Abbey Community College has bid a fond farewell to esteemed Principal, Mr. Tommy Lanigan who retired in August. All members of the school community acknowledge his outstanding contribution to the foundation and formation of a centre of educational excellence for south Kilkenny and Waterford.
Mr. Lanigan was appointed in March 2000 to lead the proposed amalgamation of Slieverue Vocational School and the Sacred Heart of Mary Secondary School in Ferrybank. The fusion of the best of both schools in terms of educational content and curriculum development, while at the same time ensuring that the ethos of both schools was not compromised, posed a major challenge. The mammoth task became a reality due to his tireless dedication and energy. Today, Abbey Community College is regarded as a quality secondary school with a wide range of disciplines, catering for a large catchment area, with a diversity of cultures, in a Christian and caring environment. Chairman of the Board of Management, Mr. Dick Dowling, sees that success as a testament to Tommy’s commitment, his easy manner, his many sacrifices of time, his educational expertise and above all, his caring and understanding approach in all aspects of his work at the college.
Incoming Principal, Ms Detta Cahill, who was Deputy Principal to Tommy, paid tribute to his work in Ferrybank over 11 years. She acknowledged that his vision for the Abbey had been the driving force behind its development. She added that his work was always directed by his innate kindness and his ability to see the strengths in his staff and students and to encourage them. She added “Tommy is a born teacher. He has a passion for English and the classics and is an avid reader. He loved to get into the classroom at the Abbey and could keep students enthralled with his broad knowledge and genuine love of learning in a vast array of subject areas. He has that ability to motivate students to reach for their potential. And the students loved him...he knew every student by name and had a word for everyone, always remembering to focus on the positive. After school, he loved to see them all as they left and would chat about the upcoming match/ training session/ excellent exam result/ successful project of individual students as they passed”.
Tommy’s decision to retire was greeted with sadness by staff, students, parents and the Board of Management and in recent weeks, all of these partners in the college have marked his leaving by recalling memories of the birth and development of the Abbey and recognising his unique contribution. Mr. Dick Dowling summed up the thoughts of all in his closing remarks: “The College will miss you, as we all will, but nonetheless, we send you on your way with every good wish for a healthy and fruitful life ahead.”