Hailed as an ‘unwavering pillar’ of Arles National School for many years, Ms Catherine Lawlor’s dedication and guidance was highlighted recently as she celebrated her retirement as acting principal.
She had previously served as a classroom teacher, special needs co-ordinator and deputy principal.
Originally from near Tralee in Co. Kerry, she brought with her a deep rooted passion for the Irish language.
Her efforts to preserve and promote our rich linguistic heritage not only enriched the curriculum but also left a lasting impact on the cultural fabric of the school, the new acting principal, Ms Caroline Mahon, said in her speech at the school’s retirement function.
Ms Lawlor’s tireless work in shaping the minds and hearts of countless students was commended by her colleagues who noted that she had spent the vast majority of her career in the school.
She met her husband, Eamonn Lacey, a short while after moving to Arles, at a local dance.
From her love of teaching the curriculum, to her presence on the football pitch cheering on the school team and her sound advice over a cup of tea in the staffroom, Ms Lawlor was always there to inspire, guide, support and encourage, her colleagues said.
Her retirement marks the end of an era, but it also heralds the beginning of a new and well deserved chapter in her life, her colleagues remarked.
They wished her well in her retirement, expressing the hope that she will find time to relish the joys of life that she had worked so hard to provide for others.
Her presence will be sorely missed, but her legacy will endure in the countless lives she has touched, they said.
On behalf of the entire Arles National School community, Ms Lawlor’s colleagues extended their deepest gratitude for her many years of service, passion, and inspiration.
“May your retirement be as rewarding as your career has been, filled with joy, peace, and the knowledge that you have made a lasting impact on the lives of many,” they outlined.
To mark the occasion, the staff organised a retirement Mass with Ms Lawlor’s family, friends, previous staff, past pupils and members of the community.
Teachers Ms Eve Holohan and Mr James Kavanagh were present as was previous secretary Ms Jill Kenna.
Fr. Pádraig Shelly celebrated Mass to mark the occasion. Live music accompanied the pupils’ singing.
The pupils presented Ms Lawlor with a memory book. Presentations were also made by the Parents’ Association, the board of management and the staff.
Ms Lawlor expressed thanks to all for their warm tributes. After Mass, the attendance gathered in the school for a spread of food.
The room was decorated by the SNAs, Mrs Fiona Phelan and Mrs Madeline Conroy. Cakes and treats were enjoyed by the children in their classrooms.
Ms Lawlor plans to spend more time in Kerry as well as abroad and to generally enjoy life.