independent

Monday 22 July 2019

Popular teachers bid a final farewell to pupils

Simon Bourke

School may finally be out for summer but for three New Ross-based teachers there will be no return this coming Autumn as they waved goodbye to their respective pupils for the very last time.

Clongeen National School Principal Geraldine O'Sullivan, Duncannon National School Principal Martin Lyons, and Michelle Quinlivan, teacher at Bunscoil Rís, all rode off into the sunset this week, retiring from their roles after many happy years of service.

Ms O'Sullivan's departure was marked with a ceremony hosted by Fathers Tony O'Connell and Jim Curtis at St Oliver's Church. Attended by a large representation from the Clongeen community, including pupils past and present, parents, former colleagues, parishioners, teachers from neighbouring schools, family and friends the event celebrated her time at the school.

Originally from Cooga, Kildysert in Co Clare, Ms O'Sullivan joined permanent teaching staff of the school in January 1982. In total she taught in the school for 37 and a half years, serving as Deputy Principal for eight of those years and more recently as Principal of the school for ten years.

Geraldine married a local man Thomas Ryan and he and two of their three children Aidan, Rebecca and Emmet were present to mark the end of her career. Tributes were paid and presentations were made with a special thanks coming from her successor, the new Principal John Colloton.

Retiring after 35 years at the helm of Duncannon National School was Martin Lyons who had been Principal since 1984. Hailing from a family of teachers, Martin's father had been Principal of a school in Kilmuckridge, while two of his siblings have also entered the teaching profession.

Although he had endured two significant health scares in recent years, a heart surgery and a bout of cancer, Martin said he was retiring on his own terms.

'I was out for two years but then I came back. But this will be an active retirement, I'm retiring on my own terms, not because of my health. We'll be hoping to travel a bit, myself and the wife, go walking, keep fit,' said the outgoing Principal.

Having witnessed the school burning to the ground in 1985 and its subsequent rebuilding, Martin said he had seen a lot during his time in the profession but that the biggest changes had been in the day-to-day nature of the job.

'There's a lot more paperwork in the job now, less teaching, more paperwork. But the children are the same as ever, I've always enjoyed their company and made sure I was out to greet them as they came in at 8.30 a.m. every morning. I was one of the older style principals, very involved with the running of the school,' he said.

Also retiring after 26 years at Bunscoil Rís and 36 years in total was Michelle Quinlivan. A special retirement assembly was held in honour of the much loved teacher in which children created a mosaic wishing her well for the future and members of the school's board of management paid tribute to her during speeches.

Musical performances from former students followed, before Ms Quinlivan was presented with gifts commemorating her time at the school. In an emotional farewell, the teacher was joined by family as she waved goodbye to students and staff.

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