Bartle Woods celebrates his 80th birthday today – and despite retiring from teaching 15 years ago this year, he is still educating the children of the Monastery NS Boys School in Ardee.
On Thursday, staff and teachers from the school came together to celebrate Bartle’s landmark birthday with cake and a rendition of Happy Birthday while he was also presented with a token of appreciation for his continued dedication to teaching. Having reached 80, the former teacher is showing no signs of wanting to put up his feet for good.
Even now, Bartle teaches the boys tin whistle every Thursday afternoon during the school year. Still heavily involved in the local traditional music scene, he also attends many school events – such as their numerous concerts and Green Flag awards – where he accompnaies the tin whistle players on fiddle. Since starting at the school, he has missed just two confirmation ceremonies. Remember, that is since 1978.
Mr Woods started teaching in Monastery NS 39 years ago – on September 1st, 1978, teaching a a class of 44 fifth class pupils. Working under then principal Liam Hennessy and deputy principal Paddy Lynch, his fellow teachers included Pat Madigan, Anne McCoy, Margaret McCahey, Rose McGrane, Vincent Hanratty, Margaret Clarke and Miriam Hanberry.
Bringing a ‘child-centred’ approach to the classroom long before this concept was in vogue, it is little wonder Bartle continues to teach on a weekly basis. Known to many for his generosity and kind nature, Bartle was the appointed the school’s Deputy Principal in 1992 and even held the acting principalrole for a time a year later.
Aswell as his musical involvement, Woods – a keen athlete himself in his day – continues to coordinate the long jump during the school Sports Day every June and he also enjoys his weekly cup of tea after school with his good friend and colleague Dermot McCreanor and retired colleagues who drop in too.
“You can retire officially from Monastery NS, but you can never leave!,” principal Jim McGee remarked at Bartle’s 80th birthday celebration on Thursday.
Last year was a very busy one for Bartle in-and-out of the school. He helped the pupils of the Boys School perform tin whistle as the Tain March came into the town last June. There they played a specially-composed March tune by Gerry O’Connor.
He was also present to perform Amhrán na bhFiann on the fiddle at the school’s 1916 Proclamation Day and also took part in Scoraíocht Lannléire and Dunleer Mummers 1916 Commemoration Show.
@DundalkDemocrat He was a legend. Loved his passion, style and grace. The total antithesis of the teaching style of that era. Respected every student.
— Garren Bellew (@garrenbellew) March 31, 2017