The granddaughter of Crecora immigrant John Joseph McNamara (RIP) Bromsgrove Worcester-shire and originally from Kilpeacon Crecora in the parish of Mungret, Co Limerick, Anna-Marie Rooney was voted the winner of this year’s Worcestershire’s Teacher of the Year 2019 at a glitzy award ceremony in the Worcester Arena on Thursday 20th June. The awards were sponsored in partnership by Worcester News and The University of Worcester, which they say ‘recognises and celebrates the hard work, passion, quality and dedication that we know exists in our educational establishments in Worcestershire’. It was launched back in January and members of the public were encouraged to nominate a person or organisation working in education throughout the county via the Worcester News website.
Anna Marie has been recognised for her educational work and commitment over and above the normal expected level. On receiving her award the compere for the evening read out, ‘Teacher-Lecturer of the Year Award goes to Anna-Marie Rooney, from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic First School. Anna-Marie is a perfect example of what a good teacher is. Someone who goes above and beyond to ensure her pupils get the most out of their education. She is an inspiration to her colleagues and pupils, and thoroughly deserves this recognition.’
“I’m overwhelmed and lost for words,” she exclaimed, “I love it at Mount Carmel and it is a real family. I can’t imagine working anywhere else; to the people that nominated me, thank you all, I’m overwhelmed. What an honour to receive this award!”
Anna-Marie, has been teaching at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic First School Academy in Redditch for 15 years. She is married to James Whelton and they have three children, she works full-time as senior assistant head and teaches year 3 children equivalent to second class in the Irish education system. She is Key Stage Two leader, English literacy leader, First Holy Communion Programme leader, Mount Carmel Staff Governor and the attendance officer. In her spare time she runs for Droitwich Athletics club and has completed many 10k races and three half marathons. The London Marathon is next on her wish list!
Anna-Marie’s grandfather John Joseph McNamara RIP came to Redditch in the 1940’s. Labour was required in the war effort, factories were turned over to produce munitions, men went off to fight on the front line and thus created a labour market where it outstripped supply. Women helped fill the posts men would normally do, but still that wasn’t enough. Workers were needed to keep Britain moving. Britain’s closest neigh-bours Ireland remained neutral during the war, had high unemployment at the time and companies were only too eager to employ a workforce who were hardworking, willing and able. Competition for labour was so fierce that big companies often went on recruitment drives around the Irish country-side on board coaches, advertising jobs, guaran-teeing employment and accommodation upon arrival in England. They also paid their travel fare which consisted of train-fare to Dublin, ferry from Dún Laoghaire across the Irish Sea to Holyhead plus rail fare to destination. John Joseph made his journey from Ireland to Redditch by rail and ferry. This would have taken one and a half days! He was part of mass emigration from Ireland to Britain – upwards of fifty thousand a year left in the 1940’s through to the 1950’s. John Joseph most likely saw the adverts in the Limerick newspapers but we can’t say for sure if he signed up for the free passage to Redditch.
The companies that used this method of employment were explored by Mandy Woodcock, a member of the Talking Histories project. She helped with oral history and talked to immigrants and first generations Irish about their experiences coming across to England and their life here post arrival. This is an excellent source for anyone looking to read about Irish immigration, this transcript is available through Mandy Woodcock, Redditch Irish Society. She considered it important to record their stories and experiences so that subse-quent Irish descendants did not lose this history.
John Joseph worked at BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Company) making munitions during World War Two and that was where he met Eileen Doris, an English girl who worked for the Kalamazoo Company. They got married and settled in Catshill, Bromsgrove Worcester-shire; there they raised three daughters Kay, Maureen and Ann. His daughter Ann married Martin Rooney in the 1970s, he was born in Cabra West, Dublin and raised in the Ballyfermot Dublin and immigrated to Birmingham in the 1960’s. They had four children Damon RIP, Darren, Anna Maire and Jonjo. All families mentioned above and their descendants now in the first/second/third generation in Redditch/Bromsgrove area have been instrumental in both local and national level community projects and fundraising for various health and social issues, volunteering their time to do good for their community. None other than Anna Marie’s brother Jonjo Rooney (called after his grandfather) is founder of the charity Bpostive. Bpostive is a cancer charity and he is active on a national level around the U.K. delivering talks about his own experience with blood cancer, acute lymphoid Leukaemia. He delivers monthly podcasts, is a professional photo-grapher and is full time design manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, a well-known and much loved charity in the U.K similar to the Irish Cancer Society. Jonjo was one of ten people given the honour of carrying the Olympic touch through Redditch town centre before the start of London 2012 Olympics.
Coincidentally, Mandy Woodcock, who lives in Hunt End, Redditch, her own father Chris Sheehy RIP came from Bally-cahane, Crecora and he came to Redditch with his friend Paddy Kennedy RIP, who came from Ballyveelish, Crecora, having been enticed over with a free travel ticket, a place at the hostel and a job. After they made the journey over to Redditch, as the story goes the first place they went to find was Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church on Boeley Road before they visited The Kings Arms public house just up the road! Mandy’s Aunt Mary Sheehy RIP and Johanna Sheehy RIP emigrated to Redditch too, as did Bob Kennedy ages 85 Paddy Kennedy’s brother, who today lives near Dunstable Bedfordshire.
Anna-Marie’s relatives, cousin Liam McNamara and Betty McNamara who live in Crecora, would like to say a massive well done to their cousin saying ‘she’s doing us all proud here in Crecora,’ ‘we are absolutely delighted for her, her parents Ann and Martin Rooney, her brothers Darren and Jonjo, sister in law Sarah Rooney and of course her own young family Erin aged 8, Malachy aged 7, Caoimhe aged 4 and husband James Whelton.
An-mhaith ar fad agus Luimneach Abú

Written by
Íde Constantinou
(nee Reidy)
formerly from
Broadford Co Limerick.