LBC Members: Ashok (will return shortly), Conrad, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy, Magpie 11, MariaMarianna, & Ramana are all Heroes in my eyes. I join along with them as we turn our thoughts to Heroes, the topic chosen for us this week by Magpie 11.

My first thoughts were to take a box of sweets and find a Hero to match each variety.  This would involve thoughtful tasting while considering the talents and gifts of family and friends.  The fact that all but one were milk chocolate, something that I must refrain from eating, I changed direction and went in search of inspiration somewhere else.

Mary my father’s eldest sister is the person who fostered my love of a needle. She taught me to crochet and to read a sewing pattern properly. I had lessons on her old treadle sewing machine and she helped me to make a dress for the very first time. To this day I still see it in my minds eye. Being the early sixties it was A-Line, sleeveless, fully lined and had two fringed patch pockets on the front. Auntie Mary was a teacher and had a love for her craft and passed on her knowledge with love and gentle dedication. I have never forgotten anything that she taught me.

A young lady full of hopes and dreams in the photo above taken in 1919, was all too soon to taste sorrow and sadness.  Having trained as a teacher she then married at 24 and within four years was left a widow with two young children.  She once again embraced the world of the classroom, teaching for many years in a two teacher school in the heart of the country.  Her early years of widowhood were difficult with little money for the necessities never mind luxuries.

When her family moved to Dublin and College she joined them finding work in an inner city school.  It was a very different environment from the one she had left.  Most of the young ladies were the daughters of street traders and their aim in life was to leave school on the day they reached fourteen, it was the legal age to leave school at that time.  Back then it was also the legal age for a young girl to marry.  Marriage and ‘Babbies’ (babies) were all those girls wanted.  In fact it was not unknown for a young girl to arrive in school with a baby in her arms.  On asking the for the reason, my aunt was informed “Me mammy had to go to the market, and I was left to mind the babbie”.  My aunt turned these occasions into lessons on Life skills!

Daddy who was only eight when the photo above was taken, was very helpful to his sister over the years.  Once in Dublin she became a regular visitor to our home and table.  She regularly sought his advice.  She eventually moved to a school a few miles from us and bought a house in the locality of the school.  She loved the place and the children and worked on for many years past retirement.  Her class in those years was of 40 children; and I remember at one time another teacher was on sick leave for several weeks, My aunt took care and taught both classes (80 children) for the duration!  What teacher would do that nowadays?

I loved to visit her house, yes, me who hated school!  She had school projects everywhere and patiently showed them to me.  Once she was on the topic of school she forgot everything else, food seemed unnecessary, as she worked on items for display to her pupils.  I loved how her long elegant fingers seemed to caress fabrics for our sewing.  With each visit there was something new to learn, and she was generous with her knowledge.  I wished that she could have been my teacher.

She always adorned her dress with a brightly coloured scarf or a sparkly brooch.  One day I remarked on the fact.  She told me the reasoning behind it.  They were a tactic to hold the children’s attention.  If she felt that some of the children were drifting away from the subject, she simply moved across the room and the bright colours in the scarf or the light playing on the brooch soon brought the focus back to her.

At her funeral it was wonderful to see so many of her past pupils turn out to pay their respects.  Auntie Mary was a Hero for all those children too!

23 thoughts on “Heroes

  1. Marianna

    I love the synchronicity of our posts…the everyday hero/ine in our lives.

    How wonderful to have the residual effects of Mary’s influence sewn into your life.

  2. Conrad

    Marvelous! You always have the way of bringing the topic home. Heroes in the family are the best, no doubt about it.

    I also have an Aunt Mary. She isn’t so heroic, though, LOL. She just thinks she is!

  3. Judy Harper

    I had a wonderful school teacher. Miss Blansit, she taught English, but her passion was Shakespeare. I can feel your love for your Aunt come through the story you’re telling. I think if she read this, she would be so proud. Beautiful post.

  4. Maria

    I too have an Aunt Mary and it was for her I was named. I of course, changed it to Maria somewhere in Catholic school after I realized nearly all of us were named Mary Pat, or Mary Ann or Mary whatever.

    As I read this, I could not help but think of my own teaching career. You are right that no one today would teach 80 children. Faced with the possiblilty, they would be running off to the Teachers Association or Union wildly waving their well-earned contract. LOL

    Still love and dedication keeps many a good teacher in the classroom and what fun it would be to sit down with your Aunt Mary and swap educational stories. Maybe, there is a spot in heaven for old teachers to meet, greet, and swap stories. I would like that.

