THE generous donation of €50,000 from an outgoing senior vice-president of one of the world’s biggest firms, General Electric, to fund a Kinsale Community School running track could make it ‘Ireland’s fittest school.’
School principal Fergal McCarthy made the remark on Tuesday morning, as both students and staff gathered for the first time at the school’s all-weather pitch for a special assembly.
They were there to see the unveiling of a plaque, naming the pitch ‘Fitzsimons Park’, after the generous donation by local man Shane Fitzsimons.
Shane, who lives in Hong Kong, attended the ceremony along with his parents Garry and Anne Fitzsimons, and he spoke of how proud he and his family are of being involved in Kinsale, and the fact that his niece Lucy and nephew David both attend the school.
‘It’s amazing to watch Kinsale Community School evolve and a running track felt right as a gift to the community,’ he said.
‘I’m a great believer in diversity and I never thought running would be my thing, but I’m running my second New York marathon this November and the Scottish 10k and half marathon next weekend,’ Shane told The Southern Star.
He advised the students to ‘focus on getting healthy and staying healthy’ and said it takes times and investment and commitment to yourself. ‘But you will feel better and perform better in all aspects of your life,’ he told them.
Shane attended the convent in Kinsale in the 1980s after his parents moved there in the early 1970s and they have been heavily involved in the community since, through organisations like Kinsale Lions Club.
Following the outdoor ceremony, Garry Fitzsimons was inducted into the School’s Wall of Fame and president of Kinsale Lions Club, Chief Supt Con Cadogan, thanked Garry for the work he had done for the club, which resulted in him receiving the Melvin Jones Fellowship, the Lions movement’s highest award.
He also congratulated Shane and made him a honorary member of Kinsale Lions Club.
‘After 24 years with GE, I feel it’s now time to move on and I have plans for an ambitious project in Belfast,’ said Shane. But he remained tight-lipped about what exactly those plans are, when he retires from his role at General Electric (GE) at the end of this month.