Marie Louise McConville: Dazzled by the talent on display in Co Down

Seamus Hanna, principal of St Colmcille's High School in Crossgar, pictured with pupils from 9O who made Framed, a short movie, which won the school's inaugural film festival
Marie Louise McConville

That's the thing about being a journalist, every day is different.

Back when I applied to university, becoming a journalist wasn't actually the plan but as time went by, I fell in love with the idea of being a reporter as I adore writing.

But, while the job can be difficult and stressful at times, especially during elections, there are some benefits.

Last week, in the lead-up to the demands of the assembly election counts, I received a lovely invitation from a Co Down school.

St Colmcille's High School in Crossgar had planned a film premiere evening and I was asked to attend to help judge the best movie.

Of course, what made this event all the more special was the fact that all six movies being shown were entirely the work of students in Year 8 and Year 9.

From the script-writing and casting to the directing, costume, acting, and camera crew, six teams of very talented pupils did it all.

And, rightly so, the school went all out for the premiere evening with a red carpet to greet visitors, a VIP wine reception, and even a limousine outside so the kids could enjoy having their photo taken by the waiting paparazzi.

The evening began with a wonderful performance by the school choir before the first movie introduced us to the start of a zombie apocalypse in The Start of The End, which had been made by 8D.

Then 8O's Jamie Smyth's Day Off had me and many others chuckling.

It was then 9D's Bittersweet, 9O's Framed, 9V's Our School Musical and finally 9E's The 9E Project.

I have to say I was so impressed with the standard of all six movies and the professionalism and talent shown by each of the students involved.

In the end, 9O's Framed, which told the story of a brother framed by his sister for their parents' murders, won the top spot.

Speaking to those at the event, Principal Seamus Hanna, who was dressed in a Bond-like black tuxedo, spoke of his pride in the students involved in the project.

He told how both year groups had been affected greatly by the Covid-19 pandemic and how, at one point, two thirds of one year group were off with the virus, making school life extremely difficult.

I was quite struck when he said that the film premiere event was like the "darkness of Covid" being "replaced with a buzz".

I'm not sure I have ever seen a principal speak so passionately about his pupils. The pride he had in them and what they had achieved was clearly obvious for all to see.

I am so thankful I was invited to attend this wonderful event and have to say, the work these young people had put in is to be commended.

There's no doubt there's a sky full of stars currently enrolled at St Colmcille's High School - the future is certainly looking bright.


Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan appear to have confirmed their return to Ramsay Street after more than 30 years.

There had been reports the pair, who played Charlene and Scott, had signed up to return to Neighbours before the long-running soap is axed this summer.

Just days ago, the stars, who are now both aged 53, took to their respective Instagram pages to share snaps of what appeared to be a Neighbours script.

While it's been a long time since I've watched Neighbours, I was hooked when Charlene and Scott were in it.

I would love to see them return.


Who fancies winning "a highly engaging read"?

The Swift and The Harrier by Minette Walters has been described as "a sweeping tale of adventure and loss, sacrifice and love".

Dorset, 1642.

When bloody civil war breaks out between the King and Parliament, families and communities across England are driven by different allegiances.

A rare few choose neutrality.

One such is Jayne Swift, a Dorset physician from a Royalist family, who offers her services to both sides in the conflict.

Through her dedication to treating the sick and wounded, regardless of belief, Jayne becomes a witness to the brutality of war.

Her recurring companion at every event is William Harrier, a man who she should despise.

His past is a mystery and his future seems uncertain.

I have three copies of The Swift and The Harrier to give away.

If you would like the chance to win a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is noon on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

(Q) Who wrote The Swift and The Harrier?

Normal Irish News rules apply


The winners of the Birthright competition are Rosemary Kerr, from Magherafelt, Anne McNamee, from Portstewart, and Immacula McBride, from Belfast

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access