Múinteoirí a Spreagann Éire 20232023
Teachers inspire selection8

He was our teacher, our mother, our father, our doctor and our psychiatrist.

The Teachers Inspire campaign received hundreds of excellent nominations for teachers from right across Ireland. Stories of inspiring teachers both past and present were shared, with insights into the positive effect they had had. Not all submissions were eligible to make it through to the next round of judging, but we felt some of these stories were too important not to share.

Submitted by Róisín Kelly, daughter and former pupil of the late Edward Kelly from Windgap National School, Kilkenny.

Edward Kelly was the principal of Windgap National School, County Kilkenny when I attended there in the late 1970's. I didn’t realise it at the time – I was only 10 or 11 years old – but he was to be the best teacher I'd ever have for the duration of my future education.

What made him great was his genuine interest in all the girls and boys in the class. I remember extraordinary events during my 2 years in his class. Extraordinary because they simply would not happen nowadays. He was our teacher, our mother, our father, our doctor and our psychiatrist. He made the smart kids brilliant in our class, and encouraged the less smart so that they felt accomplished in their lessons, daily. He took pity on children with no homework completed: I remember them having no pencils in their pencil case, no lunch in their lunch boxes. He put pencils in their pencil case and brought in extra sandwiches for them. We had a person with dyslexia in our class. When we were doing English, I remember watching him through the window of the classroom gardening outside on the school grounds with beautiful tasks Mr Kelly would have prepared for him. Later, when we were doing art, he would do private lessons with him to bring him on a little. Everything seemed normal, he made it so.

Magical summer days – he refereed hurling games between us all (ages 4 - 12 on each side). Goals galore and long lunch breaks. He patched our knees and rolled out hankechiefs as and when required. He inspired us, all of us. I never fully realised this until I was following his hearse on a cold night last January back to the little village in Windgap where we went to school. In the dark of night, here lined up along the roads leading to the church were his parishioners and past pupils, standing dutifully for too long in the cold and in the dark. They too, marking the passing of this great man, and great teacher who inspired us all. My teacher, my father, Edward Kelly. RIP

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