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First Steps Pre-School Carrigaline 40th Birthday Celebrations, Carrigaline Court Hotel

History of First Steps Preschool

Mary Cleary took over a playgroup on 31st January 1984 which had run in Seaview estate for the previous 6 years. She ran it in her home for about 14 months and due to the demand for places moved to a room in the Carrigaline Community Complex in September 1985.  Mary was joined by Jackie Burke, her sister-in-law, and together they ran the renamed First Steps Preschool until November 1988 when Jackie and family emigrated to Canada. Over the years, as the preschool grew, Mary was joined by new staff all of whom came from Carrigaline and had families of their own.  The atmosphere there was always a happy one where children thrived emotionally and cognitively.

Government regulations saw all of the staff undertaking childcare qualifications and First Steps flourished.  By then it took three rooms upstairs in the Community Complex as the demand for places went up. Today it caters to 42 children with 8 staff each morning.  Michelle Allen runs it every day and it is great to report that the happy atmosphere and varied activities continue to nurture the children of Carrigaline.  

Over the years Mary saw a massive need for a full daycare centre in Carrigaline. Heron's Wood estate was being built in early 2000 and two creches were part of the plans. So in 2005 on January 31st , twenty-one years exactly from the start of First Steps preschool, Heronswood Childcare Centre opened its doors.  From the very beginning it has been a tremendous success and is now run by Mary's three daughters Alison, Fiona and Dee. 

ast & Present staff members with Mary Cleary: Owner & her daughters Fiona Murphy & Alison Heaslip, at the First Steps Pre-School Carrigaline 40th Birthday Celebrations, Carrigaline Court Hotel, 1st March 2024. Photo Siobhán Russell


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