Billy Lalor of Ballybur, Cuffesgrange, died on the 8th September at the age of 85. A native of Ballyragget, he was son of the late Joe and Peg Lalor of Bridge Street, Ballyragget.
I first met Billy Lalor in 1946. Billy’s parents offered me a lift to Patrician College, Ballyfin. It was my first experience of the kindness of the Lalor family. We were both enrolled in the Preparatory College Examination class. So, in September, 1947, we found ourselves on our way to Coláiste Íosagáin, Ballyvourney in Co. Cork, again travelling in Joe Lalor’s Baby Ford.
Our four years in Ballyvourney were very happy ones. We were treated as adults by the staff and given freedoms unheard of at that time in Boarding schools. Our ‘board and lodgings’ were excellent. No open dormitories. Each student had his own private space and bedroom. Our pocket money was spent locally in the villages of Ballymakeera, Ballyvourney and Coolea. Our conversations with local people were in Irish and we got to enjoy the language, history and culture of West Cork.
Billy was gregarious, kind and generous. His sense of humour had the qualities of being very funny and perceptive, but never offensive or denigrating. His fluency in the Irish language made it easy for him to communicate with fellow students, staff and local people.
Our education in all subjects was through Irish. Billy excelled in this environment where many of the students were native speakers. He was a very bright student, popular among his peers and involved in every extracurricular activity. The principal sport was Gaelic football, so our hurleys were redundant. He played on the College Senior Football team and won a Munster Colleges medal playing at corner forward. Billy was a fine singer and could give a fine rendition of the many traditional Irish songs we learned in Ballyvourney. Woodwork (Adhmadóireacht) was part of the curriculum up to Intermediate Certificate Standard. Art was a subject for the leaving certificate. Excelling academically, he was very talented in the arts and crafts.
From Ballyvourney he graduated to St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College. He qualified as a national teacher in 1953. Billy was appointed to the staff of Thomastown Boys’ National School. He also served in Ballyragget, in Byrnesgrove as principal, before being appointed Principal of Cuffesgrange N.S. in 1959.
It was while teaching in Thomastown that he met Chris Conway from Kilfenora, Co. Care, a colleague on the teaching staff. They married in 1959. Chris would join him later as a member of the teaching staff. When Billy was appointed principal of Cuffesgrange N.S., Ballybur became their family home. There they reared their three daughters, Anne-Marie, Louise and Róisín and four sons, Joseph, John, Fintan and Liam.
Billy retired in 1996 after a career of forty-three years. Billy was a dedicated teacher. His expert, diligent, kind and caring approach meant that his pupils were well prepared for life and further education. He instilled a love of learning and moral values in his pupils. His love of the Irish language and culture influenced his approach to education.
Billy was a life-long member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and an active member of the local community. He was popular and respected among his teaching colleagues and a faithful member of the I.N.T.O. He was a very good hurler and played with Erin’s Hope in Dublin, his native Ballyragget and Thomastown.
To Chris and family we offer our sincere sympathy. We hope that their many happy memories of their lives together will help them bear their great loss. Suaimhneas síorraí dá Anam uasal.