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St Colman's Primary and All Saints' Nursery, Annaclone

Fond Farewell to our Dear Principal Mr O'Neill

29th Jun 2021

Staff, Governors and pupils of St.Colman's & All Saints'  marked the end of an era by holding a special mass and farewell celebration on Friday 18th June to honour our Dear Principal - Mr O'Neill. 

Mr O'Neill was joined by his lovely family- his wife Sinead, his beautiful girls Katie, Eabha and Fiadha, his Mum and Dad and Father in law. We were delighted they could join us for this special celebration. 

Canon Kearney, Fr Andrew and Deacon Michael led us in a beautiful and meaningful mass -  Thank you Canon , Fr Andrew and Deacon Micheal for officiating and making the mass so personal.

Thanks to ALL our children  and staff who helped make the mass so special through the readings, singing, music and WOW what a performance from our children in our last song -  they really did  sing their hearts out!

For the next part of our celebration, we  took Mr O’Neill on a virtual trip down memory lane, with some video messages from past pupils, Mr Donaghy, Sr Mercedes, our Shared Ed Partner School and our Erasmus friends in Norway. This was brilliantly led by some of our P7 pupils' who took us all on an emotional journey of the past eight years he has spent with us.  

Mr O’Neill really has been an inspiration to us all, Canon and our Chair of Governors Geraldine spoke about the many things he achieved in his eight years here in Annaclone… the School Extension, the Walkway, the New Playground, the Erasmus Visitors, the IQM Award and the TES Awards.

And as important as these achievements are -  his school family has agreed that his real legacy is his kindness……his unique way of making us all feel special, of having time for everyone when it is needed and for his thoughtfulness and support. 

He showed kindness in his actions and words every single day, whether that be in his daily chats with the children in playground or conversations/messages to parents or staff… he has touched the hearts of each and everyone of us…

Ruari and Sean presented Mr O’Neill with his Record of Achievement….a book that was made with a lot of  love. It was  filled with messages and memories from every child and adult in our school. We know he’ll enjoy reading it (he might even need a few tissues to get through it….) but when reading it he will see how much his kindness has made an impact on us all.

Mrs McMahon presented a gift as a token of our appreciation from the Staff, our Governors, our Parents and the School Community to thank him for his commitment, dedication, vision and determination to make our school the very best it could be. Thank you ALL so much for your very generous contributions, we presented Mr O’Neill with a substantial furniture voucher for his new home and an Amazon Voucher for the many books he reads.

John Heenan who was representing Annaclone Club and Parish presented Mr O’Neill with a Down GAA Jersey. Canon Kearney was also presented with a Down jersey. 

Mrs Burns presented a school family tree as Mr O’Neill will ALWAYS be part of the school family here in St.Colman’s & All Saints.’

Mr White presented Mrs O’Neill with flowers as a token of our appreciation for all the support and understanding shown during Kevin’s time in Annaclone, especially when he spent many more hours than was expected in school.

As our farewell celebrations came to a close…. we were delighted that we had shown Mr O’Neill just how much he meant to everyone in our school community and how much he will be missed……We joined in another rendition of our favourite song….’May the Road Rise to Meet you….an emotional and fitting tribute to an amazing teacher, Principal, leader and friend.

Mr O'Neill  - We will miss you greatly, but we all send our best wishes in your new adventure in Mount St.Catherine's. We hope they realise just how lucky they are to get you....


Many thanks to Charlene and Siobhan for decorating the hall so beautifully for the occasion, to Mrs McNeill for the cake, John Higgins and John Heenan for help with the bunting and flags, Stephen Hamilton for the sound system and to all the staff who worked so hard (sneaking around) to give Mr O'Neill the send off he truly deserved!