“The memories of that day and the generosity of the school and the community will remain in my heart for years”.
Those were the words of Maura McAlonan, principal of St Joseph’s Primary School in Dunloy, following a surprise event to mark her retirement from the school after 36 years of teaching.
Pupils and parents past and present, colleagues, family, friends and members of Dunloy GAA team and Comhaltas group all gathered to wish Maura all the best in her retirement.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like the crowd that turned out,” Maura told the Times.
“How 263 children managed to keep that hush-hush, I will never know! I was really touched by the huge effort on the part of the school and the children and the community groups.”
Maura now hands over the reins to new principal Damian McGuckian who was a Primary 1 pupil when Maura arrived at St Joseph’s as a new teacher.
“Right from day one I felt right at home in St Joseph’s,” added Maura.
“I have nothing but happy memories of my teaching career at St Joseph’s but just felt that this is the right time to hang up the boots.
“But the memories of that day and the generosity of the school and the community will remain in my heart for years.
“I was just overwhelmed by the cards and presents, the GAA team presented me with a personalised shirt with McALONAN 36 on the back.
“And I also received a beautiful book from the 50 children in our nursery unit with a piece of work from every single one of them. Those kinds of gifts are just priceless.
“St Joseph’s has always enjoyed a great deal of support from the community and I will never forget the generosity shown to me by everyone at that event,” said Maura.