Lanesboro heartbroken over passing of dedicated school principal Bernice Martin

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Longford heartbroken by death of dedicated and caring Lanesboro CC Principal Bernice Martin

Longford heartbroken by death of dedicated and caring Lanesboro CC Principal Bernice Martin

The loss of Bernice Treacy (neé Martin) has been keenly felt throughout Longford and Roscommon. The well-loved principal of Lanesboro Community College passed away on Thursday, February 18, at her home in Ballyhubert, Scramogue, Co Roscommon, surrounded by her loving family.

Sympathy is extended to her husband Eric, children Ella, Ava and Conor, parents Hugh and Bridget, sisters Gloria and Edel and brother Hughie, Eric's parents John and Ann, siblings Ian and Aislinn, extended family, neighbours and friends.

Formerly of Corrinagh, Moyne, Co Longford, Bernice was a student of Moyne Community School before studying a Higher Diploma in Education at NUI Galway, followed by a Master of Education in Trinity College, Dublin.

She was a lover of sports and played with Dromard Ladies Football Club, for whom she was a former secretary, and Longford Ladies Rugby Club.

Her exceptional teaching career began in 2002 at Rosemont Secondary School for Girls in Blackrock, where she taught Maths for eight years and spent some time as acting Deputy Principal.

From there, she became principal of Columba College in Killucan in 2010, before moving closer to home and taking on the role of principal at Lanesboro Community College in 2016.

In 2013, she married Eric Treacy and they have three children - Ella, Ava and Conor.

Tributes poured in for the highly respected principal as the news of her passing spread thoughout the county.

“We are very sad at losing our friend, colleague and principal, Bernice Martin,” said Michael Lyons on behalf of the staff and students of Lanesboro Community College.

“We will miss her gentle strength; her spontaneous kindness. We will miss her warm smile and her wise advice. We will miss her good heartedness and generosity.

“Bernice had time for everybody and yet was everywhere; full of energy, yet an oasis of calm. She never lost her composure and refused to be rushed into any decision, but preferring, in her own words to ‘mull over it’ until she was ready to decide.

“She had time for everybody and spent it freely on us and on the school. She worked hard and put in long hours and everything she did, she did well.

“She was a tower of strength for us, giving us confidence with a quiet word and a big smile. Her innate sense of justice and wisdom guided her through the regular ups and downs of school life.

“She could be tough when she had to but she was always ‘sound’. The students loved her; loved her energy, her wit and her obvious interest in each and every one of them.

“You could see how she connected with them and they with her… the smiles on faces, chuckles and laughter. Bernice relished being in the thick of it… the busier the better! It didn’t matter whether it was in the classroom, or on the corridor, meeting with Inspectors or making hot chocolate for the students… she was at the heart of everything… encouraging, listening and leading. She saw the best in everybody and brought out the best in us all.

“Bernice’s first day at LCC coincided with the 2016 10km school walk at which she set a blistering pace! She loved getting involved with whatever was going, be it debating or dancing in school shows. Her ‘will do’ attitude brought us along with her to do things we would never have dreamt of… and made our lives richer and better for it,” Mr Lyons continued.

“Bernice had a great sense of humour which was always kind but very honest. It was often expressed with a chuckle, which had a wonderful way of putting everything into perspective.

“She had a lovely smile and found lots to smile about, always looking for the positive and potential in those around her. She understood people, knew how to build us up and encourage us to step out of our comfort zon … helping us to make fresh starts and new beginnings.

“Bernice was an overwhelmingly positive person who energised everyone she encountered. A hardworking, diligent and innovative principal who was fair and compassionate, a mother figure to students when they needed it the most.

“She had the knack of handling difficult situations, never getting fazed, always remaining calm and finding a way forward for all; a guide we could trust at all times.

“Our guide has gone and we must find our own way now. We miss you Bernice ….but we will not get lost. We will not get lost because we will remember you and how you were, when you were with us. Your time with us was a gift, which has changed all our lives for the better. We will treasure that gift and keep your spirit alive in our hearts and in our school. We will never forget you Bernice.”

