3^4 years young - Peggy Cunney

Today, we celebrate my Aunt-in-law's 81st birthday.  She's an inspirational woman.  Born on the last day of 1930, she earned a scholarship to go to boarding school in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo.  Without this, she would not have gone beyond primary level education.  There she met a maths mentor in one of the 'Louis Nuns' who saw her potential.  She earned a  Maths degree at NUI Galway in 1952 (need to verify this date) - one of the first women to do so.  Her vocation is teaching and she shared her gift for maths with young people in London, Pakistan, Benada, Co. Sligo and then spent 35 years teaching higher level maths in Foxford, Co. Mayo. 
 
At 81, she is still teaching maths.  Local students pay their stipend in confectionery and in return they get a lifetime's worth of insight and practice of Leaving Cert maths.  Some of them go on to third level and when they encounter more tricky numbers, they come back to her again for a bit of perspective.
 
Her principles - though humility would prevent her ever prescribing these to anyone - seem to include discipline, hard work, respect, 'using the brain that God gave you', seeing the magic of potential in young minds and giving her warm presence generously to *everyone* who needs it. 
 
She gives young women no particular pass - and has the same expectations of them as she has of her young male students.  With this parity of expectation, she levels the playing field and creates an authentic form of equality that takes nothing away from either gender and only adds to both.  
 
I don't think it would ever occur to my daughters that they have any less innate facility for maths.  If anything, they see their gender as an ally in their maths quest - thanks to their honorary 'Granny' Peggy.  Now, that's power.
 
 
 
 
 

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