Bishop Alan Harper, former Archbishop of Armagh, has given a unique gift to Dundalk Grammar School.
It is believed to be the oldest award in the world, an Acheulean Hand Axe mounted in a piece of north county Armagh bog oak, fashioned by Mr Hamilton Loney.
He also crafted a processional cross for the choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral, for the bishop when he was Archbishop of Armagh.
Bishop Harper told governors and staff the stone axe came from north Africa and was about 500,000 years old.
It was made by Homo erectus, antecedents of our own species Homo sapiens. The bog oak cradle into which the axe head sits is by comparison about a mere 1,000 years old.
“This tool was at the technological cutting edge for longer than any other tool in the history of mankind,” bishop Harper said.
The trophy will be awarded annually to recognise initiative and inspiration by either students or teachers or both.
There are no confining rules. The winners will receive a scroll denoting their project/concept as a perpetual token of their work.
The award will only be bestowed when a piece of original work is considered of sufficient merit by a small team of judges, one of whom will be Bishop Harper.
The chairperson of the board of governors, Dr Laurence Swan, thanked Bishop Harper for his inspirational gift to Dundalk Grammar School.
“This gift embodies just what we wish for our students and staff so that they may be challenged, and inspired in their work to push the boundaries of their learning in any field whatsoever for the benefit of all,” Dr Swan said.