THE future of one of Kildare’s most historic schools debating competitions has been secured. There were fears that this could be the last year of the County Kildare Inter-Schools Debating Competition for the Michael Rigby-Jones Memorial Shield, sponsored by the Leinster Leader.
Local schools first began competing for the shield, named in honour of its original sponsor, Newbridge industrialist Michael Rigby-Jones, in 1964, but it is believed that the competition itself was already in existence for several years at that stage.
Earlier this month, long-time organisers Col Donal O’Carroll and Maire Ryan announced that they would retire, and the competition would finish as they were unable to find others to carry on the task.
However, just before this year’s final, which was held last Wednesday, February 9, it was announced that a committee of interested locals had agreed to step into the breach and carry on running the event, which has seen generations of Kildare students argue the issues of the day.
The final of the 2010-2011 competition was held at the Holy Family Secondary School in Newbridge last week, as old town rivals the Patrician Secondary and the Holy Family battled it out for the shield.
The Holy Family team of Lauren Tracey (captain), Ciara Byrne and Eliza Kelly proposed the motion that ‘We face the future with confidence’.
The motion was opposed by the Patricians team of Aidan O’Neill and Fergal McGovern who were captained by Ian Armstrong.
The evening was an entertaining and lively affair which more than matched the TV3 ‘Leaders of the Opposition’ political debate which was on the same night.
But after arguments which ranged across healthcare, education, entrepreneurship and the media, chairperson of the adjudicating panel, Orla O’Connell, announced that the motion had been narrowly defeated and the Patrician Brothers were victorious.
Ian Armstrong of the Patricians was named the competition’s best speaker, with Ciara Byrne of the Holy Family taking the runner-up prize.
Laura Coates of sponsors the Leinster Leader presented the shield, and medals to both teams. A presentation was also made to Col O’Carroll and Mrs Ryan for their work.
The new organising committee of barrister Dan Boland and teachers Patricia O’Callaghan, Orla O’Connell and Treasa Ni Riagain are looking to expand the number of schools taking part next year.