The community of Grange gathered together with Fr. Bobby Power to celebrate Mass in honour of Tomás O’Slatara on the occasion of his retirement as principal of Grange National School after 32 years.
Mass was followed by refreshments in the school with a video and photographic display for past pupils to take a trip down memory lane.
Tomás, who originally hails from Cashel, qualified in 1977. He taught in Cabinteely, Co. Dublin from 1977-1982 before his appointment as principal in Grange.
In 1982 Grange was a school with three teaching staff, with one staff member teaching in the village hall. In 1987, 2006 and 2013 further classrooms were built to accommodate growing numbers and today it is a thriving establishment with ten teaching staff, an administrative principal, two Specials Needs Assistants (SNAs), a secretary and two caretakers.
Liam Ahearn, who has been chairperson of the board of management for 16 years paid tribute to Tomás’s influence not only in the school but in the wider community of Grange also.
Current principal Marie Keating, who worked with Tomás since 1997, lauded his leadership skills and the example he set to all staff through his enthusiasm, positivity and commitment to the children’s interests.
Chairperson of Grange Community Council Anne Casey praised Tomás’s commitment to the community over the years and she hoped he would continue his involvement in the community.
Tomás thanked Grange community for the wonderful tributes, as he recalled many experiences and events over the 32 years. Tribute was paid to the staff and boards of management with whom he had worked and he mentioned those who were no longer with us including Theresa Ahearn TD, who he said was a staunch supporter of Grange community and school.
The board of management and parents’ association, Grange Community Council and Grange Development Association presented Tomás with a painting by local artist Marie Claire Keague of local landmark Ballindoney Castle.
Presentations were also made by Ardfinnan and Ballybacon Grange GAA clubs to acknowledge Tomas’s commitment to the GAA in school over the years.
Comhghairdeachas a Thomáis, go maire tú céad sa saol nua speisiúl atá romhat amach.