1946-47 Debating Society
Senior & Junior House
President.-Rev. Laurence O'Dea, C.M.
Vice-President.-Mr. James McCrohan Secretary.-Mr. Paddy O'Byrne.
Committee: Mr. Robert Stanton, Mr. Colman Lyne, Mr. Paul Cullen, Mr. Frank Maher.
Tuesday, October 1st.-Our first meeting was held on this evening and the above officers elected for the year. The vacancy left on the Committee after Christmas by Mr. James McCrohan was filled by Mr. John Glynn.
Tuesday, October 8th.-A novel "Parachute" debate was held this evening. In a doomed plane in which the passengers are international personalities of various callings, there is only one parachute. The question is to whom should it be given? The speakers were to choose their own clients.
Mr. R. Stanton, speaking on behalf of Sir Robert Watson Watts who perfected radar as a means of aircraft detection, emphasized the importance of radar in saving England from invasion and destruction in the Battle of Britain. In the future, radar will bring safety and security to commercial airlines. Mr. C. Lyne, advocating the cause of General Franco, said that Franco was the saviour of Spain from Bolshevist tactics. He is necessary to Europe as the champion of Catholicism against Russia and other communistic forces. In reply to Mr. Stanton, he said that radar was not necessary for the preservation of Catholicism. Mr. J. McCrohan, speaking for Mr. Winston Churchill, said that the balance of power in Europe might easily be upset by the slightest leaning towards Russia; the Labour Government in England might effect this and as the Conservative Churchill is the only barrier to the Labour Party, he is indispensable to England and to Europe. Mr. K. Loftus who supported "Farmer Murphy," said that the farmer has been present in every community from the earliest times, doing the all-important work of feeding the people. During the emergency in this country he exploited his assets to the full and saved the situation at great personal loss. Result: Churchill wins by an overwhelming majority!
Friday, November 8th.-Tonight the Society met to discuss the motion "That Substitution should be introduced into Rugby Football."
The speakers were: For: Pat Cooney, Paul Cullen; Against: Michael Dorgan, Kevin Loftus. Mr. P. Cooney said that substitution (i.e., the bringing on of substitutes) would ensure a faster game and hence increase the interest of the spectators. Reserves have a chance to "make good" if they can come on for a wounded member of the regular team. If Rugby has a small following in Ireland, it is because of the slow pace. Mr. M. Dorgan, opposing the motion, said that substitution would lead to "wholesale trickery and corruption" in Rugby as it has done in other games. A player feigns injury and a fresh man comes on. He held that substitution would help an unfit team against a superior one and said that it would not make the game any faster because the original team would have the finest players. Mr. P. Cullen gave instances from his personal experience of the game to uphold the motion. A player might be hurt early in the game and while the injury is not serious, he may be very uncomfortable. Still he must play on or else leave a gap in the line of defence. Mr. K. Loftus spoke against the motion; he said that the merits or drawbacks of substitution must be determined by trial. In Gaelic Football the venture was a success at first, but it has come to be abused and has introduced a spirit of defiance into the game. The following also spoke: Mr. J. Ennis, Mr. Leo Lynch, Mr. B. Kennedy, Mr. P. O'Byrne and- Mr. W. Lowe. Fr. O'Dea mentioned the danger to the all-important time factor in the game and then the vote was taken.
Result: For 8; Against 20.
Tuesday, February 4th.-The motion discussed this evening was " That Latin should be an essential subject for the Matriculation Examination.' ,
The speakers were: For: Robert Stanton, Joe Masterson; Against: Charles O'Brien, Paddy O'Byrne, John Glynn. Mr. R. Stanton, speaking for the motion, stressed the greatness of the Roman race. It is possible to acquire a taste for classical literature. He said that our English is helped by the precision of Latin and that, quite apart from its utility in medicine and the priesthood, the study of Latin is a privilege. Mr. C. O'Brien, in a sincere and earnest opposition to the motion, said that Latin is a dead language with no use in modern life. Too much time is devoted to the study of Roman language and culture in our schools. Mr. J. Masterson, with his tongue in his cheek, rose to uphold the motion. Latin, he said, is the basis of all education. Having stressed the vitality of mythology to education, he paid a tribute to Virgil, congratulating him on his "felicity of expression." We are far too practical and should pay more attention to things of beauty. Mr. P. O'Byrne, opposing the motion, sympathized with the many young men with brilliant engineering minds who are blighted from a University career through disinclination to or inability for Latin. However important it may be to doctors, priests, or literateurs, it should not be an essential subject for such a vital examination as Matric. Mr. J. Glynn, who also opposed the motion, said that we and all schoolboys are "unpaid workers." In fact, he said, we are paying to work. But if we spend too much time at any subject which is useless to us (as he insisted that Latin is) then we are being cheated. Few of us appreciate the beauty of Latin literature and if we must study Roman culture, why not do so through English? Latin is boring and archaic and kills our interest. Finally he condemned Caesar's Commentaries as "uninteresting drivel." The ex tempore speakers, Messrs. P. Seales and P. O'Donoghue (for) and Mr. J. Ennis (against) entered with spirit into the controversy. Then, by grace of the Chair, each one of the listed speakers rose again to settle misunderstandings and, as it happened, to hurl defiance and ridicule at his opponents. All very unorthodox, truly, but very entertaining and as Fr. O'Dea afterwards remarked" very encouraging!"
