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Marie Meets…….Rory D’Arcy who is saying goodbye to St Oliver’s after 20 years

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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 & 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. Principal Rory D’Arcy has been attending school since the age of 3. “The 1st Sept 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 Marie. 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 in September 2021, over seeing project work and giving advise 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. The Shire eat your heart out!! “We got ahead of the pubs on that one Marie. We use it for daily assembly and recently held the 6th Class Graduation here also” Rory explained. That’s Rory all over. Always thinking ahead in thinking of others. “So what brought you to Kerry” I asked. “Love is a wonderful thing!” Rory laughed. I met my wife Siobhan who is a teacher & Deputy Principal at Barraduff National School. We were both attending St Pat’s together. We spent 11 year in Dublin. Siobhan in Kocklyon and myself between Ballyboden & Tallaght before I took up my four and a half year post at Raheen NS. “Will I meet you at the gate?” I

"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.

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New free local fitness group to motivate people back to health

By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness  Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a […]

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By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness
 

Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a free health and fitness group. 

Our primary vehicle is our gym but we do a lot of other stuff, too, like:

* Train kids how to exercise in schools
* Helping frontline workers with their mindset
* Supporting local fitness events and teams
* Running fun social events in the community
* Raise funds for local charities

We’ve won awards for this stuff, but the real reward is moving the Killarney community back towards health. So today, I’m thrilled to share a free Facebook group: ‘Fitness, Nutrition & Health in Killarney’ with you.
Visit this link to join: www.facebook.com/groups/fitnessinkillarney.

In that group, we’ll share helpful posts, tips, and support for everyone, whether you exercise at Activate or not. We’re also welcoming other health and fitness practitioners to join the group and help people find valuable and sensible advice around health and fitness.

When you join, Facebook will ask you a few questions, then my team will be around to support you and give you stuff to help.

If you have questions about fitness, health, longevity, nutrition, or exercise, go ahead and ask! If you have answers, please share! Let’s get some positive momentum going in Killarney!

What’s the deal with motivation?

I was having a discussion with a new client the other day and it came up that they sometimes feel a lack of motivation to keep working out. I know many of you feel like this sometimes, so I thought I would write about it today.

I really believe in discipline, as motivation is fleeting – but we’ll address this anyway. There are a few things that you can do to fool-proof the system. Here’s five ways.

1. Find an accountability partner:

When it comes to working out, having someone to hold you accountable can be a huge motivator. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a fitness coach, knowing that someone is counting on you to show up for your workout can help you stay on track.

2. Set realistic goals:

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated, but it’s important to make sure they are realistic. If your goal is too lofty, you may find yourself getting discouraged when you don’t see results as quickly as you’d like. However, if your goals are achievable and realistic, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout plan and see the results you want.

3. Find a workout routine you enjoy:

If you dread your workouts, it’s going to be very difficult to stay motivated. However, if you find an exercise routine that you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. There are so many different types of workouts out there, so take some time to experiment and find one that fits your needs and interests. I feel a key facet many of us in the health and fitness industry miss regularly is making sure people are always engaged and challenged, so it remains fun to work out!

4. Reward yourself:

This one sounds a little weird, but for some, it can really work. One way to stay motivated is to reward yourself after setting a goal and reaching it. Whether it’s your favourite snack or a new piece of workout gear, treating yourself to something special can help keep you on track.

5. Get enough sleep:

This is the one thing we all hear that’s drilled into our brains – but for good reason! It’s important to get enough sleep when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy for your workouts and you’ll be less likely to skip them. So make sure to get plenty of rest each night!

Following these tips can help you stay motivated to workout, even when it feels like a struggle. Just remember to be patient, set realistic goals, and find an exercise routine that you enjoy. With a little effort, you can reach your fitness goals in no time!
 

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Irish food only for Lisa’s September challenge

Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself. Artist and food activist […]

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Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself.

Artist and food activist Lisa Fingleton plans the unusual action as she will eat only food grown in Ireland for the entire month.

That means no sugar, lemons, olive oil, or coffee with the challenge designed to highlight issues with Irish food security.

In the seven years since Lisa founded the 30-Day Local Food Challenge, food supply chains have been hit by a succession of market shocks highlighting Lisa’s concerns with increasing urgency.

From seed shortages caused by Brexit to the global market shock of COVID-19 to potential shortages caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, to the recent conversation about the need to reduce the Irish National Herd in line with carbon emissions targets, Lisa says there has never been a more important time to talk about Irish food security.

“This year in particular in Europe we are seeing the impact of war on food and the global reliance on Ukraine as an important wheat producer,” said the former Kerry County Council Artist in Residence who lives in Ballybunion.

“This has shown us more than ever just how fragile our food systems are. We need to focus on building sustainable and resilient food systems on the island of Ireland. This year we are encouraging people to do one local meal a day so they can make it really simple and have Irish porridge for breakfast or really elaborate with a meal grown in your own garden.”

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