact of European colonization on African and Asian countries and the problems encountered as a result after independence?


•             Téarmaí a fhoghlaim chun a gcuid tuairimí a chuír in iúil fé truailliú, míúsáid na timpeallachta agus téamh domhanda.


•             Highlighting relevant themes such as inequality and interdependence when they arise in media, poetry and film.  Using development issues to stimulate creative writing.


•             The concept ‘interdependence’ describes the way in which we are connected to others in the world.  How might our actions in Millstreet impact upon people who live thousands of miles away?


•             Faisons-nous assez pour aider les pays ravagés par les castastrophes naturelles?

Some student comments on the importance of development education

It gives us a much better understanding of the challenges faced by people who live in developing countries (Transition Year student)

I think we need to know more about global issues to prepare us for life after school so having a greater awareness of issues relating to development education will help us in this process.  Knowing about global issues could help us make more informed choices about our career paths too. (5th year student)

Through development education we can learn about how things that we do in our country, what we buy and what we wear, can affect people’s lives in other parts of the world (Junior Cert. student)

For more information contact:

Millstreet Community School

Millstreet Town

Co. Cork

Tel. 029 70087

Project funded by Irish Aid through the WorldWise Global Schools Programme

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Quercus award for Joanne

Past puplil Joanne O'Riordan received an outstanding achievement award in U.C.C. at the annual QUERCUS awards, recognising the milestones reached by first year students and marking their new step in life. The award of a silver acorn symbolises the hopes that these students will fulfill their potential and go on to great achievements in their adult lives.

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I was a boy in Belsen- Tomi Reichental visits MCS


The school was honoured to host a talk by Tomi Reichental, survivor of the Belsen concentration camp, in the school in September. Tomi, who has lived in Ireland since 1959 is originally from Slovakia. He and his family were taken to Belsen in 1944 when Tomi was just nine years old.

His harrowing story recreated the events of seventy years ago, reminding us of the ever-present dangers of racism, and the need for constant vigilance in our communities and society to prevent anything like this recurring.

Tomi kept silent about his experiences until 1993, when his grandchild's teacher invited him to speak to her class. He has been visiting schools since, bringing his message of both heartbreak and hope. Having lost 35 members of his own extended family, it is a difficult process for him but the power of his message means the story must be told.

The students and visitors to the school were deeply moved by his talk and are grateful to Tomi for sharing his experience.

Footballers Installation on Gym Wall


Gym Art

Five transition year students, Padraig Maguire, Marc Schmiedel, Jack Brady, Stefan Healy and Terence Black have created a striking installation piece which is on view on the school gym exterior wall. The installation depicts two gaelic footballers jumping for a ball, and is composed of riveted aluminium sheets. The design was conceived and planned by the students themselves. Plans then had to be scaled up to the size of the finished piece, and at over ten feet in height, this was a challenge. It is envisaged that future T.Y. students will add to the piece, extending the sporting motif on the gym's exterior walls.



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T.Y. Applied Environmental Science Project

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Pilot Applied Environmental Science (P.A.E.S.), 6 years a growing as a T.Y. Project at Millstreet Community School.

P.A.E.S was initiated during November 2006 at a meeting between Principal P. Pigott, Frances Kearney and Christine Barrett (School Parent) with Ted Cooke, who is a member of Macroom Environmental Group founded in 1985.

Environmental Life Skills.


Since March 2007, P.A.E.S. has evolved organically as a Component Module for the benefit of Transition Year (T.Y.) Participants.

“Forging both Scientific / Analytical skills together with a Respect for Life’s myriad incarnate Life Forms, simultaneously,”

best defines P.A.E.S.

The project draws its annual theme from their designations by U.N. of each successive year: - 2010 – UN Year of Biodiversity.   2011 – U.N. Year of the Forest and 2012 – U.N. Year of Co-operation.

Earlier designated U.N. years included Oceans, Rivers, Wetlands and Mountains.

Cognitive identification of species and their roles introduces students to a more fulfilling engagement with nature – itself imparting perspective from within its endless Bounty of Secrets untold.

