ONE of Ballymoney’s best-known teachers has retired after an enjoyable 29 years educating hundreds of youngsters, writes Nevin Farrell.
Ciaran O’Loan is coming 55 in August and has left St Brigid’s Primary School where he closed the door on his classroom for the last time on Thursday.
But he takes with him a lifetime of memories and the satisfaction of helping prepare a couple of generations of young people for moving on to secondary education.
Mr O’Loan himself was a pupil in St Patrick’s Boys’ School which was the forerunner of St Brigid’s which opened in the late 1960s.
And when he started teaching in the 1980s, apart from a short time at the nearby Our Lady of Lourdes School, he spent his whole career at St Brigid’s.
When he attended St Patrick’s as a boy he never thought then that he would be back in Ballymoney as a teacher, but as the son of two teachers - Henry and Annastasia who worked at Magherahoney - it was perhaps inevitable he would follow in their footsteps.
So began a career teaching Primary Six pupils and on occasions Primary Seven pupils.
And he had the honour of teaching children of pupils who previously where in his class at St Brigid’s.
But, he joked, he is retiring before he has to teach any grandchildren of his first generation of pupils ... as that would be a sure sign the years are progressing!
But he has noticed big changes over the years, especially on the technology front - starting off with blackboards and moving to whiteboards and now fully-interactive boards linked to computers.
Mr O’Loan said: “That was the biggest change over the years - the whole technology thing. When I started there were no computers at all but now they are in every class.
“Another thing was you see the same ideas about education coming round every so often - but in different guises.”
Mr O’Loan said another thing he has noticed over the years is that children are now more “confident, articulate and offer more opinions”.
That prompted one question in particular, which just had to be asked - are children more cheeky nowadays?
“Not really”, was the straight-forward answer.
The only downside about education over the years, Mr O’Loan added, is that there are now more “levels of bureaucracy” in the job.
He wishes to thank all associated with St Brigid’s and in particular teaching colleagues and the principals he worked with.
Mr O’Loan is married to Maura, who is a librarian in Ballycastle. One of their children attended school in Coleraine and the other three went to St Brigid’s.
Mr O’Loan - a part-time farmer - says he will now take a break before concentrating on doing more chores on his farm and perhaps do some work on the fringes of education.
But Mr O’Loan reiterated he was privileged to have been given the opportunity to teach at St Brigid’s. Good-bye Sir.