Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2019

The 47th Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, Ireland. Saturday 6th July to Sunday 14th July, 2019.

Sráid na Cathrach, Co. an Chláir  6ú Iúil - 14ú Iúil.

Úna Úi Rócháin


An Appreciation by Muireann Ní Dhuigneáin


‘Brón ar an mbás, ní féidir é a shéanadh’

A chlann agus a cháirde Úna ,

Tá brón agus briseadh croí orainn go leír inniú, mar tá Úna Uí Róchain (Ní Ghearáin), baintreach Mhuiris Ó Rócháin, máthair Mhaire agus Séamus, Mamo do Adam, Daniel, Alex, Diarmuid, Rebecca Úna agus Fionn Muiris, mathair cheile do Ciara agus Steven, glaota thar nais ag Dia chuige féin. Braithimid uainn tú, ach toil Dé go raibh.

Each and every one of us gathered here today, to pay our respects to Úna, will have our very own personal and fond memories of Úna, but inniú, is pribhléid domsa ach go háirithe, to be invited by Máire and Séamus to share, one or two thoughts and reflections on this amazing woman, their mother, who was my very dear friend for nearly 50 years.

I first met Úna in the very early 70’s when, as young enthusiastic teachers, we taught together back in Muirioch west Kerry in Iarthar Dhuibhneach, ar chúrsa samhraidh Lúnasa fé stiúr Mhuiris Ó Cinnéide. One of the Directors/ Teachers on the course was Muiris Ó Rócháin, a native of Daingean Ui Chúise, agus is ann a chur Muiris agus Úna aithne ar a chéile.  Their romance blossomed and it was not too long before they married and settled down in Clare, initially in Quilty in the first year of their marriage and subsequently across the road in Church Street, Milltown Malby. The rest is history.

What a wonderful inspiring couple they were, i dteannta a chéile, steeped in the very strong traditional heritage of Clare and Kerry,  Oidhreacht an Chláir agus Ciarraí, with a shared vision, a common purpose and a lifelong interest in promoting every aspect of Irish traditional culture from an Ghaeilge, an teanga bheo, through history to music, béaloideas, amhránaíocht sean nós, rinnce tradaisiúnta aonarach agus seite agus local academic historic  research published in journals such as Dal gCais srl.

Úna holding the piece which she presented to Cór Chúil Aodha on the occasion of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy's tribute to the choir in 2014.

Photo: Tony Kearns


Úna, the fifth child in a family of eleven children, born to John and Elizabeth Guerin, was a proud Clare woman through and through.  Educated locally in Dúnsallach NS and Convent of Mercy Secondary School, Spanish Point, Úna trained as a national school teacher in Coláiste Mhuire gan Smal i Luimneach.  She began her teaching career in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, and also taught in Limerick before returning to her native Clare.

Her career as Principal teacher in the primary school, Scoil Iosef Naofa Moy, is well know and documented. Here is where she put her thoroughly researched and insightful education principles into practice and created and developed an informed, enlightened and broad curriculum for her students, well before it’s time. In addition to the regular Curriculum na Bunscoile, Dúchas an Chlair in all its formats was central to their learning. What an amazing achievement it was, to have her school re-designated as a bun scoil lán ghaelach. It was a great source of pleasure and comfort to all of us, recently, to listen to some of her former students speak glowingly of the fun and  great times they had in their primary school, under Úna’s direction in Moy - the plays and stories she composed for them, the music lessons early in the morning, the school band, the museum they created, the set dancing, na hamhráin, na feiseanna, and the memory aids she prepared for them. Many of these pupils followed in Úna’s footsteps and are excellent teachers today. Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí. The school was regularly visited by others who wanted to emulate what Úna had achieved. She was most generous in sharing her time and expertise. She was a valued member of staff in Coláiste Mhuire gan Smál, Ollscoil Luimní and contributed in no small way to the academic and professional education of the next generation of educators.


Ar Scáth a Chéile

Her recent publication, Ar Scáth a Chéile, (2014)  is a wonderful colourful inspiring production consisting of 15 poems, all penned by Úna, with magnificent colourful illustrations by Éimear Moroney. It is a fantastic teaching aid, where each poem is accompanied by a series of teachers’ class notes, consisting of 7 different activities, which it is hoped will, when completed, facilitate good fluency in Oral Irish, well structured sentences and a wider vocabulary.

As ever, Úna left no stone unturned and was foirfe in presentation and delivery. Is fíor a rá, that she has left an indelible imprint on primary education at a practitioner level and primary teacher training in general.


Scoil Samhraidh Willy Clancy

Although a naturally shy person, out of the glare of the spotlight, Úna was a great source of support to Muiris, Martin Talty and Harry Hughes, in setting up Scoil Samhraidh Willy Clancy and in ensuring its development, growth and sustainability to this present day, now in its 46th year.  What a legacy. Generations of musicians and fiddle players in particular, knew Úna over the years, as she welcomed and greeted them each day, as they went to their fiddle classes in the Convent at Spanish Point. Many of them are well known musicians today and indeed have returned as Master Musicians, teachers and tutors. The 11.00am coffee break, briseadh agus sos na maidine in Seomra na Muinteoirí was a hub of excitement, and Úna and her team of amazing helpers, loved meeting everyone and swapping stories.

