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PROFILE:         Philip J. Cribbin

  1. Background

Born in Longford 1945.

Parents; Philip (postman) and Frances

Primary School: St. Michael’s B.N.S. Longford

Secondary: St. Mel’s College Longford

University: U.C.G.: B.A., 1966; (Gaeilge, English, Sociology and Politics); H.Dip. in Ed., 1967; M.A. (Education),1971.

Early influences:

My parents were always supportive. Though neither of them went to secondary school, they always encouraged me to value education, but never nagged. I am indebted to three inspirational teachers, two in primary school: Brian O’ Regan and Willy Glennon and Fr. Frank Prunty, my Irish teacher in St. Mel’s, all of whom gave me a lifelong love for Gaeilge. In UCG An tAthair Eustás Ó hÉideán, my Professor of Education was very approachable, understanding and supportive. I also owe a lot to An tOllamh Tomás Ó Máille (Gaeilge) and Professor Hubert Mac Dermot (English).


1962-1966: Clerical Officer in C.I..E.

1966-67: Part-time teacher of Gaeilge and English in Fr. Griffin Rd. Technical School

1967-68: Full-time teacher of Gaeilge in Pearse Post-Primary School, Crumlin

1968- 1969: Teacher of Gaeilge and English, Fr. Griffin Rd.

1969-1993: Teacher in Community College Móinín na gCiseach

1972-1974: Part-time lecturer in Education Dept., UCG

1974-1976: Part-time lecturer in Education, G.M.I.T.

1993-2000: Principal, Community College Móinín na gCiseach

2000-2006: CEO., Co Galway Vocational Education Committee.

An Ghaeilge:

Cé nach raibh Gaeilge ag mo thuismitheoirí, agus ní raibh deis agam Gaeilge a labhairt sa bhaile i Longfort, bhí grá agam don Ghaeilge ó bhí mé an-óg. Bhí beirt mhúinteoir iontach agam sa bhunscoil a spreag suim agus grá ionam don teanga. Dála an scéal sa mheánscoil, áit a raibh  múinteoir thar barr agam. Ghnothaigh mé an marc is airde riamh sa scoil i scrudú Gaeilge na Meánteistiméireachta.               

Nuair a thosaigh mé ag obair, bhí an t-ádh orm post a fháil i nGaillimh, príomhchathair na Gaeltachta, áit a thug deis dom feabhas a chur ar mo Ghaeilge labhartha le cainteoirí ó dhúchas.

Ghlac mé Gaeilge mar cheann de mo ábhair céime.

Chaith me mo shaol múinteoireachta ag múineadh Gaeilge agus iarradh orm léachtaí i modhanna múinte na Gaeilge a thabhairt do mhicléinn a bhi ag plé leis an gcúrsa Ard Teastas in Oideachas i gColáiste na hOllscoile, Gaillimh.

Scríobh mé le Prós na Meánteistiméireachta—Nótai agus Cleachtaí, leabhar a bhi in úsáid i scoileanna dara leibhéal ar fud na tíre le breis agus deich bliain.

Le linn an tréimhse a bhí mé ag obair mar Phríomhoifigeach Feidhmiúcháin le Coiste Ghairmoideachais Chontae na Gaillimhe, bhí scoileanna agus Ionaid Oideachais ar fud na Gaeltachta agus ar na hoileáin faoi mo chúram.

Bhí an t-ádh orm bheith in ann Gaeilge a labhairt le mo chomharsain i mBaile Chláir na Gaillimhe. Sul a tháinig muid chun cónai anseo, bhí mé i mo bhall den Scoil Éigse, a bhí eagraithe ag an Timire Gaeilge, Liam Ó Donnchadha. 

Chothaigh mé an Ghaeilge sa bhaile freisin. Tá céim sa Ghaeilge ag beirt iníon liom, duine acu ina múinteoir náisiúnta agus duine acu ina múinteoir Gaeilge Meánscoile.

Fós, glacaim ‘chuile seans an teanga a úsáid.

Career influences

I am indebted to John O’Toole, my boss in CIE who was very understanding and allowed me the flexibility to attend lectures, sometimes at an inconvenience to himself. Séamus McDonnell and Pat Ryan my CEO’s were very supportive.  Seán McSweeney, my Principal in Fr. Griffin Rd., gave me much appreciated advice and encouragement in my first years teaching while Jack Mahon was an inspirational, supportive and dynamic Principal in Móinín na gCiseach.

The two best bits of advice I got when starting my teaching career were:

  1. Never treat teenagers in a way that would make you embarrassed to meet them as adults and
  2. They’ll seldom remember WHAT you taught them but they’ll never forget HOW you treated them.

Coping with disappointment

I have learned that an initial disappointment may turn out to be a blessing in disguise and that sometimes one must lose the battle to win the war. Due to my average Leaving Cert results, I failed to obtain a place in St. Patrick’s Primary Teacher Training College. I was 16 during my final year; I was unhappy in boarding school; I was going through my mixed-up “cool” period and therefore pretty much knew it all and certainly needed no advice from anyone. The emphasis in St. Mel’s was in fostering vocations to the priesthood (thirteen of my class went to seminaries). Primary teaching or the Civil Service were the next best options. In the absence of third level grants, a university education was the prerogative of the rich. A postman’s son from a Council house didn’t go to university.

Luckily my father had advised me to sit a number of clerical exams, as an insurance policy in case I failed to be accepted for Primary teaching.  I was offered a position with CIE. Upon the successful completion of my probationary period in Boyle I was asked to indicate my three preferences for a permanent appointment. My fellow-trainee chose Dublin, Cork and Galway as he hoped to do a night degree in Accounting. When I asked him if one could qualify as a teacher through this route, he mentioned an Arts degree as a possibility. Arts to me meant painting, but when I discovered what it entailed, I opted for Dublin and Galway, in that order, with the intention of doing a night degree. I was appointed to Galway Goods Office and worked from 8.30 to 5.30. I was gutted to discover that UCG did not offer night courses. However, shortly afterwards, a vacancy arose in the Road Freight Office. This was not an attractive proposition as it involved working from 2pm to 10pm Monday to Friday and till 9pm on Saturday. I discovered all my lectures, except for one, were timetabled before 2 p.m. My application for the dreaded late shift was successful, much to the relief of my colleagues. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so I spent the next three years double-jobbing and studying after work till 2 or 3am. It taught me that anything worth achieving requires commitment, self-discipline and a fair bit of sacrifice. Remember the man on top of Everest— he didn’t fall there. In the meantime, I had met Mary, my future wife (a great jiver), when we were both 18 and we married at 23. Mary was then, and has been throughout my life, a tower of strength. She has always been my inspiration. She believed in me when I doubted myself and she has always given me her unselfish support and encouragement. She is, and has been “the wind beneath my wings.”  


We moved to Claregalway in 1976 and quickly settled into what, at that time, was a small, but homely, rural community. We felt welcome and became involved in the life of the parish. We both felt it was important to contribute in whatever way we could to improve community facilities.


  1. I was one of the first group of Ministers of the Eucharist appointed in 1980
  2. I am a former Chairman, Secretary and member of the Parish Pastoral Council. During my time there we initiated the annual Mass at the only Penal Mass Rock in the parish, in Páircín na hAltóra which is located  in the late Johnny Casserly’s field in Cahergowan.
  3. I have been on the Parish Baptismal Preparation Team for a number of years.
  4. I have organised and directed the annual Passion Play in the church on Good Friday for a number of years. Our cast of 24 actors, our wardrobe mistress, Jennifer Donaghy and the Folk Choir under the direction of Ann Moylan were well into rehearsals for this year’s production, when we had to cancel due to Covid 19.
  5. I am on the editorial board of the Galway diocesan magazine, Horizon.


I served as Chairman of the Board of Management of Claregalway National School (2015-2019), during which period the new six room extension was constructed.


1982: Founding Secretary of Claregalway Drama Festival. The driving force behind the establishment of the Drama Festival was the late Tom Lenihan who had a way of cajoling people to get involved. He was a dynamic chairman who didn’t brook negativity. He saw opportunities where others saw problems.  The festival is renowned nationally on the drama circuit and Claregalway has hosted the All-Ireland Confined Finals on a number of occasions and we are scheduled to host the finals again next year, all going well.

  • 1983 to date: Member of Compántas Lir. I have acted in and directed numerous full-length and one-act plays over the years. The group has been very successful on the Amateur Drama Circuit, culminating in being awarded the Claregalway Trophy as overall winners of the Confined All-Ireland Finals under the direction of Dermot Hession in 2016. Compántas Lir has helped to put Claregalway on the national stage.
  • 1990 to date:       I have been involved in a variety of capacities, both on-stage and backstage in our annual autumn theatre. The formula of presenting two one-act comedies with a glass of wine and light refreshments has proven very popular with our audiences through the years. Unfortunately, Covid 19 will be a kill-joy this autumn, but hopefully we’ll be back in action soon again, le cúnamh Dé.


  • Clare River Harriers:         1984:  I was the founding Chairman of Clare River Harriers Athletic Club. At the time boys had football and hurling but there were no sporting activities for girls in the parish. In later years basketball, badminton, camogie and ladies’ football clubs were established. As the father of three daughters, I felt it was important to get an athletic club up and running (pardon the pun). The first committee with Paddy Greaney as secretary, Noreen Hynes as PRO, the late Seán Duffy as Treasurer and John Mannion as Chief coach established the club on a secure basis. With the arrival of Pat and Dick O’Hanlon, Mary Fleming and a dedicated team, the club went from strength to strength.  Within a couple of years there was a membership of 250 girls and boys up to the age of 18. The club currently has one of the fastest growing juvenile sections in Connacht. It is encouraging to see the commitment and leadership of a number of current parents who were involved during their teens.
  • Community Games:          We also trained athletes for the Community games.
  • Streets of Galway 8k:       I was on the founding organising committee of the Streets of Galway 8k which was the brainchild of my former Principal, the late Jack Mahon. It was innovative at the time to have a Sport for All race where participation rather than competition was the goal. The race is now one of the premier road races in the country and attracts a field of over 2,500 every August. Unfortunately, this will be the first year since 1986 that it has been cancelled.

Running is my happy hour.  I have retained a lifelong interest in running. I believe in the motto “mens sana in corpore sano”. I ran my first Dublin marathon in 1981 and I have run several over the years, including London in 2016 and last year’s Dublin City Marathon. I love running and I have won silver medals at the National 10k and half marathon championships in the over 70 category last year. I also have a bronze in the National Marathon Championship. 

Favourite road races:      Fields of Athenry 10k on St. Stephen’s Day; Maree 8k; Galway 5k series; Streets of Galway 8k; Clare River Harriers 10k; Galway Bay Half Marathon. My running mate, Paddy Greaney and I have a regular Sunday morning appointment when we solve most of the world’s problems. At the moment we’re working on the Brexit issue, but the Trump re-election campaign is proving a challenge.  This morning, July 26th, we enjoyed a lovely 10 mile run to Gortcloonmore and back to Cahergowan. While God gives me life and health, I hope to keep active, but at my level of “maturity” there is no danger of breaking the speed limit!

Other Hobbies and Interests

  • Art

Painting is one of my passions.  I find it relaxing and therapeutic. I am indebted to a number of excellent art teachers whose classes I found very helpful over the past number of years, since I retired, especially Jim Kavanagh, the late Barbara Kavanagh (no relation), Kathy Ross and Elaine Cunningham. My favourite artists  Jan Vermeer, Leonardo Da Vinci and Claud Monet.

