A Day in the Life: Pauline Moran


HERE’S TO 2021 The Principal of Sancta Maria College in Louisburgh, Pauline Moran, is looking forward to Christmas after a challenging 2020. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Name: Pauline Moran
Age: Over 40
From: I am originally from Ballyhean but I have to be a Covey by now
Occupation: Principal of Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh

I’M an early riser, and before the pandemic restrictions I loved going to the pool in the morning before work with the Triathlon club or Republic of Fitness for a class. Online classes became the norm for a while, but I am looking forward to getting back to live classes again soon. Then a quick breakfast with John, my husband, and into work by 8.15am. I love coffee on the hoof – it is an all-day drip feed.
These days it is just John and me and, of course, Minnie, our dog. We have a daughter, Sinéad, and two sons Cathal and Donal. Fortunately, all three are in Ireland at present, with one still in college.
I try to be at school in Louisburgh by 8.15am. I have to be early if I have a meeting – being just on time is too late for me. So, if there is something in front of me on the drive to work, I am not a happy lady. School is full of life and noise and activity. When summer holidays come, I always find it strange to have a quiet building.
This year has had to be the most difficult time in any teacher’s career. In our case, we’d just got a brand new school and next thing we are faced with all the coronavirus headaches and restrictions.
At the beginning, when schools closed, it was like steering a ship in a storm from the kitchen table with no map or compass. I am resilient and got on with it, and I had a great shipmate in Finola, the deputy principal, and the crew were with me all the way. Going back to school was a relief even though there was lots of work to be done. I was actually very emotional the first day of having staff and students back. The sound of laughter filled the building, and it gave me such a sense of satisfaction and hope for the future.
The new school made it so much easier. I can’t imagine how we would have managed in the old building, but schools are coping. I remember thinking when we finished the school building and I put away the hi-vis, hardhat and steel cap boots that I could finally get back to my job of leading a school and then the virus came. Maybe next year things will be somewhat normal!
I’m a positive person by nature so I try to always keep things as cheerful as I can. Some days that’s possible, but there are days, as there are in everyone’s job, where you wonder what else can happen today that I am supposed to solve or at least have the answer to.
I can honestly say that the unexpected is the expected in my day. I go in and have a to-do list. Within minutes something else can take over –  maybe an absent teacher, a concerned parent or student, a problem with the building, an idea someone has. I always say that in this job people are more important than paperwork.
I can never say that I have a lunch break as such but I try. I am good some days and bring a lunch in with me, and other days Corrib Oil and the coffee is just too convenient. I love Tia’s Café on a Friday.
I’m usually home by 5pm. That does not mean the day is done but I’m in the door at home anyway. I’m lucky enough with a husband who will have the fire on already – we just do what needs doing, no jobs are ‘his’ or ‘mine’. Dinner is easy like a stir-fry or whatever is handy. I am no Nigella Lawson so my attempts are basic. I experimented during lockdown like everyone and succeeded in finding a lovely recipe from Leafy Greens for brown bread so I’m proud of that achievement.
I love a Friday night takeaway with a glass of wine, and Netflix. On Saturdays I enjoy a cycle, a walk and a swim in the sea regularly. Parkrun used to feature on Saturday mornings too. I enjoy a good social life and when normal living returns hope to go out on Saturday night for a catch up with people.
We loved campsites in France when the family was young. I have kept in touch with old  friends over the years and we have gone away regularly together – to Christmas markets, breaks in Iceland, a cruise, Tunisia, Poland and a few trips to the US. I was  also in Chile with my sisters. One of them lives there. That was a very different kind of visit where you really realise how fortunate we are here.
Our adult children are usually home too for the weekend, when restrictions allow.  It has always been a lively home with lots of laughs and people coming and going. It is quieter at present, obviously.
I am also blessed with great friends who live locally and we go for a dip in the sea, a walk, or cycle. We can be heard laughing and singing at a distance I imagine. It is wonderful for de-stressing after a week’s work. It also keeps us active and healthy.
Bedtime is usually 11.30pm. I only sleep for about five hours and often wish I could stop the thoughts or worries that waken me. Come morning, they are never as bad as they appeared in the dead of night.

In conversation with Áine Ryan

Quickfire questions

If money were no object, what would you do everyday?
I would love to shadow principals in other countries and do research on what their day consists of.

Favourite place you have visited?
I love France. I suppose being a French teacher gives me an added advantage and interest.

Most unusual thing you have eaten?
The most unusual place was Dining in the Dark in Poland. It is hilarious not being sure of what was on the plate and just trying to figure it all out.

What makes you nervous?
When out on the bike with the Covey Wheelers Leisure Group and someone mentions Sheaffry or Cailleach.

Three things always in your fridge?
Butter, eggs and yoghurt.

Your favourite Christmas movie?
‘Love Actually’ is a must.

Name three celebrities you would invite to your Zoom party?
Honestly, I think I would stick to people I know. Parties should be with friends.

Best advice you ever got?
My mother was a great lady for sayings.
I used to get frustrated when people got angry and she’d say:
 “Let them cool in the soup they boiled in.”

Most prized possession?
Other than my family.
The medal I got when I completed a triathlon in Dublin which included a swim in the Liffey followed by a 40km cycle and a 10km run in the Phoenix Park.

First hero?
My dad who passed away when I was young. He had a JCB and I thought he was the coolest man ever.

Sum up the coronavirus in three words?
Appreciate what matters

Last book you read?
‘I Found My Tribe’, by Ruth Fitzmaurice

What would you like Santa to bring you this year?
A good night out with family and friends