Aidan Barry with family: Linda and Eva Barry.

End of an era for Cornamaddy NS as Aidan bids farewell!

It was a week of farewells in Cornamaddy National School recently as parents, pupils and staff organised a number of special events to bid goodbye to their much-loved Principal, Aidan Barry, who retired at the end of January after 35 years on the teaching staff of the Athlone school, the last 19 of which were spent as Principal.

The culmination of the festivities was a wonderful concert in the school on Friday, January 31, during which the 264 children said goodbye to their beloved Principal through the medium of music, song, poetry and a series of readings.

The children were ably assisted at their concert by Tina Rafferty (tin whistle), Hilary Roche (keyboard) and Gerry Lacey (on trumpet) and many fond memories were evoked for staff and pupils alike in the repertoire of songs, poetry and readings chosen for the occasion.

At the end of the concert, a special book of memories was presented to Mr Barry containing writings and good wishes from all the pupils and teachers in the school. He was also presented with a unique framed photograph of all the pupils in the school spelling out the word 'Cornamaddy' which was taken by local photographer, Corin Bishop, using a drone.

Mr Bishop had to receive special airspace clearance from the Emergency Air Ambulance and Defence Forces in order for the picture to be taken, and it also had to be accomplished without the Principal's knowledge, which was no easy feat, according to Deputy Principal, Carmel Garvey. “We had to take it on a day when he wasn't in the school, as we wanted it to be a complete surprise for him,” she said.

The celebrations were also attended by Aidan Barry's wife, Linda and daughter, Eva (a former student of Our Lady's Bower) as well as school chaplain, Fr John Eze and outgoing Chairperson of the Board of Management, Stan Fallon. The entire event was expertly compered by Cornamadddy NS Junior Mayor, Darragh Lough and Deputy Junior Mayor, Shashwat Somesh, who ensured that proceedings ran smoothly throughout.

On Thursday last, Cornamaddy NS hosted another special event to mark the retirement of Aidan Barry when they invited retired teachers back to the school to reminisce about their time in Cornamaddy.

Among the retired teachers who returned to the school for the day were: Mary Dolan, Tina Connelly, Peggy Garvey, Anne Egan, Máire Kelly, Dianne Hill, Margaret Bartley and Michael Lydon, who was a teacher in Cornamaddy NS when Aidan Barry joined the teaching staff in 1985 and later went on to become Principal of Coosan NS.

Also last week, Cornamaddy NS hosted Grandparents Day at which a special presentation was made to Aidan Barry by the Chairperson of the Parents' Association, Somesh Kumar, in recognition of his contribution to the educational and social life of the Athlone primary school over the past 35 years.

The very last school event which Aidan Barry participated in his role as Cornamaddy NS Principal was the finals of the Athlone Credit Union Quiz competition, where the school was represented by a tea consisting of Shahreen Zaman Prante, Darragh Clyne, Shashwat Somesh and Abigail Grehan. 

Paying tribute to Aidan Barry and his time in Cornamaddy NS, Deputy Principal Carmel Garvey described the departing Principal as “a wonderful role model and a wonderful asset” to the life of the school and said he would be “greatly missed” by both his teaching colleagues and the pupils.

On behalf of all teachers, parents and pupils, Ms Garvey said she would like to wish Mr Barry a “long, healthy, happy and active retirement” with his family.