Movie star got his passion for poetry and history from former principal

The writing’s on the wall: Michael Feassbender at the blackboard at his old National School at Fossa, Killarney.
Picture:Valerie O’Sullivan

He may not even have known it but former school principal Tom Long, who will be laid to rest in Killarney this Thursday, was one of the greatest influences in the life of Hollywood A-lister Michael Fassbender.

Tom, who wore the green and gold of Kerry with distinction in the 1950s and 60s, was the principal at Fossa National School when the young Fassbender, who lived a short walk from the classroom, spent eight years there in the 1980s.

“Fossa school gave me a great grounding. It’s such a great place and I’ve such great educational memories from there,” the Hollywood star previously told

“Tom Long always instilled this passion in us for poetry and history and it’s definitely where I got a real passion and love for both of those subjects.

“He had such an influence on me,” the Oscar nominated star revealed.

The late Tom Long: An inspiration

The star of Hunger, 12 Years A Slave, Steve Jobs and X-Men, has such fond memories of his time in Fossa that he still calls to meet teachers and pupils whenever time permits.

“The school is so progressive and to see what they’re doing now is wonderful and really forward thinking. There has been great investment in the place by the people in the school and the parents,” Michael said.

When he was inducted into the Order of Innisfallen in his home town in October 2016, Michael specifically asked that his former teachers from Fossa be invited to the reception in Muckross House and he made a point of embracing them all warmly.

Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender pictured a few years ago with some of former teachers at Fossa National School, from left, Angela Lynch, Mary Murphy, Juliette Kelly and Helen Moynihan.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

He said he also has very fond memories of his teachers Mary Murphy, Linda O’Donoghue – who he remembers as Linda McNeice – and Angela Lynch and he said he loved what they taught him about Irish myths and legends and the poetry they shared with him.

Michael said he is in no doubt that what he learned in Fossa helped him in many of the roles he has played.

Tom Long, who passed away in University Hospital Kerry on Saturday, at the age of 86, was a proud Ceann Trá man but he lived for most of his life in Fossa where he was a teacher and principal in the two parish schools in over several years.

He spent two years in Fossa Primary School in 1961 and 1962 before becoming principal at the nearby Two Mile for a decade but he returned to Fossa, as principal, in 1972 until his retirement in 1999.

Requiem Mass form Tom will be celebrated this Thursday at 11.00am in the Prince of Peace Church, Fossa and he will be laid to rest afterwards in Aghadoe Cemetery. Everyone reads it – ask anyone. Call 087-2229761