Community legend retires – 37 years of service and counting

Above: Mary O’Brien, second from left, with friends and co-workers.
Photo: Kevin O’Gorman.

Mary O’Brien retired from her position as house manager at the Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre creche last November at 66 years of age.

Mary has spent 37 years working at the community centre creche. It all started out in prefabricated huts in Canon Mooney Gardens but now the creche has a wonderful playschool with a fun atmosphere on Thorncastle Street and boasts 25 staff.

Mary was born in Irishtown at St. Brendan’s Cottages and is 46 years married to Jimmy. Her three children, James, Georgina and Aoife attended the creche she managed for so many years.

Not only has Mary contributed her hard work to the creche, she also had a place on the management committee for the community centre and worked on the summer projects, which brought children from the area out on fun trips.

Her co-worker Catherine Bolton was the person who contacted NewsFour as she felt Mary deserved recognition for all the good work she has done for the neighbourhood. Catherine has nothing but good words to say about Mary: “She is like a mother to us all, an icon in the community, a piece of history.’’

Even though Mary is officially retired she still pops in for a few hours every week. “I love it. I like to be here for all the girls, to support them. And any parents that need help, we support them too.” The motto of the creche is high quality, low cost and it has been at the centre of the community as a non-profit organisation.

The parents’ association of the creche came together to create a presentation night for Mary in November, where they gifted her with a This Is Your Life style book, filled with the history of her work and fundraising efforts with the organisation.

Colleagues also brought Mary out for a well-deserved night on the town at the Crystal Boat. 27 people attended, a testament to her popularity and she was presented with flowers and gifts. “They spoilt me rotten. I was so proud I didn’t cry. I said to myself, how lucky are we to have this group of people.’’

Despite all this recognition, Mary remains humble. “What you see is what you get with me. I would be the same with the Pope.’’ She wants to thank her co-workers, manager Marian Allen and assistant manager Caroline Maher, the local community and Tesco’s Sandymount community fund for all the support over the years.

“Generations of children have attended the creche,” she said. “The children that started off with us now have their own children coming here, so there is great history.”

In fact, alumni of the creche have a recent claim to fame. Nicole Meers and Toni Mockler came third at the recent 2017 BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition with their app for men’s mental health, Maybe they can thank Mary for their great start in school life!

By Jessica Ellis