GER O’LEARY said a fond farewell to Gurrane National School recently after serving 35 years as primary school principal.
Mr O’Leary, affectionately known as The Master, said he had mixed feelings on his final day in the school which is located halfway between Crossbarry and Kilumney.
“I was sad to be leaving such a lovely school but at the same time it was time for me to move on. Time waits for nobody,” he said.
The former principal took up his role in 1987 and he said the years have flown by since then.
“Looking back, you wonder where did it all go. It is a small rural school. We are at the northern end of Innishannon parish. It is a brilliant school. It is a diamond out in the middle of the country.
“When I started, we just had the two classrooms and the two teachers. I am from Millstreet, and I attended a two-teacher school in my primary school days. When I got this job, it was like going back to my old childhood.
“It currently has four teachers and an SEN teacher. There is a brand new three-classroom extension, two playing pitches, a soft play area, a huge school garden, and a fantastic hall,” he added.
Mr O’Leary said he is glad he is retiring in full health, and he is working on plans for his retirement.
“The best way to give God a laugh is to tell him your plans for tomorrow. I have nothing planned but I am working on it. Retiring in full health is a blessing and I’m grateful for that. I am retiring from a job that I loved. I had huge respect and appreciation for all the staff. I also had great affection for the pupils and the community.”
He received a huge send-off from the students, staff members, and from the local community. He said there is a great community spirit in the locality.
“There is a brilliant school community and the area has a very strong community spirit. There was a lovely mass celebrated by the local parish priest Fr Finbarr Crowley. Speeches and presentations were made. They went beyond the call of duty. It was fantastic and I wasn’t expecting it. I am very low-key, but I really appreciated it.”
Colm O’Sullivan is the new principal of Gurrane NS and Mr O’Leary said the school has a bright future.
“It has huge potential. It is a fantastic school. When people used to visit the school, they always remarked on how lovely the children were. They also commented on the positive approach from the parents in the school and the fantastic staff members. The new principal Colm O’Sullivan will do a great job. I wish him and all the staff the very best.”