Máire’s 28 years of service as a teacher cel­e­brated

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Pet O’Con­nell

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.”

Pic­tures: Nóirín Uí Thuama

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.

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