Máire’s 28 years of service as a teacher celebrated
Job satisfaction is not something Máire Ní Liatháin-de Nógla has lacked during her 28 years as a teacher.
Whiteboards may have come and blackboards may have gone, but her enthusiasm for teaching children to read and for passing on her love of the Irish language remained undiminished as she marked her retirement from Scoil Fhionnbarra in Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh.
The development of language and reading skills in the infant classes she taught was a lifetime’s achievement for Máire, who takes great pride in seeing her past pupils go on to enjoy successful careers, many becoming lecturers and teachers themselves.
“I’d be proud to say I gave them their foundation,” she said. “To see children coming in to you in junior infants with very little and going out the other side, at the end of senior infants as readers both in English and Irish, it’s a great achievement for the children, and for myself there’s great job satisfaction teaching them.”
Máire, a native of the Gaeltacht village of Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, has been a strong advocate of the local Múscraí dialect — even where that was at odds with the standard caighdeán version of the language set out in the schoolbooks from which she was teaching.
“I like the Irish tradition and I was always trying to keep our own Múscraí canúint. I wanted to keep the Múscraí Irish in the school because it’s important. I don’t like this new Irish, the new words in the schoolbooks drive me mad and I’d be crossing words out and putting in my own. Cáca instead of císte, carr instead of gluaisteán, and freisin instead of chomh maith drives me crazy. This is our canúint. If it doesn’t sound right to me, I wouldn’t be able to use the word.
“I love the Irish and I gave great love of the Irish to the children.”
Vice-principal of the school, she found herself in recent years teaching children whose parents had been in her class a generation previously.
The large crowd at Máire’s retirement function in Scoil Fhionnbarra also spanned the generations as staff, pupils past and present, family, and friends gathered to wish her well.
School principal Fionnuala Uí Chéilleachair said of Máire: “The children were always the centre of her teaching. It didn’t matter whether they were the brightest or the weakest, she wanted to push them to another level. She was very conscientious altogether and a very dedicated, diligent teacher.
“The parents appreciated the work she did and they were always amazed at the progress the children made in a short amount of time. They’d come in in September and they couldn’t read a word or a letter and by Christmas they’d be reading.
“One thing that will always resonate with us in the school is her positive, getup-and-go attitude,” she added.
That get-up-and-go attitude will see Máire make Australia and New Zealand the first stops on her travels during retirement.
Máire, who lost her husband, fellow teacher Máirtín de Nógla, to illness at the early age of 38, has a determinedly positive perspective on retirement.
“Time is important, life is short. My husband died 22 years ago. So I’ve really enjoyed teaching and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything else, but the time comes when you say, I’ve given what I can. Life is too short really, so while I’m young enough, enjoy life.”
Above: Staff of Scoil Fhionnbarra with Máire Ní Liatháin-de Nógla on her retirement; below: Daragh Ó Muirthile and Óisín Ó hIarfhlaithe make presentations to vice-principal Máire Ní Liatháin-de Nógla on her retirement.