There was a rather unique occasion at Scoil Breandán Naofa in Scartaglin on Thursday morning. The day and its many unfolding events were about to bid farewell to school principal, Maireád Uí Bhrosnacháin.
However, this was a principal retirement with a difference as Mairéad’s son, Paddy was also putting down his final day at the school having graduated with his fellow sixth-class pupils before they head to Castleisland in September.
Mairéad is retiring after 35 years of service in education and most of these were spent teaching in Kerry.
She qualified in 1980 with a B.Ed. Degree from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and later with a Masters Degree in Management in Education from Trinity College, Dublin.
A daughter of the late Kathleen and Jerh Dowling, Tralee, Mairéad’s mother, Kathleen (Ní Chatháín) was her inspiration in becoming a teacher, having taught her in 5th Class.
Her father, Jerh was the local vet and her brother Liam, is head of Electronic & Electrical Engineering in T.C.D.
Having first taught in Co.Laois for three years, Mairéad returned to The Kingdom to work in Scoil Mhic Easmainn for 23 years. In 2001 she married John Brosnan and they moved to Scartaglen where they live with their son, Paddy. April 2006 brought her appointment as principal of Scoil Breandán Naofa in Scartaglin.
Mairéad’s last day at school was marked by a Mass celebrated in the school yard by Fr.Nicholas Flynn and Fr.Seán Horgan. A large turnout from those involved with the school community attended.
The retirement Mass was one of thanksgiving for all those with whom she had been in contact during her lifetime in education, with special recognition being given to the pupils and parents in Scartaglin school, along with the teachers – past and present, especially: Deputy Principal, Catherine O’Sullivan; SNAs and staff; the parents’ council and the school’s board of management.
The poem ‘An tOide’ by Séamus Mac Aodha was recited. A procession of gifts outlined the many aspects of Mairéad’s life.
Chairman of Scartaglen Board of Management, Fr.Nicholas Flynn acknowledged Mairéad’s work as principal in saying that the pupils were always Mairéad’s top priority. He thanked her for her professionalism, her use of her many talents, her enthusiasm in her endeavours and her pleasant, welcoming manner as principal of the school. Fr.Flynn said Mairéad always wanted the pupils to love and to cherish where they came from, who they were and what they wanted to achieve in life. He wished Mairéad a healthy and happy retirement.
Deputy Principal, Catherine O’Sullivan, outlined some of the numerous developments undertaken by the school during Mairéad’s time as principa.
Catherine said she would miss Mairead’s greeting to both herself & staff in the mornings. Catherine spoke of Mairéad’s endless energy and abilty in undertaking her duties. She said that one of her first reactions on being told of Mairéad’s intention to retire was: What would Mairéad do with all her beautiful clothes? She hoped Mairéad would enjoy her retirement and concluded with the saying: ‘Ní Bheidh A Leithéid Arís Ann!’
Speeches of appreciation were made by Geraldine Hourigan, Tralee and Helen Barrett, Dromulton. Presentations were made to Mairéad by the board of management and staff by Noreen Rahilly on behalf of Scartaglin Parents’ Council and by Maurice Casey on behalf of St.Mary’s Basketball Club.
Mairéad thanked everyone and presented the school with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. She planted a tree in the school grounds to mark the occasion.
The retiring principal treated all the pupils to a ‘Happy Meal’ delivered from the local DenJoe’s in Castleisland. The board of management provided refreshments for the visitors and staff in the school halla – where one of the staff showed a powerpoint presentation highlighting events from Mairéad’s career.
Famous local musician, Johnny Reidy provided the transport to escort Mairéad home after her last day in school!