Friday’s Child Grainne McCafferty

Grainne McCafferty.
Grainne McCafferty.

This week’s Friday’s Child is Grainne McCafferty. Grainne is married to Michael and has two sons Declan and Kieran and two grandchildren Conal and Nina. Grainne was both a teacher and principal for over 30 years at St. Cecilia’s College until retirement. She is currently Chairperson of the Aras Cholmcille Trust which restored the derelict, listed Wee Nuns’ school building which will formally open on Monday as Aras Cholmcille~The St. Columba Heritage Centre.

How would you describe yourself?

Graiine as a baby.

Graiine as a baby.

Hardworking, tenacious, independent - combined I hope with a sense of humour

Happiest childhood memories?

The countryside starting at the top of our garden and the freedom that went with that. Learning to swim with my brothers and cousins in the Balinderry river. My father was the local schoolmaster and every summer he would take a large group of us to swim in the river. Swimming at Port na Happle in Portstewart when I was a boarder at Dominican Convent in Portstewart. Seeing the Northern Lights(Aurora Borealis) one evening close to home and a most beautiful bluebell wood where we used to go for walks in the country near Killymoon.

What was your first job?

Working in Selfridge’s department store in London, selling expensive and beautiful lingerie.

Favourite book?

It is difficult to single out one but it would probably be “The Great Gatsby” or anything by Anthony Trollope.

Favourite film? 

Not sure I have one but the Godfather part 3 comes close for its setting, its use of the opera in the background and the silent scream of Al Pacino when his daughter is killed by an assassin’s bullet which was intended for him. Combines great drama and great musical soundtrack.

Favourite television programme?

Gardeners’ World with Monty Don.

Favourite expression?

Get over yourself…said mostly to myself.

Favourite method of relaxation?

Listening to music, the radio, gardening, reading, walking and the occasional glass of white wine on a summer’s evening.

Favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere in Italy.

Who would you most like to meet?

My 16 year old self. Then I might be able to use the phrase again “Get over yourself”

What has been the most embarrassing thing to happen to you?

My father arranged for me to dance with the slightly older teenage son of a friend of his. The dance was either a waltz or a foxtrot. I was about 14. At every turn I walked all over his feet, was clumsy and made worse by my own embarrassment. I have met him a few times since. I could see that he did not remember but I will never forget.

What was the worst thing to happen to you in your life? 

The death of your parents is always a life changing event. My father died when I was 22 and my mother much later in my life. Both still very much missed.

What has been the high point of your life to date?

Apart from all the personal joys of marriage and motherhood I would say that my days spent teaching and as Principal at St. Cecilia’s College would count as high points. To watch generations of children begin to believe in themselves and to achieve their potential is a matter of great pride. I still meet many past pupils in all walks of life and take pride and a great deal of enjoyment in meeting them.

How would you like to be remembered?

When I was Principal in St Cecilia’s we devised the school motto “Aspire Endeavour Achieve”. As a short message it encapsulates my belief in both the need to dream and work at achieving that dream. Little can be achieved without hard work and determination. As it happens it was also inspired by my mother’s words and example. I would like to be remembered as someone who encouraged others to “Aspire, Endeavour, Achieve”. When I retired I was presented with a garden seat with an inscription of thanks from the pupils “ for making each and everyone of us aspire, endeavour and achieve” It is one of my prized possessions.

What is your most treasured possession?

My memories and my photographs and the above mentioned garden seat .

If you won the lotto what would you do with it? 

Be generous to my family, make a large donation to Aras Cholmcille, buy a cottage on the shores of Lough Corrib, Co.Galway for my husband to go fishing and buy a season ticket for Ryanair (or other airline) to visit my sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren in London as often as I felt like it. I might add the occasional ticket to music or opera in London while I was there.

If you could be granted one wish in life, what would you ask for?

That my family would always enjoy good health

If you could write your own epitaph what would it be?

Life is short, Love is vast, Time is now, Hang out your brightest colours…