Back l-r: Peter O’Toole INTO District 7 CEC Representative, Orla Fogarty (Brideswell NS), Catherine Ryan (Summerhill NS), Elaine Kincaid and Helen O’Toole (Ballybay NS), Daniele Allison (Mullingar), Arthur Geraghty (Ballybay NS).Front l-r: Eimear Cronolly INTO Athlone-Moate Chairperson, Maura Dillon (Tubberclare NS) Dorothy McGinley INTO National President, Tina O’Hara (Ballybay NS), Anne Fagan (St. Peter’s NS), Lisa Quigley, INTO Athlone-Moate Vice-Chairperson.

Three 'outstanding' teachers honoured by INTO at retirement function

Three local teachers with over 100 years of service between them were honoured recently by the INTO at a special retirement function in The Bounty.

Teachers and colleagues from three local schools gathered to pay tribute to Tina O’Hara from Ballybay NS, Maura Dillon from Tubberclare NS and Anne Fagan from St Peter’s NS, all of whom have retired recently.

Hosted by the Athlone-Moate INTO branch, the MCs at the event on the evening were Eimear Cronolly, Chairperson of the local branch and Vice-Chairperson, Lisa Quigley.

Tributes were paid to "three outstanding teachers" on the night, with Dorothy McGinley, President of the INTO thanking them for their service and talking about the importance of encouraging young teachers to join the teachers’ union.

INTO CEC Representative Peter O’Toole warmly congratulated the three ladies on their retirement and spoke briefly about pay and conditions for teachers and the role of the union in teachers’ lives.

Former principal of St Peter’s NS, Darina Dolan, represented the Retired Teachers’ Association and outlined the social benefits of joining the group.

After 22 years in Ballybay NS in Kiltoom, warm tributes were paid to Tina O'Hara, who was described as a "vibrant and energetic teacher who was able to find the perfect balance between fun and the more serious business…with a special flair for drama and a keen interest in history."

The event heard that the school will will miss Tina’s vibrant and energetic presence in the school, and credited her with “a practical outlook, her pragmatic approach and good sense of humour".

Tina will now be able to add to her exciting travel stories, and other hobbies like drama and sport, as well as running the highly successful Baysports business alongside her husband Richie, who was also present.

Having taught in Tubberclare NS since 2006, and previously in Clonbonny NS, col

leagues also paid tribute to Maura Dillon, calling her a "wonderful teacher” who oversaw the children's preparation for First Holy Communion during her time in the school. Her meticulous approach ensured that it was a special occasion for both the children and their families.

A talented singer, Maura also shared her great love of music with the children.

Maura also prepared the school choir for the First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies and for various school Masses during the school year.

Colleagues said that “Maura was popular, supportive and helpful to all staff members. She was generous in sharing her time and experience with newly qualified teachers as well as with the many student teachers on placement with us over the years”.

Maura, who also served as a member of the Board of Management of Tubberclare NS for many years, was “constructive in her contributions, always seeking to do the very best for all in the school”.

Maura taught INTO Chairperson Eimear Cronolly’s own children and she concurred that “Maura was a wonderful teacher and always wowed us with her glamour and poise at school events, along with providing a lovely atmosphere for learning in the classroom. She prepared the children so well for the sacraments, going above and beyond for the pupils in her care”.

Her staff also mentioned that her energy for, and enjoyment of her work was clear to see. Indeed, she passed this on to her daughter, Michelle, who has followed her into the primary teaching profession.

Maura looks forward to travelling more and continuing in her active lifestyle, as well as spending time with her husband and daughters.

St Peter’s NS also bade farewell to their school Principal Anne Fagan, who retired after 41 years as a teacher at the school. Anne was also a past pupil of St Peter’s NS herself.

Her colleagues noted that Anne “ignited a love of reading with her pupils, loved doing worthwhile and meaningful projects with the children and brought music and singing to the classroom”.

They said that she “served as a beacon of inspiration, guiding students, teachers and staff members, demonstrated a strong work ethic, with integrity and compassion”.

Anne will be remembered for her massive contribution to music in the school as she always shared her passion for singing and dancing with the students, and indeed she proved this to be true when she led the evening’s guests in dancing the ‘Walls of Limerick’ at the retirement event.

Her staff fondly recalled her generosity as she had “treated the children to ice-cream and organised the arrival of an ice-cream van on her final day at St Peter’s NS.” They also recalled “emotional scenes" on her final day when parents and past pupils organised a special guard of honour.

The retirement evening was organised by the very able Athlone-Moate INTO Committee, comprising of Chairperson Eimear Cronolly of Cloonakilla NS, Vice-Chairperson Lisa Quigley of Clonown NS, Secretary Elaine Kincaid with Helen O’Toole and Arthur Geraghty all of Ballybay NS, Branch Organiser Sarah Langtry of Coosan NS, Catherine Ryan of Summerhill NS, Mary Murphy of Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí, Jackie Nevin of Clonbonny NS, Orla Fogarty of Brideswell NS and Dolores Killian of An Grianán NS.

Each retiree was presented with a painting of Athlone by local artist Anna Boles before dancing the night away to the tunes of local traditional music group Folklure.