Mary Boylan Clarke was one of a new generation of educators that led from the heart, imbuing class-loads of kids with her love of the environment, culture, history and music.
She welcomed friends and family with open arms into her home in Carrigart where she could be found holding court, her deep and resonant laugh was capable of thawing any cooling conversation.
She loved her native Donegal and was invited by editor Paddy Logue to contribute to Being Irish, a book published by Oak Tree Press on the eve of the new millennium and featuring contributions from, among others, writers Colum McCann and Jennifer Johnston, singer songwriter Brian Kennedy and comedian Brendan O’Carroll.
In this work, her natural style of writing epitomises her appreciation of where she is from. She describes how this rich and varied landscape developed her sentiments, her beliefs and helped create a sense of self identity.
“To me, being Irish and Donegal Irish is about shared experiences, invisible connections, and having the craic....It is about going to wakes and standing at graves..It is about sunsets and indescribable skyscapes, it is about bogs, mountains and holy places,” she writes.
The mother of four believed that had she been born into any other part of Ireland, she would have been different. Her father was a garda which dictated that the family moved around a lot but to Mary's relief they always moved within Donegal.
One of their moves brought them to Falcarragh where Mary learnt Irish and the language became second nature to her.
They later moved to Newtowncunningham where there was an Orange Hall “from where we could hear the beating of the drums.” Mary enjoyed going through customs to Derry and buying Mars Bars. Their tenure in the area was short and it wasn't long until the family moved to Meevagh, Carrigart where Mary lived and loved for many years: “This is the landscape which has been and is my source. The sky, the sea, the contours and the light comfort nourish my spirit and mind.”
Mary passed away surrounded by her loving family on July 10. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis.