Remembering Jerry Kiernan

Sir, – So many tributes have been beautifully rendered in the last days, espousing the endless breadth of Jerry Kiernan's talents and generosity as a competitor, analyst and coach in the world of athletics (Fergus O'Farrell, "Teaching was Jerry Kiernan's vocation; in 30 years he never missed a day", Sport, January 23rd; Ian O'Riordan, "Athletes pay tribute to inspirational coach Jerry Kiernan", Sport, January 23rd).

In St Brigid’s national school for boys, in Foxrock, Dublin, Jerry somehow managed to find common ground with every single pupil he encountered in the schoolyard and corridor.

Not only did he work to forge that initial link, so that a child might feel at ease in his presence, he would nourish that bond so that by the time the young fellow had manoeuvred his way from junior infants to sixth class, the crowning glory of his time in Brigid’s would be a year spent in the company of Jerry.

His influence was not restricted to his own class as, so often, he would do the rounds of the classrooms, trying to stir up excitement within the ranks about an upcoming cross-country event or the yearly pilgrimage to Santry.


On those canvassing sorties, he would pop his head around the door and the eyes of the children would light up in anticipation of a timely diversion from the humdrum of classwork. He had the ability to seize on a single strand of conversation and lead the lads down a captivating series of thematic tangents and oratorical chicanes.

Many in his audience knew nothing of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics or sub-four-minute miles but were still equally rapt. This charisma was a lightly worn thing – never affected, forced or embellished.

He dedicated his lunchtimes to athletics, coaching in the spring and summer, and officiating at conkers and marbles tournaments in the schoolyard during autumn and winter.

Generations of students, their parents and his colleagues from Brigid’s will never forget Jerry Kiernan for the kindness, the intellect, and the good-humoured word of salutation, as the riot of curls bobbed by you on Mart Lane, a backpack slung over one shoulder, on his way to UCD or Irishtown to help favourably steer the fortunes of others. To impart what he had amassed and intuited over his lifetime. To teach. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.