Tribute is due to those principals and staff who attempted, during very troubled times, to offer a sound education to the children within their care and who sought to make the learning experience as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. School chaplains were frequent and welcome guests. Caretaking, cleaning and clerical staff were vital to the efficient running of the schools. Visitors often commented on the neat and clean appearance of classrooms and corridors.
Of the many people associated with school life by far the most important are the pupils and it is vital that they be made to feel cherished. Stella Maris had a vibrant, pleasant and energetic pupil clientele. On occasions some, no doubt, displayed a little too much energy and staff and pupils tested one another’s endurance but that is to be expected in any normal healthy society.
What was agreed and frequently remarked upon, by all teachers, was how pleasant it was to meet pupils, past and present, outside of school. It spoke volumes for the teacher pupil relationships and the caring atmosphere which had been fostered over the years.
Stella Maris Secondary and Primary schools may no longer exist but teacher pupil friendships are treasured and hopefully will long endure.
There is no doubt that the development of Rathcoole was a genuine effort to create an integrated estate and for fifteen years, it must be said, it succeeded magnificently. The great pity is that it did not last. Ancient enmities and fears were resurrected and took on a new lease of life. These were manipulated and played upon by people in power and those who aspired to power. The hope is that lessons will be learned and that a similar tragedy will never again be visited on our children or grandchildren.