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Liam reflects on his 45 year teaching career

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I had a chance to sit down and have a cuppa with the newly retired Principal of St Francis Special School, Liam Twomey, at Noelle’s Café this week.

Liam has dedicated his 45 year career educating children and before he, and the deputy principal, Kathleen Cronin from Muckross, both retired Friday last, he fulfilled three impressive goals.

MARIE: Liam I would imagine over almost half a decade as principal, there must have been an enormous amount of change within education system at St Francis Special School. I had no doubt that Liam had achieved every goal he set himself. I could see from the way he talked about his students that he cared a great deal for their well-being and education.

“The job as educators is to develop each child’s potential and give the best possible chance to all our students - run the school as if the children were your own,” Liam said. “With the correct environment, and the right resources, this enabled us to do so much. I remember the staff at St Francis Special School and I wanted to come up with a motto. We came up with at least 20 but we settled on ‘Enable, Encourage and Enrich’ - three words the staff had engraved on a pair of cufflinks for me as a retirement gift.”

MARIE: I was all ears hearing about Liam’s recent accomplishments for the school.

“Most schools need a bike shelter Marie, but at our school we cater for bicycles, tricycles and a huge selection of all kinds of mobility equipment. We were successful in receiving funding from Green Schools to complete a fantastic Perspex dome to house all forms of student mobility transport a few months ago, which helps hugely with space for other activities and amenities.

“We also desperately needed our own means of transport at the school, not the type of transport to take the students to and from school but more of a social means of transport for excursions. Little things like a trip to SuperValu to buy the ingredients for cookery class or a visit to the park. We needed an appropriately kitted out vehicle to give our students the education of life skills. Two buses are currently been wrapped and fitted so you will soon see them about in the community. We managed to raise €60,000 and achieve this essential facility for St Francis Special School. “It is a happy talent to know how to play” - that is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is a basic life skill to play, but some children do not know how to play. We teach our students to play with love, kindness, compassion and understanding. We need to be proactive in setting up a play situation for the children within the community. The new buses will give us the freedom to do this.”

NEW PLAYGROUND

“The final project we set out to achieve has been five years in the making with thanks everyone who supported, but with great credit to the Leane family in particular. Our brand new playground was completed on Friday last would you believe Marie, on my last day. A vibrant specialised playground that we are so very proud of. If it was only needed by one child at the school Marie, it is needed.”

MARIE: I congratulated Liam on his great achievements in recent months and how fulfilling that must be as he retired.

“Absolutely impossible without the support of the staff, parents and the community. Kerry people are immensely generous and have taken on St Francis Special School as their own. The services and resources improved only because of this. One of our best sources of funding has been through Cathal Walshe as a beneficiary with the Ring of Kerry annual charity cycle and with Colm Cooper and the Kerry team who involved themselves in fundraising together with many other groups whom we are eternally grateful to. The people of Kerry bought into our vision and entrusted us to deliver and I am very proud to say we have”.

MARIE: So if you were to choose a moment or an achievement at St Francis Special School that you are most proud of Liam, what would that be?

“In 2014 after a long hard battle, we received the most essential and valuable service for our students. We put up a big fight but we finally have a resident nurse at St Francis Special School that we could not do without. Parents can send their children to school with confidence. We no longer have to call them if something seems wrong and we can look after their children for the entire day, keeping them in school to be educated. We are not medical personnel so this was a huge asset for the school.”

MARIE: Going forward Liam, now that you’ve handed over to the new Principal Keith O’Brolacháin, what is your plan for retirement?

“I think it’s better to ‘wear out’ than to ‘rust out’ Marie. The school is in great hands with Keith and I have every faith in the younger generation. I won’t be left idle Marie. I look forward to spending my days doing what I enjoy - travelling, music, carpentry, hiking etc. You only get one crack at life, so you must use your talents to help others but also to enjoy life and help yourself.”

MARIE: Thank you Liam on behalf of the community, for all you have done for the students and their families at St Francis Special School.

