A lifelong teacher of St Mary’s Primary School Maghery, Mary (Maire) Mackle, has died just nine weeks after her beloved husband Aloysius.
Maire passed away on April 16 after an illness and was laid to rest following requiem mass at St John’s Church Tartaraghan, in a service which celebrated the life of the talented and caring wife, mother and teacher.
Born Mary Joan McCallion to hoteliers in Derry on August 11, 1934, Maire spent her early years growing up in the Boston Hotel until war broke out in 1939. Her parents, fearing the threat of air attacks on the city, made the difficult decision to send their four young children to reside with their grandmother in Bellagherty, Ballinderry.
Following the war Maire’s parents sold their hotel in the city and moved to Moneymore, buying a public house, the Corner Bar. Here, Maire had many vivid memories and stories about the American troops who remained in the north some time after the war had ended. Being a child, she delighted in the troops’ access to chocolate bars, something she had missed during the rationing at the time.
An industrious pupil, Maire became head girl of Magherafelt Convent School. While considering a possible career in teaching, she recalled her mother bringing her to meet with the owner of Springhill House, in Moneymore, now a National Trust property. The lady of the house, a former teacher, gave Maire sound advice on something that would become a lifelong vocation and career.
During her teacher training in St Mary’s Teacher Training College Belfast, Maire visited Ross Gill Irish College in Donegal, where she met her future husband Aloysius Mackle who, as head of the Irish College that summer, assisted her during an episode of sea sickness on a boat trip to Tory Island.
The episode left a lasting impression on the pair who were to meet again when Maire applied to a PO box number for her first teaching post in St Mary’s Primary School Maghery. Unknown to her at the time, Aloysius was principal of the school. The couple were married in 1957 in Moneymore.
Maire taught continuously in Maghery until her retirement in 1987. Working as a teacher in St Mary’s, alongside her husband who was principal, Maire taught all six of their children, as they passed through their primary education.
A most inspiring and encouraging primary school teacher with a genuine interest in all whom she taught, Maire will be remembered for her exceptional creativity and musical talents. She led the choir in Maghery Chapel for many years. She prepared generations of school children for the sacraments of First Penance and Communion and undertook with great enthusiasm school productions and dramatical events within the local community hall.
With a great love of all things Irish, including music, art and literature, Maire’s creative flair extended to writing poetry. She had a literary piece published in a book when she was 16 and she continued to write poetry throughout her life on themes of folklore, nature and family.
She was an accomplished artist who regularly participated in art classes, locally and in Harvey’s Point, Lough Eske, Donegal, where she became a great friend of the hotel owner Deirdre McGlone, who shared her love of art, storytelling and warm hospitality.
Marie enjoyed over 56 years of married life to Aloysius as they raised their family in the townland of Derrykeeran, a family they supported and followed with tremendous pride as each of their children, Siobhan, Ronan, Aideen, Declan, Fionuala and Caitriona, moved on in their own careers, some moving to England, Africa and Australia.
Maire spent many happy years post retirement, travelling with Aloysius across the globe to visit their children and grandchildren. With her husband, she was a devoted grandparent to her 11 grandchildren, encouraging them in all their studies and interests and sharing in their numerous achievements.
She is survived by her sister Mrs Ethna Donnelly who lives in Clonoe. Maire’s legacy lives on in the many people she inspired, both in the way she lived out her life and through her many talents, which she so generously shared with those who knew and loved her.
Maire will be remembered at a month’s mind mass in St Mary’s Queen of Peace Chapel Maghery on Saturday, May 16 at 8pm.