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Ireland's top teachers revealed - And the winners are...

June 22, 2012, 13:06

After six weeks, hundreds of fantastic nominations, tears, laughter and lots of interesting insights into our schools right across the country, the winners of Teacher of the Year 2012 have been announced.

The Primary schools Teacher of the Year 2012 is Master Joseph Gallinagh, of Glenswilly NS, Donegal. The Secondary schools Teacher of the Year 2012 is Ms Evelyn O’Connor, of Mount St. Michael Secondary School, Claremorris, Mayo. ?
Master Gallinagh’s creative and memorable teaching methods make him stand out from the rest. As a teacher in Lurgybrack NS, Donegal he installed a camera in the class birdhouse so the students could watch the birds lay their eggs and also watch the eggs hatch.  His ‘Irish Bingo’ has also helped make learning Irish fun for his students.

‘To teach Irish, Master Gallinagh would play 'Irish Bingo' with us, which everyone loved and the winner would get a lollipop’ said one student in her nomination. ??

Master Gallinagh is also renowned among his students for his famous ‘Spelling Bee’ which he would host every Friday.
He has also coached the school basketball, Gaelic and soccer teams during his time in Lurgybrack. ??

Master Gallinagh moved to Glenswilly NS in February of this year after an emotional send off from his school in Lurgybrack  ‘We had a big surprise Leaving Party and we all brought in €2 each to get him a voucher. We miss him so much and the kids in Glenswilly NS are very lucky to have him’ said one of his former students in her nomination.

‘Everybody liked Master Gallinagh and everybody wanted him as their teacher, we were very lucky to have him’.

Ms Evelyn O’Connor has also made a profound impact on her students at Mount St. Michael, Mayo. Her commitment to her students and to the teaching vocation is obvious and she is a worthy winner. ??

I am a Leaving Cert repeat and Ms. O'Connor has literally been a life-saver this past year. She is the best teacher I have ever had in my fifteen years of education. I have never been all that interested in Hamlet and yet she made the Shakespearean play seem relevant and interesting. She teaches in a way that makes you think for yourself and form your own opinions and ideas, whether the question is on Seamus Heaney's poetry or a French opinion piece’, stated one student in her nomination.

Ms O’Connor set up an account on a secure online forum which allows students and teachers across the globe to connect and collaborate, share content, educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications.

‘Ms O’Connor’s account on means that even if we are absent we can submit our homework assignments and not fall behind’ said one of her students.

What made Ms O’Connor stand out the most though is that she has set up her own personal website which acts as an excellent resource for all Leaving Cert English students as well as Junior Cert English students. Here, she uploads recordings of her classes, helpful hints and guidelines so her students never fall behind.

Ms O’Connor’s students are keen to express their gratitude for Ms O’Connor with one nomination stating ‘In short I believe that Ms. O'Connor is not only the teacher of the year but the teacher of the century!’.?

We are thrilled with the response to the Teacher of the Year awards’ said Mark Bundschu organiser of the awards.

We’ve had hundreds of fantastic nominations from students and parents from all over the country. Choosing the winners was really tough and we would love to acknowledge all of the nominations and all of the great teachers who were nominated. Congratulations to both Master Gallinagh and Ms O’Connor, they are both very worthy winners’. ??

The judging panel consisted of Mark Bundschu, MD of ABC Bookshop and organizer of the awards,  Michelle Coyle from David McConville Orthodontics who sponsored the awards, and Rory Kavanagh, teacher, GAA inter-county player and ambassador of the awards. ?

Teacher of the Year Awards Facts
The highest number of nominations came from Donegal, Mayo and Galway, with those three counties making up 35% of the nominations. Interestingly the ratio of nominations for male:female teachers was quite close in Primary schools at 45%:55%. In secondary schools, language teachers  proved most popular among students. English teachers received the most nominations overall with 25%, Irish teachers accounted for 20% of the nominations and French teachers, 16%. The further 39%  of nominations for secondary school teachers were divided across Business, Home Economics, Technical Graphics, Maths, German, Spanish, History, Geography, Religion, Music, Biology and Metalwork teachers.??

The winners both receive:?
A beautiful hand-made statue figurine, specially made for the awards by Gloria Perry of Urney Creations?
A luxury weekend break in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris?
A Framed Certificate?A €100 voucher redeemable at
The distinguished title Teacher of the Year 2012??

The Teacher of the Year 2013 will be launched with the new school year in September. For more information go to

Interviews can be arranged.
Contact Media Box:
Joanne Sweeney Burke 087 623 7373
Evelyn Cullen 087 974 9627


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