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Irene bids farewell after 38 years service

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FAREWELL: After 38 years service Irene O'Keeffe retired from Coolick National School. 

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By Michelle Crean

Emotions were high in one Kilcummin school this week as children and staff said farewell to their school principal after 38 years dedicated service.

Irene O'Keeffe, who has taught in Coolick National School for 38 years - 23 of those as principal - has even deeper connections to the parish educational facility as she herself attended as a child, and even watched her children blossom there over the years.

On Thursday, staff, pupils, members of the Board of Management and the Parents Association, gathered outside for a special ceremony, where they made presentations as a thank you.

"Irene is a past pupil of the school where many generations of her own family have attended, including her own children, John, Daniel and Anne," Deputy Principal Tara O'Donoghue told the Killarney Advertiser.

"Irene’s pride in the school was nurtured at a very young age and she has passed this sense of pride onto both staff and pupils over the years. Irene made everyone welcome in Coolick school. She embraced the staff as if they were members of her own family and she loved the children as her own. She believes that “you give children roots so they can grow wings” and she modelled Coolick school accordingly. She lived out the saying “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí”."

The belief that the school is an extension of the home is core to Irene's philosophy and she embodied this in all her daily interactions. She had an excellent rapport with parents over the years.

During her time in Coolick Irene saw many changes in education and she did her very best to embrace every new change and implement it for the benefit of the children.

During her principalship a large extension was built onto the school, and with huge parental involvement an Astro pitch was added in 2014 along with an Aistear playground which promotes learning through play.

Irene added that she had the great privilege of working and living in the community she grew up in.

"I have been blessed with great co-workers whom I refer to as my school family and also with a strong school community. There is an underswell of good will and volunteering of time here that goes unseen. Using a modern analogy in this unprecedented time, I have worked in the idyllic “pod” within the parish "bubble” all of my teaching life. I have been so lucky to see our school and its community become one and the same. The privilege of being the custodian of this lovely school since 1999 has been my reward."

Irene is now looking forward to spending quality time with her family; travelling with her husband Dinny post-COVID, and having time to indulge in her hobbies which includes hillwalking and gardening.

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30 years of Innisfallen Island MassThe annual special concelebrated Mass on Innisfallen Island takes place next week.

Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm. Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by […]

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Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm.

Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by Geoffrey O’Donoghue who sadly died four years after it began.

“There was an Augustinian Monastery on Innisfallen Island and the people, including priests and monks and they say Brian Boro, went out there to study. The lake, Lough Lein is called ‘The Lake of Learning’,” said his wife Mary who carries on the tradition in his memory.

“My husband Geoffrey was a descendent of the O’Donoghues and he wanted to have Mass on the island. The O’Donoghues built Ross Castle and owned the lands and the lake surrounding it which was later donated by John McShane to the people of Killarney. He [Geoffrey] asked one of the friars and one day he got a call from the OPW that there would be a plaque unveiled to John McShane and they asked if the Mass could coincide with it. It was attended by Sr Pauline, John McShane’s daughter.”

She added that all the public are welcome to attend. Boats, which will have a nominal fee to cover their costs, will be carrying passengers out from 4pm onwards.

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Photo of “hidden gem” wins Camera Club’s latest competition

A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition. Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the […]

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A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition.

Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the Novice category, Iryna Halaieva’s photograph of O’Sullivan’s Cascade was deemed the winner.

“A waterfall is my favourite waterbody and long exposure is my favourite photographic technique,” she said. “I do my best to have as many waterfalls as possible in my photo collection. I heard a lot about O’Sullivan’s Cascade and wanted to visit that hidden gem of Kerry. So, shortly before our club competition I went with a friend to Tomies Wood to photograph it. It was a dream come true for me.”

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