The late Sean Neligan THE RECENT death of Sean Neligan, former principal of St. Ita's College, Abbeyfeale, came as a great shock not only to his family but to his neighbours, his many friends, his former colleagues and past pupils and to the communities of Moyvane, where he lived and Abbeyfeale, where he grew up and taught for over 40 years.
Sean lived a full life and in doing so made a huge contribution to the quality of community life, both in Moyvane and Abbeyfeale.
Born into a farming family at Kilconlea outside Abbeyfeale, Sean loved animals and the rural way of life. Life on the farm taught him the cycles of the seasons, the wonders of nature and the importance of hard work, teamwork, duty and responsibility - qualities which would play a major role in his adult life.
When he married Stasia the couple settled in Kilbaha, Moyvane where he engaged in dairy farming until his recent illness. Sean was a much admired and deeply respected member of the Moyvane farming community.
While Sean had many roles in life, he was fundamentally a family man. He was a loving son and a precious brother, a devoted husband and treasured father, a fun-loving grandad and a great neighbour. The importance of family and service to community were central to Sean's philosophy of life.
He had a keen sense of social responsibility.
Sean had a genuine concern for young people and was deeply committed to their welfare. He was a highly valued member of Accord for 23 years and through his service with Accord over that time, he sought to help young couples appreciate the dynamics of relationships and the responsibilities of marriage.
It was within St Ita's College, Abbeyfeale that many people encountered Sean. Some 45 years of his life was inextricably linked with St. Ita's, - affectionately known as "Kelly's".
Upon reflection, little did Sean know that when he entered St Ita's College as a first year student, how it would play a significant part in shaping and developing his character and personality, his values and priorities as well as his many gifts and talents. Little did he know then, that when the wheel of life would turn and shape his destiny, what an extraordinary contribution he would make to the quality of education at St. Ita's and to the community of Abbeyfeale.
Sean's contribution to education was sourced not only in his knowledge and skill set but also in his depth of character and in his willingness to share his insights with his students. His many fine qualities: his integrity, forthrightness, fairness, dedication, compassion, judgement and discretion were self-evident and defined him.
Sean was a man of substance and his students knew it.
He was an excellent teacher of Irish and History. But he was much more than a teacher, he was an exceptional educator.
In sharing knowledge, Sean shared the best of that integrated and authentic self.
Sean was acutely aware of the spiritual dimension of education. He professed a deep faith and was a man of prayer.
When selected as school principal of St Ita's, Sean defined his leadership role as one of service - "the servant leader", a form of Christian educational stewardship based on Christian values and principles, which shaped his personal behaviour and professional practice. Maintaining and developing the particular ethos of the Catholic school was important to Sean.
The student was the focus and centre of Sean's educational philosophy. He possessed a generosity of spirit, a large and warm heart, a passion for education. He had a vision that all pupils entrusted to his care would seek to realise their potential in a secure and happy learning environment, so that they would leave St Ita's not only with fond memories but as informed, confident, wellbalanced young men ready to face the challenges and opportunities of that world beyond the school.
In the words of Flavia Weedn:
"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts,
And we are never, ever the same".
Sincere sympathy is offered to Sean's family; his wife Stasia, daughters Brid and Miriam, son Gearoid, son-in- law, Seamus, grandchildren, his sister Mary, brothers Timmy and Tom, in-laws, aunts, cousins and many friends.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.