“He was my neighbour, my teacher and my friend”, so began Brian Collins, Kells Town Council Chairman.
Addressing the crowd gathered there, he dedicated the stretch of road that links the towns schools to the main road, in honour of the late lamented Jim Brunnock. There were tributes from Christy McCormack, a former colleague at Kells CBS and Michael Brunnock, Jim’s eldest son who flew in from New York especially for the occasion. The new nameplate was then unveiled by Jim’s namesake, his grandson baby Jim and grandmother Anna Brunnock (Jim’s beloved wife). There followed some photo poses for the local press and an all- too- brief reception for friends and family afterwards in the Headfort Arms Hotel.
There are two types of teacher in this world. Those who see the pupils before them and those who see the potential. Jim Brunnock ably fitted the criteria required of the latter. Added to this, he was not just decent but extremely likeable as a man. This proud Munster man, never lost his soft Tipperary brogue and when he came to Kells in the early 60′s he brought with him a love of teaching maths and of coaching rugby. A love of both which he retained to the last. When he died, twelve years ago now, a darkness descended the town but he left behind a bright memory, of a life lived and of a wife and family who knew they were loved. The Brunnock’s home on the Cavan Road was an open house not just for those attending grinds with Jim the teacher, but also for its many house parties held at the behest of his own lively offspring. Jim didn’t just tolerate these often boisterous late night gatherings, he became its central focus and displayed an ability to deal with young people, on their terms, that will live on long in the memory.
Today this Easter Monday 2012, I will leave the last words to Brian Collins. His speech was so succinct that rather than, proffering my own few words of tribute to the man I knew and admired as a great Maths teacher, I will simply reproduce extracts from his speech here verbatim:
” Jim often used the line, ” there are none so blind as those who will not see”. This is ironic, because I don’t think that Jim ever truly saw or appreciated the depth of affection, love, admiration and respect that this community had for him. He was of course, blinded to that truth by the very qualities that made him such a treasure in the town; his decency, his gentility and his quiet humility. Naming a road after Jim is a small payment for such an extraordinary life of service to education and to community.”
He continued, ” To teach is to touch a life forever. Jim taught long and hard. With some of us, he taught longer and harder than with others! Not just in the classroom. Sitting under the television in Monaghan’s over a few pints on a Friday night no subject was beyond the reach of conversation. No person was undeserving of opinion, no argument was left untested. Jim never minded if the answer was wrong. What was important is that good maths/reasoning were used to get there.” He concluded, ” I am not sure that Jim Brunnock would have liked to have had a road named after him. I think he would have conceded that this ( particular) road should be named after a teacher. He would also have conceded our right to ( express) the opinion that we name it after him. Jim Brunnock Road. It is right! It is good! Q.E.D. (Report and Photos by Noel Shine) See Meath Today Facebook for daily pictorial updates.