Remembering Sr Bernardine (Cecilia) Shannon RIP

Sr. Bernardine  ( Cecilia) Shannon. 1922- 2018       

Sr. Bernardine Shannon was born to Michael and Cecilia Shannon in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon in 1922. Her father was the local teacher and Sr. Bernardine had a happy childhood with her siblings, Jock, Fr. Plunket, Sr. Marie RMR, Sr. Immaculata osu and Nancy all of whom predeceased her. Of her school days as a boarder in the Ursuline College she said herself that her school reports always said “could work harder”.  That, she said, was because she was more interested in playing tennis than in study. A few months before her death she said that what she would like said about her was that she loved music and laughter and the joy of life but that she loved God more.

That love of God brought her to enter the Ursuline, Sligo in 1941 aged 19. Having trained in Home Economics teaching in St. Catherine’s, Dublin, she taught in the school until 1952 when she went to St. Angela’s College, Lough Gill, which was then in its infancy as a teacher training college, becoming a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland and now a College of the National University of Ireland Galway. During those years, Sr. Bernardine worked tirelessly, in spite of frequent bouts of ill health, to further and develop the College programmes becoming Registrar in the years before her retirement. Tributes from former students stress that Barney, (as she was affectionately known) was noted for good humour, creativity, a sense of beauty and a strong sense of justice and fairness.

“Retirement” is really a misnomer for Sr. Bernardine because on reaching that milestone she was asked to go to Wales to the newly established house in Cardigan. This mission she took to with gusto. Firstly, reverting to her baptismal name as she thought it might be easier for the Welsh to get used to and then learning to drive at 65. For the next years she was deeply involved in all the parish activities and greatly loved by all who crossed her path- parishioners and non- parishioners alike.

Finally, for the last years of her very active life she returned to the Ursuline Convent, Temple St. Sligo where she took care of the archives until age finally caught up with her and she became too incapacitated to take an active part in community life. To the last she kept her sense of humour and interest in current affairs as well as a trust in God that one day she would meet all the loved ones who had gone before her- which I know she has. May her dear soul rest in peace.