We said goodbye to a very special person during the week. Bridie Mooney was a very important person in the Greystones community and she was close to the heart of St. Brigid’s.
I first met Mrs. Mooney in Autumn 1987 the year I started teaching in St. Brigid’s. I was commuting at the time and hopping off the bus in the snow, the wind and the rain I always got a warm welcome and encouraging words. In a time before social media and Greystones Guide, I used buy the Bray People every week and read all the news about my new neighbourhood. I think about all the pints, then litres of milk we had on order from Bridie over the years, that cooled all the cups of tea generations of teachers drank at breaktimes that restored us, so we were at our best in class.
Before we had a kitchen in the school, from time to time, Bridie generously baked in her own oven, brown bread and scones we had made with the children in school. Many have made nostalgic mention of sweets like Jelly Tots, Spangles and Opal Fruits from a gentler time. More recently children favoured inventions and innovations such as Alien Spray, Brain Lickers and Toxic Waste. A child’s tongue was blue! Needing to ‘peel them off the ceiling’ on account of a sugar rush? You knew they had stopped by Mrs. Mooney’s on the way to school.
If I ever needed to catch the children’s attention in problem solving in Maths, all I had to do was to make the problem about shopping for sweets in Mooney’s shop and I had their undivided attention immediately. Irish class a little flat? A game of ‘Chuaigh mé go dtí Mrs. Mooney’s agus ceannaigh mé…’ and the children were bright eyed and bushy tailed again.
Over the years I had the privilege of teaching a number of Mrs. Mooney’s grandchildren. She was so proud of them – as they were of her. They used work in the shop too, and their mental maths was second to none.
In the summer after trips to the beach, we’d ask the children to wait outside and one of us would pop in with no warning and ask for forty cool pops. (Class numbers were bigger then). There would seem to be nearly but not quite enough in the freezer. A moment of concern… then Mrs. Mooney would magic up some more from somewhere else and save the day.
As many have said Mrs. Mooney was a legend. We’d a visitor to the school from Tasmania. The children took her on a guided tour to show her what they thought she should see in Greystones. They insisted on bringing her to meet Mrs. Mooney. Ask the children to draw a map or make a tourist brochure for Greystones and Mrs. Mooney’s shop figured large.
On Friday 25th September at lunchtime, the children 4th, 5th and 6th were in the school yard as people started to gather for Bridie’s funeral. At a minute to one the bell was rung and for six minutes in total the children observed silence as they joined the people outside on Trafalgar Rd in welcoming Bridie back. As the people outside started to applaud Mrs. Mooney, the children in the yard joined in, remembering our friend who was so good to them.
Generations of children knew and loved her and this week all over the world, this sad news has been passed on by the power of the internet and those children now grown up are remembering her.
Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís