Mr J I O’Connell RIP

20 April 2020

The College community is saddened to learn that its former Principal, Mr Ignatius O'Connell, died on Tuesday, 14 April.

Mr O'Connell joined the staff of the then St Joseph's Training College, Trench House as a lecturer in the Sociology of Education, following successful teaching and leadership roles at St Augustine's Secondary School on the Ravenhill Road. In the mid-1970s he was appointed as Vice Principal of St Joseph’s and worked alongside the Principal, Canon Michael Dallat. Together they strove to achieve the amalgamation of St Joseph's with St Mary's College to form the new St Mary's College of Education. He succeeded Canon Dallat as the second Principal of the amalgamated College in 1985. During his time as Principal he was a strong advocate of Catholic education and ensured a successful merger of St Mary's and St Joseph's. He was a driving force in developing plans for a single site for the College on its Falls Road campus. Mr O Connell established a reputation for evidence based decision making and strong leadership. At the same time, he was well known for his kindness to staff and students at times of need.

The current Principal Professor Peter Finn KSG, said," For Ignatius O Connell, his leadership and management at the College was not a matter of educational transactions but rather it was his life's work and it was what defined him. He was highly supportive of staff development and ensured that the lecturers had the opportunities they required for continuous improvement. I also recall how overjoyed he was when the students won the Sigerson Cup for the first time in 1989". Mr O Connell retired as Principal in 1992 but remained a strong supporter of the College and always showed a keen interest in developments which took place over the years since he retired. He regularly met up with colleagues and friends when attending the annual Carol Service.

Our prayers and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time - but our hope is that, in this Easter season when we celebrate Christ's victory over death and his opening the way to eternal life for all who believe in him, his family and all those who mourn his passing will receive strengthening and consolation. May the Christ whom he accepted as his Lord welcome him into eternal life. May he rest in peace and may Our Lad y Seat of Wisdom and St Joseph Spouse of Our Lady pray for him.

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