M.C.S. with its expansive School-grounds comprising sufficient Resources Material provides P.A.E.S with a “Baseline” Resource Pack – mature specimen Scots pine, Horse Chestnut, Beech and Sycamore reminding us that M.C.S. once formed part of the Coomlogane Demesne (Estate) of the McCarthy – O’ Leary Family.

Recent addition of a Maple /Beech/ Ash Grove to the school grounds (C.1980/90’s) continues to be managed while an Alder Grove of some acreage remains unmanaged and, in being left to its own evolution, continues to harbour several woodlands species of Songbird, Bat, Insects (including Moth and Butterfly) and a rich field story of Wild Plants – because the football Pitches drain into this Alder Wood, the site bears all the indicators of an emerging wetland.

Building Receptivity.

Students are empowered as they identify and distinguish Plants (including Lichen/Fungi) – during National Tree Week 2007 T.Y. students assessed the appropriate site for planting each of “the Seven Lords of the Wood” as listed and described in Ireland’s ancient Brehon Law Code. (Oaks, Ash, Yew, Scots Pine, Wild Apple, Crabapple and Hazel)

To assist in subsequent Oak identification students planted both Sessile and Common Oak and an intermediate form.

Alder (a Nitrogen – fixer) was added to the Rank. During March 2012, T.Y. identified the Male Flowers and Female Flowers on both Hazel and Alder. The relationship between Geo-diversity and Bio-diversity is developed – introducing Soil Chemistry Annually since 2007; students have identified a number of fungal Lichens – progressively noting a reduction in the Sulphur – tolerant species throughout the School-grounds. We have speculated on the likely cause of Air Quality improvement at Coomlogane. 2008 class group erected a number of Batboxes and an assortment of Birdboxes – manufactured during woodwork classes – and learned of “optimal siting” in the Alder – Sally wetland and on chosen Specimen Trees. Because Local Geography is best conferred with Stability by Native Trees and shrubs, all the signs of occupation of the Boxes are present.

In their own private lives outside school, be it the pleasure of pathless woods or rapture of a lonely shore, students are encouraged to pay close attention to “Morphology” (forms of individual species) and consider and learn to recognise indicators species communities and what they say about the health or otherwise of their respective realms (habitats) and where arising, to source the pressure and threats to Eco-Systems and their functions and services.


T.Y. added Spindle; Aspen; Holly; Ash additional Crabapple and learned of their associated insects (Spindle as a host plant for Brimstone and Holly as a food plant for our common and Holly, Blue Butterflies) and Irish Bluebells.

Preserving Local Genetic Characters continues to remain the aim of P.A.E.S – through the “Provenance” of our stock which originates in the Lee Basins wild spaces. In time, M.C.S. will source genetic material within the Blackwater Catchment.

The “conflict” between Lichens and Ivy was introduced to this T.Y. cohort by teaching – trainee Dr. Theresa Higgins (Woodland Ecologist)– I advocated for Ivy. Because P.A.E.S entirely remains a “field” or “outdoor” study, P.A.E.S focuses on “ Group teaching” because it is “hands – on” and “inter-active.” The value to participants during our field Days (including 2 field days in Killarney National Park) with Dr. Higgins was to consider Climate Change’s impact and the probable necessity of intervening in Ireland’s wilderness spaces.

2010 – U.N. of Biodiversity.

Because each successive T.Y. class group builds and expands upon preceding T.Y. projects – Building a Resource Pack with a strong M.C.S accentresponsibility for preserving the momentum rests with each consecutive T.Y.

During 2010, T.Y. oversaw the dedication of a “Biodiversity Zone” and supervised the planting by every class of Hazel, within the B.D. acre. Environmental Studies run naturally abreast of M.C.S’s Commitment to Fair Trade because both aim for wise management of Resources which embodies Human Rights and Environmental Justice. Protecting the vitality of our National Resources of Air and Water and Soil and Energy (Options) ensures the “Growth – Decay” Dynamic is assured.

Nature Reserves.

The “Western World” since the early 19th Century has tended to remand within strictly delineated precincts our Biodiversity - a species of State Custody.

