Popular principal Tom retires

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A POPULAR primary school principal retired this week after 30 years of working in St Martin de Porres National School in Aylesbury, and he was on-hand on Wednesday to cut the ribbon for the opening of the school’s new extension following a celebratory mass in St Martin de Porres Church.

Tom Sweeney joined the school in 1983, and became principal in 1989, and he was proud to open the school’s new extension which houses new learning support and resource rooms.

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Tom with teachers Karen Healy, Carol Mealiffe, Sinead Devlin and Shane Kelly 

Mr Sweeney said: “I was overwhelmed, it was very nice and very positive. It was lovely to see the children in the church and they made a great impression on our visitors.”

Valerie O’Loughlin, who will now be the new principal of St Martin de Porres NS in the coming academic year, told The Echo: “The atmosphere after the mass was very happy and excited, but tinged with sadness.

“The children were all exceptionally well behaved, and there was lots of ex-teachers, past pupils and parents here.

“It’s sad. We’re all going to miss Tom terribly. He’s made such a big impact in the school, and he has a special place in the hearts of people in Aylesbury.”

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New principal Valerie O’Loughlin with Tom Sweeney cutting the ribbon on the new building

The celebration was a collective effort by the school, with the pupils’ artwork adorning the walls of the school, while the choir and the school band also participated in the event.

Looking ahead to her new challenge as principal of the school, Ms O’Loughlin said: “Tom has been a mentor for me for the past 12 years – if I can be half the principal he was then I’ll be happy.

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Tom with brother Aidan and Children Niamh and Kevin

“I have huge shoes to fill, but I’m very, very excited for the challenge that’s ahead of me.”

Mr Sweeney is looking forward to spending his reitrment working on a house he owns in Galway and breeding Connemara ponies which he inherited from a relative.

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