The PPU has learned that, Eddie Kelly, Assistant Principal at CBS Westland Row will retire at the end of the current school year. Eddie has been a great stalwart of the school staff for 41 years and he leaves with good wishes from all his colleagues, pupils and the PPU. Many past pupils wish to pay tribute to Eddie and, as we couldn’t possibly fit them all in, we picked the one submitted by Ken Doherty to represent them.
Ken says –
“I would like to wish Eddie Kelly all the best in his retirement and take this opportunity to thank him for all the great service he has given to the ROW over the years. He was a great teacher to me and we all loved being in his classroom as it was always a relaxed atmosphere and easy to learn. The ROW will miss him greatly. Thanks Eddie.”
Eddie’s ROW years 1980 – 2021
Eddie was raised in Swinford Co. Mayo and attended University in Galway. On leaving college he responded to an employment ad with a box number and ended up in Westland Row. He vividly recalls his job interview with Brothers Cullen and Hendrick. Bro. Cullen made it clear that they were not looking for much “just someone not too bright who would not read the Irish Times in class”. Eddie says that they need not have worried because only the Indo and the Press were tolerated in Mayo!!!.
Eddie started in the school in 1980 teaching History, Geography and Religion. There were three classes in each year in those days. The classes were not as big as those of us, who were there in the sixties, remember. Eddie says that there were about 20 per class and the total enrolment was around 220.
Eddie says that the three streams were very different with the A classes being very bright and studious, the B group were more fun and challenging whilst the C classes were sadly neglected.
Discipline was good in those days, the leather only being produced on odd occasions.
Eddie was very fond of sport and quickly got involved in the Gaelic teams. He spent a lot of time in Ringsend Park on the Wednesday half day and after school on many days. The tradition of the Brothers, in their opposition to foreign games, was still alive in those days so Eddie waited patiently for Bro. Cullen to retire before he started a Soccer team. The teams were quite successful despite their lack of resources.
Eddie’s comments about the changes that came to the school in the eighties are very interesting. In the early part of the decade many of the students came from suburbs such as Ranelagh, Rathmines, Sandymount and even some of the North City suburbs such as Raheny. Numbers decreased in the late eighties coinciding with the opening of new modern community schools around the suburbs. The school went co-ed in 1984 and many more local children attended the school. Eddie had to learn the names of the flat complexes in the surrounding streets. The teachers, particularly the older ones, found the changed circumstances very challenging. Literacy and Numeracy became the priorities rather than Shakespeare and Theoretical Physics. The numbers taking higher level papers dropped and staff became very disillusioned.
Eddie says that his most difficult time came when the Brothers left in 1996 and the numbers dropped to an all time low. Despite all the difficulties, Eddie had shown his mettle and he was appointed Assistant Principal in 1999. The fight to keep the school open was in full swing and the tide began to turn.
Eddie pays tribute to a number of people including former Principal Ken Duggan and current Principal Kate Byrne, for their great effort in raising morale and creating a spirit of cooperation all of which resulted in getting the school back to a good place with numbers well up and many students going on to third level.
Eddie says that he is glad to be retiring at a time of growth and achievement in the school. There is no doubt that Eddie himself can proudly take his place at the top table with people who fought the good fight for the ROW. Back in 1988, a very witty Paddy Finnegan, remarked that Eddie’s arrival coincided with the decline of the school. Eddie has proven Paddy to have been very wrong and we would say that the Eddie’s arrival was a great day for the ROW.
Eddie is very complimentary towards the PPU for its contribution to the school over the years. The PPU would like to thank Eddie for his kind remarks and also for all his help over the years, especially during the numerous activities around the 150 celebrations and the 1916 commemoration events. We hope to get a chance to show our appreciation at a future annual dinner or other suitable event. Have a long and happy retirement Eddie, Slan agus Beannocht.