PJ Lawless reminisces about his school days during the 1940s when the children and adults of the community of Killalaghton in county Galway thrived and benefited from the vision, energy, teaching and humanity of the local school principal Mr. Josie O’Halloran. In an era when many children learnt by rote a strict diet of ‘Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic’ and when the ‘master’ was often a feared person who regularly enforced discipline with a rod, O’Halloran was a breath of fresh air, loved by his pupils and the local community. He was a man ahead of his time.
Josie O’Halloran became the engine of the locality, who drove forward the construction of a Community Hall and a playing field not only for traditional Gaelic games such as hurling but also for minority sports such as athletics activitites including the long jump, the high jump and sprinting. He coordinated drama plays, a week-long series of sell-out concerts every Christmas and monthly dances at what became for many the ‘Ballroom of Romance’; set up a electric generator and light shows when few others had electricity; instilled a love of Gaelic culture amongst pupils; organised music bands and hurling teams as well as tree planting, horticulture education and an agriculture show.