Marie Meets…….Rory D’Arcy who is saying goodbye to St Oliver’s after 20 years
School has been part of Rory D'Arcy's life since the age of three. As he bids farewell to his teaching career and begins a new career as a Senior National Advisor to Catholic Primary Schools with the Managers Association, our new columnist Marie Carroll-O'Sullivan caught up with him for a chat to find out how he's feeling.
"Enter to learn and exit to lead" - what an appropriate sign to greet me as I visited exiting Principal Rory D’Arcy at a much quieter St Oliver’s National School this week.
It was lunch time in Ballycasheen and the Spúnóg Take Away was on the menu which I enjoyed with Rory as we chatted in the beautiful 20 degree sunshine.
Rory has been attending school since the age of three.
“September 1, 2021 will be the first year I am not in attendance at school in some shape or form. I was an early starter to ‘make up the numbers’ in Sligo. I did my Leaving Cert at the age of 16 and was teaching in Ballyboden in Dublin at the age of 19, in May 1988.”
After almost two decades as Principal at St Olivers NS, Rory will remain working in education as a Senior National Advisor to Catholic Primary Schools with the Managers Association this coming September, overseeing project work and giving advice on training to many of these 2,800 primary schools in Ireland.
No better man for such a position I thought. An inspirational, innovative man with magical leadership qualities.
As we ate lunch I asked about the outdoor covering in my view, which stretched across an internal play area. It was magnificent. A cream tent like cloth covering complete with equally impressive perimeter bulb lighting. “We got ahead of the pubs on that one Marie. We use it for daily assembly and recently held the Sixth Class graduation here also,” Rory explained.
That’s Rory all over. Always thinking ahead.
A KILLARNEY CAREER
“So what brought you to Kerry,” I asked. “Love is a wonderful thing!” Rory laughed. "I met my wife Siobhan who is a teacher and Deputy Principal at Barraduff National School. We were both attending St Pat’s together. We spent 11 years in Dublin, Siobhan in Knocklyon and myself between Ballyboden and Tallaght before I took up my four and a half year post at Raheen NS.
“Will I meet you at the gate?” I remember Principal Brendan Walsh (RIP) asking me as I arrived at the gates of St Oliver's.
"Not at all I said to Brendan. I remember that first day so well and the butterflies I had at the size of the school and my new position. I then thought to myself how it must feel for a little child entering the gates on their first day. In my opinion one of the most important things is a welcome, no matter what industry you work in. My aim was to welcome every child no matter what, even if they broke your heart the day before,” Rory laughed. “I think it’s so important.”
FROM PUPILS TO STAFF
I thought to myself the number of welcomes Rory gives daily and asked how many pupils are in attendance at St Oliver's.
“When I arrived at St Oliver's there were 410 students and today we have 680. We help more children with additional needs than any other school in the country, some of which travel the Ring of Kerry to school daily. We have 60 teachers and 26 SNAs and would you believe some of our teachers today were pupils during my term as principal too - Aoife O’Carroll, Gavin O’Shea, Amy O’Shea and Gemma O’Mahoney to name a few.”
“And how many nationalities attend St Oliver’s,” I asked.
"One” Rory replied. I loved that answer and I knew exactly what he meant. “All the children at St Oliver’s NS are Irish Marie. We have a colour coded system here - light blue and dark blue - the colours of our uniform, and red and yellow. You will get green if you mix blue and yellow and you will get orange if you mix yellow and red. Together with white they are the colours of the Irish flag. I remember one little girl who arrived at school in the most beautiful Bangladeshi clothing. I admired her appearance and asked her where she was from to which she replied "I am from Pinewood". There’s your answer Marie. As John Hume said "difference is an accident of birth". We are proud to say that we have many Irish speaking awards from Conradh na Gaeilge.”
I later noticed the rock over Rory’s shoulder which reads St Oliver's in Ogham script, a medieval alphabet used to write the early Irish language.
To conclude we needed a photo to go with my chat with Rory so we took a walk around the back of the school. Another forward thinking COVID friendly classroom, 'The Spooky Garden'. It was so impressive (but way too dark for photography sorry!), another amazing outdoor classroom option within the existing forest grounds, complete with actual tree stumps as seats for each child.
LIFE AT ST OLIVER'S
“Rory, before I put down the pen and paper, can you describe your time at St Oliver's in five words for me?"
Off the cuff he wasn’t phased one bit.
“Big, diverse, fun, busy and happy,” Rory replied. “Diversity breaks down immeasurable barriers and I think St Oliver’s is reflected in Killarney town. It’s a ‘can do’ town. Did you know that the Racecourse, the Town Hall and the Golf Club were all built in the 1930s, and look at how Killarney has adapted so well to COVID-19 with outdoor dining. Killarney is an amazing town of innovation.
As we chatted and snapped Rory explained to me how the Sixth Class pupils Callista, Mark, Nell and William were involved in a programme called CRAG (Children’s Research Advisory Group) with architect and parent Mary O’Connell of MRG, together with teacher Ciaran O Muircheartaigh and Rory himself in the design of two new classrooms to replace two existing prefabs. I was so impressed with this. It reminded me of that Benjamin Franklin quote "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember and involve me and I will learn”. So true.
