THE song goes “ Bhí Céilí Mór i mBaile na nGall” and by all accounts a wild night was had by all i mBaile na nGall. Well bhí Céilí Mór in Áth Stúin, or Stoneyford last week to celebrate the many years of selfless dedication of Máire E. Ní Mhóráin to the children of Scoil Chiaráin Naofa. The craic was mighty i mBaile na nGall but it was nothing compared to the Stoneyford session.
Máire who hails from Camp, Co Kerry spent many happy years teaching in the Project School in Kilkenny before she came to Stoneyford. What was the Project’s loss was Scoil Chiaraín’s gain. She spent the last 12 years of her career there, both as vice principal and as principal.
Máire was a firm favourite with the children and she left no stone unturned in her efforts to ensure each child blossomed and thrived under her care. She inspired a love for Gaeilge in the children and shared her deep and abiding interest in nature. It was a common sight to see Máire up a ladder against a tree as she fed her avian friends. Not only will she be missed by the children but by her feathered friends too.
The Céilí Mór, as it was billed was organised by the Parent’s Association who not only decorated the hall to perfection for the occasion but provided a buffet meal for all who attended. Fred Malzard was the master of ceremonies and Máiréad Blanchfield was Bean an Tí for the Céilí. There were many highlights to the evening, Ciaráin Lennon presented her with a painting of Scoil Chiaráin Naofa, Patrick Hickey did the honours with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, the Brennan children presented her with a pair of binoculars. Máire’s passion for hurling was rewarded when to Máire’s joy Michael Rice, Kilkenny senior hurler, presented her with a signed Kilkenny jersey. A formal affair in Stoneyford is not complete without a cake baked and beautifully decorated by Sandra Connolly. Sandra excelled herself once again and the long queue for a slice was a testament to her success. Once the speeches formalities were over the fun really started.
The children sang, danced and played music for the enjoyment of all. Some past pupils, Aoife Sheehan, Shauna Kelly and Eileen Walsh gave an exhibition of dancing, their steps and precision left us breathless. The floor was then thrown open for the Céilí itself where all, both young and old, acquitted themselves with aplomb. It was a joy to see the children and adults dancing together and there was a Fallaí Luimnigh and Ionsaí na hInse, the likes of which were never seen in the hall before. Máire thanked everyone for their kindness and with a slight hint of a tear in both eyes she said goodbye to the children and wished them well for the future.