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Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Greenhills bids farewell to legendary teacher.


As the midterm break approaches, staff and students at Our Lady’s College, say goodbye to the very popular English and History teacher, Tim O’ Connell, who is retiring after a career in teaching that spans almost forty years.

Originally from Patrick’s Hill in Cork, Tim graduated from UCC in with a degree in History and English in 1978. His working life began with a short-lived career on the railways, where he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who had both been train drivers. Galicia then came calling and Tim describes a very enjoyable year as a young man, teaching English to Spanish youngsters in Vigo. Here he enjoyed the Celtic spirit of the Galicians and says that since that time he has had a special affinity with cities such as Santiago di Compostela.

In 1984, Tim responded to an ad for a teaching job in Our Lady’s College and arrived in Drogheda for the first time. Sr. Elizabeth Maxwell was principal at the time and was clearly impressed by a young enthusiastic Tim whose joie de vivre continues to impress all with whom he comes into contact.

He got married to Marie from Ennistymon, Co. Clare in Laytown in 1987, and the young couple moved to Julianstown, where son Barry eventually completed the family. It was during this time that Tim was indulging his sporting side by playing football for Laytown United and Curraha and even introducing hurling to St. Pat’s in Stamullen. It could only have been a Cork man! Music, however, has always been Tim’s passion and his love of fiddle and mandolin continues to inspire a new generation of young musicians in the school whom Tim has encouraged through weekly lunchtime trad sessions.

A keen photographer and film buff, it is no wonder that Tim’s favourite film is Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, a love letter to the art of film itself.

Reflecting on his long career in the school, Tim talks about the importance of having a sense of humour and seeing the best in young people. He also pays tribute to former colleagues such as John Savage, Donal Lynch and great friend over many years in the school, Aidan Greene. The late Noel Lyons, a distinguished teacher of English in Greenhills for many years is remembered in a special way by Tim as being a wonderful mentor in his early years. Tim expresses gratitude to current principal Geraldine Mulvihill and former principal Pádraig Byrne with whom he worked for many years.

In a farewell speech in the school, Tim expressed his conviction that the key to longevity and happiness in teaching as in life is having the courage to be yourself.

He concluded a very witty presentation by comparing himself to the young tree given to him by the staff because as he pointed out, like the sapling he may have been slow to take root but now looks forward to embracing all that the future holds and blossoming!

All in Greenhills wish Tim good health and happiness and many happy years with wife Marie and son Barry.