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‘What if she wins, Ross? I’ve already heard some of the other moms refer to her as the Trump candidate’

The election to decide Mount Anville’s next Head Girl is weeks away and Honor is one of the candidates

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Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: Honor and Sincerity. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

“Oh my God,” Sorcha goes, “what is she doing?”

Yeah, no, she’s talking about Honor, who’s smiling so hord that it looks like someone has jammed a coat hanger in her mouth sideways.

I’m there, “My old man told her she needs to be more personable, remember?”

Sorcha goes, “Ross, if she’s any more personable, she’s going to herniate herself.”


The election to decide Mount Anville’s next Head Girl is only two weeks away and it’s a three-way contest between Honor, Sincerity Matthews and Liesel Stapleton. We’re here in the school concert hall to hear them outline their manifestos.

We’re both nervous wrecks. We have absolutely no idea what the Honor is going to say here – although that’s how it’s been since the girl spoke her very first word.

It was “focaccia” in case you’re wondering.

Sorcha goes, “What if she wins, Ross? I’ve already heard some of the other moms refer to her as the Trump candidate.”

“Who’s the Trump candidate?” the old man goes, porking his orse on the empty seat on the other side of me.

Yeah, no, he’s acting as Honor’s campaign manager, passing on the benefit of his experience of doing evil deeds for more than half a century.

I’m there, “That’s what they’re calling our daughter.”

“Well, they’re right,” he goes, “in the sense that she’s an outsider who’s determined to shake the political status quo.”

Sorcha’s there, “Well, I just hope she doesn’t promise anything she can’t deliver.”

A hush descends on the concert hall then as the first of the candidates is introduced by Miss Fosbury-Joyce, who’s going to be her Year Head next year. She runs through Sincerity’s CV – captain of the Math Olympics team, third place in the Young Scientist of the Year competition, three-times Student of the Year, plus she storred as Sky Masterson in the gender-blind-casting version of Goys and Dolls that they put on with St Mary’s College last year.

Sorcha goes, “All those achievements. Roz must be – oh my God – so, so proud of her.”

Sincerity stands up and walks to the mic to a humungous round of applause.

She goes, “Ladies and gentlemen, teachers and fellow students, it’s an – oh my God – honour to stand here before you as a candidate for the role of Head Girl for the year 2024-25. I’d like to invite all of you, if I may, to reflect on the amazing, amazing experiences we’ve had during the course of our five-year academic journey together. One of the most important things I’ve learned here in Mount Anville is that the potential we hold within ourselves is as limitless as the opportunities that lie ahead of us.”

That gets a round of applause – she definitely knows what buttons to press.

“As we sit here today,” she goes, “on the cusp of our final year, I believe that I can play a vital role in helping my fellow students to bring that potential to its full fruition. Thank you.”

Everyone claps. I notice one or two parents wiping away tears. Sorcha goes, “That was very strong.”

Sorcha goes, ‘At least she didn’t mention her criminal conviction.’ When you have a daughter like Honor, it’s incredible what can pass for a win

Next up is Liesel – captain of the hockey team that won the Leinster Schools Junior Cup, Miss Fosbury-Joyce reminds us, as well as Team Leader of the Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat Prayer Circle for two years in a row. Again, she gets a huge clap.

She goes, “I’d like to congratulate the previous speaker on an amazing, amazing speech. My fellow students, as we move forward into the next phase of our academic lives, it’s a good time for us to take stock of the values and lessons we’ve learned during our time in this school. The friendships we’ve made, the amazing, amazing teachers who’ve guided us, and the experiences that have made us the people we hopefully are today. These will always be a port of us. As Head Girl, I want to make our final year in this institute of learning about celebrating our accomplishments, cherishing the small moments, and looking forward to a bright future.”

The crowd goes ballistic with the applause. Sorcha turns to me and goes, “At least Honor knows what she’s up against now. I did warn her she was facing an impossible task.”

Miss Fosbury-Joyce introduces the final candidate. She takes a breath, ready to list her achievements, then notices that there aren’t any listed on her page of notes, so she goes, “Oh, well – just Honor O’Carroll-Kelly then.”

Sorcha goes, “At least she didn’t mention her criminal conviction.”

When you have a daughter like Honor, it’s incredible what can pass for a win.

There’s a polite smattering of applause as she steps up to the mic. The girl is no dummy. She can sense the hostility in the room to the idea of her being head of her year.

She goes, “Seriously, it’s a good job most of the moms here are botoxed up to the eyeballs – otherwise, I’d think they didn’t like me!”

There’s, like, total silence in the concert hall, except for the sound of the old man guffawing loudly. He leans into me and goes, “I told her to break the ice with a joke or two!”

Honor’s there, “Look at the state of those faces! I haven’t seen this much filler since the Taylor Swift double album dropped.”

This time there’s, like, angry mutters. You don’t diss Tay in front of this many women. That’s basic.

She goes, “Great speeches, girls. Did you find those online? Or did you ask ChatGPT for a generic Homecoming Queen speech?”

Sincerity and Liesel just stare at the floor, which – I know from painful experience – is pretty much all you can do when Honor has you in her crosshairs.

“Anyhooo,” she goes, “I heard lots of waffle there but no actual promises. Lots of empty plaudits but no commitments to make the kind of changes that will make a difference to our lives. But here’s what I’m going to do for you. If elected, I will guarantee all students shorter school hours. The day will stort at 10am and finish at 3pm.”

The moms aren’t happy with that. It’s cutting into their Pilates time.

She goes, “Two days a week, students will be entitled to do their schoolwork from home. I will help deliver a Storbucks and a juice bor for the school. And next Christmas, I will bring all the sixth years on a skiing holiday to Verbier – paid for by my grandfather.”

And in the silence, all I can hear is Sorcha going, “Oh my God! Oh my literally God!”

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it