Warm Tribute to Deceased Thurles teacher
Willie Tuohy who was laid to rest in St. Patrick’s cemetery Thurles on the 19th March last was a National School Teacher in Glengoole where he had taught since 1959. Prior to this he taught in Scoil Ailbhe in Thurles and it was here that I was lucky enough to be taught by him. Willie was a young man in his twenties then and I can well remember that it was the only time in my school life when Saturday was not looked forward to as there was no school. Can you imagine a 10 year old schoolboy wanting to go to school on Saturday. Mr. Tuohy was the reason because his classroom was a place of happy learning, without fear, and the day passed quickly because everything going on in the class was enjoyable. That is as big a tribute as I can give to this man who truly epitomized everything that is wonderful about education and who had the happy knack of showing young boys how to enjoy school. I really liked Willie Tuohy and in later life he would always know his former pupils and would have a cheery greeting for them when passing on the street or wherever we chanced to meet. He was different to many other teachers in that, in my memory, he never slapped a pupil and I can’t recall if he even had the feared ‘leather’ that some of the other teachers used either as a threat or as a punishment. Most kids did their best in school and it must be remembered at that time in the 50’s and 60’s many boys came to school hungry, so being punished in school was making life even more intolerable. I recall famous Kerry playwright John B Keane saying that one of his classmates was so hungry he asked him to bring him in a ‘cut of bread and jam’, as the poor lad was literally starving.
Brendan O’Carroll the very successful comedy actor and star of the Mrs. Brown T.V. series remarked in an interview that one of the people who made a big impact on him in his youth was a young teacher. Brendan was dyslexic but he was never made to feel stupid or backward and the teacher brought in books bought by him out of his salary and gave them to the boys to read. Willie Tuohy was like that too. The teachers today have their difficulties due to the cutbacks but they should never forget that they have a major role to play in education, and the influence they can have for good or bad on the pupils in their care. Willie Tuohy is a role model for them all. He is not forgotten. I hope the classroom he is in now is as happy a place as the one he made in this life for so many. God bless you always.