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A Garden Bench in memory of Ballyea NS former secretary, the late Susan O Neill, who worked there for twenty years, was unveiled at Ballyea NS. Our picture shows Susan's husband Michael, son Shane, daughters Tara and Michelle, with grandchildren Sophie O Neill, Faye Lynch, Chloe Lynch, Tiernan O Looney, Ryan O Looney and Charlie O Neill unveiling the memorial. Photograph by John Kelly

GALLERY: Fond memories of Susan recalled at bench unveiling

THE late Susan O’Neill was remembered at Ballyea National School on Wednesday, when a bench in her memory was unveiled.

As secretary of the school Susan was a well known person in Ballyea and her former colleagues, her friends, her children, grandchildren and husband Michael were all present on the day.

“She was here for 20 years, so it definitely is poignant. The grandchildren are around today, all the school kids who made a major impression on her,” said Michael.

He said that one of the children who were confirmed recently had chosen the name Susan, which showed the esteem his late wife was held in.

“She took Susan as her name and that epitomised what Susan meant to the school and to the kids who went to the school.

An awful lot of 18 to 20-year-olds came to the house, during and after the funeral, whose lives she had touched.

“She meant a lot to a lot of people, and she helped and influenced a lot of people along the way.”

Recalling his late wife’s personality, Michael added, “Susan had great respect for everyone and she had massive faith as well. Not just faith from a religious point of view, which she did, but also faith in people.”

He said that while the occasion was an emotional one, it was a very nice way for her to remember.

School principal Martin McMahon said that Susan had made a great contribution to the community of Ballyea and to the school.

“I worked with Susan for nine years, she was here when I started 11 years ago. She was a very dedicated, professional person, who had a great sense of community, and a great involvement in the sporting life of Ballyea, there was great pride in how well the Ballyea hurlers did.

“She was a very efficient secretary and had great friends in the area. All the staff and the parents miss her a great deal.

“We’re thinking about Susan now and the bench is to commemorate all her involvement with our parish and our school.

“It’s great to see her grandchildren now attending the school, Susan was lucky that she was here to see two of her grandchildren start school with us.”

A fundraising cycle from Malin Head to Mizen will be held during the first week of June in memory of Susan and of Antoinette Pender from Quilty.

The event is titled ‘South for Susan & Antoinette’ and the selected charities are Slainte An Chlair and Cancer Care West.

Susan’s husband Michael and Antoinette’s husband Jamsie are both participating, as are Susan’s son Shane, Marie, Claire and Sheila Haugh (Coolmeen), Noel Keane (Kilmaley), Liam Duggan (Doora/Barefield), Michael Clancy (Lissycasey), Jason Ryan (Kilrush), Stevie Malone (Kilnaboy) and Martin O’Donoghue (Corofin).

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.