Eileen Maguire, who taught in Errigal College for 39 years, was celebrated by colleagues, students and retired staff last week on her retirement.
Current and former colleagues praised Eileen for her dedication to the school and its students.
Mary McGrath, who retired from Errigal College in 2007, recalled Eileen was always very committed in every aspect of her work, from teaching physical education to her leadership in the production and updating of Errigal College policy statements.
Eileen started teaching physical education at Letterkenny Vocational School in Ard O’Donnell in 1985; in 1987, the new school opened in Windyhall.
Cathy Rafferty, Irish teacher, spoke highly of another of Eileen’s qualities, saying, “Eileen wasn’t just a colleague; she was an advisor. She always spoke from the heart.”
Speaking on behalf of the Donegal Education and Training Board, Dr Martin Gormley spoke of Eileen’s contribution to ETB students and staff. Chairman of the Board of Management, Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh, thanked Eileen for her commitment and exceptional dedication.
As chairperson of the college’s extra-curricular committee, Eileen was responsible for organising and coordinating sporting and extra-curricular activities. The commitment and energy she brought to her job was reflected in the success of Errigal College in the annual Donegal track and field championships.
School Principal Charlie Cannon said, “Eileen is always very busy but she always has time for extra-curricular meetings and activities. She always gives 100 per cent and her commitment and positivity are contagious. She loves the school and the students and always wants to do her best. This has made her a perfect role model for the younger staff.”
In 1997, Errigal College introduced a post-Leaving Cert course in sports and recreation studies. Eileen was the coordinator of this programme and it still runs today, giving graduates excellent career prospects.
Her career took a new direction in 2007 when she became Errigal College’s first home school community liaison teacher. She explained that “the ultimate purpose is to maximise the child’s involvement and their retention in the education system”. Eileen’s commitment to this programme has brought great success by working closely with parents and helped them to develop their skills and potential. She did this by organising courses in cookery, maths for parents, parenting courses, restorative practices, walking groups, coffee mornings and more.
Eileen was also one of the team leaders who accepted an award from the ETB for the Read LK programme, which was initiated at Errigal College in 2012.
In Eileen’s final year at Errigal College, 2014-2015, she worked even harder. She was one of the small team who produced the centenary book, “Errigal College – 100 Years Celebration”, spending long hours researching school history and interviewing people, before sitting down to write articles. The editor of the book called Eileen, “an inspiration to the rest of us”.
As HSCL, she built bridges between staff, students, parents and the community. That network of relationships are her parting gift to Errigal College, but only part of her legacy: Eileen contributed to the education and development of thousands of young people.