On the 18th of April 2015, the Irish regional qualification competition of the 8th Chinese Bridge competition for Secondary school students was successfully held in the UCC Confucius Institute. This event attracted more than 40 Irish Secondary students as contestants. Among the attendees were Nicholas O’ Keeffe, Deputy Mayor of Cork, Patrick Ledwidge, Director of Service, Strategic Planning and Economic Development & Enterprise at Cork City Council, Yang Zhijun, First Secretary (Science and Technology) of the Chinese Embassy to Ireland, Huang Fei, First Secretary (Culture) of the Chinese Embassy to Ireland and Tony Walsh, Principal of Mayfield Community School. Chinese Directors of both Irish Confucius Institutes, UCC and UCD, also attended the competition.
Contestants outdid themselves and impressed the audience during the three sections which included a Chinese Speech, a Talent Show and a Quiz. Eight contestants sent by the UCD Confucius Institute performed exceptionally well during the competition. One of the Contestants, Fionn McGowan, spoke eloquently in fluent Chinese with a perfect Beijing accent, of his experience studying and living in Beijing. His wit and perfect pronunciation greatly impressed the audience and judges. The next Contestant, Roisin Hiney, performed a Chinese song “When You Have Come of an Old Age” (lyrics written by a known poet Ye Zhi) with a harp, such emotional singing certainly resonated with the audience. When brothers, Jack and Luke, performed together, the National Anthem of China and a Chinese traditional tune, “Jasmine”, with their Irish Clarinet and Keyboard, the audience felt compelled to sing along with the music.The Awards for this competition were awarded as follows: There was one first prize, two second prizes and three third prizes. Each prize was won by a contestant from the UCD Confucius Institute team: Fionn McGowan won the championship. Roisin Hiney and Jack Nolan won the second and third prize respectively. They are going to represent Ireland in the final competition in China. The UCD Confucius Institute has established 55 Chinese classrooms, including 8 affiliated Confucius Classrooms, in the process of promoting Chinese language and culture. It is expected that this Chinese Bridge competition will encourage the interest of Irish Secondary students to learn Chinese language and culture going forward.