ONE LAST QUESTION
Photoshoot over I had one last question for Rory; “What will you miss the most about St Oliver's NS?"
“The team. The team at St Oliver's are everything. They are exceptional people to work with Marie. I could not have asked for better over my 19 years here. I have been very blessed to be Principal at such a beautiful school in an equally beautiful town. Yes there were hard times too, but the happy memories that lie here outweigh those by far. Change is good and I really hope I will be as happy in my new position as I have been at St Oliver's.”
All the very best in your future career and thank you for having me at St Oliver’s NS Rory.
Strong connections made at tourism tradeshow
Many significant business deals were signed at this year’s Meitheal – Ireland’s largest and most important trade event for the tourism industry. Held in the INEC, 450 Irish businesses pitched to over 230 international […]
Many significant business deals were signed at this year’s Meitheal – Ireland’s largest and most important trade event for the tourism industry.
Held in the INEC, 450 Irish businesses pitched to over 230 international buyers from 17 countries at Fáilte Ireland’s flagship trade event.
Running since 1975, Meitheal is organised in partnership with Tourism Ireland to provide Irish tourism businesses with the opportunity to sell directly to top international buyers and tour operators.
The best of what is on offer across Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin, were showcased with the aim of being scheduled on the itineraries of the global tour operators.
Key themes and trends emerging this year are sustainable travel options, immersive outdoor experiences and festivals.
Speaking about the importance of developing a future pipeline of tourism business, Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said that “creating a strong pipeline of future business is key for the recovery of tourism”.
“Seeing the demand for the Irish tourism product with international buyers at Meitheal is fantastic. Each international buyer represents tens of thousands of possible visitors to Ireland, and their business will be hugely important for tourism and hospitality businesses, communities, and destination Ireland as we continue to work towards recovery,” he said.
Outdoor dining area officially opens in town
A new outdoor dining space at Kenmare Place was officially opened today (Wednesday). The project, which was supported with €605,000 in funding from Fáilte Ireland under the Local Authority Weatherproofing and […]
A new outdoor dining space at Kenmare Place was officially opened today (Wednesday).
The project, which was supported with €605,000 in funding from Fáilte Ireland under the Local Authority Weatherproofing and Outdoor Dining Infrastructure Scheme, provides an attractive outdoor dining option for locals and visitors to Killarney.
“This is a really wonderful addition to Killarney’s tourism infrastructure and will prove a great asset throughout the year and particularly during the forthcoming tourist season,” said Cllr Kelleher, Cathaoirleach of the Killarney Municipal District, who did the honours.
“One of the effects of the recent pandemic was the need to utilise and maximise outdoor dining options and this infrastructure shows what can be achieved in an imaginative way. It will greatly enhance Killarney’s reputation as a destination for top quality tourism experiences.”
The project has been operational since last October but the official opening was timed to coincide with the Meitheal 2023 tourism industry showcase that was organised by Fáilte Ireland at the INEC this week.
“It is fantastic to see Killarney’s outdoor dining infrastructure being so well received by trade and visitors alike,” Miriam Kennedy, Head of Wild Atlantic Way at Fáilte Ireland, said.
Councillors in the Killarney Municipal District approved planning permission for the infrastructure which was completed by Daniel Canty Construction.
Strong connections made at tourism tradeshow
Many significant business deals were signed at this year’s Meitheal – Ireland’s largest and most important trade event for the tourism industry. Held...
Outdoor dining area officially opens in town
A new outdoor dining space at Kenmare Place was officially opened today (Wednesday). The project, which was supported with €605,000 in...
Calls to limit Carrauntoohil access during extreme weather
By Sean Moriarty Carrauntoohil and other popular mountaineering treks in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks should be deemed out of bounds during...
International Lions Club visits Killarney
The board of Lions Club International visited Killarney over the St Patrick’s Bank Holiday weekend. A party of almost one...
St Patrick’s parade in Ballyspillane
Children living in Ballyspillane got a chance to partake in their own parade on Thursday last. The private pre-St Patrick’s...
An Hour with Paul Galvin: Drawing lines between football and fashion
by Adam Moynihan Whenever you meet a famous man, the people you tell always ask the same question. “What’s he...
A red tie affair for Rathmore GAA
By Sean Moriarty Rathmore GAA Club celebrated its most-successful season ever with a gala awards presentation at the weekend. The...
Gold Cup evokes great memories for the people of Killarney
by Eamonn Fitzgerald Cheltenham will hold centre stage next week. Even people who say they have no interest in sport...
Paska and St Paul’s are playoff ready
This week Adam Moynihan caught up with Sofia Paska, the 6’4” Toronto native who is hoping to lead St Paul’s...
Our women’s teams still need more support
As part of Women in Sport Week, Adam Moynihan reflects on the major issues affecting our female athletes today Everyone...