A celebration of more than three decades of service to Knockanean National School by former school principal Pat McNamara will take place this weekend.
Mr McNamara officially retired as principal of the school in November of last year and this Friday a retirement mass and celebration will be held in his honour in Roslevan.
According to Mr McNamara, his 33 years at Knockanean have given him great memories that will always stay with him.
“I will miss it, there’d be something wrong if I didn’t after so many years there. But the most important thing is that I can honestly say there wasn’t a day that I didn’t enjoy going in,” he said.
Originally from Tulla, Mr McNamara came to Knockanean having previously taught in Waterford and Limerick. He recalled, “When I started out, it was a two-teacher school, just going to a three-teacher school, now it’s a 14-teacher school. It has certainly changed a lot in the preceding years.
“There were 70 pupils there when I started and now there are over 270. There have been a lot of developments within a mile of the school, in the Tulla Road area quite a number of estates have gone up in the last number of years. It’s been great and we’ve had great support from the local community.”
Even with the increasing size of the school, Knockanean continues to keep its “rural” roots, said Mr McNamara. “We’ve finished our big building project, which was great to open last year and that was our fourth building project while I was at Knockanean. It was great to have that project finished before handing over to the new principal, Jim Curran, who has come to Knockanean from Kilmurry.
“Over the years, we’ve also had the development of our playing field. Originally, the school had a very small area and we would have purchased land over the years and developed our own basketball courts and playing fields. We try to put an emphasis on space and giving kids as much space as possible. The parents were great in the development of the school. We have a very far-seeing community, great boards of management, parents’ council and fundraising committees.
“Everybody put their shoulder to the wheel and pushed on. My time at Knockanean has been one of big change but the most important thing though is that it still has a rural feel to it. We’ve always tried to keep that ethos, that it is a rural school on the outskirts of the town.
“I have great memories of lots of things. It’s a great school for music, art and drama and we try and put as much emphasis on these things as we can.
“We’ve had great success in sports over the years, not just in hurling and football but also soccer and athletics.
“One of the high points for me was when Lorcan Hassett, a past pupil from Barefield, won the All-Ireland Club Championship. He was in a sort of dual captaincy with the late Ger Hoey, whose kids also went to the school.”
Mr McNamara certainly isn’t resting on his laurels.
“I’m always busy, as I’m involved in quite a bit. I always like to travel, so hopefully we’ll continue to do that a bit more now and I’m into music and drama so I will be continuing with that.”
He said he is looking forward to Friday’s celebration, which will begin with a mass in which children of the school will be singing. “It will be a gathering of family, friends, staff, past pupils, boards of management past and present, parents and members of the community. I’m really looking forward to it and I want to wish everyone the best in the future.”
The retirement mass will begin at 7.30pm in Fahy Hall on Friday, followed with an celebration in the Grove Bar, Roslevan.