The contribution of eight primary school teachers to education in Athlone and its environs was recently acknowledged at a retirement function hosted in their honour by the local branch of the Irish National Teachers Organisation.
Glowing tributes were paid to recent retirees, Noreen Horan, Tang NS, Brid Kilgannon, St Peter’s NS, Geraldine McGrane, St Paul’s NS, Patty Naughton, Castlesampson NS, Ide Rowe and Sean Cooney, Gaelscoil, Joan Conway, Cornafulla NS and Heather McCullagh, Clonakilla NS.
Addressing those present, INTO representative, Carmel Browne, noted that the occasion offered an opportunity to reflect upon the education contribution made by the retiring teachers to their respective schools.
“I have no doubt their legacy will live long in the memory of all those privileged enough to have worked alongside them, as well as all the pupils who have benefited from their care and dedication.
“INTO have published a history of the organisation entitled ‘Kindling the Flame’. This provokes an image of sparking embers into life – an image from my own childhood which I believe reflects the work of our retirees as educators and leaders. As leading lights, they have gently and calmly stoked the talents of hundreds of pupils over five decades, two centuries and two millennia, using three currencies, pound shilling pence, punt, euro – moving from a time of talk and chalk to interactive whiteboards, from a time when only birds tweeted, Aladdin was merely a character in a folktale, and we only heard of Musk when we bought perfume to a time of acronyms, ipads, Instagram, Whatsapp and a myriad of organisations influencing our daily lives in schools. Teaching and school leadership has certainly changed in recent times and I always question whether that is a good or bad thing! I always suggest that once common sense prevails there is hope!
“Without doubt, you have earned your retirement and I hope you live long and healthy to enjoy an equal 40 years of retired bliss. Albert Einstein famously said “failure is success in the making” and I’m sure as you reflect on the highs and lows of your time in schools you would certainly be advocates for this mantra as you diligently nurtured every child in their care to ensure that they could reach their full potential.
“Thank you for your participation in INTO as a member first and foremost - the strength of our organisation is its grassroots, our 40,0000 plus members are our strength.
“Your courage to support strikes in the 1980s brought about then unimaginable change for teachers in terms of equality and pay. It must be acknowledged in my view and current colleagues are indebted to you for that achievement. More recently, your support for your school community by making yourself available to act as a substitute during the torrid Covid-19 times must be lauded and applauded.
“I have no doubt your splendid influence is etched on the lives of many within the respective school communities in which you taught,” Ms Browne commented.