A NEW book has been compiled by the students and staff of a Bandon school after nearly 125 high profile Irish figures, such as Mary McAleese, Gerry Adams, and Bertie Ahern, replied to letters from students asking about key moments in their lives.
The idea for the book, 'Turning Points', came from two teachers in Hamilton High School, Rob Honohan and Ciarán Collins, when staff sat down to think of creative ways to fundraise for a new pitch for the school.
"We have a very boggy pitch and by the start of November every year it's waterlogged. The lads are limited as to where they can play at lunchtime, we're limited in what we can do for PE classes, and then after school, the students have to walk about a mile and a half to the GAA grounds in Bandon to train," Mr Honohan said.
"So we're trying to raise money to astroturf the pitch but all the traditional models for fundraising are out of the question because of Covid."
Mr Honohan thought back to a book published by a national school in Co Leitrim a number of years ago and mentioned it to the other teachers in the school.
Mr Collins suggested that they ask high profile people what the turning point was in their lives and compile a collection. The students loved the idea.
"We all brainstormed potential contributors together and the students sent away letters to them and we got 124 responses. Pretty much everyone we had written to got back. We couldn't believe the response," Mr Honohan said.
"There are huge names from all different fields: politics, academia, sport, business, music, you name it."
The students were shocked to receive some of the replies, particularly Rachel Blackmore’s, which she posted right after her Grand National win.
"We were amazed at that. Then there was Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern, Christy Moore, Mary McAleese, all of these busy people," said Mr Honohan.
The book also contains illustrations from the students and is available to buy in bookstores around the Bandon region and online on the school's website, hamiltonhighschool.ie. Copies are selling fast.
"We're taking orders from around the country and it's done really well in the region," Mr Honohan said.
"And the students loved doing it. They got really into it and had an input and they were chuffed with the responses they got. It was a very positive project."