AN OUTPOURING of emotion has greeted the news that “legendary” former St Munchin’s College teacher and rugby coach Sean Conneely has passed away at the age of 70.
Mr Conneely, an Irish teacher in St Munchin’s from 1967 to 2002, passed away last week and was laid to rest in his native Inis Mór, one of the Aran Islands. on Saturday.
Mr Conneely - whose wife Sheila was a former principal in Scoil Carmel - was well known and hugely liked by his former students, colleagues and in the rugby community, where he was involved with Bohemian RFC in the 60s and 70s. He was a captain of the club and played senior rugby in three different positions, later coaching the under 20 sides of the early 70’s and the senior team in the latter part of the decade.
He was instrumental in the development of schools rugby in the Corbally based school, leading Munchin’s to Munster senior cup success in 1982.
He is survived by his wife Sheila, son John and daughters Ciara and Kate. Mr Conneely and his wife lived in Parteen and later Kildimo during their many years in Limerick before moving back to Galway several years later.
A long time contributor to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, in recent years Mr Conneely worked as a rugby commentator with TG4 and the station ran a news item regarding his death last week.
Colm Barrett, a teacher in St Munchin’s who knew Mr Conneely well said that the Aran Islands native was a “wonderful character”.
“When the news broke here, the air of sadness that hit the place was unbelieveable,” said Mr Barrett.
“We are still trying to come to terms with his passing. It is the end of an era, he was a wonderful man, an ‘old school’ type of character, straight talking, but just brilliant. He was loved by every single one of us here,” he added.
“There was quite a few teachers who started here in the early 90s and Sean really became our mentor. He took us under his wing, he guided us along and he was like a father figure to us.”
Mr Conneely was involved in rugby in St Munchin’s “from day one” and coached the school to a senior cup medal in 1982 - a team that featured Dan Larkin, Phil Danaher and Pat Murray.
When the school won the title again nearly 30 years later in 2002, Mr Conneely was games master in the school. He was a Munster selector for the schools set-up.
“Rugby and Irish were the two boxes he ticked,” explained Mr Barrett. “I think most of Limerick would have known him. A man from Aran ended up in Limerick, got involved in Bohemians and the school - and ended up here for nearly 40 years. Everybody loved him.”
St Munchin’s are planning to mark Mr Conneely’s passing with a remembrance mass this week.