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From a land down under

Transition year students from St. Ignatius College, Riverview Jesuit school in Sydney, Australia, are currently being hosted by students from Clongowes Wood College SJ in County Kildare as part of a school exchange. Australians Thomas Acton and Sandy Flagg report on their experience involving six students from their school living in the opposite hemisphere and learning how the other half live.


While outdoor temperatures rocket in Sydney we are experiencing the soft Irish climate as the countryside turns from green to autumnal shades. More importantly the Irish rugby season is gaining momentum and last week we were delighted to see Leinster play Munster at the Aviva. It was a very enjoyable game with a terrific atmosphere. Here at Clongowes the TY lads are focused on the TY Rugby League and its great to be a part of that. As part of the process we were asked to write something about ourselves so here goes!

Firstly we are all boarders in St. Ignatius College, Riverview and found it relatively easy to adapt to our new surroundings at Clongowes. Fr Jack McClain SJ, rector of St. Ignatius College accompanied us on our journey from Sydney. Fr. Jack is staying with the Clongowes Jesuit Community during the six-week visit but is also taking the opportunity to visit West Kerry and Scotland where he will photograph the beautiful landscapes there. The Riverview exchange group comprises:

Thomas Acton from Sydney is of Irish descent and hopes to study Agriculture when he graduates from Riverview. He currently works on three farms in NSW during his free time and is looking forward to looking around the Clongowes Dairy farm. Charlie Connolly from County Kildare is Tom’s exchange partner.

Wiley Anderson‘s family live around 20km from Dubbo in NSW, a five-hour drive from Sydney. Wiley is into horses, sports and motorbikes and loves a trip to the beach. With descendants on both sides of the family from Ireland he was keen to learn more about life here. Rory O’Meara from County Tipperary is Wiley’s exchange.

Sandy Flagg lives on a farm around six hours south west of Sydney. The landscape there is quite different from Co. Kildare with flat bare land covered in red soil and temperatures of over 25 degrees. Sandy’s exchange partner is Hugh Radmall from Westport, Co. Mayo. While both St. Ignatius and Clongowes share many aspects of school life, Sandy is enjoying the differences as well.

Henry Hobson comes from the town of Young about four hours southwest of Sydney. Young is the cherry capital of Australia. Henry likes water skiing with his family at Wyangala Dam, which holds more than twice the volume of water in Sydney harbour when full. He hopes to study Agriculture after College at St. Albert’s in Armidale. Brian Hogan from Banagher, Co. Offaly is Sandy’s exchange.

Hugh McCormack‘s ancestors arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1787. He lives about six hours northwest of Sydney on a farm of over 1500 acres, which grows cotton, wheat, chickpeas and canola during the year. He enjoys water skiing and competes locally. He also likes racing his dirt bike. Hugh plays rugby with Riverview firsts but is currently recovering from a shoulder injury. When he graduates from Riverview he hopes to study Agriculture or Engineering. Hugh’s exchange partner is Ruairi O’Regan from Co. Galway.

Jack Pringle is from Sydney and was interested in spending time in a Jesuit school with a long history like Clongowes. Jack loves sports and plays and watches many sports including rugby and water polo. He also likes going to the beach a lot. Jack’s exchange partner is Mikey Mina Ronayne from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

We are looking forward to taking part fully in Clongowes life, meeting lots of people here and seeing as much of Ireland as possible during our stay. We hope that the Irish boys at Riverview enjoy their time there and all that the Australian summer has to offer. A big thank you to all of our parents and teachers for making this exchange possible and we hope that we can make a positive contribution to Transition Year at Clongowes during our stay here.

Pictured above are:

Front row left to right: Sean Sexton, Sandy Flagg, Wiley Anderson, Luke McMahon

Back row left to right: Jack Pringle, Peter Lane, Henry Hobson, Andrew Runov, Thomas Acton, Hugh McCormack