THE end of an era will be marked in Knockanean on Friday when the local community gathers to pay tribute to retired school principal, Pat McNamara.

Pat retired in December, after 33 years at Knockanean National School. He became principal in 1993, overseeing a period of immense change at the small rural school.

Pat says he will always have fond memories of his time at Knockanean. “They were all brilliant. They were 33 very fast years. It’s not often that you spend such a long time in the one place and have such happy memories.”

Educated in CBS Ennis primary and secondary schools, Pat qualified as a teacher from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick in 1977.

He taught for three years in Abbeyside, Waterford before moving to St Patrick’s Primary School in Limerick city. He joined Knockanean in 1979, at a time when it was just a two-teacher school. Fourteen teachers now work at the school, which caters for 280 children.

Pat recalls, “We’ve always tried to keep the rural element to the school. It’s in a rural area, even though the area it serves now has grown hugely in that time. The site was originally very small but through the work of the Boards of Management, the site has been extended.

“It’s a very modern school now. There is plenty of space for football pitches; there is a big yard. We were always very conscious of making sure the kids had as much space as possible.”

Pat replaced Eileen O’Loughlin as principal in 1993 and was at the helm for some of the biggest developments in the school’s 63-year history. The first extension was completed in 1997 but, in the period since, the number of pupils attending the school doubled.

In 2010, the school received a grant from the Department of Education and Science for new facilities. However the grant fell short of what was required to complete the work. The Board of Management embarked on a successful campaign to raise the €100,000 required to complete the project. The two-storey extension was officially opened in June 2012.

Now living in Tulla, Pat credits the growth of the school to the vibrant community that exists around it.

He explains, “We have a great school community between staff, parents, children and the Boards of Management that have been in place over the years. It has been brilliant. Every project that the Board have put their minds to has been achieved.”

The extension was officially opened in June 2012.

The Board of Management of Knockanean NS are hosting a retirement Mass and celebration for Pat on Friday, February 1 at 7.30pm in Fahy Hall and The Grove Bar, Roslevan.

All parents, staff and board members, past and present; past pupils, members of the community are welcome to wish Pat well in his retirement.

There will be Mass in Fahy Hall, followed by refreshments in The Grove (over 18’s only) and a celebration of Pat’s time as teacher and principal in Knockanean.

For further information contact the school office on 065 6840088.

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A native of Ennis, Ronan Judge completed his Journalism and Communications Diploma course at Griffith College. The Clare People is his first newspaper appointment. Contact Ronan on [email protected]

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