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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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Students awarded for their contribution to school life

By Michelle Crean Students were honoured for their contribution to school life this week during a special end of year awards ceremony. Held in the school gym on Wednesday afternoon, […]

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By Michelle Crean

Students were honoured for their contribution to school life this week during a special end of year awards ceremony.

Held in the school gym on Wednesday afternoon, the students from St Brigid’s Presentation were presented with a variety of awards from sport to science, music and visual art while Sixth Year student Saoirse Coffey received the Orla Benson Award.

“During this school year, our students have showcased their brilliance and extensive talents,” teacher Adrienne Brosnan, said.

“We are all so proud of these outstanding achievements across all aspects of school life. Awards day is a truly special occasion for all members of the St Brigid’s community and one which we relish the opportunity to celebrate. It is a time of anticipation, a time of excitement and a time of great joy. The awards that are presented are a testament to that dedication and we also acknowledge all the great work that is done by the teachers here in St Brigid’s.”

Sixth Year students also said their final goodbyes ahead of their State exams next month.

“We wish them the best of luck as they spread their wings and leave the shelter of St Brigid’s for the beginning of a new adventure.”

AWARD WINNERS

Other awards winners were:

Anna Dunlea received the Contribution to Graphics award while Leah Vinluan got the Design and Communication Graphics award.

Clodagh O’Connor and Sarah O’Sullivan both received the Contribution to Visual Art award.

Abbie Finan was awarded Soccer: Player of the Year, Chloe Hue Senior Football: Player of the Year, Emily Buckley 1st Year Football: Player of the Year, Abbey Cronin 2nd Year Football: Player of the Year, and Andrea Murphy Junior Football; Player of the Year, Senior Basketball: Most Valued Player went to Tara Donnellan, the Minor Basketball: Most Valued Player was given to Ciara O’Sullivan and the Cadette Basketball: Most Valued Player went to Leah McMahon.

Kara Huggard earned herself the LCA Student of the Year, Sarah McGrath received the CEIST Award, Excellence in Science was awarded to Emma Myers and Jennie O’Mahony, while Rita Akhter received the Overall Contribution to STEM.

Bríd O’Connor who wrote the book Spark presented Saoirse O’Sullivan with the Outstanding Achievements in Music award.

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Businesses face closure due to staff shortages

Hospitality sector businesses might have to close a few days a week to off-set staff shortages. Fáilte Ireland last week launched a recruitment drive to attract part-time workers into hospitality […]

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Hospitality sector businesses might have to close a few days a week to off-set staff shortages.

Fáilte Ireland last week launched a recruitment drive to attract part-time workers into hospitality and tourism roles, where it is estimated that there is as much as a 40,000 shortage in such roles for the peak summer season.

Damien McCarthy of HR Consultancy firm HR Buddy, founded in Killarney but now based in the RDI Hub in Killorglin, said that workers are losing out due to a more cashless society.

“Hospitality businesses may have to consider shutting their doors or decreasing their operational hours during the peak summer season as many businesses such as bars, restaurants, cafes, B&Bs and hotels are struggling to find staff for the demand. The industry is suffering over these few current weeks in particular as many part-time student workers are not available due to college and Leaving Cert exams. This shows how dependant the industry has become on young student workers,” he said.

“Many service industry workers choose part-time or casual work in hospitality roles because of the tip bonus, but this has even been impacted negatively now as most tips are taxed because they are coming in electronically. The worker is losing out and this key attraction tool that existed when we were a more cash orientated society in pre-pandemic times, is now gone.”

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