An adored Dublin nun is fighting for her life after a horrific crash near her home in Nigeria.
The devoted teacher was struck by a car while crossing the road in a town near her home.
Her condition is now said to be critical with her family travelling over to central Nigeria to be with her.
Sr Bernadatte O’Reilly left Ireland to become principal of Our Lady Queen of Peace Nursery & Primary School in Bukuru, a city on the Jos Plateau.
She a well-known figure in Ballymun with many in the close-knit community having fond memories of her kindness and understanding while teaching in Holy Spirit School.
‘Bern’ as she is affectionately known as also taught in St Joseph’s Church, Poppintree.
Former students have rallied together during this difficult time with many recounting tales of the schoolteacher’s generosity.
A friend told Dublin Live that Sr Bernadette was incredibly kind to her after her mother’s untimely death.
Josephine Dempsey’s mam passed away when she was 12-years-old but Sr Bernadette immediately took the children under her wing.
Josephine said: “She connected with my family in 1990 and when my mam passed away in ’92 she stepped in to help us out .
“We needed help, she became like a mother to us then and has remained like that even now in our lives. We have had her in our life longer than our own mother.
“Bernadette, as she’s know to everyone, played a huge part in the lives of people in Ballymun.
“You would see Bern coming on her blue bike with her skirt and sandals- hail, rain, snow or sun .
“It didn’t affect her she said how would I say hello to people from a car .
“She ran a mass group in the local church St Joseph’s and did the mass for the children at 11 .
“Bern loved the kids to be involved with everything.
“She loves Ballymun. If she got to know you, she got to know your whole family.
“If you needed help with school, she was there pencil and copy to help .
“She saw everyone as equal and had a funny laugh .
“She would play her guitar and tell the story of her finger top missing from when she was younger.
“She would stop the car on the motorway to pick daffodils. She taught you to cook in the flat or would give you a big hug.”
Sr Bernadette’s condition is now critical and the entire Ballymun community is praying for her recovery.
“Bern was in the town not too far from her home in Nigeria when she and another lady were hit by a car while crossing the road,” said Josephine.
“The other lady suffered cuts and bruises but Bern unfortunately was bad.
“She’s got severe head trauma, broken ribs and internal issues.
“She’s in an induced coma in ICU and is critical.
“Our friend and family member is fighting for her life on the other-side of the world and all we can do is pray and hope she comes through . All her fellow nuns of the Sisters of the Infant Jesus which is the order she’s in-are praying for her.
“That’s all we can do from this end.”
Sr Bernadette leapt at the opportunity to teach in Nigeria even though it meant leaving her beloved Ballymun.
Her school in Bukuru started in 2003 with less than 60 pupils, a number that would quickly grow to over 900.
She kept in regular contact with friends in Dublin and would often visit and bring back supplies to her school in Bukuru.
Josephine said: “Bern went on to teach in the local school which she was over the moon about and she made such an impact on all the children’s lives.
“She built a school and got lots of support from Ballymun for supplies and equipment.
“It is an amazing success.
“She’s the principal there and knows every child’s name and family members.
“When she returns to Ireland it’s a two-week break for her to see her amazing family and her friends here.
“Most importantly it’s an opportunity to get school supplies for bringing back.
“She would make sure that each child had a pencil a rubber and a pollypocket for their work”.
Ballymun locals took to Facebook, all hoping that the “Holy Grail of Ballymun” will pull through.
One person wrote: “Awh her face hasn’t changed. A beautiful soul”.
Another commented: “Prayer said and candle lighting one off the nicest people I’ve ever met”.