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O’Connor’s college concert a resounding successAccordion maestro Liam O’Connor does not do things by halves.

He proved it again last Thursday night when he hosted his ninth ‘Liam O’Connor Concert with St Brendan’s College Students’ in the school’s chapel. While the concert was always about […]

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He proved it again last Thursday night when he hosted his ninth ‘Liam O’Connor Concert with St Brendan’s College Students’ in the school’s chapel.

While the concert was always about showcasing the students’ talents as musicians and singers, the guest list would not have looked out of place on Ryan Tubridy’s Late Late Show on RTÉ One.

The GAA world was represented by former Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody, Kerry stars and past students of St Brendan’s Dara Moynihan, David Clifford and Gavin White.

Of course, legendary RTÉ sports commentator Marty Morrissey was on hand to get the best responses out of the sporting stars.

O’Connor and his musical children Saoirse, Oisín, and Cillian who is a student of the college, weren’t even the top musical bill on the night.

That honour went to Paddy Casey.

“Casey royally entertained one and all, and our surprise guest, the RTÉ broadcaster Marty Morrissey, enthralled us with his views on Kerry footballers Dara Moynihan, Gavin White and David Clifford,” Liam told the Killarney Advertiser.

“A night of unbelievable synergies was completed with an abundance of local talent. It was a truly unique night of star talent that will live on in the memories of everyone who was there.”

Liam also paid special tribute to the college Principal Seán Coffey and music teachers Mish O’Donoghue and Niamh O’Connell for their colossal support.

“The students themselves were indeed amazing, with the energy they brought to their singing, dancing and playing music. Their commitment to the event was such that they generously gave up their lunch hours to help make it all work,” he added.

The success of the concert rounded off a busy year for the international-renowned accordion champion that included a high-energy appearance at Electric Picnic and an equally lauded performance with the Celtic Tenors at the rugby clash between Munster and world champions South Africa at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork.

He and his son Oisín also made history in November when they became the first father and son pair to play both football and music at Croke Park on the same day.

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Marie was “lovely, unassuming lady”

By Sean Moriarty Tributes have been paid to Marie Murphy of Aughacureen, who died in tragic circumstances on November 30. Marie was a member of the well known Murphy business […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Tributes have been paid to Marie Murphy of Aughacureen, who died in tragic circumstances on November 30.

Marie was a member of the well known Murphy business family in Killarney – her brother runs KWD Recycling and she was heavily involved in the business.

She was best known for involvement in the local GAA both as a county star and a member of Fossa GAA Club.

She was a third generation Kerry footballer, her grandfather Con and father John all played football for Kerry.

She was extremely proud of her niece Abbie, her brother Seán’s daughter, when she became the fourth generation Murphy to play for Kerry.

Marie played for Kerry in 1976 and re-joined Fossa GAA Club in 2010 when the ladies’ side of the club was re-formed.

She acted as a mentor for current group of ladies.

Back in 2019 when Fossa GAA Club published a book to mark its 50th anniversary she was one of the leading lights on that committee.

This year, when the club held its Night of Legends to raise funds for a new dressing room for the ladies’ club, Marie was one of the guests of honour at the INEC event and was interviewed on the stage in front of a capacity audience.

Only a few weeks ago she was one of the many club members who helped organise the Fossa Golf Classic and acted as official photographer for that event.

“The club is numb with sadness,” said Fossa GAA chairman Dermot Clifford. “She was a loyal member and very proud of the club. Our thoughts are with her family. A lovely, unassuming lady who will be sorely missed.”

Marie will be sadly missed by her brothers Con, Seamus and Seán, sisters-in-law Breda, Gennie and Anna, her nieces Shauna, Amy, Kate and Abigail, nephews John, Jack, Luke, aunties Mairead and Maura, cousins, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends.

She was laid to rest at Old Aghadoe Cemetery on Monday following Requiem Mass at The Prince of Peace Church, Fossa.

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