She was a native of Newcastle West in Limerick but had been living in Donnycarney in north Dublin and is survived by her daughter Angela, who was with her when tragedy struck on Sunday afternoon.
The 61-year-old was a member of staff at Rutland Street National School on the city’s northside for 25 years up to her retirement last September. Since then, she had taken up a new career in alternative therapies.
In a statement released yesterday, her family described Ms Buckley as a fun-loving and vibrant person who loved life and referred to her much-loved schools. They said she would be deeply missed by all who knew her, a fact reflected in the flow of tributes from the education sector.
Education Minister Mary Hanafin was among those to pay tribute to Ms Buckley, who was chairwoman of the board of management at the Central Model School in Marlborough Street, to which the minister is patron.
“Máire was a dedicated teacher and committed all her energies to helping those around her in the schools where she taught. Before her retirement from teaching, Máire was helping tackle educational disadvantage by working as a Home School Community Liaison teacher for a number of inner city schools,” Ms Hanafin said.
This work involved Ms Buckley visiting the homes of pupils of these schools, which had endeared her in the hearts of those communities.
Rutland Street NS principal Eileen Adams said the whole community was in shock at the news of Máire’s death.
“During her time as a class teacher, special class teacher and home school teacher, she made a huge impact on colleagues, pupils and parents. She never counted hours and never saw the negative in anyone or in any situation,” she said.
“She did huge work for international children, set up courses for parents and was really interested in their welfare. The whole school is lonely at the loss of a much loved friend. Today in the school was like a wake, with people calling all day to remember a kind and loving person who will be very much missed. Even though Máire was retired, she was still very much with us in every way,” she added.
Up to her retirement, Ms Buckley was also an active member in the Dublin City North branch of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO).
The union’s general secretary John Carr yesterday extended the condolences of all primary teachers to Ms Buckley’s family.
“Máire was much loved and held in the highest esteem by colleagues, pupils and parents with whom she worked over four decades in primary schools,” he said.
“During her career she was particularly dedicated to the disadvantaged families of the north inner city and worked above and beyond the call of duty on their behalf. She will be sadly missed by her many friends and colleagues in the teaching profession,” Mr Carr said.
Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath, who worked with Ms Buckley during his 20 years teaching in the inner city, said she had a particular interest in children at risk and pupils with disabilities and special needs.
“The whole of the north inner city, parents, teachers, all professional care staff, are absolutely distraught by the death of this beautiful, kind and caring woman,” he said.
“Even when I left teaching and got elected to the Dáil, Máire was always on my case in relation to funding to assist the poor sections of society and not to forget my previous day job working with disadvantaged children,” he said.
“Máire was that kind of person, she was good, kind, caring and she spent her life working in the interests of people and then to see her tragically cut down like this it is an absolute nightmare for her family and particularly her daughter,” Mr McGrath said.