To Cumann na mBunscol Chill Dara – Thank you for the ticket!
There are many jobs that we do for which no payment is required – your colleagues are as committed as you and the satisfaction of a job well done is sufficient reward. On the eve of the All Ireland replay, I look back and pay tribute to all the teachers in all the counties who encouraged boys and girls onto the playing field. As politicians bemoan the unavailability of tickets, many of these committed teachers will also watch the gamevon the telly tomorrow despite the fact that there would be no game at all with their input. And while I said that no payment is necessary, words of appreciation mean a lot. I will always fondly remember the tribute of President Mary McAleese acknowledging the efforts of the primary school teachers.please
ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE
AN COISTE NÁISIÚNTA CUMANN NA MBUNSCOL 2003
A dhaoine uaisle, is mór an chúis athais dom teach i bhur láthair anseo anocht don ocáid iontach seo. Cuirim fiorchaoin fáilte romhaibh go léir agus táim cinnte go mbainfimis go léir sult agus taitneamh as a bheith anseo.
It is a pleasure to join you for the Roadstone/ Cumann na mBunscoil National Awards. I would like to thank Margaret Cunningham for the invitation and the opportunity to join this celebration of our national games and the central role of our primary schools teachers in fostering them.
There is a proverb which says ‘those who drink the water should remember with gratitude those who dug the well’. Year after year we gather in Croke Park, those of us who can get tickets, for the great All-Ireland Finals and there we relish that great showcase of our native games. But tonight we gather to remind ourselves of where it begins. We go back to the well-diggers, to Cumann na mBunscoil and its seven thousand teachers who from sheer love of our culture and passion for our sporting heritage, volunteer their time, skill and enthusiasm to introduce over 100,000 pupils, not just to football, camogie, hurling, handball and rounders but to who they are and who they might become.
For many young boys and girls that introduction changes their lives. It tells them that our heritage is an unselfish one founded on generosity of spirit, of giving without counting the cost. It tells them that our sporting heritage values the talent of each human being and thinks them so special that busy teachers with a million things to be busy with make it their business to develop that talent and help it to shine. It shows our young people how to take pride in their skill and to celebrate, without envy, the skills of others, knowing that teams are a mosaic of different talents, each unique, each necessary if the team is to be effective. It allows them to feel the joy of winning, the heartache of losing, to come to understand that participation is itself a great gift. It teaches them that these games are for everyone, no matter what their ability or disability. It introduces them to these eccentric people called referees whose judgment must be respected and these even more eccentric people called spectators who sometimes have difficulty understanding referees. It teaches our young people that their schools and parishes are part of a huge network of schools and parishes that make up our country and re-freshen our culture from generation to generation. It links them to the generations who have gone through their schools before them, each making its own mark, each wanting to be the best it can be. We want our young people to grow up with friendships that last a lifetime, to grow up healthy and strong, to be self-confident, to have happy memories, to have ambition for themselves and their country, to be considerate and generous, to understand the sacred stewardship we each have of our culture and our Gaelic games. All these things Cumann na mBunscoil seed-beds from our children’s earliest years.
If one generation should drop the baton through disinterest or neglect, the loss to all of us would be immense. Thankfully we have never had to face that possibility for each has relished its responsibility and each has added its own imaginative genius as you have done especially with the advent of wheelchair hurling. Not every child ends up in Croke Park as a player but each has his or her store of sporting days and each carries into adulthood, the strength this organisation helps to develop. It is carried into homes where they become good parents, into workplaces where they become good colleagues, into communities where they are intuitive leaders, into our civic society where their strength and love of our culture makes us all strong.
Yes, you dig the well and we drink the water and tonight though you do none of it for thanks, I am delighted to be able to say thank you to each of you and to the organisation for the unquantifiable debt we surely owe you.
No such Cumann ever clattered together by coincidence. Someone had to have the idea. Someone had to make the idea work. ‘Tús Maith is leath na hoibre’ says the seanfhocal and that ‘tús maith’ was the work of Tom Garry, Peadar Mac Craith, Martin Kitterick and Pat Guthrie who first decided, years ago to explore the possibility of setting up a national body to promote Gaelic games in Primary schools. A true measure of the extent of the contribution of primary teachers in the GAA is borne out by the fact that the Ard Stiurthóir, Liam Mulvihill and the President, Sean McCague are from that noble profession.
In sponsoring these awards Roadstone gives public expression to the appreciation and widespread goodwill that exists towards Cumann na mBunscoil. I thank Mr. Michael Grogan, Managing Director and Mr. Ronnie Delaney, Public Relations Officer for providing this crucial sponsorship and a thank you too to the adjudication panel under the chairmanship of Mr. Marty Morrissey. To those who came close but did not make it I hope your day will come soon, for you would not be here but for huge commitment and self-sacrifice but also the fulfillment you get from being involved in our national sports. May you long continue to be inspired by the vision that drives your involvement. To those who are winners, I offer warm congratulations – well done, enjoy the recognition and the respect these awards signify and may you also long continue to be rewarded by the delight sport brings to young lives and the opportunities it creates for them to be drawn deep into their national heritage while crafting their own futures.
We are lucky that so many of our young people respond to the investment that Cumann na mBunscoil makes in their lives. They take the opportunities and they make the most of them. We celebrate their enthusiasm and courage tonight for they are the next to take that baton and thanks to you they are ready and more than willing and able.
I would like to thank the organisers of tonight’s event, in particular, Mr. Jerry Grogan and Mr. Eamonn Mullan along with Cumann na mBunscoil Chairperson,
Mr. Jim O’ Reilly and Ms. Margaret Cunningham, Secretary. Your hard work has paid off for tonight is in every way a great success and it is time now to find out who will carry home the laurels in this year’s Roadstone/Cumann na mBunscoil National Awards.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.