October 8, 2020

Goodbye Bean de Búrca

Tá ár gcroíthe briste. Our hearts are broken. That is certainly true of the hearts of all in the Ursuline with the retirement, last week, of Mrs Mary Bourke or Bean de Búrca as she is affectionately called. A beloved teacher and colleague, after 39 years as a muinteoir she has decided to call time on her illustrious teaching career. She had a jolly good send off on her last day at the front of the class which was Thursday, 8 October. There was an abundance of well wishes from her many friends in the staffroom, former colleagues and the students who absolutely adore her. Mrs Bourke was thanked for her years of service and dedication by Ellie Culliton, on behalf of the School Council, in a presentation that took place at the end of the Opening of the Year Mass. Ellie mentioned Mrs Bourke’s love of Irish and how her classes were full of learning but always had plenty of craic thrown in. She was also thanked on behalf of the staff by her friend and colleague in the Irish Department Deirdre Kelly who mentioned Mary’s huge warmth, tremendous sense of fun and her immense spirit of generosity and kindness. Both speakers were in complete agreement that Bean de Búrca is indeed a legend.

Mary came to the Ursuline Thurles in 1986, having previously been employed by the Ursulines in Sligo. She said that she always liked the Ursuline way, their values and commitment to education, and that she was proud to have taught with them for so much of her career. She had many strings to her bow being a teacher of French, Geography, even a Career Guidance Counsellor in an earlier manifestation. She was a keen photographer, who kept a visual record of the School down through the years with the camera that was so often seen hanging around her neck. She was wise and supportive in her role as an alternating Fifth and Sixth Year Year Head and an integral part of the School Council where she nourished students to become active leaders within the School. However it was her love of Irish that shone through the most. She found her vocation in teaching Gaelige and hoped through her lessons and enthusiastic teaching style that her students would come to appreciate the beauty of their native tongue. That quite a few of her former students are back in the Ursuline teaching the Irish language, that she ignited a flame for, is a tribute to the inspirational teacher she is. She mentioned that she always wanted to be a teacher and loved every moment of her career. The joy of the job exceeded her wildest expectations and she was always thoroughly happy in her chosen profession. She had a special mention for the fabulous students of the Ursuline who were so wonderful to teach and who always had such a hunger for knowledge.

Mary will be sadly missed in the weeks, months and years ahead. Bean de Búrca’s big heart and infectious humour has left an indelible mark on all those who met her and were privileged to work alongside her and call her a friend. We wish her the very best in her retirement and we are sure that Philly, Cathal, Clíona and Jack will be delighted to have her around a lot more now that she has moved onto this next chapter in her life.

Ursuline Opening of the Year Mass on Vimeo

Thanks to Fr Jim Purcell and Star Systems the 2020 Opening of the Year Mass was able to happen in the Ursuline last week. School Chaplin Fr Jim said Mass in the Sr Ursula Memorial Sports Hall in front of a very limited number, in keeping with current Covid 19 guidelines. The remainder of the students and teachers were able to watch the Mass on Vimeo courtesy of Star Systems who live streamed the ceremony. The theme for the year is a simple prayer to God to ‘Bless our School and Keep Us Safe’ and it was vividly expressed in song, music and word.

In his homily Fr Jim acknowledged the difficult times we are living through but said that hope, an essential element of the human spirit, will prevail in the end. He urged the congregation to remain hopeful and assured them that sometime in the future they will regain the freedom that is lost to them now. He said it was great to see students and teachers in School again after it was so hastily abandoned in March and he knew everyone was delighted to be back. He told students they will learn so much by being back in the classroom and encouragingly went on to say that despite the small size and weight of the human brain it can store vast amounts of knowledge and file away special memories, all of which would be happening in earnest in the weeks and months ahead. He followed this by reminding us that the human heart weighs much less again yet it can hold so many people in it – parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, family and friends. As always Fr Jim’s words were a warm and re-assuring.

The music was provided by a small selection of violins and cellos from Senior Orchestra and Ms Butler on piano, all masked and socially distanced. Also many thanks to the four singers Kate Maher, Julianna McConnell, Thérèse Hayes and Kaci Kerwick who lifted the spirts of everyone watching and listening with their uplifting voices. Well done to everyone who was involved in making this innovative but beautiful Mass a reality.

At the end of Mass two presentations were made to Mrs Mary Bourke on the occasion of her retirement that day. Ellie Culliton, Chloe O’Connell and Cora Norton presented her with a gorgeous Rebeka Kahn ceramic picture on behalf of the students and Ms Deirdre Kelly presented her with a gift on behalf of the staff. Fr Jim wished Mary all the best and thanked her for her enormous energy and commitment to the School throughout her teaching career. It was a moving finish to what was a very moving ceremony.

Great Schools Bake Off

Well done to the TY’s who won the Great Schools Bake Off last week organised by Padre Pio Nursing Home in Holycross to highlight Positive Aging Week. An assortment of delicious handmade buns, cakes and sweet dishes were delivered to the residents of the Nursing Home on Monday, 5 October. There were some lovely sentiments and designs on the cakes emphasising the good things about aging such as ‘wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been’. There was an individual prize for Michelle Dwan who compiled a video about her Grandad Dwan. She spoke about how they share the same interests and enjoy each other’s company. She decorated her cake with dog bones, jerseys and Liquorice All Sorts as a special tribute to her Grandad. Thanks to Debbie Moore from the Nursing Home who organised the competition and for coming to the School personally to deliver the lovely trophy to the four TY School Councillors. Well done to everyone in TY who made such a huge effort in baking goodies that were greatly appreciated by the residents of Padre Pio.

Mental Health Week at the Ursuline

Monday, 5 October saw the beginning of Mental Health Week at UCT which was run by the Amber Flag Committee. Various activities were organised to promote positive mental health among the School community. Amber Flag students were busy arranging trays of sweets for World Teacher Day, promoting a letter writing initiative in various SPHE classes, holding virtual art competitions, helping with the Opening of the Year School Mass and the presentation of prayer books to a First Holy Communion class.
All of these activities were in line with the five ways to wellbeing which are to “Take Notice”, “To Connect”, “To Be Active”, “To Give”, and “To Keep Learning”. The Amber Flag committee hopes that the week generated a discussion and awareness around the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing. Well done to all the students involved in the week’s activities and to their mentor Ms Loughnane.

Written By Nora Tuohy