Headford Girls National School
Muire na Dea Chomhairle (Our Lady of Good Counsel) is a Presentation primary school. The present building dates from 1949 and has five teachers, including the Principal. There have been no Presentation Sisters on staff since 2000.
The Presentation Sisters first came to Headford one hundred years ago, in 1906. At that time the school was situated where the Parochial Hall now stands. A fire destroyed the building in 1934 and the nuns purchased some discarded military huts to provide accommodation until a new building would be provided. The old building was restored, but the nuns refused to return, as the old site was often damp and flooded in heavy rainfall. The boys and their teachers did return and the vacant section of the building was acquired by local priest, Fr. Andy Moran, as a parish hall.
The provision of a new school for girls was delayed for years. Several sites were proposed but rejected by the Department of Education as unsuitable, for various reasons. Eventually a site was sanctioned but the new building had to combine a school for boys along with one for girls. The girls’ school would be Muire na Dea Chomhairle, which included junior boys as well as girls. The boys’ school would be St. Brendan’s.
The opening of the new school meant a new stage in the educational life of Headford. The Presentation Secondary School, then in its infancy and located in the Parochial Hall and the convent, was now able to move into the vacated huts.
Muire na Dea Chomhairle continued with four teaching Sisters until 1977 when the first lay teacher, Miss Margie Fahy (now Mrs. McNamara) was appointed. In 1987 another lay teacher, Miss Mary Kirrane, joined the staff, reducing the number of nuns to two. Pupil numbers dropped for a time during the nineties, reducing the teaching staff to three. When they increased again another lay teacher, Miss Aoife Corbett, was appointed in 1997. The decline in religious vocations continued and the post of Principal became a lay position in 2000 on the retirement of Sr. Mairead Rabbitte. Mrs. Margie McNamara then became Principal and Mrs. Brid Garvey also joined the staff. The school now also has the services of secretary, Mrs. Lesley Lynch, assistant Mrs. Julie Muldoon, a cleaner and a caretaker.
The Presentation Sisters no longer reside in Headford but their legacy lives on. The population of Headford has increased in recent years necessitating the appointment of a fifth teacher, Mrs. Rita Garvery, in 2002 and the erection of a prefabricated classroom to provide extra accommodation.
The pupils of Muire na Dea Chomhairle continue to receive a sound education, provided by a team of dedicated and able teachers. There have been many changes over the years since its foundation. The school, now counting among its numbers children from Poland, Bulgaria, Nigeria and China, is a microcosm of a changing Ireland. Hopefully it will continue to fulfill its mission long into the future and that the time spent within its walls will enrich the lives of all its children.