The clouds were thickening over the nearby sea as Minister Martin Cullen congratulated the staff and pupils of Holy Cross National School on their receiving a Green Flag in Tramore on Friday last.

The 570-strong pupil body assembled in the school’s playing area were on their best behaviour, clapping until their palms were well and truly flushed.

But some audibly remained in the party mood as the flag the school had worked for two years to secure proudly billowed in the breeze.

How else could one explain the sole voice which declared: “Let’s start a Mexican wave!”

That sense of celebration hung happily in the air and thankfully the rain stayed away as Minister Cullen pressed the flesh with pupils, some still a decade away from voting age.

The Minister, having negotiated the excited masses and made his way onto the platform erected for the festivities, congratulated all involved in “an elaborate and fabulous presentation” which preceded the flag raising.

“I’ve really been blown away by the whole effort,” the Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister continued. “The awarding of a Green Flag is not easily achieved and it’s a great distinction for each and every school that receives it.”

Referring to his Ministerial re-appointment, he added: “I am delighted to be in cabinet and I can tell you that there was no happier man in Dáil Éireann last week than me. It’s great to have a job that I’d happily do for nothing.”

Minister Cullen added that while his brief was national, he would do his utmost to continue to serve both Tramore and Waterford to the best of his ability.

“I am delighted to be here today and look forward to seeing the Green Flag flying over your new school in the not too distant future,” he concluded.

Having blessed the flag, Monsignor John Shine singled out Minister Cullen for praise, describing him “as a great friend of this school since its opening”. He added: “He’s not just anybody. He’s part of this school and we thank you for coming.”

A delighted Principal John Kindlon described the raising of the flag as “a day of great pride for the school” and thanked pupils and staff for their sterling efforts in pursuit of the award.

Led by Green Co-ordinator Mary Brennan, John Kindlon complimented the hard work of the school’s committee which had spearheaded Holy Cross’s eco-drive.

Second Class teacher Claire Cully energetically led the pupils in song, while a group of dancers won praise for their performance during the singing of the school’s ‘Green Rap’.

Acknowledging the roles played by many in Tramore since the school’s foundation in 1982, including Monsignor Shine, Mr Kindlon singled out the hard work of former caretaker John O’Brien, who attended last Friday’s event.

Given the open nature of the school grounds, and the acts of vandalism and illegal dumping that has gone on around Holy Cross for many years, John O’Brien more than merited the praise that came his way.

“I hope that the raising of this flag fills him with a sense of pride today,” said Mr Kindlon to warm applause. No doubt it did.

Mr Kindlon also told the gathering that the school plans to erect security fencing which could be in place by the beginning of the new school year in September.

“It will not be too long before this flag will be flying proudly in front of a new school building,” he added.

Many hands lighten the load and that certainly proved the case over the past two years during Holy Cross’s pursuit of the Green Flag, culminating in last Friday’s colourful ceremony.