Tributes have been afforded to Sr Bernard Lynch who died following a single vehicle traffic accident which occurred on John Broderick Street in the centre of Athlone on Monday afternoon.
She was the sole occupant of the car which initially impacted the front window of the Hidden Hearing store prior to the vehicle proceeding along John Broderick Street and through the roundabout before colliding with the fence which encloses Golden Island Shopping Centre car park.
The town has been immersed in grief since the news of this tragic accident began to filter among the local community on Monday.
Originally from Roscommon, Sr Bernard was much known within Athlone and its environs having served the role of school principal in St Peter’s National School from 1974 until her retirement in 1993.
Upon retirement, Sr Bernard remained an active member of the local community giving of her dedicated time within the parish of Ss Peter and Paul.
The Ss Peter and Paul Facebook page afforded a suitable tribute following her tragic death.
The tribute detailed how Sr Bernard had been suddenly called home to be with the God she loved and to whom she devoted her life, noting that she had touched the lives of many families over her 50 plus years in Athlone and will be very fondly missed by all.
Giving of his thoughts, Deacon Tony Larkin, Coláiste Chiaráin School Chaplain, noted Sr Bernard’s dual love of teaching and prayer.
“In life, Sr Bernard received two great gifts from the Holy Spirit, her love of teaching and her love of prayer. She had a welcome for people from all walks of life and her door was always opened with a smile. No one ever left her home without a cup of tea and a blessing.
“Sr Bernard spent many years as a teacher and principal of St Peter’s national school and to this sad day she knew every student and their families by name. When she retired she continued her ministry as a Chaplain and friend to all the staff and students at St Aloysius College and the parish of Ss. Peter and Paul.
“Over her many years her greatest joy was in preparing the students for the Sacraments of First Confession, Communion and Confirmation.
“During a recent conversation on how Covid-19 was affecting our schools and the challenges, Sr Bernard expressed the admiration she had for all teachers. She believed teaching was not only a profession that shapes the character, calibre, and future of each student, she believed it to be a true vocation in life. She finished the conversation with this quote and thankfully I wrote it down - ‘A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others’.
“Sr Bernard had that candle burning in her sitting room 24 hours a day for all of us,” Deacon Larken commented.
Also affording due tribute to Sr Bernard, Town Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, noted that the town was united in grief following her sad death.
“The town of Athlone is in mourning following the passing of my dear friend Sr Bernard. She had the warmest heart, the purest and most generous soul. She loved God and her faith drove her every day. She loved life, and despite her great age she was active every day and to the very end.
“I will always remember her for her compassion for people and her desire to help where ever she could. Even up to recent days, Sr Bernard was helping people. She was still teaching, helping people with literacy problems, helping people prepare for interviews or helping those with problems at home, she was always working.
“However, that’s not how she saw it, for her it was a vocation, her calling, but she did it because she loved to do it, she simply loved helping people. There is no doubt that Sr Bernard was a living Saint and it was an honour and pleasure to have her as a friend.
“I have many fond memories of sitting in her modest riverside apartment at her kitchen table and chatting about many things including politics over coffee. She was very political and her father was a Fianna Fail Senator in the 1940’, Peter Tim Lynch from Arigna, Roscommon.
“My last chat with Sr Bernard was two weeks ago when she called to see me with a greeting card that she had made herself with a lovely personal note inside wishing me well in my term as Mayor and she gave me a lovely little prayer stone which I will cherish.
“It’s now Sr Bernard’s turn to be taken care of. May you rest in peace Sr Bernard,” Cllr. O’Rourke remarked.
Funeral mass for Sr Bernard will take place at 11am on Friday morning in Ss Peter and Paul’s church and will be broadcast live on www.churchservices.tv/athlone
A funeral procession will take place from Flynn’s funeral home to Ss Peter and Paul’s church with members of the public encouraged to pay their respects along the route and applause in respect and gratitude for the sterling work Sr Bernard achieved within the community.
If intending to be present along the funeral procession route, please bear in mind the present social distancing and public health and safety guidelines