Mr Lyons ended the heartwarming tribute with a verse: “Some people come into our lives, leave their footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.”

Ballyboro FC posted on their Facebook page that the community was ‘heartbroken’ to learn of the passing of their great friend and colleague, Bernice Martin.

They described Bernice as the ‘absolute powerhouse’ behind their astro pitch development project in 2019/2020.

Their tribute continued, “Words cannot adequately describe the scale of the personal contribution made by this fantastic lady to achieving this dream for our club, her school and the community.

“Bernice led from the front throughout, helping us to achieve an effective operational licence with LWETB - and then going on to roll up her sleeves in fundraising and star in the Oscars as Kitty Kiernan in the Michael Collins film. Our brilliant new facilities are a direct result of her support.

“We are shocked and saddened she has left this world at such a young age. We express our deepest sympathy to her family and we stand now with the rest of the community in solidarity with them during these terrible days.

“Bernice - we will never forget what you did for us all here in Lanesboro. We will remember your contribution again when we officially open our new facilities in August of this year and we stand here to help your family in any way we can in the coming days. RIP.”

The club also paid a floral tribute to their late friend and supporter after switching on the floodlights on Saturday night at 9pm at the new astro pitch at Lanesboro Community College.

Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy said that Ms Martin was “a wonderful caring lady with an amazing dedication to education” and that a great sadness now hung over Roscommon, Longford and adjoining counties following her untimely death.

Describing Bernice as a lovely neighbour and friend, Senator Murphy said the whole community was deeply shocked and very saddened.

“I dealt with Bernice in relation to school matters and on every occasion, one was instantly impressed with her strong desire to have the best facilities for all her students,” said Senator Murphy.

“She had an amazing dedication to education and in her short life she has left an everlasting positive mark.

“Bernice had a lovely caring attitude to her students and I understand she left a similar impression during her time in Columba College, Killucan.

“Her contribution to education has been highly significant and her passion for her profession was unquestionable.

“We all feel the terrible loss of Bernice, she was kind, caring and always giving in her short life.

“From her time growing up in the Moyne region and right up to her passing, whether on the football field with Dromard Ladies or the classroom in Columba College, Killucan or Lanesboro Community College, Bernice was leading and helping others,” Senator Murphy added.

“I can only describe her as a lovely person always smiling and always dedicated to her family and school pupils. To Eric, and his very young children, Ella, Ava and Conor, and the extended Martin and Treacy families, I again extend my deepest sympathies.”

A condolence was posted on rip.ie on behalf of the students and staff of Columba College, Killucan, which stated that Bernice “radiated kindness”.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to both the Treacy and Martin families. We had the privilege of knowing and working with Bernice during the valuable time she spent with us in Columba College,” the tribute reads.

“Bernice had an unwavering passion for her profession, she radiated kindness and care for all who crossed her path whether they be students, staff or parents. Supportive, kind, generous of her time and always smiling.

“Bernice led by example and was a true inspiration to everyone she met. Her legacy will live on long after her passing in the halls and classrooms of Columba College.”

On behalf of Lanesboro Garda Station, Sgt Martina Reddington extended sincere sympathies to the family of the young mother.

“Having only known Bernice for a short time, I found her a pleasure to work with and a true professional,” she wrote.

“She was an excellent principal who was always striving to do ‘the best’ for her students and staff. She had many talents and skills which we all benefited from. We remember her with great fondness while our thoughts and prayers are with her heartbroken family.”

Bernice also worked closely with the Longford Leader a number of times, attending meetings in the Leader newsroom when her students were involved in the annual student publication ahead of the Aisling Children’s Festival.

The Longford Leader staff would like to extend their deepest sympathies to Ms Martin’s husband, children and the extended Treacy and Martin families.

Bernice will be sadly missed by her husband Eric, children Ella, Ava and Conor, parents Hugh and Bridget, sisters Gloria and Edel and brother Hughie, Eric's parents John and Ann, siblings Ian and Aislinn, extended Family, neighbours and friends.

Funeral mass took place on Sunday, February 21, in St Anne’s Church, Scramogue, with burial immediately afterwards in adjoining cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.