The annual Transition Year continental tour took place on 20-23 April. This year the venue was Flanders. A central theme of the trip was the poetry of the First World War. Pupils had prepared poems to recite at different locations on the tour. On the Friday, poems were read at the graves of poets Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, both in France, as well as the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines. On the following morning, the pupils were joined by past pupils Bryan Rose (1956-1962) and Captain Timothy Kinsella (1982-1988), who both have expert knowledge of the Western Front. Poems were read at the graves of poets Francis Ledwidge and Hedd Wyn and at two locations around Zillebeke, including the location where the body of past pupil Robert Hayes is reported to have been buried.
In the afternoon, a group of nine pupils, along with Mr Aiken and Mr Whiteside and the two past pupils, were brought on a tour of cemeteries and memorials of the Ypres Salient by an expert local guide. Remembrance crosses were placed at the graves of past pupils, George Haire, Albert Le Bas, Ouseley Murphy, Ino Nuttall and Clement Turner. War poems by past pupils were read at the graves and at Tyne Cot, where past pupils Charles Marlow and John Stokes are named on the memorial wall. That evening the school, represented by pupils Richard Beattie and Malika Maniar, teacher Mr John Aiken and past pupil Captain Timothy Kinsella, laid a wreath as part of the daily Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres. There was a huge crowd, representing many countries, and this was the first time an official group from the school had honoured the memory of its past pupils at this major memorial of the First World War. We remembered past pupils Robert Hayes and Richard Jones, who are named on the Ypres Memorial.
On the Sunday, Mr Rose and Mr Whiteside visited the grave of past pupil George Montgomery at the woodland Toronto Avenue Cemetery, which features on the cover of the school’s commemorative booklet, In Proud Memory (available from the school for €10). Like many young men who died in the First World War, there are no immediate family members who remember George. His school family, though, will continue to remember him and the others who are named on the war memorials in chapel.