Fiona pictured with her family at Bailieborough Library. Husband David Burke, Fiona Burke, son Sean Burke, mother Fionnuala Parker and daughter Catherine Burke.

A new chapter begins for Fiona

Popular Bailieborough librarian retires

Nestled among her favourite books and the tranquility of Bailieborough library, Fiona Burke retired on Friday June 28.

Looking forward to a final “nice quiet day” after 14 years of work, Fiona’s colleagues and family created chaos that she couldn’t shush.

“I was overwhelmed,” she said, explaining the library staff had happy retirement banners and balloons “all over” with her name on the big screen.

“They organised drinks and coffee and tea for me in the afternoon with a big cake and all the library staff members from around the county appeared.

“It was a lovely afternoon,” she recalled, adding that her mother who is “87 years young” also attended.

“Really I was humbled,” she said, speaking from sunny Alicante where she had just arrived the previous night.

Having woken up to “boiling” hot weather, the mother of two recalled her time working as a librarian in Bailieborough.

“I’m finished in Bailieborough, I can’t believe it but I am.

“I’m kind of traumatized, I’m trying to get used to the fact.”

After living in Amercia for six years, Fiona returned home to Ireland and began working in Dublin. Living locally in Shercock, a position opened in Cavan Library. She went for it and was successful.

“I just grew to love it, I would have been a big promoter of books and reading,” she said.

An “avid reader” and “hugely into literature”, listing American fiction, Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Sprout, and Colm Tóibín among her favourites, Fiona moved to Bailieborough in 2000, when the facility ran on a part-time basis in the renovated market house.

“There was a push on to make it a full-time library so I went in then with another few part-time members of staff.

“We took it from there.

“It’s been a long road,” she said, recalling the days of handwriting book displays.

“I was going back on old photographs and I saw Halloween books written in my very bad handwriting at the time,” she laughed.

“Libraries have evolved; really they have, they’ve become more community spaces and event spaces.

“I absolutely love it,” she beamed.

“It was a fantastic job, the community of Bailieborough is fantastic.”

The best part of the job for the retired librarian was “definitely dealing with the public".

“One hundred percent,” she said, listing relationships with schools, authors, different workshops, exhibitions and community groups, among others.

Of her decision to retire, the 63 year old said that it was “time to move on and let the new generation come on and move with the times".

“I just knew it was time,” she remarked.

“We’ll see where the journey takes me, I’ve no plans at the moment,” she said of her retirement, with hopes of getting involved with the local Tidy Towns Committee and continued involvement with the Kingscourt Stars GAA Club. She is also looking forward to reading Colm Tóibín's new book, Long Island which she has waiting for her at home.

“I didn’t bring it out with me,” she said, adding that her later plans included soaking up the sun along Spain’s west coast.

Fiona thanked everybody who she has met along the way during her time working in Cavan and Bailieborough library.

“I’d urge everybody in Cavan to use their local library, there’s a fabulous new library in Virginia.

“Go in and meet the staff and you’d be very surprised what you’d find there.”

Finally, she wished her former colleagues in Bailieborough the best of luck.

“I’ll let the girls get on with it and I wish them the very best.

“I’m sure they’ll do a great job,” she concluded.