Cregmore National School

Letter to Parents. April 24th


Friday. April 24th

Dear Parents, Guardians and Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you all safe and well. I found last weekend very strange and bewildering....or as Marathon runners or endurance swimmers describe it, “I hit the wall”. I’m not really sure why, but I presume lockdown and social distancing, the worldwide upheaval of Covid 19, not being able to visit my elderly parents, missing my family and friends terribly, longing to reconnect with our school community and generally coping with this unique family lifestyle, all contributed greatly to these uninvited emotions.

Early Monday morning I learned of the tragic passing of Andrew, a young 17 year old boy from our community. I actually never spoke to Andrew but he was a very familiar figure flying around on his bike. On Wednesday morning I called to Mary who lives alone in a one bedroom apartment and who has serious underlying medical conditions which prevents her from ever leaving her home. For the past 6 weeks she has left out her weekly shopping list for me and I simply drop it off at her door when the task is complete. Until Wednesday last, we had never actually met. However, on this occasion I was unable to fulfill all her shopping requirements and knocked on her door to explain. There I met a very frail, lonely, ill, isolated and sad lady. We spoke for quite a while through her patio door. I was the first human contact that Mary had in over a week. She needed to talk. I enjoyed her company. Mary has lived the past number of years in her own “lockdown”. I was very sad leaving her as she returned to her life of isolation and sadness.

And yet, I realise that regardless of how I (or indeed anyone else) is coping, the sadness of reading just 4 short lines of Andrew’s obituary or thinking of the life sentence of loneliness until death that Mary faces, I still believe that all these experiences should make me and indeed all of us far better people, when we eventually get through this crisis. We should certainly appreciate things in life, which we had probably taken so much for granted, mainly our homes, our community, our jobs, our comforts, our family and friends, our health, our freedom of movement, our annual holiday..... to name but a few. Hopefully we will be encouraged and want to show greater kindness towards each other, support of each other, care of our planet, appreciation of the wonders and beauty of nature, the acceptance that none of us is in any way more important, more valued nor has more entitlements than anyone else and finally showing appreciation for everyone who touches our lives with kindness in any way. It shouldn’t have taken Andrew’s tragic passing or a chance meeting with Mary from Apartment 10, for me to realise that there is such terrible sadness in our world and that we all have a role to play in supporting, caring and being kind to each other.

So from now on, instead of simply paying lip service, maybe we will focus on issues that need our attention immediately; the welfare of our young people and the unnecessary pressures that society places on them, the proper care of the more vulnerable, (the homeless, the sick, the elderly, the impoverished, the lonely and those with specific needs) and finally the commitment to get off the Ferris Wheel and to simply make more time for ourselves and for each other.

Make no mistake; these are very sad and stressful times for so many people. There were no more than 20 people in attendance at Andrews’s private funeral. The poor boy: Was he not entitled to more than 4 lines of an obituary and a handful of people to bid him farewell? We think of his family, his neighbours, his friends and the challenges that now face them. Think of Mary writing out her little shopping list. Barry’s tea, 3ltrs of milk, 4 pork chops, 2 packets of Wine Gums, soap, soda bread, a white loaf........ she has a full week and all the time in the world to complete her list. She has little else for doing.

So my request to you all this week is to appreciate what you have, to love each other dearly and instead of sending the usual WhatsApp picture or joke, to pick up your phone, scroll down through your list of contacts and call someone, (like Mary), who may just need somebody to chat to. That’s all.

Give my very best wishes to all our boys and girls. I hope that they are enjoying the lovely sunshine and don’t worry, I have received loads of daily diaries and videos which we will go through upon returning to school please God.

I wish you all the very best and I thank all the teachers who have gone to such lengths in preparing work and activities. However, I wish to reiterate that this allocated school work should not be causing any upset or unnecessary stress...please. We will catch up, I promise. A special word of appreciation to Rita and Maude, who spent a long time coordinating and circulating the music. Thank you.

Take care of yourselves and of each other.

Kind Regards

Joe Kennelly. PS. I NEED TO GIVE YOU AN UPDATE ON THE BOAT............ Remember that last week the boat was barely visible and way way out on the horizon. Well the good weather has calmed the seas and now the captain can see the land clearly and is very hopeful of reaching port even sooner than expected. The crew are in great form as they now feel safe and have each other’s company. They have plenty of food on board and believe it or not, they now even have Wi-Fi. As Margaret would so lovingly say, “amazing”. So here is this weeks task for ALL our pupils.

On an A4 page, (and given that we have so many talented artists in the school), I want you to draw a picture of the boat, out on the Ocean and coming towards land. I want you to give it a lovely colour. Are there clouds or birds in the sky or dolphins jumping? Is the sun shining? What is the name of the boat? Has it a sail or is it a fishing boat?..........You decide what you want to include in the picture, but before you finish it, please sign your name, date and class. You can send it by email to our school account and Mary will upload all the wonderful pieces of art we receive for us all to admire. I also promise you that I will frame every single picture I receive when we return to school. (so keep them neat and tidy and do not fold them), I will create a wall space, maybe in a corridor or in our school hall, and hang each and every framed picture (as we did in the library). Let your boat be our symbol of hope.....and our hope is that we all return safely, united and together. Remember, only on an A4 page, so get drawing. Enjoy and Love to you all....... Joe

PPS. I completed my diary task, I made a video so now I too will draw a boat. (I love boats more than anything in the world).

Jun 26
Summer Holidays
Aug 31
School Re-Opens
Oct 23
Mid-Term Break
Dec 22
Christmas Holidays
Cregcarragh, Claregalway, Co. Galway, H91YD28.
091 799 037
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