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Death occurs of Hugh McDonnell, former Cistercian Roscrea principal

The late Hugh McDonnell

The death has occurred of Hugh McDonnell, the former principal of Cistercian College Roscrea.

Hugh McDonnell was a long-serving Irish teacher in the school after his appointment in 1970 and became vice-principal and then principal in his latter years there. He was also very well known in his role as the school’s legendary hurling manager, putting in almost 40 years in the role. He guided CCR to numerous Leinster ‘B’ titles with one of the highlights being the All Ireland ‘B’ wins in 2000 and 2004 and a Leinster ‘A’ league win in 2002.

Among the former senior inter-county hurlers to have played under him were John and Paddy O’Brien (Tipperary), Hugh Maloney (Tipperary), Seamus Hennessy (Tipperary), Redmond Barry (Wexford), Shane McGuckian (Offaly), Stephen Lucey (Limerick), Conor Phelan (Kilkenny) and Tom Walsh (Carlow).

He was also heavily involved in Irish debating, helping the school to honours at provincial and national level. While he also taught Geography and History at various stages, Irish was clearly his first love. He had an incredible array of ‘seanfhocail’ to pass onto his students and his unique writing style, using old Irish, was a feature of his teaching. He will also be fondly remembered for his wicked sense of humour and an ability to deliver a one-liner like few others.

“He developed many a fine hurler who went on to represent their school, club, county and country at the highest level,” said a statement from the school.

“Hugh was promoted to the position of Vice-Principal of CCR in 1999 and became Principal of the College in 2000. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  Our sympathies go out to his wife Nora, sons Jim and David (CCR 1992-98) and his daughters Deirdre, Fiona, Niamh and Aoife.”

A native of Burgess outside Nenagh, he lived near Roscrea and served in many official capacities with the GAA club in the town. He was also an accomplished golfer and a member of Roscrea Golf Club.

Hugh is reposing at the family home in Streamstown on Monday from 2pm with removal at 7pm arriving in St Cronan’s Church Roscrea at 8pm. Funeral mass at 12noon on Tuesday followed by burial afterwards in Youghalarra Cemetry in Newtown, Co Tipperary.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. Husband of Emily, father of William, Lillian and John, he's happiest when he's telling stories