Mary O’Rourke (Minister for Education 1987-1992


Dear Anita

I hope this will suffice.

Of course, I remember your dear mother.  Both you and I were scarce on the actual details but, anyway, here goes because your mother’s personality was greater than the actual, precise facts, so I hope that comes through in this small piece.

Sometime in 1988, when I was Minister for Education, a woman called Nora Hawkes, who owned a voluntary, lay secondary school called St Mary’s or Scoil Mhuire, in Askeaton, Co Limerick, contacted me by telephone.  She wanted to meet me personally and we arranged to meet the following Saturday at my home clinic in Athlone.

Nora Hawkes duly came at the time appointed and to say I met with a whirlwind, and a determined one at that, would be to fall short of description.  I don’t think, in all my life, I met such a dedicated and determined educationalist as your dear mother was and I’m sure, at 97, still is.

Determined on getting an extension for Scoil Mhuire and, even though the department were not fully engaged in support of it because there were very few independent voluntary secondary schools on the go at that time, they reluctantly agreed and so you got your finance provision, or at least the promise of it, and away you went.

In time, you duly asked me down to open it and I was delighted to go and to be present at such a wonderful event.

Of course, I remember it well.  Particularly as I think Gerry Collins was instrumental also in making representations to me.

But, most of all, I remember the dogged and determined case your mother, Nora Hawkes, made and I am not at all surprised that she is hale and hearty and razor-sharp now, at the age of 97.

Long may Askeaton be the hub of second-level education in that part of Co. Limerick.

Warmest regards and memories

Mary O’Rourke

Minister for Education 1987-1992