Marian returned to her former school, Mercy College Sligo, in which she taught for many years where she held a dialogue with Transition Year students and addressed the school body at the launch of Aonad Loch Gile, the new education through Irish unit at the College.
Speaking at the launch of Aonad Loch Gile, she said: “As a former teacher for 20 plus years in Mercy College, it’s really lovely to come back for a visit. As I walk along the corridors and in and out of different rooms, I still see some familiar faces and I have many memories – good memories. My wish for the current staff and students is that you, like me, in time will have your own good memories of Mercy College Sligo.
“This morning I would like to say three things: Firstly: One of the things that sticks in my mind about Mercy College Sligo is that you are always ahead of the curve. The Aonad you are opening today is the first in Sligo/Leitrim/South Donegal and North Mayo. As I look around the room, I see some of the people who lobbied me on many occasions about setting up an Aonad in Sligo.
“I was so, so pleased when I knew that Mercy College would integrate the Aonad into its educational facilities – but you know something – I wasn’t surprised because you are carrying on a tradition of being open minded, receptive to new ideas, innovative and operating with a ‘can do’ attitude. I have just been speaking with a group of transition year students and I remember when Transition Year was first introduced here in Mercy College. We were the first in this region to do so in fact I think we were one of the first in the country. So it’s a proud day for Mercy College – to continue their record of innovation, of being first to introduce more learning opportunities and a wider scope of education experiences for its students, and at the same time, anchoring that experience in the wider use of the Irish language - a language, that even though we don’t’ always know it or appreciate it, that language is part of our DNA.
“Secondly I would like to share with you that I work in the Parliament that provides translation from and into 24 different languages – Irish being of them. Just yesterday I attended a small sub Committee meeting where we had Italian, Romanian, Spanish, French and English translation. But one of the things I notice is that while many, indeed most MEPs speak really good English – they very often revert to their own language when they really want to express themselves. When they want to emphasise a point or when they want to explain the nuances of a point or argument.
“Too many Irish people view Irish as an extra, sometimes almost as a burden, because they believe they won’t use it but, as I said earlier in the European Parliament, where English is the main language, people still speak their own, their native languages, and there would be uproar if there was any attempt to cut down on the number of official languages in use.
“Because people recognise that speaking their native language isn’t just about words on about imparting information – its much more about communicating how you think, what you feel, and who you are.
"And thirdly: Chun chrioch a chur le seo, dearfeidh me cupla focal as nGaeilge. Ní Gaolgoir o dhuchais mé. Bhí orm roinnt cahbair a fhail o Carol Ní Chormaic. Tá se simúil gur mhúin me Carol fiche blain o shoin. Bá mhait liom a rá go bhfuil an tádh ag an dream óg daltaí go bhfuil deis na h-abhair a foghlaim trí mhean na Gaeilge. Bá mhaith liom comhghairdeas a ghabáil leis na daoine go léir a rinné eacht mór le blianta fada anuas chun teacht go dtí an lá seo. Buichas le Colaiste na Trocaire as ocht an iarracht a thug siad den forbairt seo. Go n’eirí go geal leis na daltai, na muinteoiri agust an t-Aonad", she concluded.