Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy was born in 1913, in Rathkeale, Co Limerick. She later moved to Aughanish with her family. She went to do her commerce degree in UCD. In her first year after qualifying, Bess taught commerce in the Gregg school of commerce in Dublin, cycling to work in all weathers.
On returning to her home in Aughanish, Bess met up with Polly Jones. These two forward thinking ladies decided to get together and set up the first second level school, in 1940 and so St Mary’s secondary school was established, using the rented Carnegie library on the Quay, in Askeaton.
After teaching in St Mary’s for a year, Bess in 1941, decided to broaden her horizons and set up her own, St Senan’s Secondary school in Shrulawn, Foynes, to extend the provision of secondary education in the area.
Bess continued to run her school in Shrulawn until they amalgamated with Mt Trenchard in 1967.