DR Mary Kelly, a former director general of the Environmental Protection Agency, returned to her alma mater when she was the guest speaker at the Catherine McAuley Lecture in St Leo’s College, Carlow.
The lecture, now in its ninth year, celebrates the founder of the Mercy Sisters convent and features past pupils of St Leo’s who have had a positive impact on the world. This year, it was Dr Kelly who stepped up to the podium. She’s the chairperson of Wexford Festival Trust and former chairperson of An Bord Pleanála, so she delivered a very inspiring lecture, which focused on climate change and women in science.
The audience was treated to a fascinating review of Dr Kelly’s own educational journey. She paid particular tribute to Sr Kathleen Kennedy, who ignited her passion for the scientific world. Her message for young women was unequivocal: that they are extremely capable and need to seize any and every opportunity that presents itself. The lecture also emphasised the importance of being able to adapt to changing circumstances in life as well as leading one’s own lifelong learning.
The students were joined by a number of invited guests and members of the Mercy congregation to attend the lecture.
The school’s chamber choir got proceedings underway with a wonderful performance of Hark the herald angels sing. This was followed by Katie Brennan, who performed a beautiful piano solo, ***Claire de lune*** by Debussy, and Katie Ní Shuilleabháin, who played a selection of traditional pieces on the harp.
The lecture concluded with an insightful reflection by retiring principal Clare Ryan, who also made a presentation to Dr Kelly. This was followed by a reception, which was organised by teacher Laura Dowling and a team of helpers from the Anam Cara and Meitheal leadership teams. The school would also like to thank Carrie McCarthy for organising the music for the occasion.