Arts Week 2019

Our Lady’s Bower celebrated its 7th Arts Week for all pupils from Oct 9th-11th. Celebrating the Arts has always been an important part of life in the school and this festival of creativity was a special occasion for students to experience the wonder of learning through a variety of approaches and hands-on experience.

It has been the aim of the school that every girl should experience a week devoted to the Arts once in her school career. There has been six Arts Weeks in the school to date: 1984, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2014. It was the initiative in 1984, of Sr. Christopher and Ms Josephine Maloney, when the La Sainte Union sisters celebrated their centenary in Athlone.


Arts Week 2019 was another huge success that saw the school building transformed into an art gallery and creative space for 150 hours of workshops, talks, demonstrations and concerts with over 80 contributors dedicated to art, story-telling, poetry, dance, music, media, crafts, cookery, fashion, history and drama, to name but a few.

All of this took place against the backdrop of an exhibition entitled “The Sisters”. The halls of the school were awash with artwork created by professional artists and our own talented students. A range of stude

nt work adorned the walls – still life, portraits and landscapes and object drawings. Each student had to put a title and a price on their piece. 50 pieces were selected from the entries received and framed for the exhibition. The student exhibition showed creativity, imagination, and talent. A stunning display!

Opening CeremonyWe were honoured to have Senator David Norris join us to open proceedings. Mr Casey summed it up perfectly when he said that Senator Norris has the power to thrill, charm and delight. He is a powerful advocate for human rights and his love and appreciation of the Arts has travelled alongside his political and advocacy work. This colourful and charismatic wordsmith did not disappoint as he regaled the audience with his unique and animated style of delivery, sharing highly entertaining memories of his own extensive experience of the Arts. He highlighted how impressed he was at the fact that the school was “humming with art” and how important this is, as “a place without art has no soul”. He concluded by hammering home the point that when it comes to the Arts, “never give up, no to disillusion, don’t listen to the art master who says you’ll never be able to learn to draw; just go ahead and do it.”

This set the scene perfectly for what was to come. The audience was treated to a mix of music and song from our ownIMG-20191010-WA0002 choir and orchestra, the Athlone A Cappella group, and Brendan and Emily Shine. Student talent was also on display through traditional and sean nós dancing, ballet, the performing of dramatic monologues and Irish poetry.

All students enjoyed some hands-on art activities throughout the week such as painting, calligraphy, tapestry, cake decorating, bog oak & jewellery design, flower arranging and make-up artistry. They were also given the chance to act, sing, dance and make music.

Ballet TroupeThree concerts were also enjoyed during the course of the week with the Garda Band, The Band of 2nd Brigade, Athlone and Leah and Ian Bell from the band Bowtie taking to the stage in the school gym to entertain students and staff alike.

Our Lady’s Bower has a long and well-deserved reputation for excellence in the fields of art, literature and music. Through past pupils and staff, many links with writers and artists have been established and the invited participants included many well-known speakers, artists, performers and exhibitors such as:

  • 2FM DJ Keith Walsh
  • Broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh
  • Drum Dance Ireland
  • Monks of Moyross
  • Stroyteller Niall de Burca
  • Theatre and drama with Sian Ní Mhuirí, Humourfit, French Theatre for Schools
  • Irish Film Institute
  • Holocaust Education Trust
  • Poets Eamon Ó Ríordan, Ciara Ní É, Declan Collinge, Colm Breathnach, Noel Monahan
  • Musical performance from the Army Band of the 2nd Brigade and the Garda Band
  • Trócaire & Concern
  • Astromomy with Kevin Sweeney
  • Author and illustrator Oisin McGann
  • Science in a box with Aideen Griffin
  • Rosary Bead Workshop with Sarah Seery & Blána Beaumont
  • Make up artistry with Katie Robinson
  • Internet Safety with Pat McKenna
  • Fencing with Patrick Dight IMG_9549

Local contributors to Arts Week 2019 included the following personalities:

  • Poets Paul McCarrick, Ivana Ruzic and Jackie Gorman
  • Magicians Aidan Murphy and Oisin Foley
  • Artists Helen Conneely, Annmarie Griffin, Aidan Byrne, Frances McGonigle, Rosemary Langtry, Frances Crowe, Eithne Gallagher, Donnacha Cahill and Mary Smith
  • Jewellery maker Michelle Fox
  • Nanoscience with Daniel Boland and JB Boland
  • Journalists Mary Lennon Tadgh Carey and Ian Cooney
  • Floral Design with Lorna Stuart Trainor and Be Floral
  • Environmentalist Dr George Smith
  • Local historian Gearoid O’Brien
  • Gregorian chant with Fr Turlough Baxter
  • Tai Chi with Keith Ryan
  • Dance with Aisling Withers
  • Makeup and fashion with Inglot, The Wicked Blonde, Amy Lyons and Áine Reilly
  • Kickboxing with Wolfpack K-1
  • Pilates with Anne Egan
  • Yoga with Orla McLoughlin
  • Trip to Aidan Heavey Library Luan Gallery
  • Transport Infrastructure with Micheál Kelly and Noel Dunne
  • Local Councillor Frankie Keena
  • Music with Hilary Roche
  • Drama with Kori Kilduff

In addition, the range of past pupils, parents and staff who took part included

  • Ms Oonagh Kelly, art teacher with her sisters Roisin Keag, Ethna Brogan and Claire Downing who exhibited with Sylvia Lenehan, sister of Mr. Casey
  • Dance with Aisling Benson, Ria Purcell, Gudgie Moran and Ms Finneran
  • Drama with Saoirse Mulvihill, Aishling Golden and Mary Fox
  • Cake decorating with Annemarie Lough
  • Pickleball with Ms Fallon and Ms Kenny
  • Pilates with Alison Hogan
  • Media with Kayle Crossan
  • RTE News reporter Laura Hogan
  • Actress Olivia Caffrey
  • Calligraphy with Angela Doyle
  • Psychology with Hannah Casey
  • German Assistant Amdrea Meyer
  • History with Dr Niamh Howlin
  • Cookery with Dee Adamson and Ms Beades
  • Bingo with Mr Casey amd Mr Fitzgerald
  • Cookery with Rani Krishnan and Susan EadesDSC_1355
  • Animation with Mr McGuinness
  • Architecture with Isobel Hamilton
  • Denise O’Brien
  • Leah Bell – Bowtie

A team of teachers worked tirelessly to bring this year’s event to fruition and we extend our thanks to them for their commitment and artistic passion. The Parents Association and all Bower families made a contribution to this wonderful event. We thank them for their generosity. We also thank all of our invited participants for sharing their time and their talents with us.

IMG_9825Students were given the opportunity to embrace this celebration of the Arts, to open their hearts and minds so this rich festival might in Heaney’s words ‘catch the heart off guard and blow it open.’ They embraced every element whole-heatedly and we commend them for their engagement and good humour throughout. The Arts Week will leave pleasant and long-lasting memories of a special event, which will stand out as a time where normal timetables were suspended, and students listened, wrote, painted, drew, experimented, tasted, sang, danced and enjoyed the Arts.