Meet The Team

Mary Nihill

Mary is seconded from her role as Principal of Calasanctius College Oranmore Galway. Mary started her career in education as a Science & Maths teacher.
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    She was appointed Principal in St. Paul’s Secondary School Oughterard in 1993. In 2005 she was seconded as Assistant National Coordination to the Leadership Development for Schools (LDS) team and coordinated programmes such as Misneach-the programme for newly appointed Principals and Forbairt –a development programme for established Principals and Deputy Principals. She was also involved in the production of an updated profile of school leadership in Ireland. Mary was elected as President of The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals in October 2014.

Anna Mai Rooney

Deputy Director Primary
Anna Mai Rooney

Anna Mai is originally from Ballymahon in Co. Longford. After graduating from St. Patrick’s College in Drumcondra in 1987, she taught in St. Patrick’s Loreto Primary School in Bray.

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    On moving to Monaghan in 1992, Anna Mai taught in St. Patrick’s National School, Clara, in North Monaghan and in Scoil Mhuire, Gransha, Clones from 1994-2000. She became the Teaching Principal of Scoil Mhuire, Magherarney, Smithborough in 2000 where she remained until becoming Administrative Principal of St. Louis GNS in Monaghan town in 2008. Dedicated to the value of continuous learning, Anna Mai completed a Masters in Educational Management in 2009 with the University of Ulster and has been a part-time facilitator with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) since 2006. She became a member of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) Board of Directors in 2009. Her responsibilities on the board lie in the areas of principal advice, CPD, resource and policy development, supports for Teaching Principals and School Self Evaluation. More recently she has sat on the management committee of Partnership Schools, a joint initiative between IPPN and the National Parents’ Council. Anna Mai was appointed as Deputy Director Primary of the Centre for School Leadership in May of this year.

Donal O’ Reilly

Co-ordinator Post-Primary
Anna Mai Rooney

Donal is a graduate of the University of Limerick with a B. Tech. Ed. and devoted much of his early career to developing capacity in teachers through the Engineering Technology Teachers Association and Teacher Professional Networks.  

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    Returning to his alma mater, the University of Limerick, he completed an MA in Education and developed an interest in action research.  Donal has worked in six different post primary schools through his career, across all sectors, size and demographics. Donal joins the Centre for School Leadership from Killorglin Community College where he served as Deputy Principal and Principal for a combined thirteen years.  He had a strong focus on fostering a culture for the development of aspiring leaders within the school and building leadership capacity. As a member of the Kerry ETB senior leadership team Donal has been a key player in the DSEL (Developing Schools Enriching Learning) initiative within the county. During this time, he was an associate with the PDST, involved in the design and delivery of the Tánaiste programme for newly appointed Deputy Principals and delivered modules for the PDST Tóraíocht programme.  Donal was also a mentor for the NAPD mentoring programme for Deputy Principals. More recently, Donal has worked with European School Net, and the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels delivering workshops and webinars.  He also facilitates learning events for leaders and teachers across Europe and is a guest contributor on panel discussions. As an eTwinning ambassador and through his involvement in the Erasmus+ programme Donal has built an extensive leadership network across Europe and has had the opportunity to explore the various leadership, mentoring and coaching approaches in many European countries.

    Says Donal

    “I look forward to the next chapter of my lifelong learning as I join the Centre for School Leadership team.  Together we can continue the great work of the Director and Deputy Directors in realising the vision, mission and values of the CSL.”

Finbarr Hurley

Co-ordinator Primary

A B. Ed graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Finbarr has an extensive background in primary education, which include experiences both at home and abroad. He comes to CSL from St. Columba’s Boys’ National School, Douglas Co Cork where he has been principal since 2015.

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    Previous to this, Finbarr was Primary Principal of the European School of Karlsruhe Germany where he carried out a lot of work on developing middle leadership capacity in his team there. He has, through his time in the European School system, seen many national education systems, which has aided him on his journey through leadership in education. Since returning to Ireland, Finbarr has been a facilitator with NIPT delivering the induction workshop programme to NQT’s. He has also worked with the IPPN leadership team in developing the leadership pathway seminars for the IPPN National Conference as well as delivering seminars at county network level in Cork. He is a trained Mentor and CARA with CSL and has completed a coaching course through the CESC. Finbarr has facilitated the creation of professional learning communities in the Cork area to give educators the opportunity to reflect on and share good practice.

    Says Finbarr

    “ I am thrilled at the prospect of becoming Coordinator with CSL. I very much look forward to working with the Director and Deputy Directors to help further the vision, mission and values of CSL through engagement with all stakeholders in Irish education”.

Geraldine McNamara


Geraldine McNamara is the Administrator for the Centre for School Leadership and is based in the Clare Education Centre, Ennis, Co. Clare

CSL is funded by the Teacher Education Section (TES) of the Department of Education (DE)
This service is managed by Clare Education Centre.