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Christmas messages from the Board of Education (RI)

Children bringing light to Christ Church Cathedral during the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Primary and Junior Schools Service, in November this year.
Children bringing light to Christ Church Cathedral during the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Primary and Junior Schools Service, in November this year.

Archbishop Michael Jackson, as Chairman of General Synod Board of Education (Republic of Ireland), has shared the following message with Church of Ireland primary schools and boards of management in the Board’s pre–Christmas education newsletter: 

Christmas often finds us exhausted but at the same time excited. 

Christmas gives us a break from our routines at the darkest time of the year. It also gives us time to do some of the things we have had to shelve over the previous months and to do them with people whose company we value. 

In schools, Christmas comes after a long–term of settling in for new pupils and staff. It is an equally long term for those preparing to move into the next stage of life beyond the classroom. 

I want to thank all who have made our schools happy places for students and staff in 2023 and to 

wish you all happiness at Christmas and in 2024. 

Keep safe and keep happy at Christmas! 

Dr Ken Fennelly, Secretary to the Board, added a further reflection: 

As we move towards the end of this term and look forward to the Christmas break, the annual round of carol services and Christmas concerts will be in full swing! In this last week before Christmas, the preoccupations of getting things finished off before school closes on Friday, or trying to get the last few family Christmas presents sorted out means reflection and taking time to sit for a moment and ‘gather thoughts’ is low on the priority list. Yet, as the experience of the Covid pandemic should have 

taught us, we all need to mind ourselves, especially at the busy times of year. So, I invite you to take a 

moment to pause! 

Christmas is a time for reflection and for giving thanks for all the blessings that we have received over the last year; and there are many blessings! 

The most important blessings are the children in school. It is a privilege and blessing to be able to provide children with a happy, rewarding and fulfilling time in school; an experience that is being 

denied to so many children in other parts of the world currently. In a very real sense, this is the essential expression of our Church of Ireland ethos and of the Christmas message of welcome, peace and joy. 

The former English poet laureate, Philip Larkin, in his poem ‘Christmas 1940’ reflects on how the message of Christmas and the Incarnation is so profound that adequate words of description elude him. Perhaps we could draw a parallel with school, knowing all it provides for a child, but rarely having the voice or opportunity to articulate it? 

May I wish you a very happy Christmas. 


‘High on arched field I stand 

Alone: the night is full of stars: 

Enormous over tree and farm 

The night extends, 

And looks down equally to all on earth. 

‘So I return their look; and laugh 

To see as them my living stars 

Flung from east to west across 

A windless gulf? 

– So much to say that I have never said, 

Or ever could. 

Christmas 1940 by Philip Larkin 

The Board of Education (Republic of Ireland) represents the Church of Ireland in all educational matters applying to the State, including as an education partner with the Department of Education and Skills and other educational bodies.  It also supports religious education in primary schools under Protestant management and provides support, training and advice to primary level patrons and boards of management.

Dr Ken Fennelly

Secretary, Board of Education (RI)
Church of Ireland House
Church Avenue
Dublin 6
D06 CF67
+353 (0)1 4125 609


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