Under the chairmanship of Fr. Sullivan the Medal Debate was held on Whit Sunday, 25th May, 1946. Reverend Michael O'Callaghan, C.M., D.D., was the adjudicator. The subject for discussion was :-" That the system of Secondary Education in Ireland is unsuitable."
A very interesting debate followed and the adjudicator spoke in high praise of the speakers. Robert Stanton was the winner and John Glynn and Joe Masterson were strongly recommended.
To conclude the present session, the Impromptu Debate was held on Sunday, 8th June. The standard of debate was indeed very high and the subjects afforded ample scope for those taking part. Joe Masterson was the winner of the President's prize for this debate.
President.-Fr. Sheil, C.M.
Vice-President.-John O'Byrne. Hon. Sec.-John Lowe.
Committee: John O'Byrne, Patrick Dowley, Brendan Byrne, Michael O'Byrne, Michael McMonagle
23rd October.-Opening meeting. Officers for the year were elected and the Rev. President outlined the purpose and work of the Society for the benefit of the new members.
29th October.- An inter-class Question Time was held. J. Hamilton carried off the honours for third year B and the prize for himself. He was ably supported by J. Cunningham. M. Cuddy and M. McMonagle enhanced the reputation of second Year B, by coming second. M. Cuddy also received a prize.
10th November.-Discussion: " That Science is to be preferred to French." Pro: S. McKenna, L. McGovern, G. Macnamara, R. Kerr, J. Cunningham, L. Glynn. Against: M. Rafferty, S. Quirke, J. Kelly, M. Bennett, R. Roe, J. F. Fitzgerald. It was noticed that the Rev. Chairman was somewhat uneasy as he opened the meeting. However, in spite of the fact that some of his French scholars were to be seen in the camp of the Scientists, it must be said he conducted the meeting with commendable impartiality.
25th November.-Debate: "Rugby is a better game than Gaelic." Pro: R. Roe, J. Hamilton, J. Hannon, M. O'Byrne. Con: J. Rohan, J. Cleary, H. Clyne, P. Rohan. The speakers in favour of the motion based their arguments on the popularity of Rugby. They pointed out the spectacular aspect of the game. It was a good game to watch and a better game to play. It required brain as well as brawn. Furthermore, its rules were of such a nature as to discourage effectively any kind of foul play. Those opposing the motion introduced the patriotic argument-Irishmen should not play English games. The popularity of Gaelic was greater than that of Rugby. Gaelic attracted larger crowds. Gaelic was played in England and even in America. The game was every bit as scientific as Rugby. Result: On a vote being taken, the motion was carried.
28th January.-Debate: "Town Life is better than Country Life." Pro: J. Hamilton, L. Martin, J. Lowe. Can: J. Rohan, J. Cleary, P. Rohan. J. Hamilton, speaking for town life, drew a dismal picture of the country people at the mercy of the town for machinery to produce food. When he accused the country people of being lazy, he was called to order. J. Rohan, opposing, pointed out that town life was unhealthy and went on to prove his point. L. Martin reminded his hearers of the amusements to be had in the town; how much easier travelling was and how much easier it was to get supplies. J. Cleary pointed out that there were amusements in the Country, that these amusements were healthy and, what was more, they were free. Food supplies had to come from the country first before you could say they were easier to get in the town. J. Lowe in defending town life, did not agree that towns or cities were unhealthy. There was a better chance of getting a proper education in the towns. In times of epidemics the country people were at a great disadvantage because there were few hospitals and medical help was not always at hand. P. Rohan was convinced that disease was more prevalent in the towns. He considered the amusements of the town as unhealthy. The country people led a healthy life and so they did not have to worry about epidemics. The motion was defeated by a substantial majority.
9th February.-" What is your opinion ?" Topical subjects such as, "Helping starving Europe," "Should Ireland ally itself with some great Power?" "Is an Irish Navy capable of defending the country from invasion ?" were proposed and members were invited to air their opinions. The result was informative and entertaining and those who spoke are to be congratulated on their impromptu speeches.
13th February.-" Which do you prefer? " Music was selected and members gave their reasons for preferring Modern Music to Classical or vice versa. It was a difficult subject yet it is to the credit of the various speakers that interest in the discussion was maintained to the end.
9th March.-Question Time: First Prize: J. O'Byrne. Second Prize: N. Gogarty.
An awkward situation arose when some members, thinking they were in class, prompted a competitor. On being appealed to, the Rev. Chairman decided that a fresh question be asked and order was restored once more.
The Medal Debate was held on Sunday, 8th June. We had Father Cregan as adjudicator. The subject of the debate was: " That the world would be better off without science." The speakers, both for and against, did very creditably and the adjudicator's task was no easy one. Michael O'Byrne was declared the winner. Anthony Cody and Walter O'Donoghue were very close runners-up.