Balbriggan ETNS opens outdoor amphitheatre in memory of Brian

23 November, 00:11
It was a poignant afternoon in Balbriggan Educate Together NS recently, when the school officially opened its new 'amphitheatre' on school grounds, a memorial dedicated to much-loved school figure, Brian Ruane.

Brian, from Ashfield in Balbriggan, had served as Chairperson on Balbriggan Educate Together's board of management since the school was founded in 2005, and was a fixture in the close-knit school community.

The amphitheatre was an idea formed by the young students of Balbriggan Educate Together NS, who wished to dedicate a part of the school grounds to Brian's memory.

Forty-three-year old Brian sadly passed away in January 2018 having been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.

Speaking at the official opening of the amphitheatre on Friday November 15, Principal Fintan McCutcheon paid tribute to his close friend and colleague, and explained how the new facility would benefit the school: 'Brian was a lecturer in St Pat's in Drumcondra, and one of the things they try to do in St Pat's is to encourage teachers to do outdoor as well as indoor classrooms.

'So we thought this would be a fabulous space to have in our playground for any kind of outdoor work, for any work on the environment or if the children were out doing surveys and things like that, that they could complete their work in that space as opposed to simply in the classroom.

'Brian was a really down-to-earth, affable sort of person, with a very big commitment to children's human rights, so that was why he was keen to be involved with our school, because he knew that we'd share that goal. He was also one of the Balbriggan people who would go to the Central Bar on a Saturday to do the horse racing or the bookie shops or that. He was a very keen follower of Irish horse racing.'

Fintan said Brian, a native of Cork, was involved with a number of voluntary groups, including Amnesty and various intercultural initiatives, but that his dedication lay in his work with Balbriggan Educate Together NS.

The children of Balbriggan Educate Together NS had fond memories of Brian too, as Fintan explained: 'We had our official opening for the children about two months ago when the construction work was finished.

'They can all remember Brian as well, because as the Chairperson for the board of management he was very present in the school.

'He would often be with me in the school with me when I was taking assemblies. He would have presented prizes and raised flags and all that kind of thing a Chairperson of board of management does.'

Fintan said Brian, whose wife Beth is a teacher at Balbriggan Educate Together, is missed 'phenomenally' by staff, parents and students.

The school's new amphitheatre will now be used for assemblies and concerts, outdoor education and play, and is a fitting tribute to a man who played such a valued role in Balbriggan Educate Together NS.