Over 100 plus past and present staff members gathered in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, to celebrate with Eddie Morrissey and his family, his pending retirement after 21 years as principal of Cashel Community School.
Former deputy principal Margaret Skehan outlined the many changes – major and minor – which have happened in the world of education since the school opened in 1994.
She paid tribute to the professionalism of Eddie in absorbing the spirit of those changes and in collaborating with the teaching staff at CCS in implementing the best features of these changes, for the betterment of the students and of the school itself.
Deputy principal Margaret Moore, on behalf of the staff, acknowledged Eddie’s great kindness to one and all.
She recalled how, after qualifying as a teacher, her very first job was as a substitute teacher at CCS. That experience, she said, laid the foundation for her career and she always spoke to other schools and teachers of the model set by Eddie Morrissey and Martin Quirke, principal and deputy principal respectively, at that time.
Former chaplain Fr Bernie Moloney said it was an honour to speak on behalf of two generations of colleagues and friends – two generations united as one - in appreciation of one man.
Fr Moloney recalled that in June 1994, Eddie Morrissey and Martin Quirke – the newly appointed principal and deputy principal of the still being built school - set up office in a bare room in Scoil Mhuire. All they had were a large table, two hard chairs, blank sheets of paper, biros, and eventually an old phone.
Two months later they moved into their small cramped offices and on September 1 they opened the doors to the sound of drills, the smell of fresh paint, and the sight of electrical cables draped along the corridors and dust everywhere.
In his speech at the official opening in January 1997, Eddie declared his ambition for Cashel Community School was “to form young people who are resourceful, imaginative and creative.”
This broad understanding of education meant that as well as the academic extra-curricular pursuits flourished under his tutelage: sport, music, the arts.
“He enthusiastically endorsed the Niall Mellon project - and latterly Pieta House - both ventures widening our horizons, expanding our social conscience and, hand-in-glove, fitting Eddie’s vision for the school,” said Fr Moloney.
Eddie thanked the speakers for their kind words and all for attending.
He named the three Latin principles by which he operated: primus inter pares (first among equals”; in loco parentis (in a parent’s place), and carpe diem (seize the day).