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To Cumann na mBunscol Chill Dara – Thank you for the ticket!

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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


Former president and theologian Mary McAleese.ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE



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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.Image result for cumann na mbunscol

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.

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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.



Image result for pictures of all ireland 1995Everyone who is interested in GAA has rituals for All-Ireland Finals. We had rituals for all Dublin matches. It started as soon as tickets were released for sale. Jim was our organiser and he searched high and low until all the family were accommodated. He was also the supplier of jerseys as he had a collection from the seventies. The tickets were distributed in the Barn Owl on James Street on the morning of the game some tickets might not come into Jim’s possession until that morning. When the lads were young my tickets were for the stand but we quickly graduated to the Hill with “the men”. Myself and the lads always headed off for the grounds early to get near walls or barriers, places where little lads might sit and get a good view of the proceedings.


All-Ireland semis and finals were a different story – Dublin seldom made it to the latter stages of the championship. I remember the Fourteen (men) on, (number) Fourteen was off Leinster final of 1979. I knew the songs of Heffo’s Army but the glories of the last few years can obliterate the many, many days of walking up Clonliffe Road saying “Maybe next year”.

The Dubs only took home the Sam five times since David was born: 1983, 1995 (Jayo was the chant that year and well deserved after a magnificent goal), 2011, 2013, 2015.

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However we were lucky and got to attend many semis and finals, both hurling and football. Our club had programme selling rights and so we hit for Croker early to collect our bundles of “official programmes”. Getting into the game was dependent on selling our allocation so we found the best sites on the approach roads and urged match goers to purchase. Having two small lads with me definitely increased my selling power. There were no seats reserved for programme sellers so when we eventually got into the field we sat on the steps. A hearty picnic at half time was welcomed after the early start to the day.

Jim’s not getting us the tickets any more ….though I’d swear he’s in a front row up above cajoling the Blues on! We’ll certainly need some divine intervention on October 1st.

So ticket provision falls to David, Cumann na Bunscol, Parnell Ticket holders and anywhere else they can be begged and borrowed. This year a smaller group than usual hit off for Croker, to various parts of the stadium, carrying the usual pre match tensions. I suppose having thought I would never get to Croke Park again–and being there for the win last year, my priorities had shifted slightly and it was a little bit easier to be magnanimous. Our run of wins would have to end – after all winning is cyclical – but still I hoped it would not be TODAY!


It was hard to believe the number of Mayo supporters – where had they got all the tickets while they were like hens’ teeth for us, some of our staunchest supporters relegated to the Ansley House to watch the proceedings ON TV!!!! Our Sea of Blue was only a sprinkling in the Field of Red and Green.

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Tempers looked frayed even before the game began and it was obvious that some sort of shemozzle had occurred in the tunnel. There was funny air in the warm ups as Dublin seemed even then to be lacklustre. A crazy game started, players slipping and sliding all over the place and soon we had two goals on the board, neither scored by a Dublin player! A pretty harsh black card  for James McCarthy (although his replacement Paddy Andrews gave the flagging attack some momentum) did little to allay Dublin fears. By some miracle, we went into the break leading by double scores, 2-4 to 0-5.

Every Dublin fan still hoped: Jim Gavin will give them a serious talking to and we’ll have a game. But it was Mayo who stormed out and rattled off five unanswered points. The men who had restored football to greatness, this wonderful team of the decade, remained anonymous.

The draw was a fair result – and YET I have a question: did the referee fail Foundation Level Maths at the Leaving Cert, considering he somehow arrived at the grand total of 7 MINUTES of injury time, despite no major stoppages in the half.

Yes the draw was a fair result. One of the greatest teams in history didn’t deserve to lose having played so badly. And Mayo captain Cillian O’Connor showed serious confidence to level the game (that’s a tongue in cheek comment if ever there was one!!!!!!).

And so was forced the first All-Ireland Senior Football Final replay in 16 years. And a new October ritual of preparing for an All-Ireland will begin.