Our late John Paul II (echoing Dante) referred to “Earth” as “the flower Garden of Cosmos.” P.A.E.S places emphasis (on an evolving perception) that we, in reality, live and pass over within a single and integrated and unified Eco- System – that our actions, at all times, enhance or diminish the “Capacity for Self- Repair” within Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology – and within individual populations of species, including ourselves.

2011 and 2012 TY School- ground projects.

Economic Modelling and planning progressively encourage commodity land use. Human Population coupled with runaway climate change threaten Global Food Security – moreso in the developing Southern Hemisphere.

During 2011, T.Y. established an Apple Orchard – several of the Apple varieties being rare old Irish types and nearly forgotten. Appropriate application of Organic Soil Conditioners was introduced – together with the principles of sound after-care. Plant Pathology in time will be added to P.A.E.S conservation skills – together with treatment options. Groundsmen Tony and Danny will monitor for “storage qualities” as the apples establish.

A nut orchard was added by 2012 students – traditionally orchards included hazel varieties (Cobnuts) and walnuts. The “Food Tree” Sweet Chestnut was grown in Parkland.

Site Assessment /Alkalinity / Stoniness of Soils/Drainage and Orientation to the South were studied in advance – excellent stock was sourced from Irish Plant Breeders – their capacity for acclimatisation / adaptation to M.C.S soils will be apparent in due course.

Planting traditional hedgerows and tracking their Historic Ecology, Benefits; Services and Functions may well be a project for 2012 –2013 T.Y. participants additionally, a feasibility study into school – composting at MCS makes sense – PAES encourages “ sustainability as a way of thinking because taking personal responsibility makes life so much more interesting.

Ted Cook


National Tree Week 2013

TY March 6th 2013.



Native Trees Project.


T.Y. Students embark on our 2013 Theme: - “Native Irish Trees and Shrubs”


An Irish Tree or Shrub has been assigned to each student, for completion during May 2013.  The accepted definition of a shrub is a “tree that normally reached full height of 5 metres” e.g. Hazel, Spindle, Guelder Rose, and Elder. 


In class, we introduced the meaning of “Native” – a plant or animal or fungus that arrived in Ireland without man’s helping hand at the ending of the recent Ice Age, which glacial melting continues.  Beech, Lime, Horse Chestnut, Sycamore etc. were introduced to Ireland at different periods since the 12th Century Norman Invasion.  (Exotic.) 

In class, we introduced the meaning of “Bio-diversity”: - The entire known life forms on Earth, many of which remain to be discovered and identified and classified.  Bio-diversity is additionally widespread within the same species of Plant and animal and fungus.  Nature always “bets each way” and does not place “ all eggs in one basket”.  We noted some Alders – some in full flower (male catkin) and others at a delayed stage.  Same with Hazels.


Absent students (on March 6th) will study the video recording of our Tree/Shrub Identification walk, so as to keep astride of our project.


Native Trees Support most Bio Diversity.

Irish Oak supports 584 Wild Beings  - Lichens, mosses, insects, mammals, Birds, Fungi in Symbiotic Relationships.  Horse Chestnut supports 4 insects and a reduced number and diversity of other Wildlife. 

Native Trees and Woodlands (Natures highest achievement) are best equipped to face pests and diseases – and have adapted to huge Climate Variations since their arrival C.9, 000 years ago.


Plant Evolution.

Seaweeds represent the earliest ancestor of our Plant Kingdom – Algae, Mosses, Ferns, Grasses, Flowering Plants including our Trees are descended from the Seawater Environment.


The Animal Kingdom evolved from much earlier primitive Plant Kingdom.  As explained, Animals internalised the mineral – laden seawater – Blood.  Seaweed remain the most easily ingestible and assimulatible foods for humans.  All plant life benefit from a dressing of seaweed (dust.)


Monoceious or Diocieous??

Students will learn which trees and shrubs bear both male and female – and the “Single sex” plants.  Alder, Hazel, Oak, Apple etc are monoceious – both sexes on same plant.  Sally (Willow), Holly, Yew, Jumper and Mountain Ash (Rowanberry Shrub) are separately sexed. (Diocieous.)


