Popular lollipop lady Frances retires after 22 years in role

By Aideen O'Flaherty

CHILDREN, parents and former pupils of St Anne’s and St Thomas’ national schools in Lucan recently lined the road leading up to the schools, to mark the retirement of popular lollipop lady Frances Casserly – who retired last month after spending 22 years in the role.

Ms Casserly, 66, thought that she wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to the children that she’d gotten to know over the years, as the school closures because of the pandemic meant that there was no school on her last day, Friday, June 26.

Frances Casserly Retirement 05 compressor

Frances is cheered on by parents and children

“It was very strange,” Ms Casserly told The Echo. “I turned 66 on the 12th of March and then the next day the schools closed.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to finish with the children’, and normally on the last day of school they’re excited because they’re going on their holidays.

“For me, the feeling was that I was not going to get to do that last, final crossing.”

On her last day, Michael Maher, the principal of St Thomas’, invited Ms Casserly and her family to come to the school for a celebratory lunch, but when the Casserlys walked onto the road towards the school they were greeted with over 100 pupils, parents and past pupils who came to surprise Ms Casserly.

“I was totally shocked,” she said, “when I saw all of the children and their parents, and some students that I knew who are now in secondary school, and all of the teachers and principals from the schools.

“They all clapped for me, it was really lovely. I bawled, I laughed, I cried!”

Reflecting on what it was like when she first became a lollipop lady, Ms Casserly said: “When I started, the lady who was there before me was called Vera.

“The children used to turn around and say, ‘You’re not like Vera!’,” laughed Ms Casserly. “But that’s kids for you – they’re salt-of-the-earth, they’re so loveable and they have no filter.

“And then you get to befriend the parents and their children, and they become a part of your daily life.”

Looking ahead, Ms Casserly is hoping to join an active age group and, when the lockdown measures allow, she wants to return to Dance Yourself Fit classes, and she’ll continue to be a familiar face at St Anne’s and St Thomas’, as her grandchildren attend school there.

“It feels very strange being at home at the moment,” she said. “But I was very lucky to get the send off that I did.”

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