Words from Past Student Bishop Michael Lenihan

First of all my heartfelt congratulations to Meenkilly School for its Centenary Celebrations. One hundred years of forming and transforming the young is a wonderful achievement. Comhgairdeachas!

When I began school in 1955, Meenkilly school was a typical rural school. It had open fires and huge fireguards which served to dry our rain soaked clothes.

We had to bring a sod of turf everyday to make sure the school was well heated. There was no central heating in those days. When I was four, my father brought a rail of turf to the school and I accompanied him on that journey. Mrs. Curtin saw me and asked what age I was and said it was time for me to begin school. Thus I began my years of learning.

I remember with great love all my teachers. Mrs. Curtin, Patsy Kelley (now known as Mrs. Cleary), Mrs. Collins, P.J. Lane, Jackie Curtin and Michael Kelly. They were wonderful people, people we remember not because of all the things that they taught us but because of their example and kindness.

I enjoyed primary school and all those special moments. The unforgettable moments are our first communion day and confirmation day. Thanks to our teachers who prepared us and taught us the catechism and the Bible Stories by Fr. Tynam.

Other unforgettable moments are the visits we had by missionaries. Many Christian Brothers and Nuns came to speak to us about the missionary vocation and missionary experience. We loved to see them coming because classes were suspended for an hour or so. I always listened with great interest but never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I might be a missionary. Yet in a very mysterious way, God was sowing a missionary seed in my heart that would one day blossom.

I remember all my school companions; Patrick McCarthy, Liam O’ Connor, Aenie Joe Murphy, the McAuliffe twin brothers just to mention a few. I also remember many of those who were in the senior and junior classes. We made many friends even though now we rarely meet them. When I look back over the confirmation and communion pictures I feel nostalgic, especially because some of our school companions have passed away and now enjoy eternal life.

It would be wonderful some time to have a reunion of all our friends that we knew in Meenkilly, share our experiences, talk about the good old times we spent together and the good things that life has brought us.

I have spent almost half my life as a missionary in Central America, fifteen years in El Salvador, three years in Guatemala and thirteen years in Honduras.

I would like to thank my parents for their love and kindness and for giving us a happy home.

Also thanks to our teachers who shaped our lives, our faith and our future. You will forever be in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks to all our school companions who made our school days so enjoyable in Meenkilly. Thanks to all the good neighbours that we met each day on our way to and from school. “Ni fheicimid leithidi go deo.”

May Meenkilly School serve many future generations and continue to form good Irish citizens.

le gach dea ghui
Michael Lenihan o.f.m.

Bishop of La Ceiba

and so proud to be a past student of Meenkilly.