The Students undertaking our “Ash Tree” will discover that in recent decades, the Ash has evolved from diocieous towards monoceious.  Very much of the Ecological Sciences remain imperfectly understood.  All species adapt (if they can) to newly emerging environmental pressures. 



Potted Holly and Bare – root Hazel

To mark Tree week at MCS we chose to add a Potted Holly (Evergreen) and a Bare-root Hazed (Deciduious or Broadleaf) 


Only 5 of Irelands 28 Native Trees and shrubs are Evergreen: - Holly, Yew, Arbutus, Jumper and Scots Pine. 


While not included in our list, Ivy is an Evergreen Shrub (though it will grow the height of its host tree.) Any student not assigned a tree, might consider profiting the huge contribution to woodland Bio-diversity offered by Irelands two forms of Ivy - and consider whether Ivy is Symbiotic or Parasitic on its host.


A Corridor along the school Boundary below the Playing pitches has been assigned for the planting by each student of his/her adopted tree.


The Aim of this Native Tree Project is to foster scrutiny of the Plant and Animal Kingdoms in the Student – to develop appreciation and to enhance MCS’s Environment and Space for Bio-diversity to function and expand.

In this our PAES’s 8th Year, National Tree Week in early March coincided with “Life – long – Learning week.”


Plant and animal identification offers students opportunities to look beyond the borders of the progressively challenging Curriculum – in the expansive outdoors of the schoolgrounds and away (briefly) from the Indoor Experience.  F


or many of us, student and adult, our time has become dominated by screens.


To increase the number of our trees and shrubs reaching maturity, T.Y. are introduced to sound and conscientious Tree-planting practices.  Site appropriateness to a specific sapling – light /shade / moisture /well-drained sandy soils, soil structure and level of compaction and shade/wind exposure is observed and practiced.  It brings us together as a group in advance of site preparation and planting.


Students added a “bare-rooted” hazel and a “potted” Hollytree to the “Gathering” (Crinniú) of Wych Elm, Yew, Alder, Sessile, and Common Oak, Ash, Scots Pine, Crabapple planted by former T.Y. Students since 2006 – to mark our National Tree Week (March 6th 2013). With the exception of prostrate (Burren) Juniper, all of Irelands indigenous (Native) Tree Stock grow and are cared for at M.C.S – some in larger numbers including old cultivated Irish Apple varieties and Hazels.  At M.C.S suggestion, T.Y. gathered again on April 10th 2013, for a full half day to evaluate and prepare a 45meter linear site along the School Boundary with a southerly prospect.  Students undertook planting a “Rank” of Irish Trees evergreen and deciduous hardwood, which included Aspen, Bird Cherry, Buckthorn and Willow.  Both common and our upright Hibernian Yew were added to facilitate easy distinction and while our “Forest School” project at MCS focuses on promoting and preserving “Irish Tree Genetic Character” an American Red Oak and European Hornbeam were added to impart “Seasonality” (hectic Reds) and “Structural Diversity” and while native Diversity of Plants and Animals and fungi are key to our “Forest School” variety remains the spice.


On both our field days with TY, we learnt to distinguish “Native” from “Introduced” – the origins of Plant and animal settlement and distribution 9,000 year ago following the fast-melt of the 1-mile thick ice sheet that entombed Northern Europe.  Simple Geology and the effects of climate – cooling and warming over “billennia” and soil pH were shared.  Plant evolution (seaweeds to oak) with Lichens in there somewhere was considered.  We always add seaweed at MCS to our planting pits – ask our TY students about this wise practice! Within hours of adding the last (Irish Whitebeam) to our “Rank”, Ireland endured violent 110mph gusts - some specimens were affected, notably our Hibernian Juniper (a thick bush of 4 feet.)  On a brief return visit (April 19th) very fine spindle and both varieties of Irish Birch were added and wind damage assessed and plants righted.  

On that same night (April 10th) MCS lost a mature Beech Tree – likely planted during 1790-1820 that witnessed the last large scale Hardwood Planting in our Woodland History with roots into Erin’s youthful days.  Time has come for a new generation to replant and defend against damage, disease and neglect.




Ted Cook