On Wednesday September 12th last in the Kings’ Inns in Dublin two students and two teachers from St. Anne’s Community College Killaloe accepted the Cycle Against Suicide Ambassador Schools Award from Minister Helen Mc Entee T.D. European Affairs Minister and former Junior at the Dept. of Health with responsibility for Mental Health.

In the 2017-18 academic year the Transition Year students undertook to fulfil a number of actions or criteria to achieve this award. Through their Young Social Innovators module in TY the students along with their teacher Ms. Ann Lane O’ Connell engaged with the school and local community on the topic of mental health. One particular initiative that struck a chord was the ‘Go Orange Day’ at school when, for example, one particular action whereby positive messages on orange stickie notes and a sweet were left on the desks of the Junior and Leaving Cert students prior to the commencement of the Mock Exams.

Fundraising and an information leaflet for the local community were the other initiatives undertaken by the students. The genesis of the project came from parent Graham Tuohy of Killaloe, himself a past student of St. Anne’s Community College and a marshal for the Cycle Against Suicide. Graham’s daughter Kayla and her classmates in Transition Year enthusiastically set about raising the profile of Cycle Against Suicide and the importance of mental well-being for the whole community. This is not the first time the students in the college have engaged with the issue of mental health having previously co-operated with the Samaritans, Pieta House, Aware, Clare Sports Partnership, the Soar Foundation and the Family Resource Centre to actively promote positive mental and physical health in the school and community. The students also participate annually in the Darkness Into Light Walk in Killaloe-Ballina.

Cycle Against Suicide is a national awareness charity that strives to break down the barriers around mental health illness and works to increase awareness of the supports and treatments that are available to empower those affected. Since 2013 Cycle Against Suicide, along with over 15,000 cyclists have helped to spread the message that “It’s OK not to feel OK; and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help”.  As an Ambassador School, St. Anne’s Community College Killaloe looks forward to welcoming the cyclists to Killaloe in April 2019 and to providing a warm welcome and hospitality to those involved.


Inspired by the work and vision of Sr.Ethel Normoyle who has spent the past 30 years in the Township of Missionvale in Port Elizabeth South Africa, four students from St. Anne’s Community College Killaloe will spend ten days there working and getting to know the people in February 2019 next.
Since 2013, students from the Killaloe academy have been travelling to South Africa on a biannual basis to immerse themselves in the missionary work of Sr. Ethel. To date 10 students have visited the township and on this occasion the four students who are from the Pre-Leaving Cert Year will travel. They have been preparing since their Transition Year to undertake the trip.
In order to get there, the students, their teachers, schoolmates and families will embark on a major fundraising drive. On previous occasions a significant aspect of the fundraising was the manner in which the local communities from which the students come dug deep to support them and the work of Sr.Ethel. From North Tipperary to East Clare and further afield local parishes, businesses and community groups were instrumental in enabling the students to raise the funds to travel and also to support the people of the township and their needs. There is now a familiarity and solidarity with the work of Sr.Ethel and Missionvale Ireland in the region and this is evident not only in the financial donations the students who travelled previously received but also in the many donations of supplies like clothing, stationery and other items that were brought to Missionvale to support the people there.
The students travelling on this occasion are Alison McGee (Ogonnelloe), James Power (Ballina), Devlin Staunton (Ballina), and Dylan McMahon (Clonlara). Thankful for the opportunity to travel the students are very much aware of the support given to the school in the past and while cognisant of the daily demands on peoples’ finances they are hopeful of the continued support of the community.
From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day from February 15th to February 26th inclusive the students and their teachers will assist with mini-construction, horticultural, education, feeding, medical and community visitation projects. In 2017 the students who travelled on that occasion assisted with the erection of a perimeter fence, the planting of 7,500 beetroot plants, and the erection of water conservation tanks, food distribution and community visitations amongst other activities. It was a humbling experience to witness up to 1,000 people a day queueing for food and to witness the impact of HIV/AIDS, TB, High Blood Pressure, Malnutrition, Diabetes and extreme poverty on the daily lives of the people living in the Township. Indeed, the absence of basic facilities in their small homes such as running water and flushing toilets with intermittent electricity supplies and poor sanitary conditions brought home to the students the resilience of the people and the commitment of Sr. Ethel and her co-workers in keeping people alive in Missionvale.
Of course, the lasting effect of the relationship between Missionvale and Killaloe is the way in which both communities are brought closer together by the involvement of teachers and students from St. Anne’s Community College. The generosity of the people in East Clare and North Tipperary and the solidarity demonstrated towards the people of Missionvale is an invaluable life lesson for all concerned and something to be extremely proud of.
The students travelling on this occasion hope to continue building on the success of these achievements and look forward to encountering people in the community as they undertake their fundraising campaign.

L TO R. Alison McGee, Devlin Staunton, Dylan McMahon, James Power.

L TO R. Alison McGee, Devlin Staunton, Brendan O’ Brien (Teacher)
Dylan McMahon, James Power.

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St. Anne's Community College
Co. Clare

Phone: (061) 376 257
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