The school community of Scoil Aireagail was saddened to hear of the passing of the school’s founding principal, Mr. James Devereux, on 17 March.
Mr. Devereux began as principal of Ballyhale Vocational School in 1959. The school started with two classrooms, the office at the centre of the building with classes for woodwork and Home Economics at either side. He taught woodwork and mechanical drawing. By 1968 the school had expanded and was granted the Intermediate certificate. New prefabs and a staffroom were added in 1972. The school continued to grow and 1979 was the first year to see students sit their Leaving Certificate at the school.
An important aspect of the school in these years were the night classes. Mr. Devereux and others did these classes on a voluntary basis and their efforts resulted in many people in the community learning very valuable practical skills. Mr. Devereux was very proud of students’ achievements during this period; a national award for kitchen design, success in a national boat building competition and outstanding academic results.
By the time of his retirement in 1992 the school had grown to over 250 students. Mr. Devereux has left an enormous legacy to the wider community of South Kilkenny. Generations of people have benefited from his commitment and dedication to education. His achievements will never be forgotten by the Scoil Aireagail school community and as a community we wish to express our sympathies and solidarity with the Devereux family during this very difficult time. Like many of us we wish we could have expressed our gratitude and respect for our founding principal in a more public manner. He is most certainly in our thoughts.