Dear students, staff and parents/guardians,

It is with lots of amazing and happy memories that I say the fondest of farewells to each and every one of you as Principal of Scoil an Athar Matiiú, Togher GNS. 

Words could not express how much I have enjoyed being part of this school community. I have taught many and been taught by many here for 36 wonderful years. It is all about the people and the relationships. I have met amazing staff, students, parents and guardians in this community. People I grew to respect, trust and be very much the better person for knowing. It was such  a fortunate day for me when, Bn Eibhlís Uí Shuilleabháin,  gave me the opportunity to become a permanent member of staff in Togher GNS back in 1985. I will be forever grateful for that gift she bestowed upon me. 

There is a season ….to retire. Some have asked me why I am retiring. I think I have done the best I can here for the last 36 yrs, the last 8 years as Principal. I think it is time to know that someone else with fresh ideas, new energy for the job, new perspectives will be great for the next chapter in the history of this school. My own family is grown up now (will always be my babies) and beginning new chapters in their own lives. I suppose I want the freedom to be part of their new beginnings too. There are adventures out there that I would like to experience and the freedom to try too. I suppose there is no definite answer but I just know this is my time to retire.

I know my roots have always been here, as I am the third generation of women in my family who have been connected with Togher GNS. My  grandmother and mother both attended Togher GNS and I was fortunate enough to spend my working career here. My own two daughters were the fortunate fourth generation to attend our school. I also believe the encouragement and support I got growing up in this neighbourhood has made me who I am, blessed with parents who believed the world was ours to make of it what we could, with good choices and lots of hard work.

Togher is a great community. There is a heart here and a sense of community that grows in richness yearly. In my lifetime it has grown from a very small, rather rural area of Cork to a vast suburb but always connecting those living here with a sense of belonging and community. May this sense of place and the people always be at the heart of Togher.

Togher GNS is a very special school. The education of the children, academically, socially and personally, is always to the forefront of this school. Every decision, every plan and every interaction puts the wellbeing of the girls first. ‘An Páiste Croí-lár na Scoile’ is not just a ‘wordy’ motto for us, it is a way to live in this school community.

I would just like to finish my letter to you by saying ‘thank you’ to all I have met throughout the years as amazing parents and guardians of our students. To the many wonderful members of staff I have worked with, it has been a privilege to co-work with you all. To the many students I have taught, I know there may have been times when you did not agree with me on certain things (especially discipline) but I hope your memories of school are full of great positive thoughts, friendships, aspirations, revelations about yourself  and learning.It was a privilege to teach each one of you. To the present school community, even though we are challenged with all that this pandemic is sending our way, your return to school with the positivity, hope and joy of being back together. It has been inspirational and a true reflection of the resilience and commitment of each of you to the school and to each other. This is what makes this school community a very special place.

Finally, I wish my successor all the happiness I have experienced in this school community. As soon as it is known to us, we will let our community know who has been appointed as the new Principal. I will retire on 23rd October. I know I will miss you all greatly but happy knowing that you will all continue to work together and support each other, as it is the people and the relationships that make a great school. I know your new Principal will receive a warm Togher welcome and lots of support in their role.

Wishing you all happiness in the future and keep yourselves safe,

Kindest regards,

Karen Bn Uí Shuilleabháin.