Neil Quinlan passed away tragically while on a Transition Year hiking trip in April 2013. Neil was only at St. Conleth’s for Transition Year but in that short time he truly became one of our own: his fellow classmates and his teachers still attest to his infectious enthusiasm and friendliness and a laugh with which you could not help but join. Earlier this week, Mr. and Mrs. Quinlan visited St. Conleth’s to join us in celebrating Neil’s legacy, with Mr. ODulaing and Mrs. Quinlan both speaking emotionally and eloquently about Neil and the suitable way in which we are commemorating him with the planting of a magnolia tree. Those of us who taught Neil, especially his TY teachers Gav Maguire and Ronan Bolger, will always think of him when we see that tree in bloom and remember the warmth and joy he brought to those around him. And his classmates, many of whom joined us at the commemoration, will also see that tree on their visits to the school, or maybe just passing by, and Neil’s laugh will again be heard on Clyde Road.
In 2014, St. Conleth’s inaugurated an award in Neil’s memory for the Transition Year student who has the ‘best spirit’, as Neil showed in everything he did. Here are some of the past winners of the award. We know that in the years to come many others will be inspired by the spirit and legacy of Neil Quinlan.