‘Children were always at the centre of everything Mr Maher undertook’

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THE principal of St Thomas’ Junior National School in Lucan – who began his teaching career in St Kevin’s Boys’ National School in Kilnamanagh in 1981 – retired this week, with his colleagues remarking that “his influence and legacy will be seen, heard and felt by all of us for many years to come”.

Michael Maher, a native of Westmeath, came from a farming background but always had an enduring interest in education, which led him to train to become a teacher in St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra.

Michael Maher 1

Michael Maher will retire as St Thomas’ principal

Soon after graduating in 1981, Mr Maher began teaching in St Kevin’s Boys’ School in Tallaght, where he brought the school’s GAA team to seven All-Ireland winning finals in Croke Park, and he was instrumental in setting up the school’s computer room so the pupils could get to grips with the then-nascent computer technology.

After 17 enjoyable years in St Kevin’s, Mr Maher took up the role of principal in St Thomas’ in Esker in 1999, which was then a small but growing community, and he has remained there ever since.

“As the years went by, I realised that if you want to have an impact on a broader level, then you need to aspire to a leadership position,” Mr Maher told The Echo.

“Taking up the role of principal in St Thomas’ coincided with Lucan growing very quickly, and the school population constantly grew.

“The school became more diversified and a lot of pupils from different nationalities and backgrounds came, and then we also had the integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream schools.

MM1 1

Mr Maher was liked by pupils and staff

“We had to improve ourselves and our skillset to do that.”

While Mr Maher has seen many changes both in the Lucan community and in the provision of education during his tenure, one mantra which informed his teaching style was a mainstay: “At the end of the day, you need the kids to be happy and safe in school, and then after that you look after the learning.”

Staff who worked alongside Mr Maher, including deputy principal Lorraine Murray and former deputy principal Maura Egan, said he remained true to this vision, and always put emphasis on interacting with each child in the school by name, and focusing on fun in the school environment.

“The children were always at the centre of everything that Mr Maher undertook and developed with regards to teaching and learning within the school,” added Ms Murray.

“He would expect the very best for them and from the teachers who taught them.

“He was often heard saying in relation to sports days, field trips, Walk On Wednesday walks, that ‘these are the days that the children will remember’, hence fun was always an element that he incorporated into the culture of the school.”

Reflecting on his long and fulfilling teaching career, Mr Maher said: “Teaching is a noble profession, you get to have a positive impact on people – and that’s a privilege.

“The aim of the game is to have children who become responsible young adults, and who will go on to positively engage in society.”

Looking ahead to his retirement, which will begin after his last day as principal of St Thomas’ this Friday, October 2, Mr Maher said he plans to spend more time with his wife Eithne and their two children, Sean and Eimear, and he hopes to play more golf and go hillwalking.

However, Mr Maher hasn’t stepped away from education completely, as he’ll continue to mentor new principals through the Centre for School Leadership Ireland, and he will continue to be an interviewer on boards that assess aspiring teachers.

As for his impact on the school community in St Thomas’, Ms Murray said: “The whole of the St Thomas’ community would like to wish Michael the very best of health and happiness on a well-deserved retirement, and to congratulate him on a fantastic career as principal of our school.

“We also wish to offer a very sincere thank you to him for all he has tirelessly given our school, staff and our pupils.

“We will miss him dearly but his influence and legacy will be seen, heard and felt by all of us for many years to come.”

By subscribing to The Echo you are supporting your local newspaper Click Here: Echo Online.

Prev Seven local parks awarded green flags
Next ‘Social housing targets must reflect level of need in local authority area’
  • Bus with no passengers or driver ends up in bush in Square Shopping Centre
  • Isaac from Kilnamanagh was presented with a Garda hat from the Community Policing Unit in Tallaght
  • Ducks spotted skating in Tymon Park
  • Exchange Hall fire
  • Thanks for all of your support this year

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.