‘I was an atheist principal of a Catholic school’


Sir, – Reading Peter Gunning’s article (“I was an atheist principal of a Catholic school for 20 years”) Education, October 1st) reminded me of the story of an applicant for a teaching post in the United States in the late-18th century, who, when interviewed by the school board, was asked if he believed the Earth to be flat or round, to which he replied, “I can teach it either way”. – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.

Sir, – Peter Gunning’s piece provoked a small outcry over the “enforced hypocrisy” of the faith schools system (David Graham, October 4th).

There are an increasing number of people in Ireland who share this view, and that number is set only to increase.

However, there remain those of us who are people of faith who are committed to faith education.

As educators, we seek to live out the ethos of our schools unashamedly and do so believing that it makes for a fine education for the young people whom we are privileged to serve.

It remains the right of parents to choose schools of faith for their children.

My experience, as a teacher, principal and parent in minority faith schools, is that a large and quiet proportion of these school communities choose this model of education not just because it is appealing (though it is), and not just because it turns out good people (though it does), but specifically because it reflects the lived faith of their homes: there are still those of us who go to church for the simple reason that we believe.

Diversity in education is a good thing, particularly for those of us who are the diverse, and this must continue to be protected and fostered.

Our own family is grateful for the opportunity to have our children educated in a school which cherishes them and their faith, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work in one. – Yours, etc,



East Glendalough

School, Wicklow Town),


Co Wicklow.