Cloonloo National School
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A Visit from Sr. Marguerite O’Beirne

On the first of July, St. Ronan’s National School, Cloonloo, honoured Sr. Marguerite O’Beirne OSF, one of its most celebrated past pupils.  The day began with a tree planting ceremony, followed by a mass at 1.30p.m. and then the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and some refreshments.  There were many members of the local community, past pupils and current pupils and parents present on the day.

Sr. Marguerite is the Vice President of Neumann University in Pennsylvania. She has made a huge contribution to education in the U.S.A and is regarded as one of the top Irish/American Educators.  She has received numerous awards and honours ranging from Ancient Order of Hibernian Woman of the Year to St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal.

Sr. Marguerite is very proud of Cloonloo National School where her formal education began, “A school that has been a vital part of the community and that has helped to shape the lives of so many down through the years”.  Her life as an educator had its beginnings “under the compassionate care and expert educational direction of the school mistress, Mrs. Crummy.

Sr. Marguerite has agreed to become an ambassador for Cloonloo N.S. because she believes, “education is an effort of a community to recreate itself with the rise of each new generation and to perpetuate itself in historic time.  The local school is vital for the long term good of the larger community.”



Sr. Marguerite

Sr. Marguerite is a native of Taverane, Cloonloo. She is the daughter of the late Joseph and Margaret O’Beirne, R.I.P.   She attended Cloonloo N.S. where her first teacher was Mrs. Una Crummy.  She was later taught by Master McLoughlin.  At a young age she became a postulate of the Sisters of St. Francis, Mallow, Co. Cork.

Sr. Marguerite has had an extensive career in education.

  •  Elementary School Teacher, 1962-1967

Corpus Christi School, Willingboro, New Jersey

  • Junior High School Teacher, 1967-1972

Saint Anthony School, Trenton, New Jersey

  •  Principal, Holy Trinity School, 1972-1978

Columbia, Pennsylvania

  • Coordinator of Education, 1978-1983

Sisters of Saint Francis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  •  Principal, McCorristin Catholic High School, 1983-1995

Trenton, New Jersey

  • Administrative Intern to President, 1996-1997

Neumann College, Aston, Pennsylvania

  •  Interim Vice President Student Affairs, 2003

Neumann University, Aston, Pennsylvania

  • Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, 2005-2006
  • Vice President for Mission and Ministry, 1997-present

Email from Sr. Marguerite

I am pleased and honored to respond to your invitation in support of maintaining Cloonloo National School into the future.  A school that has been a vital part of the community and that has helped to shape the lives of so many graduates down through the years is a unique treasure for a rural community like Cloonloo.

Although I represent the graduates of another era, I am so convinced the experience of a small classroom environment that gave me the foundation of my early education is more important for the children of this present age than in any previous time.  Contemporary family and societal needs demand that the most effective education today be delivered in small classroom settings where children are nurtured holistically in mind, body and spirit.

My life as an educator had its beginnings in the two-room school house across the road from the present school.  It was there under the compassionate care and expert educational direction of the school mistress, Mrs. Una Crummy, that the early foundation of an education that would serve as a model for my own teaching career was laid.  Later, I would learn about good classroom management, about meeting the individual learning needs of students and about the significance of peer-to-peer learning.  All of these characteristics were present in the small classroom environment that Mrs. Crummy managed.  Each student was known in a uniquely personal manner.  The individual learning needs were diagnosed and the needs of individual families were also recognized.  These are qualities so very necessary for the learning needs of today’s children.  Qualities that have been lost or are in danger of being lost within a larger learning environment.

If, as Maxine Greene writes, “education is an effort of a community to recreate itself with the rise of each new generation and to perpetuate itself in historic time,” then preserving Cloonloo National School at this time is critical for the larger community of Cloonloo.  Sustaining the history of the local area and transmitting that legacy for future generations is one of the significant benefits of the local school.

As Irish rural society continues to change, maintaining a school that meets the individual needs of students and that provides a stability for the local community within the context of the area’s geographic culture and history will have an immeasurable effect for years to come.  Future generations will recall, similar to my recollections today, the pride of having an early education that shaped their lives in a manner impossible to attain within a larger urban environment.  I trust that those who are in decision-making positions will give serious thought to the significance of the local school for the immediate good of the young people and for the long-term good of the larger community.