Finding pictures from THE LIBERTIES


The Tenters – where I was born. Ger and Helen were also born here in 19 O’Curry Road.


Oscar Square, just over from O’Curry Road where we lived – I can remember going to visit the Paddy and Phyllis O’Connors across Oscar Square. Dad worked with Paddy. Ann their daughter was the first “famous” person I knew. She represented Ireland in the 100 and 200 metres freestyle and relay in the Olympics in both Mexico (1968) and Munich (1972)


Pimlico – we used to visit the Fogarty’s who lived about 4 houses down. Mrs Fogarty had made Mam and Dad’s wedding cake and did the catering at their wedding.



Weavers Square off Cork Street – where Ger started school and where I started teaching. The school has been replaced by apartments. but the Convent where I did my interview is still there. it still caters for the community.


The entrance to the “Old” Coombe Hospital. It was demolished before I started teaching in Weaver’s Square and the new hospital was built on Cork Street.


The Liberty Market on Frances Street – the laughs we had when Dad suggested we should be buying our shoes there!!!


Thomas Street Church. Mam’s friend Rita F used to go there every Friday because there was a special devotion to St Rita. I brought the lads there to see the crib on the Christmas Eve Shay was being discharged from James Hospital.


The old wall of Dublin – all that remains.




3RD SEPTEMBER Cruising and driving the Inishowen Peninsula

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RATHMULLAN TO BUNCRANA FERRY – just happened to arrive at the same time as the ferry so did a change of plan and hit for the Inishowen Peninsula.

The pier we landed at in Buncrana was the scene of tragedy last year when a car slipped into the sea and five from the same family were drowned. Today families are playing and fishing there!

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DUNREE (taken from info at entrance to museum)

Lough Swilly has long been of immense historical significance. The Norsemen and later the Anglo-Normans and the mercenary soldiers, the Gallowglasses used the Swilly when coming to Ireland

The Flight of the Earls, O’Neill and O’Donnell into exile took place from Rathmullan in September 1607. Wolfe Tone was taken under naval arrest into Buncrana in 1798 and In more recent times during World War I, the Grand Fleet sheltered in the Lough.

Near to the spot where Wolfe Tone was brought ashore in 1798 a small fort was erected to guard against the possible return of a French invasion fleet.
In the late 19th Century the fort was modernised and enlarged with the building of the, ‘Top Fort’ on Dunree Hill. During World War I it stood guard whilst Admiral Lord Jellicoe’s fleet anchored in Lough Swilly prior to engaging the German Navy at the Battle of Jutland.

During World War II Irish forces were stationed at Fort Dunree to prevent the warring nations violating the country’s neutrality.

Today Fort Dunree houses a fascinating display of military memorabilia and artefacts as well as an array of large guns from the 20th Century.

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An exciting journey through the bleakest of terrains. Other than a sign indicating THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY (N) this road was unsignposted. The car pictured in front had stopped ME to ask direction!!!! and we planned to travel in convoy until we met someone. This guy was driving home the cattle and had no idea why we were travelling this route – “There’s nothing to be seen up here”. Anyway we made it back to civilization.

what a treat – came upon this attraction quite by chance – a random pamphlet on the hotel reception display. BUT WHAT AN ATTRACTION!!!

The whole attraction is built around and includes original thatched dwellings which were still inhabited up until 1983 by the owners family and the tour guide, Pat Doherty. Its a selection of life size displays portraying life in Ireland from the 1840s until the present day.

Original Thatched Dwellings

One of my favourite exhibitions was “The Irish Wake”. Pat’s stories about the traditions that are associated with the wake and how similar they are to customs in other countries were amazing

Irish Wake

Orange Hall

Religion has played a major part in Irish history. In the late eighteenth century many people from the Established Church felt under threat from Irish rebels and so they set up an organisation to help protect themselves.

