Gala Dinner write up

Dominicans past and present celebrate at Centenary Gala Ball

On Friday 21st April almost 400 members of our school community, past and present gathered at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena to celebrate 100 years of Dominican education in Portstewart. Past pupils had travelled from as far as Australia and New Zealand to attend the event which was one of the key celebrations of the centenary year.

The compere for the evening was Sarah Travers who welcomed guests including the Dominican sisters, staff, past pupils and governors. Reflecting on her very positive experiences as a Dominican pupil and as a current parent, Sarah spoke warmly of “the most special school in the world”.

Ms Rosemary Ronan, Dominican Principal, introduced the Gala Ball by thanking the centenary committee, in particular Michael McIvor, for making the event happen. She welcomed all the members of the Dominican family to the event, paid particular tribute to the Dominican sisters for their continued commitment to the school.

Sister Elisabeth Healy, Congregation Prioress for the Dominican Order in Ireland, welcomed all those attending the gala Centenary ball by stating:

“It is a joy to welcome you all here this evening and for us to have this wonderful opportunity to celebrate 100 years of Dominican education in Portstewart. You have come here tonight from far and near and it is testimony to the enduring value you place on seeing yourselves as Dominicans. Dominican College, Porstewart has always been very proactive in promoting educational developments and will continue to be at the forefront of educational change well into its future”.

Reflecting on the uniquely inclusive and integrating nature of the school, Sr Elisabeth announced that, to mark the special occasion of the school centenary, the Dominican Order would present the school with a specially commissioned peace pole with the inscription “Let Peace Prevail” in Irish, English, Hebrew and Arabic“ to help you in your continued efforts to be peacemakers in Portstewart”.

The second guest speaker was our ex-school chaplain Bishop Tony Farquhar who began by reflecting on the changes that took place within the school from the time of his arrival when the school show was a Socratic drama to the sudden shift to musicals such as “Oklahoma.”

Bishop Tony spoke fondly of: “My lovely sense of my days in Dominican with its central focus on prayers, sport, music and drama.”
Remarking that one of the loneliest aspects of teaching is to invest so much time nurturing and developing young people only to watch them “disappear and fall off into space fuelled by the booster rocket of exam success”, Bishop Tony spoke of the lovely sense of occasion in seeing so many Dominicans gathered together to celebrate their shared experience of a Dominican education.

Reflecting on the words that teachers write on reports Bishop Tony explained that the epithet “satisfactory” meant you were “ the quiet fair hair child at the back of the room”; he also warned the Dominican diners not to be too flattered if teachers could recall their names as “ teachers are always most inclined to recall the trouble makers”!

Surveying the almost four hundred members of the Dominican family, past and present, pupils, teachers and parents, Bishop Tony thanked everyone for their attendance at one of the key events of the centenary year, and invited those present to attend the Centenary Mass and Open Day on Saturday June 24th, a date chosen in recognition of the inaugural mass in 1917.

Concluding by reflecting on the Centenary, Bishop Tony suggested that it was a key time, as the school begins to embrace new challenges, to recommit to the core Dominican values and to ensure that these remain firmly in place as well as strengthening the guiding light of Veritas.

The school would like to thank all those who travelled from far and wide to attend the Gala Ball and all the staff of The Tullyglass Hotel for enabling the evening to pass off so successfully.

The centenary celebrations will continue on June 24th with a special mass and open day.

Link to photographs on Coleraine Times website: