Thoughts of Rory as School Begins

Today is the first day of school for many…

Like previous falls-I too was preparing  myself-readying  to receive new students, new faces who will tackle a school year filled with learning. As  I was cleaning out old contents from my desk,  I came across a book, Three Cups of Tea.  Having already read the book twice over I was ready to toss it in the giveaway pile.  I can’t explain why-but I opened it as though it were the first time I had encountered it.  That’s when I saw it… an endearing inscription from Rory to me!

An avid reader, he had read it and had initially lent me his mom’s copy.  He was so enthralled with the book and its message-we used the book the following year in a division wide project.  Rory, in his generosity had bought me a personal copy from the school’s annual book fair.  Seeing his 5th grade handwriting-I was jolted.  Time and circumstance were suspended and he was right there with me on this first day of school.  I will always happily recall his 5th grade year.  It was a small class-but everyone worked hard, laughed heartily, and dreamed about how they would change the world.  This was especially true about Rory where every conversation turned to politics and policy.  I heard alot of “Why?” that year.  In our 5th grade world- Rory and his classmates believed in the future and trusted that they could indeed change the world. In between grammar and American history the magic of childhood and possibility took hold of all of us.

Holding that book in my hands again-was a bittersweet reminder of how privileged teachers are to have great minds and even better hearts in their presence everyday.  It was also a real reminder as to what has been lost.  That book has been placed lovingly on the bookshelf and will serve as a daily reminder of the awesome responsibility teachers have in nurturing young minds.  It will also bring to mind a certain young man whose determination to better the world could only be matched by his fiery red locks.

So, while students are receiving new supplies for back to school-this teacher so gratefully accepted this gift from a student who made his presence known to his teacher who will never forget him….

Stella Stenos

Drogheda Independent – Families say sad farewell to Rory


Posted on Wednesday April 11 2012

THE DEVASTATED O’Dowd and Staunton families came together on Easter Monday in The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rathfeigh, Tara and then St Peter’s Cemetery to lay to rest Rory Staunton who passed away suddenly in New York last week.

A huge crowd of people attended the funeral and burial of the 12-year-old who was buried with his ‘ beloved grandmother’ on Easter Monday.

Rory leaves behind his grief-stricken mother, Orlaith, nee O’Dowd, father, Ciaran, and sister Kathleen, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and ‘ international friends’.

His uncle, Neil O’Dowd who wrote movingly about the boy said he died after a toxic bacteria entered his body through a cut he received during a basketball match.

Rory’s father, Ciaran Staunton during a eulogy described him as his ‘pal’, never his son, who went everywhere with him and was an ‘unindicted co-conspirator’ in a number of escapades, including one where the ‘famously balding’ Ciaran got Rory to quiz a confused local barber about the wig which his father had ‘ordered’ weeks before.

Ciaran also talked about the Sunnyside community in New York where Rory ‘ grew up and prospered’. A slice of new New York where Irish/Jewish and all religious types mix readily, Rory attended bar mitzvahs, and his Jewish friends helped trim the family’s Christmas tree.

‘How Ciaran pulled it off, I don’t know. He has been so overcome with grief that I feared that he wouldn’t even make it to the church door,’ Neil O’Dowd added.

He also spoke about ‘ the love Ciaran and Orlaith had for each other which sustained them even during ‘ their dark night of the soul’ and how Rory left little love notes for his mum and how they chatted about college and his next big move in life.

Neil O’Dowd also talked about Rory’s sister, Kathleen, who is already missing her big brother and her hero and how brave she has been.

For Ciaran and Orlaith, Easter Monday and Rory’s funeral mass and burial were ‘ the last leg of a nightmare week that will be seared in their hearts forever’. Neil O’Dowd said he hoped that ‘Ireland and family there will work its magic, as if often does, and ease their pain’ at the loss of the son.