Thursday morning last saw the Transition Year pupils and staff of Sacred Heart Secondary School host a very special event, in conjunction with an Erasmus-supported project running currently running in the school entitled at Parallel Histories.
As part of a day’s worth of events, a host of distinguished guests came and took part in a seminar on the them of ‘Conflict, Conflict Resolution and Parallel Histories’. Earlier in the day, students from four other schools in the north east – De La Salle, Dundalk, St Mary’s Dicocesan School, Drogheda, Colaiste Ris, Dundalk and St Fintan’s High School Sutton – took part in student-led workshops about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This year, 22 students from the TY group at Sacred Heart have been learning about, debating and teaching the school’s younger students about the contested histories of Israel and Palestine and the conflict between those two countries.
Among the distinguished guests to take part in the seminar were His Excellency, Ambassador Stéphane Crouzat, from the Embassy of France, His Excellency, Ambassador Ophir Kariv, from the Embassy of Israel, Her Excellency, Dr Jilan Abdalmajid from the Mission of Palestine and Ms Alison Kelly, former Irish Ambassador to Israel came to the school to speak to students about their varied experiences and perspectives of th Israel-Palestine conflict and other themes, including the importance of empowering women.
From Sacred Heart, teacher Brian Whelan, Principal Leoni Carroll, Erasmus co-ordinator Ms Caroline Ryder and Leah Keogh and Caoilfhionn Sheerin, who Erasmus students, took to the podium to speak – the latter providing an evaluation of the programme so far.
Away from the Israel-Palestine conflict, Dr Eamon Darcy from NUIM, enthralled the guests with his talk on the 1641 Rebellion, while Sean Collins spoke about the history of Drogheda and cross-community links between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Tom Reilly entertained the audience with his perspective on Oliver Cromwell and how history has viewed him over the centuries.
Dave O’Brien from The Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre, highlighted the importance of dialogue and learning in any conflict, while Niall O’Keefe from Trocaire offered the humanitarian perspective on conflicts in general.