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Along with many other parents, I attended my daughter Sophie’s sixth class graduation ceremony from Primary School at Eglantine School in Cork back in 2006. All in all, it was a very enjoyable and moving occasion. It started off with some messages from the graduating girls, followed by Mass and then each of the three classes entertained us with their respective musical productions. Canon Crowley was very participative and Ann Ryan and her staff are to be congratulated on the quality of the occasion and for allowing us, as parents, to be part of this great event. Refreshments were also provided afterwards for the benefit of both pupils and parents.

It was a watershed moment for the young girls, now moving away from their primary incubation nest, after having spent eight of their twelve years here. For the past four decades there have been close on a half a million pupils participating in primary level education in Ireland. The general aims are to enable the child to live a full life as a child and to realise their potential as a unique individual. They are also taught to live and interact with others while also being prepared for further education.

At the beginning of the ceremony, one of the girls happened to mention ‘ni bheid ár leitheid ann aris’ (you’ll never see the likes of us again). This struck a chord with me as I had come across it previously in the literature of the Blasket Islands, who were lamenting the loss of their particular way of life at that time.

How right the young girl was. We are all made unique, and there is nobody like us on the planet. We all leave our mark, maybe written in the smaller history books, and we will all be missed. That is why murder is such an evil act, as we are taking the life of a unique entity that can never again be replaced.

It can be a wonderful world out there from the vantage point of youth, and there is always the prospect of opportunities and the unexpected being around every corner. Imagination is more important than knowledge, and should always be cultivated. One of the advantages of being very young is that you don’t have to let the facts get in the way of your imagination. It’s going to be both a challenging and interesting world out there to absorb their talents.

Rolling the film forward, Sophie is now 26 years of age, is Manager of a shop in Cork, and is also expecting her first child. A brand new adventure is just around the corner for both mother and child, and may they bring each other the purest of joys in the years ahead.

‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination’ – Albert Einstein.

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