Niall Cooney, class '97
Niall Cooney, son of Fintan and Mary grew up in Mullingar. He was the youngest of four brothers who went to Castleknock, and the last of a long line of Cooneys who attended the College, the family connection going back to 1938.
Niall died tragically on 7th December 2000 following a bicycle accident. He was 22.
Niall was very happy at Castleknock. He quickly settled into College life and formed many close friendships. He continued his great interest in Debating and competed in the Gold Medal debate.
Niall even tried his hand at rugby! He relished the challenge and camaraderie that rugby nurtured within the college. There is no doubt that the camaraderie within the team was due in large part to Niall's input. The result mattered for Niall but not as much as the fun. Whether it was an hilarious missed tackle, a bruising burst by a team mate or a superb kick, Niall had a tendency to show it in its most dramatic and humorous form.
His humour and kindness also enriched another part of college life - caring for the sick, handicapped and elderly with the Society of St. Vincent De Paul. Niall had a strong ability to make the people laugh but could also sympathetically listen to what they wished to discuss.
This caring attitude also made him well liked among the junior years. Boarding life can be difficult at times, which is when a little guidance and time to talk is much appreciated. Niall gave his time generously to both junior and senior years alike when he felt it was needed.
Academically, Niall was outstanding. He was a young man who constantly strove in the quest for knowledge. He would often he seen on the school corridors relating a point with his teachers. He was awarded Gold Medals in Geography and Mathematics and received six A's in his Leaving Certificate. Niall benefited a lot from his time at Castleknock and felt both gratitude and affection for the college and the Vincentians.
At his funeral Mass in Mullingar, Fr Peter Slevin, who had taught Niall at Castleknock spoke of his sense of fun and joy of learning.
Niall went on to study Engineering in UCD where, in the words of his Professor "he was liked and held in high regard by his peers and members of Staff. He entered fully into College life. He joined the Choral Society and fulfilled his ambition to sing in Handel's Messiah. He continued his interest in debating, to which he brought his own unique sense of humour. Niall was very involved in the organisation of the annual fund-raising event' Engineering Day. He would be delighted to know that there is now a Niall Cooney Trophy for the Debate held on that day.
Niall had not finished his course when he died, so we don't know what career path he would have chosen. He had, however, expressed and interest in teaching, which he saw as a way of sharing his talents with others. This, in many ways, sums up Niall's selfless nature.
Niall loved life. He had a wonderful sense of humour. His kindness and thoughtfulness endeared him to everyone. He is sorely missed by his many friends, by his parents, his sisters Elizabeth and Alice, brothers Fintan, Michael and Patrick (all pastmen) and his extended family.
Requiescat in Pace.