Bandon Grammar Debating Society


BGS Debating Society is a student-led club for all students with an interest in current affairs, debating and public speaking. The Society was founded in 2015 by Emma Young (LC 2016), with the primary aim of creating active citizens by allowing students a fun and safe environment to air their views on the world around them. It also has the aim of enhancing student participation in debating activities and encouraging interested students to learn the art of argumentation and rhetoric.


Although a relatively new club, the society draws upon a long tradition of debating within the school. Public speaking began with recitations in various languages including Latin which developed into modern debating and public speaking in the 1960’s and 1970’s. That was spurred on by the encouragement of the then headmaster Mr Ivan McCutcheon, a gifted speaker and former Auditor of the ‘Hist’ at TCD.


Graham Norton (born Walker) was a noted debater in his schooldays, reaching the national finals of the Bank of Ireland Schools’ Debating Competition in 1980. Many fine speakers have followed including Clare McCarthy who went on to international prominence with UCC in World Student Debating Championships.  More recently many of our teachers including Mrs O’Shea, Mrs S. Kelly, Ms S. Collins, Ms Chambers, Mr O’Regan have done stirling work with aspring speakers. The provision of debating and drama workshops for Form 1 and 2 pupils in the timetable in recent years has broadened the opportunities available and provide the base for our new society.

Prior to the founding of the society the school has enjoyed great success in the sphere of public speaking and debate.

That includes:-

Runners up in the West Cork Credit Union Debating Championship in 2011.

All Ireland Champions in the Concern Debating Competition in 2012.

Semi Finalists in the Concern Debating Competition in 2015.

-Emma Young qualified for the International European Parliament in 2014.


-In the same year, Emma Young won the Action Aid Ireland speech competition and travelled to Nepal with BGS teacher Ms Sarah Kelly.


Since the Society’s foundation last year, students have participated in two school-wide internal debate competitions, entered the Matheson National Junior Mace, the UCC Mace, DC Model United Nations, European Youth Parliament and the UCC Philosoph Munster Schools Competition, often successfully reaching the latter stages of these competitions. Aoibh Cassidy reached the National stages of European Youth Parliament.  Oliver Elliott won a Best Delegate Award for his role as China in DC Model United Nations. Six students got through to the the quarter-finals of the UCC Philosoph Debates, with two students, Abbey McGeoghegan Santry and Oisin Devoy reaching the Semi-Final stages of the competition. (Unfortunately both had to withdraw from the competition due to a clash of dates for this semi-final stage rather than being knocked out- a real pity given the potential they had shown).We benefitted from advice from Fred Axisa, a French language assistant and law student who taught us a particularly French style of public speaking. This year we aim to enter a variety of external debates around Ireland and debate as many contemporary topics as we can, from week to week.


BGS Debating Society Meetings have a new time-slot of Mondays from 4.15-5.30, with the student committee, interested students and Ms Morley in attendance. Every week we debate on a set motion and take minutes. The society occasionally invites public figures and relevant speakers to address us on these topics and chair our debates. Last year this list included Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri, a well-known public figure who spoke to us on the crucial issues of migrant rights and perceptions of the Muslim faith. Students from every form group (1-6) are welcome to attend our meetings, participate and listen to the weekly debates. Although heckling and barracking are kept to a minimum, we always appreciate fresh ideas and new points of information!