Ken Hennelly Creative Writing Award 2020
The ‘Ken Hennelly Creative Writing Award’ is presented annually at time this year in memory of our colleague and teacher. Ken was an inspiration to students and teachers alike, always encouraging creativity and debate in his students. He is fondly remembered by past pupils of his as ‘Ken Hen’ and we are honoured to be in a position to remember his contribution to the College in this way.
We thank Ken’s family for the beautiful perpetual cup that will be presented to Dónal Buckley for his piece ‘A Classroom, 32 AC (After Covid).’ We look forward to presenting this great award to more aspiring creative writers in the coming years. Well done Dónal!
A Classroom, 32 AC (After Covid)
By Dónal Buckley
What about this new disease?
The one they say came
From those good-for-nothing fleas.”
“Oh please be quiet, Tommy!
Don’t be a fool.
It started in Africa
From hippopotamus stool.”
“Well my Dad’s an expert
In things of this matter.
He says it must’ve come from
A dodgy seafood platter.”
“My brother questions everything,
He’s a conspiracy theory sensation.
He believes it’s the government’s plan
To kill off the population!”
In the blink of an eye,
A little question had caused quite a flurry.
“Teacher! Teacher!” the children yelled.
“Do you think we should be worried?”
“Simmer down children, you wouldn’t remember,
But we’ve been here once before.
It was the biggest shutdown the world had ever seen
Since the time of the Second World War!”
“It began in eastern China,
Wuhan to be exact.
A deadly virus causing carnage
On the lungs this virus attacked.”
“Us here in the West were quite oblivious
To this virus called Corona.
But only until this virus was spreading
In Italian cities like Verona.”
“Hospitals in northern Italy,
They really struggled to cope.
But opera singers on Venetian balconies
Gave the nation hope.”
“It was at this point that we all realized
Just how bad this could really get.
A deadly pandemic on a global scale,
We’d never encountered such a threat.”
“As citizens of the Earth we had no choice
But to batten down the hatches.
The only live sport on telly at the time
Was Belarussian Pro League matches!”
“As the cases increased, so did restrictions,
And we listened to Leo’s advice.
We had to stay in our homes, except to shop for food,
Or to get some vital exercise.”
“While the leaders of the world shut down their nations,
Boris did his own thing.
But it wasn’t long before he copped himself on
And realised what a death toll that could bring.”
“Paddy’s Day and Easter were different that year.
No pubs or Sunday masses.
Instead they brought relief to the children of Ireland,
Who took a break from online classes.”
“Tuesday nights captivated the nation
As ‘Normal People’ took to our screens.
‘Connell’s Chain’ had its own Instagram
Followed by thousands of girls in their teens.”
“And Joe Duffy the following Wednesday afternoon,
Would be inundated with calls:
“Joe, I think the show is a national disgrace,
Sure they even showed his balls!””
“Many sixth years around the country rejoiced,
While others were left afraid,
At the government’s choice to cancel the Leaving
In favour of predicted grades.”
“And we mustn’t forget the healthcare workers
Who risked their lives to ease the pain.
While Donald Trump urged the American people
To inject disinfectant into their veins!”
“People who hadn’t run in years
Set out to do a 5k.
Numerous future ‘Olympians’ in our midst,
A new ‘world record’ was broken every day.”
“Although most of us got to relax in our homes,
We really mustn’t forget,
Hundreds of thousands around the globe
Affected in some way by death.”
“Mothers, fathers, granddads and grannys,
No one was immune to this disease.
So many suffered and succumbed to the virus,
While others got away with just a sneeze.”
The children gazed up in at their teacher in shock,
Their jaws resting on the floor.
“Teacher! Teacher! Did this really happen?
Why didn’t anyone tell us before?”
“Now now children, you are all still young,
But I thought it was time you knew.
Who’s to say that it can’t happen again,
Even right now in the year 2032.”
“Calm down children. No need to be alarmed.
I’m only trying to teach you a lesson.
Never, ever, ever take your freedom for granted,
Because it really is quite a blessing.”
“Every generation will face a crisis,
Be it war, weather or famine.
But at least we can learn from the year 2020.
It’s a case study we can examine.”
“We’ll never forget those tough few years,
It all felt like one big, bad dream.
But I have no doubt that the world changed for the better
After the era of COVID-19.”