The Catholic Church was not the only persecuted group – the Presbyterian Church suffered and had to met in secret in such places as barns and forges. They called their informal places of worship ‘Meeting Houses’.

Catholics met at Mass Rocks which are still to be found scattered throughout the country. mass was celebrated in secret. The stories of hedge schools was also part of this exhibition.

Mass Rock

One of the latest additions to the Famine Village and the idea for it came from long term republican prisoner Eddie Gallagher. A safe house was a place of refuge by those running from the authorities.

Republican Safe House

It was a place with secret passage ways where the escapee could hide. Each room in the safe house tells part of the story of the road to peace in Northern Ireland. During this journey you will meet Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting side by side. And, not only that, the story also covers more recent historical events including Martin McGuiness and the Queen.

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I’ve always loved history … but there were facts and stories here that I’d never heard before.

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Just over a year ago, I went to Mizen Head … now on Malin – amazing!

I’ll visit again to see the Northern Lights. It was too overcast tonight.

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You couldn’t visit a peninsula and not think of seafood! Had the most wonderful seafood dinner here – crab mornay to die for!!!!


Esky Bay & The Curiosity Shop Malin Head is located between Malin Town and Malin Head Banbas Crown on the coast road. The Curiosity Shop in Malin Head is the country’s most northerly shop. Owner Peter McAvenue also acts as a tour guide for ‘Inishowen Tourism’ and stocks all sorts of brochures for things to see and do across the Inishowen Peninsula. I could have spent hours chatting with Peter and looking through the many curios on display. Instead spent my money and bought a “whimsy” that resembled one Mam had in 32, a really nice Guinness glass, a tea pot and a quaint seagull fishing ashtray!

Didn’t buy the 2 gorgeous cast iron Herons – they would have looked super in the garden …. maybe next time!!!



September 2nd: Back to School!

I did some really exciting sightseeing yesterday along the Causeway Coast including

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Binevenagh (where I almost got lost!!!!)

Image result for magilligan point Magilligan Point,

Image result for Walls of Derry Derry Walls + some retail therapy

Today I am in Letterkenny at the Global Solidarity Summer School: I JUST COULDN’T STAY AWAY FROM SCHOOL!!!

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Responding to Climate Change , the global Refugee Crisis and eyewitness accounts from Palestine were among the key issues featured and debated by the delegates gathered for the 8th annual Global Solidarity Summer School, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The overarching theme for the 2016 Global Solidarity Summer School was Global Challenges & Opportunities – Local & Global Responses.

Among the other key speakers and themes featured were Irish Congress of Trade Unions President, Brian Campfield, Anna Biondi of ACTRAV – the workers bureau of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) along with speakers from a wide range of activist and civil society bodies.

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We watched part of Avi Lewis’ film “This Changes Everything”based on Naomi Klein’s work on reducing greenhouse emissions as the way to re-creating a fairer world. We also watched Caoimhe Butterly’s award winning documentary “The Border” – well worth a look but very very moving regardless of your politics: https://roarmag.org/films/the-border-idomen/

On a lighter side – lovely dinner with delegates tonight followed by sing-song.


September 1st 2016

Image result for first day back at schoolI got a lovely email telling me that I was missed in the playground this morning.

WOW – Just imagine: This is the First “September 1st” that I have not been in a school playground since I started in Junior Infants, Warrenmount at 4 years of age.  I’ve stood in “líne”s as a primary and secondary student, as a teacher, as a mum.

So where was I this year? Thanks to the generosity of Scoil Choca’s Parents Association I awoke in the Blue Book Hotel in Bushmills.

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Originally a 17th century lodge, it is now a luxury hotel only a stone’s throw from the Giant’s Causeway. So where better after a scrumptious breakie to celebrate my first “out of school” September than at the UNESCO site carved by Fionn Mac Cumhal(????) – sitting on the hexagons carved out over 60 million years by the cooling and shrinking of lava flows.

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