Retired Principal of St. Agnes’ Primary School, Sr. Bernadette continues to work tirelessy to promote and provide music throughout the community at the St. Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts.
Sister Bernadette Sweeney, a Religious Sister of Charity, was born in Dublin. She trained in Carysfort National Teacher Training College where she specialized in music. She graduated with a B.A. from University College Dublin, in Music, Greek and Roman Civilization and English. She received a Masters in Religious Education in Mater Dei College in 2006. In 1995 she received a Fellowship and Licentiate of Trinity College of Music, London, following vocal studies with Dr Veronica Dunne.
She was School Principal for eight years of Farranboley National School, St Columbanus’ Road, Dublin 14, and was then School Principal 1988-
In the year 2000 Sister Bernadette undertook training in the Kodaly method and also visited schools in Canada and New Zealand. Sister Bernadette trained and worked in the area of Reality Therapy between 2001 and 2003. She attended the World Congress of Music Therapy in Oxford. Between 2000 and 2004 she trained and worked in Transformative Leadership Facilitation. She has been on the Advisory Committee on Education of the Religious Sisters of Charity.
Since 1988 Sister Bernadette Sweeney has been extensively involved with the National Children’s Choir. She conducted in Thurles, Waterford and Clonmel, and gave training courses to teachers for the National Children’s Choir programme. She is currently Chairperson of the National Children’s Choir National Committee.
Since 2005 Sister Bernadette Sweeney has facilitated the unique project which is ongoing in her school, St Agnes’ Primary School, Crumlin, a designated DEIS 1 primary school on Armagh Road, Crumlin, Dublin 12. A donation of €20,000 from the Religious Sisters of Charity greatly aided the project in it’s infancy. An AIB Better Ireland Award enabled the school to buy class sets of string instruments. All 400 children in the school including those with special needs from Junior Infants to 6th Class learn violin, while some also play violin, viola, cello and double bass in the School Orchestra. There is no charge for instruments or lessons.
The school won the 2007 RTE Lyric FM Moladh an Cheoil Music in Schools Award, a 2007 Irish Times Living Dublin Award, the 2008 Youth Orchestra Achievement Award sponsored by the Irish Aviation Authority and awarded by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras. In March 2008 more than 125 children performed at Cor Fhéile na Scoileanna in the National Basketball Arena. The School Orchestra won the MILLER cup for Primary School Orchestra at the Inter-
Youth Orchestras. In September 2008 the School Orchestra was selected to perform on Saturday 7th February 2009 at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, in the 2009 Festival of Youth Orchestras. Currently there are over 70 parents/grandparents in the orchestra. In 2011 Sr. Bernadette was invited to Spain to address the European Council of Artists on the development of the music project at St. Agnes’ under the title “How to bring Hope through Culture and the Arts in a time of Recession”.
Sister Bernadette is actively involved through various networks in supporting and advising other School Principals who have an interest in developing similar models in their schools to provide instrumental music tuition to their pupils and parents. She is committed to giving all children the opportunities for personal development through music, in the words of Mother Mary Aikenhead “To give to all what the rich can buy for money”.On behalf of the Religious Sisters of Charity, Sister Bernadette has overseen the refurbishment of St Agnes’ Community Music Centre on Armagh Road, Crumlin. Her concept is to give access to instruments and the opportunity to learn and play to everyone in the community at a minimal cost.
Sister Bernadette is committed to providing a range of activities for people in all stages of the life cycle, valuing equally all forms of music, to providing late start opportunities for adults in the community, and to providing young people with access to venue, instruments, practise and rehearsal facilities, and lessons within the local community.