I have done some paintings to charity over the years. Since last March I’ve completed a number of watercolours, oils and acrylics, some of which I have donated to the Never too Old Charity Shop, with all profits going to the Claregalway Daycare Centre.  So far, they are selling very well.

  • Carpentry: I love working with wood. I find carpentry relaxing and fulfilling. I have made a number of doll’s houses for my granddaughters as well as wardrobes, presses, shelving units for family members and hurleys for my grandson.
  • Reading:  I have varied reading tastes.

Some of my all-time favourites include: The Good Earth by Pearl. S. Buck; To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; 1984 by George Orwell; Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy.

Some of my favourites over the recent past include:   The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro; In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park; The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald; Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín; This is Happiness by Niall Williams; A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows; Educated by Tara Westover; The Bogman by Walter Macken.

Currently: I am reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

  • Drama: I have read hundreds of plays over the years. My favourites include:

Shakespeare:     The Tempest, King Lear and A Winter’s Tale;

Irish plays;           Aristocrats, Philadelphia Here I Come and Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel; The Year of The Hiker and Sive by John B. Keane; I Do Not Like Thee Doctor Fell, by Roddy Doyle; The Way You Look Tonight by Niall Williams; Same Old Moon by Geraldine Aron;  

Others: Dry Rot by John Chapman; The Sorcerer’s Tale by James Scotland; The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams; God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza; An Enemy of The People by Henrik Ibsen.

  • Gardening:          I have a glasshouse and enjoy sowing a vegetable garden and flower garden.  I am currently researching polytunnels.
  • Music:   I have eclectic tastes in music. My favourites include:
    • Classical: Beethoven’s 6th Symphony; Any of Chopin’s Nocturnes;
    • Favourite aria: O Mio Babbino Caro, Maria Callas
    • Amhráin Gaeilge: A Chailín Álainn, Tomás Mac Eoin; Cruacha Glasa na

hÉireann le Gearóidín Breathnach; Peigín mo Chroí le Seosamh Ó hÉanaí

  • Country and Western: Anything by Hank Locklin; The Gambler, Kenny Rogers; Wildwood Flower, Reese Witherspoon; I’m Checking Out, Meryl Streep
    • Rock and Roll:  Anything by Elvis Presley; Long-legged Woman Dressed in Black, Mungo Gerry; Let’s Dance, Chris Montez; Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino
    • Traditional:  The Last Rose of Summer, Suzan Erens/Andre Rieu;

Raglan Road, Sinéad O Connor; Tennessee Waltz, Patty Page.

Other snippets

  1. What makes me happy:  Seeing people happy, spending time with my grandchildren, going for a run, doing a painting, pottering in my shed/workshop.
  2. What saddens me: Cruelty to any living creature; the passing of the abortion referendum,
  3. Favourite films: The Shawshank Redemption, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness; The Great Escape; Saving Private Ryan.
  4. Favourite television series: The West Wing; Fawlty Towers
  5. Favourite holidays abroad; Camping in the Lake District, Camping in France; touring China; Scottish Highlands; Philippines
  6. Favourite meals: stuffed steak; bacon and cabbage
  7. Strengths: I am conscientious, sincere, dependable
  8. Weaknesses: I am too much of a perfectionist, over fussy, with a tendency to procrastinate and worry needlessly.
  9. Happiness is…. Health and peace of mind
  10. Unfulfilled ambition: to play a musical instrument. I would love to play the bagpipes.

A word of advice:

To-day is the to-morrow that we worried about yesterday and ALL IS WELL;

So:  carpe diem ——-enjoy the day

Remember: Nobody is an island—we are all interlinked and depend on each other.  If you have a toothache, you go to the dentist; if your tap is broken, you get a plumber, if you’re sick, you go to the doctor;


if you’re feeling depressed, worried or anxious, don’t bottle up your feelings. Don’t be afraid to seek advice and support. There are several excellent counsellors available to help. Nobody has to struggle alone—there’s always someone who’s there for you.