It’s not everyone who gets the chance to retire twice - but then there aren’t too many Grainne McCaffertys about! The former principal of St. Cecilia’s College has retired as chairperson of Aras Colmcille after 13 years’ service.
“It’s time to hand it over to new people,” said Mrs. McCafferty. “The building is finished and the exhibition is ready. We’ve got two great members of staff in Mairead Fox and Alex Mullan. It’s in good hands. The museum has great potential to promote the shared heritage of Columba in the heart of the city.”
On Friday a special goodbye was staged in the grounds of the Long Tower Church to mark the retirement of Mrs. McCafferty and trustees Edgar McCormick and Monsignor Bryan McCanny.
Mrs. McCafferty, who first got involved with the Aras Colmcille 13 years ago when she had just retired from St Cecilia’s College, explained that at the time the building was in a serious state of disrepair.
“Quite simply the building was falling part,” she said. “And it continued to fall apart until we got funding. Everything had gone - but in particular the floors. The building was listed and because of this everything that was done was done carefully and with sensitivity.”
Now, she says, the Aras Colmcille centre is a little gem in a beautiful spot.
She added that it was particularly good to see the Cherry Blossom Cafe opened in the downstairs of the museum.
But looking back over the past 13 years, Grainne said the highlight was undoubtedly the opening of the centre last year.
“One June 9th, 2014 when we opened this building I pointed out that I did not need to speak of Columba as this place and this city speaks for him,” she said. “If you need a monument look around you and you will see the shared legacy left by Columba on this place. As I retire for the second time I would like to reiterate my warmest good wishes to the incoming board under the chairmanship of Giovanni Doran and to Mairead and Alex who have already in a short time made an impact on Aras Colmcille.
“I wish them well as they too set out on the journey of making the shared legacy of our founding father a living reality in the hearts and minds of all the citizens of this place.”