26th March 2012
By Bryan T. Smyth
Mary O’Donovan who co-founded Scoil Mhuire, Wellington Road, Cork, sixty years ago, was presented with a Cork Person of the Month award to mark her unique contribution to education in Cork.
At 88 years of age, she is still involved with Scoil Mhuire which must make her the longest serving schoolteacher and sole trustee in the history of the state.
At a lunch held in her honour in UCC and attended by almost 400 wellwishers, she received her award. Her name now goes forward for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year. She and Scoil Mhuire were recently given a Civic Reception by the Lord Mayor of Cork in City Hall. Also this month a Foundation in her name and that of her co-founder was launched for the benefit of their past pupils.
Today Scoil Mhuire is the leading school in Cork with over 400 pupils in the Senior College and over 100 in the Junior School. Miss O’Donovan would have helped 3,500 women reach there potential in all of the professions through the ethos of nurturing for life through education.
Mary O’Donovan, originally helped by her sister Joan, co-founded the school with Kathleen Cahill in 1951 at Sidney Place. After four years, Joan pursued a career with the Dominican Order in Dublin. In 1954, Scoil Ite founded by Mary and Annie McSwiney, amalgamated with Scoil Mhuire. Mary and Annie were sisters of Lord Mayor Terence McSwiney, who brought the Irish struggle to international attention after he died on hunger strike at Brixton prison in 1920.
“The school badge with the Annunciation lilies and the school name itself, reminds us that we come together under the patronage of Mary. Scoil Mhuire retains its Catholic ethos and gives priority to the personal development of each pupil. This tradition of personal care and individual attention has enabled Scoil Mhuire to carve out a unique niche in the education of young women in Cork” said Mary O’Donovan.