  5. Darlene

    I had a great Aunt Mary and she was a hero also. Your Aunt Mary was beautiful, courageous and dedicated. You come from good stock and I can easily understand why you are such a special lady.

  6. steph

    Lovely memories, GM

    You’ve brought back fond memories of when I first started school. It was a 2-teacher school with a husband and wife duo. They gave me a fantastic grounding in education and instilled a love of nature in me which I treasure to this day.

    But when it comes to heroes, it has to be…

    http://www.decisionsforheroes.com/ 😀

  7. Magpie11

    I was reminded of a colleague who seems to have taught at the school down the road for centuries….I met her a couple of times in the early days of my career…she taught John and Avril Dankworth. Women in the locality remember Miss Parrott teaching them to knit and sew. “Miss Parrott taught me to turn a heel.” they say proudly.
    To have had such as her in the family must have been wonderful.

    I wonder what I could have worn to catch the children’s attention?

    I had over 40 in my first class. As for teaching two classes..we are in the 21st century….

  8. Baino

    Ah that’s so sweet. My Aunt was a lifetime teacher too . . .she never married though, the job was everything. Nice that we can find heroes off the sports field and right in our own lives. This makes me wonder what happened to Paddy Bloggit?

  9. Rummuser

    Grannymar, you have brought some memories of some unsung heroes in my life too, my two aunts who went through some very rough times but came out successful after a great deal of struggle. Since I remember them from their well off days, I had clean forgotten about their struggles and I thank you for reminding me of that. I intend writing to their children today about them.

  10. Nick

    An inspiration indeed. She sounds like the sort of teacher kids can hardly drag themselves away from. I had a few like that when I was at school. I had a hilarious English teacher I can remember vividly to this day, while the more mediocre teachers are long forgotten.

  11. Grannymar Post author

    Apologies for my delay in replying to comments. Busy times!!

    Gaelikaa – I think of her every time I open my sewing box.

    Marianna – Auntie Mary was there with me in spirit as I made each stitch in Elly’s Wedding outfit a couple of years ago.

    Conrad – I am a simple person, happy to leave the great debates to those who have the vocabulary and can speak with confidence on them.

    Judy – I enjoyed reading about your Miss Blansit.

    Maria – I hope there is a spot in heaven for old teachers to meet, greet, and swap stories. I might even sit at their feet and enjoy it this time round!

    Darlene – I came from a large extended family. A few of my relations hold a special spot in my heart.

  12. Grannymar Post author

    Steph – Your Robin is indeed a Hero, helping to save lives at home and across the world.

    Magpie – I remember learning to turn a heel and fashion the toes in a pair of socks.

    Baino – Paddy Bloggit is still with us plodding away in the background!

    Ramana – I am glad to jog your memory.

    Judy – Widowhood in rural Ireland back in those days was not easy. Thankfully she had her teaching to turn to.

    Nick – You were indeed fortunate.

    Maz – Indeed I was, I remember everything she taught me.

  13. Alice

    I love the stories from the olden days, especially those that show strong women like your aunt. Her ploy to keep the attention of her students reminds me of my seventh/eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Guthrie, who would often go home during lunch and change clothes. When class re-convened after lunch, she would ask us to tell her what was different. It was her way of teaching us to be more observant of our surroundings.

  14. Grannymar Post author

    Alice, I am smiling as I read your comment about inventive Mrs. Guthrie, nowadays it would not the difference that people would think about but…. what was she up to at lunchtime. 🙄 I prefer Mrs. Guthries question.

  15. Kate

    How nice to be remembered with so much love – she was obviously a very special lady.

    My school class sizes were always at least 40 and often more – and we still achieved. I think the teaching methods were different then! Less politically correct maybe but effective!!

  16. Grannymar Post author

    Ashok, The world of great debate is beyond my scope, so I stick with what I know. It works for me.

  17. Niamh

    Grannymar, great post, I really enjoyed this. Your Aunt Mary sounds wonderful.
    This idea was better than talking about the chocolates-though you still got to eat them right? 😉

  18. Grannymar Post author

    Niamh, there are still a few chocolates in the dish. I also found wine in the cupboard… do you know how it got there? If so thank you.


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