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Educate Together Blog

Tribute to Evelyn O'Brien - former Principal of Galway ETNS

Paul Rowe, CEO, Educate Together

Some sad news.

The outstanding former principal of Galway School Project (now Galway Educate Together National School) has passed away.

Evelyn O’Brien steered the Galway School Project National School through some of its most difficult and exciting early years. She came to the school from a period of rich experience running schools in the Middle East and she made a tremendous impact. 

Evelyn took up the post of Principal of Galway Educate Together in 1996, two years after its opening. She steadied the ship and established all the administrative, curricular and ethos processes in the new school. Under her kind and positive guidance, the school thrived. This impressive growth took place despite considerable obstacles. For all the period she was principal, the school worked out of very difficult accommodation converted from student accommodation in Corrib Village. In the early days, the classrooms had to be converted back to bedrooms each summer and re-converted again for September.

She was enthusiastic and inspired her staff to excel in many fields. Galway Educate Together rapidly became an outstanding school and, as it is still today, a pathfinder school in education for the creative arts, for science and for children with special needs including those on the autistic spectrum. 

She was also well able to manage the politics of Irish education. It was in her school that the then Minister for Education, Micheál Martin, made the historic announcement that the State would hitherto offer to provide the sites for new school buildings and radically reduce the ‘local contribution’ for buildings and extensions. 

Below is a picture of Evelyn attending the first Educate Together principal’s conference in Dublin in 1999. She was a super mentor to new Educate Together principals, always happy to give friendly advice and support. When she had to leave Galway to move to Dublin, she remained a fine friend of Educate Together and was very helpful to the organisation on a number of occasions. In her long battle with illness, she was also an inspiration to many. She was much loved and respected in her later role as a wonderful principal of St Brigid’s Girls National School in Glasnevin, Dublin.

John Farrell, principal of Galway ETNS had this to say about Evelyn: 'All at Galway Educate Together NS were deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of Evelyn O'Brien, principal from 1996 to 2000. During those early teething years she worked tirelessly and played a huge part in creating a culture of excellence in teaching and learning, inclusion and adherence to the Educate Together Ethos. Long after she left she remained a great friend to her former school and colleagues. She was one of a kind and will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.'

Our deepest condolences to her mother and family, her best friend Sean and all her colleagues and circle of friends.

 

Address: Educate Together, Equity House, 16/17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7, Ireland - Charity Number: CHY 11816