Rathmore native Mary Hickey recently enjoyed a golden moment as she received a Gold Gaisce Award from President Michael D. Higgins.
Mary, a primary teacher, began her Gaisce journey ten years ago completing her Bronze Award, followed shortly after by her Silver Award.
Mary always loved traditional Irish music and has performed for the former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Minister for Education Mary Hannifin. She also taught the button accordion for Ceoltas Ceoltoirí in Santry and played on RTE’s – Ceili House – three years in a row during her college years.
At 21 she decided that the button accordion wasn’t for her and set her sights on something different – the concertina- and she was most fortunate to acquire a Jefferies concertina – undertaking to learn the instrument for the ‘Personal Skill’ requirement of the Gaisce programme. Mary’s teacher and friend Ann McAuliffe, assisted Mary in learning to play the concertina.
As part of the community involvement aspect of the awards, Mary volunteered with the Social Action Group (SAG) as a leader. Mary’s role included supervising the youth centre every Friday night and assisting with the elderly, in addition to helping coordinate a number of concerts for the elderly in the local day care centre, St. Josephs.
Mary completed the programme’s “Adventure Journey” aspect with three of her closest friends from the SAG and undertook a hike in Kerry.
To complete her Gold Award programme, Mary took part in the Aran Island’s –based Irish language course ‘Feicim’ whish was taught by Bríd Ní Chualáin. She also completed the ‘Rainbows Programme ‘ – facilitating children suffering from bereavement. She has a great love for amateur drama and is involved the Banteer drama Society and the Rathmore Pantomime Group.
Quote from Mary – ‘ With a sprinkle of will power and a dash of determination there is no challenge that cannot be overcome. Gaisce has taught me – that it is in the smallest acts of kindness that one reaps the greatest reward’ –
I have discovered talents and gifts, nurtured friendships, gained confidence, shared and achieved success, met with inspiration, felt pride, tackled challenged, laughed and most importantly have become the person I am today!
A special word of thanks to Jerh O’Donoghue founder and President of the SAG who inspired and motivated me over the past number of years and made all this possible and to Marie O’Leary who has been my PAL for the Gold award and a wonderful mentor, leader and source of advice and who rejuvenated and re-energised me on my final hurdles.
In 2009 Mary was also the winner of the ‘Vere Foster Gold Medal Award’ – achieving highest marks in teaching practices in all three years combined of her teacher training in Colaiste Mhuire, Marino.