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. Anna Mai was appointed as Deputy Director Primary of the Centre for School Leadership in 2015.

    Dedicated to the value of continuous learning, Anna Mai completed a master’s in educational management in 2009 with the University of Ulster and was a part-time facilitator with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) from 2005- 2015. She was a member of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) Board of Directors from 2010-2021. Anna Mai is a member of the management committee of Partnership Schools, a joint initiative between IPPN and the National Parents’ Council to promote whole communities working together to achieve better outcomes for children. She currently sits on the DCU Changemaker Schools Steering Committee and is an Ed D student with the University of Glasgow.

Donal O’ Reilly

Deputy Director 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”.

Susan Burke

Co-ordinator Post-Primary

Susan graduated from UCD with both a BA in French and English and a H.Dip in Education. Susan carried out her initial training at St. Tiernan’s Community School, Balally where she developed a deep commitment to positive behavioral systems and inclusive approaches to education.  

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    Susan has worked in a variety of educational sectors and throughout her career has worked on developing systems that enhance leadership, responsibility and respect in school life. She graduated from WIT with a MA in Educational Management and was appointed Deputy Principal at Colaiste na Trocaire, Rathkeale, in 2010. She graduated from CCC with a Professional Diploma in Humanistic/Integrative Counselling and her professional approach is rooted in Lifespan Development theory.  Susan is a member of the University of Limerick Executive Leadership programme with a focus on inclusion of Traveller and Roma students within the Irish Education system. Susan has worked with many schools developing Positive Reinforcement Systems to enhance student educational experience and outcomes and has worked closely with LCETB in implementing Restorative Practices and solution focused plans for students experiencing difficulties.  

    She has worked with the LCETB senior management team in areas such as Mentoring, Junior Certificate Advisory Team, Parents and Guardians Advisory Team. In her extra-curricular capacity, Susan leads out a number of community-based programmes that offer life enriching experiences and leadership development in young people through the arts.  

    “I aim to become part of the CSL team, furthering its vision, mission and values. I look forward to an exciting journey working with the leaders and future leaders of the Irish education system"

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.