Sister Marguerite O’Beirne, OSF

May 29, 2012


Influence of Cloonloo N.S. recalled by Sister Marguerite O’Beirne OSF

Recalling the influence of Cloonloo National School on my early life brings back a host of memories. Next to the deep influence of my parents R.I.P., Cloonloo played a profound part in my academic and spiritual development. In the all the years since I’ve left, there has never been any significant decision or event in my life that I haven’t connected with Cloonloo and those people who were so influential in my early years.

Undoubtedly, my first teacher, Mrs. Crummy R.I.P. stands out as the person who made an indelible impression on my life. Now as an educator myself, I still find myself using some of her teaching philosophy – her total dedication, her commitment to helping us succeed and her deep faith. Each year during the month of May either as a classroom teacher or Principal, I continued her practice of having an altar in honour of the Blessed Mother. It was she who initially helped me believe in myself as a student and tutor. Then when the occasion presented itself, Mrs. Crummy allowed me to read alone to classmates, to assist with a composition or to move ahead with an upper class. When I made the decision to enter religious life, she was one of the first people I spoke with. Then, she was realistic about life in the convent and very encouraging about me continuing to pursue my education. I am convinced that without her realistic advice, I may never have been so  confident about requesting the opportunities to study. So many girls from Ireland did not get the advantages of an education in those days and spent their time as domestics. It is with much gratitude that I look back over my experience and thank God and Cloonloo for all the wonderful opportunities I’ve had as a Sister of Saint Francis to influence the lives of young people.

Master McLoughlin’s interest in music and in local history also had an influence on my continuing love for Irish music and particularly in my active involvement in researching ancient Celtic history. The findings of archeological remains in Lough Gara and the master’s role in keeping us informed certainly made an impression. Now I still find myself using leisure time to study and read about Ireland’s past.

I pray that future generations of Cloonloo students will treasure their memories and use their experiences in Cloonloo to positively influence their society.

(Source: Cloonloo N.S. Reunion 1886-1996)

Message From Sr. Joseph Marguerite

(Sr. Joseph Marguerite O’Beirne, a native of Taverane, returned to the U.S.A. recently following an extended stay in Ireland. On request she very kindly wrote the following for all readers of “On the Record.”)

“My life has had many blessings as well as many challenges since January, 1958 when John Shannon left me at the train bound for the postulate of the Sisters of St. Francis, Mallow, Co. Cork.  Strengthened by the faith of my parents, R.I.P., and the strong supportive advice of my neighbours, especially of my national school teacher, Mrs. Crummy, R.I.P., the loneliness of adjusting to life away from home was made somewhat easier.

Since then, both as a teacher and school administrator, I have been blessed with many opportunities to share the Faith that was nurtured here in Cloonloo. As an elementary school teacher in different parish schools throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, those traditional values that are still so important and yet so lacking in our society, were a definite asset to me as a young Sister from Ireland working in a German community.

Later, as supervisor of education for the Sisters of St. Francis and presently as principal of a co-educational secondary school in the Diocese of Trenton I feel that I am continuing the missionary spirit that Ireland has been distinguished for down the centuries.

Each time I return to Cloonloo, I am renewed in the spirit of Faith by your gracious welcome and support.  The memories I bring with me when I depart of my family, of you and of those wonderful people who have gone before us continue to positively affect the lives of hundreds of people through my ministry as a Franciscan Sister in the U.S. Be assured that all of you will be remembered in prayer for God’s special blessings in your lives”

(Sources: On the Record No. 3 September 1992)




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Why choose Cloonloo National School?

  • Low pupil-teacher ratio – 1:1 teaching
  • DEIS School – This means extra grant to the school to subsidise school activities, outing and cost of books etc
  • Heavily subsidised books – total book cost is €25 which includes all books, copies, pencils, colours etc
  • Heavily subsidised school outings, tours
  • Free packed school lunches
  • Heavily subsidised swimming classes for all children
  • Teachers very accessible and available to talk to
  • Uniform – Very practical. White or blue t-shirt, navy or black trousers/tracksuit bottoms