Debating is the second largest extra-curricular activity in the College, and the Debating Society is also the oldest in Christian Brothers College, and indeed all secondary schools in the county. The Society run a city and a national competition, as well as entering all major debating competitions in the country. Members have recently won National and World titles, and excel in all debating formats.
Membership of the society is open to all students of the College, and ranges from First to Sixth Year. The Society also has a number of Honorary Life Members. Membership continues to grow, with weekly meetings now being attended by an average of forty pupils.
Gold Medal Debate at the College
History of the Debating Society
Christian Brothers' College Debating Society was established in 1911, by a group of students and Rev. Br. Moore and Mr. Reese, who were members of the College's staff at the time.
In 1913, Charles J. Lanktree, Hon. Secretary of the Society was at the forefront of the development of the Society. Captain Lanktree went on to present the first Gold Medal to the Society, and the debate was originally called after him. 1914 is the first year for which records are available of the committee members - an Auditor, Hon Secretary, and committee members. The first 'Lanktree Debate' or 'Prize Debate' was held in 1917, with the final resulting in a tie between Leo Walsh and Brian McCaffrey.
Details on the events of the Society from 1919 to 1930 are unclear, though it is known that debates were held regularly, and the Prize Debate was held annually. According to the Cork Examiner of May 23rd 1947, the event was quite an occasion. The debate was held in the tiered lecture theatre of the School of Art, Emmet Place, and the event was used also as for the presentation of various medals and prizes.
Detailed minutes exist on all debates from 1958 to the present day. Between 1958 and 1980, about six to eight debates as well as the Gold Medal & AGM took place annually.
Weekly debates are held on Fridays and are attended by on average 40 students. The society competes in a number of competitions annually and has enjoyed considerable success on an International, national and provincial level in recent years.
What makes the society unique is its student-led dimension. The committee deserves great credit for their dedication throughout the year. Senior members commit themselves to regular training sessions with new members throughout the year to introduce them to the essentials. Their commitment is particularly evident in the organisation of the Cork City Schools Debating Competition each year.
By any standards 2015/2016 has been a very successful year. The society's impressive record in the European Youth Parliament continued with Cian Horgan and James Keavney Jiminez from 6th Year on international duty as members of the Irish delegations at EYP International Sessions. Daire Horgan can also look forward to this experience following his selection for the Irish team in this year's competiton.
The involvement of our students in competitons closer to home was also a source of great pride. Second Years Matt Mallen and David Cronin were crowned winners of the Cork Schools Junior Mace Competiton, while Matt was placed second in the Cork City Schools Debating final with his team mate Oliver Luddy. Oliver also took second place in the All Ireland Matheson Junior Mace Final in Dublin this year, a competition which involved over 600 young people nationally. Tomas Lane and Conor Sheehan took Third Place in the UCC Munster Mace. CBC students took part in a wide variety of other competitions at Junior and Senior level also; The UCC Philosoph Munster Schools, in which Cathal O' Donovan and Conor McCarthy were finalists, UCC NATMUN as well as a number of inter-schools. The high participation levels are a testament to the overall health of debating in CBC as a whole.
This year the society once again organised the Cork Schools Debating Competition which was aimed at junior debaters. 24 teams from 9 schools took part with the Grand Final held in the Ambassador Hotel in March.
The highlight of the Society's year was the Gold Medal Debate, held on Friday 13th May 2016. This night also saw the Prize Debate final and the Brother Elliot Declamation Prize. The Gold Medal and Prize Debates are sponsored by the PPU while the Declamation Prize is sponsored by Prof. Barry O' Donnell of the Royal College of Surgeons, a past pupil of the College. The PPU was represented by Mr John O' Donnell who chaired the event. Guest speaker was Ryanair Chief Marketing Officer Mr Kenny Jacobs. Mr Jacobs, a past pupil of the college and past Gold Medal Debate winner himself, addressed the house on the implications of the upcoming Brexit referendum in Britian and spoke about his time in CBC.
Chief Adjudicator Ms. Máire Ní Chiarba, ASTI President, declared Robert Dinan the winner of the Gold Medal Debate, with Matt Mallen Second and Oliver Luddy Third. James MacCarthy took home the honours in the Prize Debate while Eoin Power took the Runner Up spot. Conal Williamson was the winner of the Declamation Prize with his delivery of 2 W.B. Yeats poems.
At the final meeting of the year, the new committee was elected. Cathal O' Donovan was returned as president for a second term, assisted again by vice president Donagh O' Callaghan. Conor McCarthy was elected Recording Secretary. The society officers will be assisted by committee members Sean Buckley, Craig O' Mahony, Daire Horgan and Matt Mallen.
A more detailed history of the society can be found in the publication "Christians: The First Hundred Years", and in the College Yearbooks, which are available for consultation in the College library.