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Claremorris stunned by death of young teacher

James O'Toole
The late James O’Toole.

Claremorris and Dunmore stunned by death of young teacher

Michael Commins

STAFF and students at St Colman’s College, Claremorris awoke to the sad news last Tuesday morning of the tragic death of woodwork teacher James O’Toole in a road accident near the family home in Dunmore. James had been watching the Ireland v Italy soccer game in Dunmore with friends sometime earlier and was on his way back to the family home at Cappagh, Dunmore.
James joined the staff of St Colman’s College last year and immediately immersed himself in the busy day to day life of the school. He established a great rapport with the students and his down to earth manner made him a popular favourite.
Roy Hession, vice principal of St Colman’s, said they were devastated to hear the sad news. “It’s a desperate sad situation for the O’Toole family. James was a great young lad, very focused and dedicated to his career. He was a lovely fellow and a proper gentleman and he got on famous with the students. He did some cover work for Seán Foody before he (Seán) retired and then we took him on last year. He had just signed a contract for another year with school principal Jimmy Finn a few days before the accident and he told Jimmy how delighted he was to be part of the St Colman’s team of teachers.”
James had a huge interest in GAA and captained the Dunmore U-21 team to Galway county honours four years ago. He was also the current manager of the Dunmore MacHales U-16 team. “He loved Gaelic football and was a member of the MacHales first team. He scored a few points for them in their recent game against Monivea. He was a great help to me with the St Colman’s First Year team all through last season.
“Our hearts go out to his parents Seamus and Sally and to his brothers and sisters and all who were close to him. He was the eldest of a family of six. The funeral was absolutely enormous, I never witnessed anything like it. Everyone had a great time for James. He was so good natured and had a lovely way with people. The whole community of St Colman’s College extends deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the O’Toole family at this incredibly sad time for all of them,” said Mr Hession.
Fr Fergal Cunnane delivered a moving and poignant homily during the Requiem Mass in Dunmore Church. He was joined for the concelebrated Mass by two former members of the staff of St Colman’s, Fr John O’Boyle and Fr Martin Newell. There was a huge guard of honour comprising of colleagues from Dunmore MacHales and students from St Colman’s College and Dunmore Community School. James was laid to rest in Dunmore cemetery.