This week’s Friday’s Child, is Deirdre O’Kane, principal of St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s College, Claudy. Deirdre studied Theatre Studies and English at the University of Ulster before completing teacher training. Her first teaching job was in Hazelwood College, Belfast where she taught English and Drama before she moved to Malone College, Belfast and then to Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena, where she became a Senior Teacher and Acting Vice Principal. Deirdre is passionate about driving school improvement and promoting pupil achievement to ensure all pupils have the ‘best deal’. She took up the post of principal in Claudy in September 2014 and feels honoured to lead such a highly successful school which has a positive ethos of inclusion and promotes a wonderful community spirit.
How would you describe yourself?
Resilient, pptimistic, focused.
Happiest childhood memory?
Summers in Malin Head and the freedom it brought. The long walks around the Head for a picnic. Playing cowboys and Indians among the rocks and sand dunes. Having a Sunday morning ‘bath’ in the sea before Mass. Going to the ‘Hop’ in the chapel hall to dance the night away; Fishing off the pier and the ‘Football Specials’ in Farren’s Bar.
What was your first job?
I hard part-time work when I was doing my O’ Levels, as a sales assistant in ‘Srcibblers’, which was a card and gift shop in the Richmond Centre.
‘Wuthering Heights’ - A fantastic, dramatic love story.
‘The Green Mile’.
Favourite television programme?
I don’t really have a favourite, but I enjoy watching ‘The Apprentice’
“Bit of a gack!” A great Derryism.
Favourite method of relaxation?
Snuggled up in front of a warm, coal fire.
Favourite holiday destination?
I love visiting the States. I’m a bit of a shopaholic and there are plenty of shops there to satisfy my addiction.
Who would you most like to meet?
What makes you angry?
A lack of courtesy.
What makes you happy?
A crisp Autumn morning, a hot cup of tea and a hug from my daughter.
What human quality do you most admire?
What human quality do you least admire?
Selfishness and arrogance (in equal measure).
What has been the most embarrassing thing to happen to you?
When I was 13 I went to the Gaeltach through school. I was showing off my Irish dancing skills at the ceili and slipped; causing me to unfortunately fall in front of those I was trying to impress.
What was the worst thing to happen to you in your life?
Losing both parents to illness has been very tough.
What is your greatest fear?
What has been the high point of your life to date?
Being blessed with a beautiful daughter.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who made a difference.
What is your most treasured possession?
My mum’s engagement ring.
If you won the lotto what would you do with it?
Retire and make the most of life with family and friends.
If you could be granted one wish in life.
Having lost a parent to cancer, I think I’d wish for a cure for it.
If you could write your own epitaph what would it be?
‘I did it my way . . . ?’