St. Brigid’s Primary School held a special assembly for Ms Muriel McConaghy who retired from teaching having spent 24 happy years in the Ballymoney school.
Friends, family and former colleagues joined the staff and pupils on the day to pay tribute to this popular teacher.
Ms McConaghy began her teaching career in St. Brigid’s in 1992, having completed her teaching practice in the school during the previous school year.
She impressed the then principal, Mr Ray O’Brien, so much that he appointed her to the teaching staff.
That teaching practice certainly influenced Ms McConaghy’s career as well as helping to shape the lives of boys in girls in Ballymoney for nearly a quarter of a century.
Teachers remember fondly their first class and Ms McConaghy was appointed to teach Primary 2, which she would do for the next decade.
Later Ms McConaghy would teach Primary 3 and very many children will remember her as the teacher who prepared them for their First Confessions.
Ms McConaghy’s final teaching position was in Primary 4.
During this time Ms McConaghy trained as a Reading Recovery teacher (1999), providing specialised early intervention reading support for pupils in the infant classes.
She was very proud of the children in this programme and would track their progress, with pride, as they moved through the school.
It was therefore no surprise to her colleagues when she was appointed Literacy Co-ordinator and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) at the turn of the century.
At the retirement ceremony the Principal Mr Malachy Conlon acknowledged ‘The wonderful contribution that Ms McConaghy made to the academic, moral, social, spiritual, physical and aesthetic development of the children she cared for.
“Over the course of her professional career, which spanned twenty four years, we have been blessed to have known a very special lady and a
very special teacher.’
The pupils presented Ms McConaghy with a special gift and then performed a wonderful assembly filled with music, poetry, prayer, song and dance. St Brigid’s was also the school her son, Rory, attended and she loved having him in the school with her. This made St. Brigid’s Primary School very dear to them both.
Ms McConaghy also held the role of Acting Vice-Principal in the school during the 2006-07 school year, providing support for her dear friend and colleague Mrs Louise McNally (Acting Principal).
St. Brigid’s Primary School benefited from Ms McConaghy’s leadership during this period, where the skills and knowledge she had gained during her training in the Professional Qualification in Headship (PQH) programme were used to benefit the whole school.
Ms McConaghy also provided leadership for the school as a teacher governor (1999-2003), helping to recruit many of the current staff.
Popular amongst parents and pupils, Ms McConaghy was much loved by her colleagues too.
She brought great fun to the staffroom and made working in St. Brigid’s a pleasurable experience for all.
Ms McConaghy had a very special bond with the late Mrs O’Neill (nee Breen), who hosted Ms McConaghy on her final teaching practice.
Both teachers became great friends and it was with deep sadness that Ms McConaghy learnt of the passing of her colleague in 2002.
The memory of Mrs O’Neill is honoured each year at Prize Day when a pupil, with a special creative talent, is presented with the Mrs Angela O’Neill Award by Ms McConaghy herself.
Ms McConaghy’s final act at the special assembly was to thank the children for their wonderful assembly and make her own presentation to the school of an outdoor reading chair, which the children can use every break and lunchtime.
A fitting gesture from a teacher who will be remembered fondly in Ballymoney for very many years to come.