Tel: (+353) 53 9377308

F.C.J. / M.S.C. Exchange – March 2016

USA Trip 2016 Top of page for web news

[There are over 100 photos of the trip in the Gallery – taken by a parent at Mount St. Charles]

On St. Patrick’s Day 135 young musicians and 11 group leaders left F.C.J. Secondary School, Bunclody, to begin the 5th Exchange Trip with the Mount St. Charles Academy in  Woonsocket, R.I.   The 3rd and last bus was scheduled to leave at 6.15 am. but it left at 6.13 am., which typified the organisational skills throughout the tour.   The Deputy Principal, Brendan Daly, was Tour Leader and Logistics Director (!) with Dale Hennessy taking care of all things musical.   The 135 students included the senior and intermediate orchestras and the school’s traditional music group – the first time such a group has been brought on the exchange since it began in 1995.

The Friday was spent in Boston where they went to the Museum of Science IMAX, Quincy Market, the USS Constitution, enjoyed a great play “Shear Madness” and finished the day with dinner at the Hard Rock Café.

Saturday began early with a 6.00 am. departure for New York City where they walked around the centre including Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre and shopped of course.   In the late afternoon they set off for their first performance at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Fairfield, Connecticut.   They played to a packed church and were joined by past pupil, Des Willoughby.   It was a wonderful occasion made possible by a family connection between Fairfield and F.C.J.   Maggie & Jack Hobbs are members of the orchestra and their mother Anne-Marie, Kilbora, is a native of Fairfield.

On Sunday it was back to Mount for Mass at 1pm., when FCJ students sang and played.  Afterwards there was a pot-luck lunch – a terrific invention! And then a concert for the school’s parents and friends.   Afterwards they headed for Providence and United Skates of America where they had a great time roller skating and participating in laser tag games.

Large Group on Sunday

At 9 pm. on the Sunday night it began to snow as predicted by the weather service and it stopped as predicted at 12 noon on the Monday!   So all schools in the area were closed on Monday and this meant that three concerts were cancelled – at Mount itself for all their students and at two primary schools.   But the students had a great time as the houses and gardens were covered in six inches of snow.  All the roads were clear – gritted before the snow started – so in the afternoon everyone went to Wrentham Mall Premier Outlets to shop.

First thing on Tuesday, students had a workshop with Marc Blanchette, Music Director at Mount, and then travelled to the Mystic Aquarium.   In the late afternoon the trad. group played in a food kitchen supported by MSC and presented the manager with $400 which FCJ students had collected to help them with their work.   The final event of the tour took place that evening with a Formal Farewell Dinner & Dance at City Side in Woonsocket.


Three Buses left MSC on Wednesday morning at 7.45 am. for the Freedom Trail and the Boston Museum of Science.   They departed Logan Airport at 7.20 pm. and arrived in Dublin at 5.20am. on Thursday.

The students involved were from 2nd year up to 6th year and they had a marvellous experience of travelling, staying with American families and entertaining a lot of people.   It is hoped that the exchange will continue with the Mount Band & Chorus visiting Bunclody in a couple of years time.

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FCJ Secondary School,
Co. Wexford
Tel: (+353)53-9377308
App: FCJ Bunclody