The door of Muiris’s & Úna’s house on Church Street was always open, the phone never ceased ringing, a veritable A-Z of musicians, singers, dancers, lucht éisteachta, national and international TV, radio presenters including from Radio na Gaeltachta, journalists and press, called in to talk and enjoy Una’s great hospitality - her brown bread and fruit cake was to die for...and then on the final Sunday morning after Mass with Peadar Ó Riada agus Cór Chúil Aodha, the great fun cooking the big breakfasts, including pancakes, ispiní, uibheacha agus rudaí milse for them all and the impromptu concert which followed before they left for Faheys or Queally’s and a good sing song. Úna was a great set dancer and loved to dance the West Clare Set among others, to the lovely music of local musicians.



























Oireachtas agus Conradh na Gaelige

Oireachtas na Gaeilge was an event Úna rarely missed. She loved the competitions especially, comórtas amhranaíocht ar an tsean nós, Comórtas na mBan, Comórtas na bhFear agus Corn Uí Riada ach go háirithe and enjoyed making her own adjudication as she listened intensely to the singers. She had an extensive knowledge of the sean-nós song tradition and her opinion was sought and most valued by singers and listeners alike. She took a keen interest in the activities of Conradh na Gaeilge and at one stage was the branch secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, Cathair Luimni.



Unlike Muiris, Úna did not like long distance flying, but loved going to visit with Máire and Stephen and the grandchildren in New York City, and closer to home enjoyed many visits to na Gaeltachtaí éagsúla in Eirinn agus Alban. In more recent times she enjoyed her visits to Séamus and Ciara and family in Clogherhead, Co Lú and had planned to stay with them while recuperating from her recent illness. Ach, God had other plans agus ní mar a shiltear a bítear!


Creideamh láidir

Parishioners of Milltown Malby will be no strangers to the fact that Úna had a very strong faith and spirituality. She loved her annual trips to Lourdes, her weekends and longer retreats in the Jesuit Manresa Retreat Centre and the time she spent at Mass and in the Adoration Chapel in this very Church. Each day she made time for the Lord. In her recent publication & DVD ‘Just Like Clay’ (2016),  Úna treated us to a wonderful insight, of how she manifested, her reflective faith through her choice of prayers, readings, poetry, insights, music, movement and dance which she hopes will bring peace, joy, energy and kind-heartedness to all who listen to it. I hope you managed to get a copy.  I love this image Úna describes in the book. She writes:

‘God is the potter and we are the clay. God keeps us spinning on his potter’s wheel, shaping and reshaping us to make us more like Christ,  so He can use us for His will.' Úna’s prayer is ‘Lord, I pray for the grace to be faithful to your work in me, like clay in the potter’s hand, to shape me and reshape me as you want. Then it will not be I that live, but you, Lord, who live and work and pray in me’.  This is one of several ways she witnessed the Lord. Inniú Una, tá tú i dteannta an Tiarna.


Gifts and Legacy

Úna - We learned a lot from you. I particularly welcomed and admired:

• Your kindness, gentleness and generosity;

• your love of family - close and extended - particularly Máire and Seamus of whom you can be very proud, as well as your

extended family and friends;

• your calmness and very practical outlook;

• your professionalism and your passion for your chosen profession;

• your strong unwavering faith and spirituality;

• your genuine love and respect for each and every one of your pupil’s and student’s well being and development;

• your willingness to go the ‘extra mile’ well beyond the call of duty;

• your courage and resilience in the face of adversity;

• your tenacity and fighting spirit;  and most of all

• your friendship, illomad tae agus suí caidreamh, your wisdom,  cur chuige, ‘can do’ attitude and gentle persuasive advice.


Today, as you leave us and travel on Úna, it can be truly said that we have lost one of the best- Tá laoch ar lár. Ní bheidh do leitheid ann arís.

‘Nuair a thiocfaidh Lá an Áireamh, ar mháthaibh úd Iasafet,

Go dtóga Dia ar láimh sinn, in airde go Parrthas’

(Ref: Séan Eoin Ó Suilleabháin- Táimse is Máire)


Slán leat Una. Leaba i measc na Naomh, i dteannta an Tiarna, go raibh agat, anois, anocht, agus i gcónaí, ar feadh na síoraíochta.


Muireann Ní Dhuigneáin

Céad lá Márta 2018



Úna with fiddle player James Kelly in the morning coffee room in 1999. In the background on the left is Úna's late husband Muiris, flanked by Joe Burke and Francie Donnellan.

Photo: Tony Kearns

© Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2019   Website: Tony Kearns