It was a big day in Brittas Bay National School last Wednesday (30th June, 2020). Not only was it the last day of what has been a very strange year for teachers, staff and children, but it was also the day the school bid farewell to Principal, Eileen Byrne.
Eileen has been with Scoil Mhuire Réalt na Mara for forty years. She arrived in 1981 and was collected from the bus by Aggie O’Brien, the then principal, and mother of the school’s current Chairperson, Padraig.
Her role in Brittas Bay was her first ever teaching job and 12 years later, when Aggie retired in 1993, Eileen became principal of what was then a three-teacher school that was made up of two prefab buildings to accommodate 66 pupils.
Teachers recall from the time “There was no phone and in emergencies we had to run to Cullen’s shop (now Daybreak) or to McDaniels pub to make a phone call!”
Commitment to new school
As numbers grew in the 1990s, Eileen was determined to build a new school. With a fundraising committee formed by the parents and Eileen, there was a huge drive to raise money for the new school. Eileen’s energy and commitment drove the project on and they moved to Magheramore while the new school was being built.
Scoil Mhuire Réalt na Mara moved into the new building in November 1998. As numbers grew, more classrooms had to be added. Eileen often said her career “involved bricks and mortar almost as much as teaching!”
Scoil Mhuire Réalt na Mara is now a staff of eight teachers, with SNA Angie and Secretary Ann, cleaning and caretaking staff, who are all proud to be part of Scoil Mhuire Réalt na Mara.
Eileen’s achievements at the school through her forty-year tenure have been marked this week with presentations by the PA, Board of Management, children and staff which included a tree planting ceremony by Eileen on Monday (28th June, 2021).
Speaking about her retirement, Padraig O’Brien, Chairperson of the Board of Management said, “The parents, teachers, staff, and the Board of Management congratulate Eileen on all she has achieved for the school – she brought it a long way from that small two-teacher school back in 1981. We wish Eileen the very best and a long healthy and happy retirement”.