An Appreciation: Con Harvey
Teacher with strong commitment to students in need of support
Con Harvey, who died on April 25th was a teacher in Ringsend College (formerly Ringsend Technical Institute) for all of his career. He taught English and on occasion also maths and Gaeilge. For a period he co-ordinated the college’s renowned Repeat Leaving Cert programme and for the last 15 years of his career, before retirement in 2011, he held the post of deputy principal.
Con will be remembered as a brilliant teacher who built a strong rapport with his students whom he enthused with a love of the subject.
Not one to follow the latest fad, he cast a cold eye on some superficial negative critiques of our education system.
As an advising examiner for Leaving Cert English higher course for many years he brought an added dimension to his teaching which was of great assistance to his students.
All his colleagues will remember him as a friendly and courteous man who was not above a bit of staffroom banter. He had a deep interest in current affairs and was a huge asset on any quiz team. He held strong opinions but was never opinionated. He never sought the limelight.
His calm demeanour belied a steely determination and a capacity to assert himself when the situation demanded it. This combination of qualities stood him in good stead when he became deputy principal. He exercised his responsibility for the day-to-day running of the school to the full. He worked well with his staff colleagues and performed his leadership role in a spirit of friendliness and co-operation.
His knowledge of the family networks in a close knit village like Ringsend, and the fact that he taught many of the parents, were key factors in the school’s strong relationship with parents and the community.
As deputy principal he chaired the weekly meeting of the student support team and was always resourceful, pragmatic and caring in guiding its work and implementing strategies. His strong commitment to students in need of support was demonstrated when, upon retirement, he devoted time to working with the nearby Life Centre in Pearse Street.
Outside of school, Con’s main interest was his family. He married Máire while both were in their final year in UCD and they have three children and eight grandchildren.
Born and reared in Dún Laoghaire, where he attended the local CBS, he spent the rest of his life in Bray where he and Máire put down roots. He was interested generally in sport but his focus on this front was mainly soccer and horse racing. While he worked over the odds in terms of time put into school activities, on Cheltenham Gold Cup afternoon he would be nowhere to be found.
In more recent times, he took up drawing and attended classes for a period. The onset of illness in the early years of his retirement was a big blow, but he faced the treatment with his usual optimism and pragmatism.
For those of us on the staff, either retired or still working, his death at the age of 64 means that a significant connection with the history of the modern school has now been broken. For his family his death is an immense loss. He is survived by Máire and their children, Deirdre, Caitríona and Michael, as well as his grandchildren.
The high esteem in which he was held by students was underlined by the many comments on the school’s Facebook page by former students. Con treasured a caricature drawn by Phelim Connolly, art teacher in Ringsend, which he was presented with on his retirement. It portrays him being carried aloft by happy students. The caption sums up how he was regarded by the whole school community. It states simply, “The best”. – CHARLIE McMANUS