Retirement of long-serving Deputy Principal of Ballybrown NS

When the school bell rang to mark the opening of the new term last Monday morning, a familiar face was missing from Ballybrown National School in Clarina. For the first time since June 1979, Mrs. Margaret Allen did not respond to the school bell. An era had surely come to an end. Mrs. Allen, who retired from teaching at Christmas, has been a member of the teaching staff of the school since 1979.

“Generations of boys and girls in the Ballybrown/Clarina area have fond memories of the time Mrs. Allen spent in the school,” said Principal Joe Lyons. Mrs. Allen has filled the role of Deputy Principal for the past decade and has also attended meetings of the Parents’ Association during that time. Indeed, such was the bond that Mrs. Allen formed with the school’s parent body that the Parents’ Association pulled out all the stops to mark her departure from the classroom. Members of the Association decorated the school hall in pre-paration for a special ceremony to mark the departure of the much-loved Mrs. Allen.

Proceedings began with Mass in St Joseph’s Church Ballybrown celebrated by Fr. Muiris O’Connor, P.P. Afterwards, pupils, family and guests returned to the school to hear tributes to Mrs. Allen. The Parents’ Association presented Mrs. Allen with a watch as a token of their esteem while Mrs. Ann Hannon, who is Chairperson of the Association, used her renowned culinary skills to bake a special cake for the occasion. Mrs. Han-non’s skills are excep-tional and she was recently commissioned to bake a cake for President Michael D. Higgins to mark his visit to Limerick. The school’s Board of Management presented Mrs. Allen with a painting of Carrigogunnell Castle by local artist Jim O’Farrell. This presentation was made by Mr. John Hannon, Vice Chairman of the Board, in the unavoidable absence of Chairman Mr. Christy Ryan.

School Principal Joe Lyons welcomed Mrs. Allen’s family, especially her mother, Mrs. Curtin, who still resides on the family farm in Corcamore. He spoke warmly of Mrs. Allen’s contribution to the school and reminded her of Brian McMahon’s dictum that a teacher leaves ‘the track of his teeth on three generations’. Mr. Lyons likened Mrs. Allen to the village schoolmaster as described by Oliver Goldsmith. ‘If severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault.’

Mrs. Allen, in a moving speech, spoke of her memories of her own schooldays and of her first day at school when she walked to the girls’ school in Tervoe in the company of some neigh-bours from Corcamore. She said that she was delighted her mother and family could be present at her retire-ment. Mrs. Allen looks forward to enjoying many years in the company of her family as she enjoys her well-earned retirement.