The fifth lay Principal to be appointed in Garbally College, succeeding Michael Hyland, Tom Blanche, Seamus O’Brien and Stephen Reilly, and incidentally the first past pupil lay Principal, is Tynagh native Paul Walsh. Hailing from a farming family in Flowerhill, Tynagh, Paul is the youngest of three sisters and three brothers. His earliest introduction to town was as a very small boy bringing horses to the Fair with his father and brothers, standing in the Fair Green all day and trying not to get kicked or walked on!
The young man who has a deep love of the outdoors with a lifetime passion for hillwalking and deerstalking finished his primary education in Killimor NS and was enrolled in Garbally College in 1980 as a first year boarder. “I can honestly say that my parents’ decision to send me to Garbally was the best decision they ever made for me. I received an excellent holistic Catholic education in very happy surroundings. I loved the hands-on learning experience of the practical subjects and the science subjects. I played a lot of sport and must have played hundreds, if not thousands, of games of handball in the alleys! As well as sport, I have very special memories of being involved in The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance and playing the guitar for the school choir” states Paul. From first year, he knew he wanted to be a secondary teacher.
His favourite subjects were woodwork, technical graphics and agricultural science and after Leaving Cert decided to study metalwork and engineering at the University of Limerick. “The late Michael Hyland, my agricultural science teacher who also had a passion for engineering, had a huge influence on me and indeed on lots of other students as well. He was such a knowledgeable and committed teacher who made the subject so interesting with his stories of bygone days. As students, we had the height of respect for him and fondly remember the day that he was introducing us to Dairying in agricultural science. He brought in lots of different cheeses and crackers and as hungry boys we definitely enjoyed that class leaving not a morsel uneaten” remembers Paul.
Having spent six formative years in the school, the college is very much part of who he is. “I am very proud of my association with Garbally and I made friends for life among staff and students. We had our 25-year reunion in 2011 and classmates came back from all over the world. We are already planning another reunion for 2021!” he says. He graduated from U.L. with a degree in Engineering Technology and was fortunate to get a teaching job in Garbally in September 1990, initially teaching woodwork, technical graphics, science and technical drawing. In 1996 Bishop Kirby and the Board of Governors sanctioned the introduction of Metalwork and Engineering and he worked with the principal, Michael Hyland in equipping a room for the new subjects which have proved very popular.
He has held various leadership roles since 2000 and took over as programme co-ordinator in 2010 with responsibility for Transition Year (TY) and Leaving Cert Vocational Programme. The numbers taking TY have more than doubled since and lots of links in the local community through social action and work experience have been developed. The committed Educationalist completed a post graduate diploma in Leadership of Education in 2014 and a Master’s degree in School Leadership in Maynooth University in 2018 as well as serving two terms on Garbally’s Board of Management. He lives near Gort with his wife of 26 years, Mary Teresa. They have a daughter Hazel, a Speech and Language Therapist and a son Sean, who is a Veterinary Surgeon.
“I am extremely lucky to be a member of a very committed, dedicated and hard-working staff who go above and beyond the call of duty every day. We have a great sense of care and collegiality for each other and for our students and I look forward to leading this team to deliver the best education possible for all our students” explains Paul. Casting his eye back on his staff achievements - helping students achieve their full potential, whatever that might become, is a first but seeing his students receive national awards from the National Engineering Teachers’ Associations for results achieved in leaving cert projects and written papers, comes a close second. He sees the setting up of Microsoft Office 365 across the campus, as one of his greatest contributions; proving invaluable in allowing teaching and learning to continue during the Covid 19 lockdown.
He is looking forward to working with all involved in education in Garbally, Bishop Michael Duignan and the Board of Governors, the Board of Management, staff, students, parents and the wider community.
“Garbally College is a highly acclaimed diocesan secondary school which has a proud tradition of excellence in the academic, sporting and cultural fields, I am passionate and committed in continuing this in the future. I envisage that students leave here proud of having been in the college, as mature compassionate young men who have the skills necessary to become independent, critical thinkers, IT proficient, resilient enough to deal with the challenges of life and always willing to help others along the way” acclaims Paul. “I would like to thank Fr. Allman and the Board of Management, our staff, students, parents and local community groups for their continued support of Garbally. A special thank you to Bishop John Kirby who was president when I attended Garbally as a student, to my former Principals with whom I worked, especially Stephen Reilly for his continued encouragement and support. “Fidet et Fortitudine”, Faith and Fortitude is our motto - by working as a united school community we will have the Faith as well as the emotional and mental strength to respond with Courage in the face of new challenges” notes Paul.
To find out more about Garbally College visit www.garballycollege.com
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