Local Faces: Eddie Guilmartin
FIFTY years ago, Eddie Guilmartin walked through the doors of Templeogue College as a 12-year-old first-year student, setting in motion many decades of involvement
in the school as a student and, later, as a teacher.
Mr Guilmartin, 62, who is now deputy principal of Templeogue College, has spent his entire teaching career in the school – his experiences as a pupil in the school fostered his love of teaching.
“In school, one of the things that influenced my life was geography,” he explained. “Fr Walsh taught me geography in first year and kindled that spark of knowledge and passion for it.
“He sparked that interest and my love of the subject.”
Some of Mr Guilmartin’s fondest memories from his time as a pupil centre on the friendships he developed with his classmates, and when he finished school at age 18 those friendships continued.
Mr Guilmartin went on to study geography and economics in UCD, and worked in insurance for a few years, before deciding to pursue a career in teaching in his early 20s.
In 1981, at age 22, he returned to his old stomping ground, this time as a geography and IT teacher. While there was an initial adjustment period when he was finding his way as a teacher, instead of as a pupil, Mr Guilmartin quickly settled back into the familiar school community that he’d grown up in.
“The hardest part was calling your former teachers by their first name. I remember calling my old science teacher Mr Rocket in the staff room.
“He said to me, ‘You don’t need to call me Mr Rocket, just call me Walter’, and I said, ‘Sorry, Mr Rocket,” laughed Mr Guilmartin.
“I was influenced so much by my teachers, and then they became a part of my working life. I saw them as teachers, then colleagues, then good friends.”
Mr Guilmartin lives in the local area with his wife, Mary. Their sons, David and James, happily attended their father’s alma mater, and also enjoyed their time in the school.
Over the years, Mr Guilmartin has seen significant changes in the classroom, and also in the area surrounding Templeogue College.
When he first started attending the school, it was largely surrounded by fields, Templeville Road was a cul-de-sac, and the school’s playing pitches were in the place that St Mary’s is now.
In terms of the classroom environment, the replacement of chalkboards with whiteboards and markers, and a tilt towards digital devices, have been the biggest changes.
“We don’t use chalk anymore, so our clothes aren’t filled with chalk marks,” explained Mr Gilmartin. “We have big whiteboards instead.
“Our first years and fourth years have gone digital. I just came out of a class there and said, ‘Take out your laptops’, instead of telling them to take out their books.”
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is Mr Guilmartin’s passion for teaching, which has seen him rise through the ranks from teacher, to year head, TY coordinator and his current position of deputy principal.
Outside of the classroom, Mr Guilmartin coaches the school’s basketball team – his dedication to the sport was instilled in him when he played for the school’s team as a teenager – and he has coached them to success at several All-Ireland finals.
Reflecting on his 50 years of being associated with the school, Mr Guilmartin said: “When I walked through the doors 50 years ago, did I think I’d still be here? Not at all, but I’m honoured.
“It’s a great milestone, and it’s a great career. The youngsters inspire me, and even if they might be going through some difficulties, they challenge you to answer their questions and help solve their problems.
“I’m inspired by that, and I hope I inspire them and that they see me as an approachable and caring person.”
The principal of Templeogue College, Niamh Quinn, said that having a teacher with such a strong and deeply ingrained relationship with the school and the local area is a point of pride for the school.
“I think it’s brilliant,” she said. “It’s completely inspiring to have someone who’s so ingrained in the school community and the fabric of the community.
“I’m really proud of it, because it says a lot for the school that he was happy to come back here to teach and is so passionate about it.”
At age 62, Mr Guilmartin is content to continue teaching and, for him, retirement isn’t on the cards just yet.
“Retirement is not happening for me right now,” he explained. “But I’ve never really had retirement in my portfolio.
“At the end of every assembly, I always say to the students, ‘Are you happy? Because if you’re happy, you’ll do well.’ And I’m happy, so I’ll keep going.”