Long serving staff at Boher NS had their last day at school on Friday, June 24 - Margaret O’Brien (20 years a SNA) and Anne O’Grady, who is retiring after 41 years of service. PHOTO: BRIDGET DELANEY

‘A labour of love’

Anne retires after 41 years at Boher National School

Last Friday saw the end of an era at Boher NS as Anne O'Grady gave the final class of her 41 years at the school.

It was in many ways a bittersweet occasion for Anne, who has so many happy memories from her four decades of working with children, their parents, and the staff at Boher.

“The whole thing has been a labour of love as far as I'm concerned,” Anne reflected on her tenure. “It was always a nice environment to work in. The parents have been so supportive of the school throughout as well.”

Hailing from just across the Shannon at O'Briensbridge, Anne began teaching at Boher in January 1981 when Sally Darcy was principal.

“At that point it was just a two-teacher school,” she recollected. “It was just myself and Sally in the old building. I had the junior side of the school - Juniors, Seniors, First and Second - and she had the senior side of the school. We had coal fires, with fire guards in front of the fires, and there was a partition between the two classrooms, one of those folding partitions.”

There were around 40 pupils enrolled at Boher when Anne arrived. That number fell to just 26 at one point. But there are now 118 children learning at Boher NS, which has grown to encompass five mainstream classrooms along with learning support and resource.

The addition of the autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) unit at Boher NS, which opened in 2001, was one of the biggest and most welcome changes Anne saw in her years at the school. Last Friday was also the last schoolday for Boher native Margaret O'Brien, who began working at the ASD unit as a SNA 20 years ago and later assisted junior and senior pupils. She worked closely with Anne, who took the opportunity to commend the retiring SNA on her service to the school.

Anne's cohort remained mostly with the juniors, though she also taught Third and Fourth Class, and served in the capacity of acting principal. Among other cherished memories for Anne are the Christmas plays that the school put on; she fondly reminisces the two-night shows at “packed out” Boher hall, later moving to the Lakeside Hotel in Ballina. She also happily recalls the community celebrations of hurling victories over the years.

As the chapter of her involvement with the school comes to an end, Anne took the opportunity to thank in particular Principal Una Kennedy - “a visionary person”, without whom Boher would not have its ASD unit - and all the staff that worked alongside her. “We have a lovely, lovely inclusive environment in Boher.”

As for her retirement plans, Anne is taking golf lessons, and will be travelling to Canada at the end of the summer to visit her two sons in Vancouver. She is also looking forward to spending more time with her grandchild. Anne said she would maintain her close association with Boher NS and would be available nearby to lend her continued friendship and support to all at the school.