Monday 23 October 2017

Grainne O'Brien was an exceptional and inspirational teacher

The late Grainne O'Brien.
The late Grainne O'Brien.

GRAINNE O'Brien, who died on January 13, joined the teaching staff at Selskar College (Wexford Vocational School) in 1979. She was an exceptionally brilliant and inspirational teacher.

She was passionate about her subject and passed this on to her students with great fluency and facility with the English language. She had a great interest and love of literature, drama and especially poetry.

Her greatest enjoyment and sense of achievement in school came from her successes and the wellbeing of the students in her care. This was not confined solely to when the students were in school, but for long after they had left.

No one will ever know the number of young people going through confusing and difficult times that were helped and guided by her caring and loving approach and her ability to understand the teenage psyche.

Grainne, being Kerry through and through, knew the power of the story. She had the most wonderful and magical way of weaving a story. She could bring you to a world outside of yourself. She was an artist with words and could vividly paint a word picture that would make you feel that you and she had indeed climbed Ben Nevis, been down the Mekong Delta or been on that holiday, such was her joy and facility with description and words.

She loved and supported the Arts and artists of all disciplines. She had an eclectic taste in music, anything from Beethoven to Bat Out of Hell.

All her summer holidays were spent in her beloved Kerry. She would relish about the kip of the reel that was hard, the craic, how issues were debated back, belly and sides, and the wonderful fun she always had with her great Kerry friends.

Hospitality and generosity of spirit were innate in Grainne. This stemmed from her family home in the Beantee Hotel. Her family, friends, colleagues and neighbours will all have their own memories of the fun-filled evenings in her home as a warm and generous hostess. Many's the card game, sing song, argument and debates that were enjoyed.

After her retirement, she set up a neighbourhood book club and as an avid reader, she always looked forward to these get-togethers, debates and discussions.

She loved the Opera Festival after the lull on her September return from Kerry. The spirits would lift, tickets would be queued for and booked and friends from Kerry, Lismore and Cork would be invited to enjoy with Grainne, the great festival atmopshere and music in Wexford.

Grainne loved her Bridge. It will not come as a surprise to anyone that she was always a very astute player as her Bridge partner and opponents could attest. She had many circles of friends and the most amazing capacity to make connections and keep friends from primary and secondary schools, UCC, and her teaching colleagues.

Grainne was always up for a challenge. She loved sailing in Dingle, Union Hall and Glandore. A mile out to sea with a Force Six wind was her way of enjoying the experience.

However, the challenge she faced over the last two and a half years was very cruel and difficult and alas unbeatable.

She did not want to be defined in any way by her illness and adopted the attitude that 'Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass it is about dancing in the rain.' She danced in the rain. She went on several holidays, attended weddings, enjoyed shopping sprees and spent time with her beloved family.

She continued to be concerned and interested in the lives of her friends. During her illness, Grainne showed a determination, courage, a positive attitude and level of resilience that was quite simply awe-inspiring.

Grainne was a highly intelligent, independent person and her intelligence was matched only by her compassion. She was a most insightful and empathetic person of the highest integrity, who was warm, caring, loving, generous, vibrant, witty and charming.

She now rests in her beloved Kerry, close to the groves of the Carham River and the slope of the Bean'aTi.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

Months mind mass at St Alphonsus Church, Barntown, at 3.30 p.m. on Saturday, February 25.

Wexford People