St. Julian’s School and the Roman Catholic Parish of St Mary’s lost a beloved family member on Saturday, February 11, when Bernadette, known as ‘Bernie’, died after a gruelling illness which she had borne with characteristic fortitude, supported by family, friends and faith.
Bernie was County Donegal’s gift to Portugal, and in particular to St Julian’s, where she taught at the primary school from the early 1980s. She quickly became one of the pillars of the school, as class teacher and font of wisdom to several generations of seven, eight and nine year olds.
Hundreds of former pupils will feel that they owe some of their happiness and success in life to the hard work and affection that Bernie offered them in their childhood. Later in her career, Bernie helped restructure the English as an Additional Language department, a crucial role in an international school, which she undertook with both efficiency and flair. As a colleague, she was utterly loyal and reliable, with a lovely sense of humour that was often wicked but never spiteful.
As her long illness ran its course, Bernie gave us all an example of resilience and bravery. She continued to be a shrewd, amusing and affectionate presence in the lives of her friends, and in particular those at the St Mary’s prayer group who sustained her with their companionship and their prayers to the end.
Bernie returns to her homeland this week, to be buried back in Donegal. All those who were fortunate enough to know her will miss her sorely, cherish her memory, and pledge love and support to her husband Luís and her children Sara and Filipe.