“Let go and let God”

Friday September 26th 2014

An blog deireanach. The final blog. Can’t cope.

Has anyone any idea how difficult it is to write a last blog like this while keeping the clichés to a minimum? Near impossible. But I’ll take a stab at it and, after I’ve reflected on the past year and thanked everyone who has made it what it was, then all that will be left is to say a wee cheerio and to hit the road into Second Year.

So how to convey just how special being a Michaela Foundation Scholar and sharing my experience in First Year has been? The truth is that this most special of opportunities has given me a platform to express exactly who I am and to be proud of it. Before I came to college I used to hear people talking about finding your own niche and this is exactly what being a scholar has done for me. It has given me the confidence to express my beliefs and my values openly and to present myself just as I am to my family, to my circle of friends, my university and beyond. It has allowed me to illustrate the true reality of university life from the perspective of someone who wishes to bring their Catholic values with them. I have been able to be vocal about everything I believe in and not have to hold back for fear that I would be deemed uncool or an oddity in the sometimes harsh world that we live in.

It has given me bountiful comfort to know that there are people outside of my close circle of family and friends who believe in me. The people I have met and the experiences I have had have truly reframed how I relate to and view the world. Above anything else this year I have gained the courage to just be myself and to strive each and every day to be the best version of myself that I can be. I never thought so much happiness could be got from something so simple and I really do have MF to thank for helping me to realise this. For example, I never doubted that I could be a pioneer and still lead a fun-filled life. But now I have come to realise that not only am I not missing out on anything, I’m actually gaining so much.

Even though I never met her in person I honestly feel that Michaela has given me so much- courage, strength, determination and faith- and has become an integral part of God’s plan for the youth of our country. I know that the incredible legacy she has left in her wake has touched many more hearts than just mine and I feel so privileged to have been a part of this remarkable journey.

Somehow things have come full circle since I wrote my first blog in which I mentioned the sad passing of Conor Boyle because this time as I write my final blog another tragedy is on my mind and it is unfortunately one that is a little closer to home. On the 10th of September my local GAA community of Gaeil Fhánada was left in a state of shock at the passing of Patrick Shiels, a stalwart player, coach and servant of our club. Paddy was a wonderful example of an honest, hardworking man who was very much his own person and many, including my own brothers, looked up to him with the utmost respect. All he wanted to do was play football for Fanad Gaels and many’s a time I watched him line out in Portsalon wearing his number 5 jersey with immoveable pride. I can still see him fighting for the dirty ball, giving a hefty shoulder to any forward who challenged him and taking the ball safely out of the danger zone. I’ll never forget a very special goal he scored last year in the junior final of Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta to send the game to extra game, a game which Gaeil Fhánada went on to win. He was never one who enjoyed the limelight but at the time I remember thinking how fitting it was that such a thing could happen to such a decent and deserving man. Just like Michaela, his spirit will live on as a source of inspiration to all in our community. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

I would like to extend a word of congratulations to those who have received Leaving Cert and A Level results in the past few weeks. I wish you the very best in whatever path you have chosen; be that 3rd level education, the repeating of exams, apprenticeship or immediate entry into the world of work. I have learned so much in this past year and have been wracking my brains while writing this final blog about what advice I wanted to pass on. Truth be told, I feel that nothing can truly prepare you for what is ahead, particularly when it comes to moving away from home and beginning university. However, words that have resonated with me and which I believe are relevant to everyone no matter where they find themselves on their journey are those of St Catherine of Sienna, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Don’t hold yourself back from what makes you happy and always have belief in yourself and the bigger Plan, for it is one which will bring you countless blessings. “Faith allows things to happen. It is the power that comes from a fearless heart. And when a fearless heart believes, miracles happen.”

To my fellow scholars of 2013/2014; Áoise, Eiméar, Fionnuala, Killian and Stephen- we made it. Big hand. Round of applause. Seal of approval. You are all incredible people and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to call you all friends. It has been extra special to have journeyed together this past year and knowing that we were each there supporting one another along the road was a great comfort. We have achieved so much, both as a team and individually and I wish you all the very best for the year that is to come. Once an MF Scholar, always an MF Scholar.

To the mystery crew who will be chosen as the new set of MF scholars in the coming weeks- savour every second because you are SO SO SO privileged. Spread the Good News of Michaela Foundation in your respective universities and among your family and friends and carry the guidance and protection of our own special angel with you wherever you go.

To my mammy, daddy, Oisín, Odhrán, Aisling and Méadhbh, what can I say. It’s been no secret that there were times when I struggled immensely living away from home and missed you all more than I could ever have imagined. Despite living on a bustling university campus which is a hive of activity by day and party central by night, I have never quite gotten used to how much more silent my apartment is in comparison to home. No whacking of footballs against the gable wall; no epic battles over the TV remote; no slamming of doors in the mad rush to get everyone out to school in the morning. Only Caoimhe’s screams at me as I leave yet another saucepan unattended on the cooker. My love for you all has only grown this past year and I wouldn’t change you for the world. Thank you for your love, laughter, slagging, constant regular text messages, comfort and support. Above all else, thank you for simply being yourselves. I may live in Dublin most of the time but Kerrykeel will always be home. And no Aisling, this does not mean you can take my stuff.

To my housemates for the coming academic year, Aideen, Caoimhe, Darragh and Philippine- God help you. I don’t know what this year in DCU has in store for us but I can’t wait to explore it together. I can already tell that we will have the best of banter and, just maybe, do a bit of work along the way too. Hope this mention keeps you happy, Daz.

To my wider circle of family and friends- a huge part of me would love to thank certain people individually for all they have done for me in the past year, be it big or small. Nothing goes unnoticed and every act of kindness leaves its mark. But I have been blessed with a wonderful network of people around me and it is simply impossible to give you all the appreciation you deserve here. I can only hope that I show you just how grateful I am for all that you do each and every day.

To Úna Kelly, our collective mammy for the past year, you are a HERO and we couldn’t have done it all without you. I don’t know about the others but I’ll never forget the time you texted us looking for DNA; the perils of predictive text. You are a constant source of sunshine, smiles and inspiration to us all and the work you do is simply outstanding.

Ba mhaith liom buíochas ó chroí a ghabháil le John, le Anne agus le gach duine a bhfuil baint acu leis an Fhondúireacht. Tá súil agam go bhfuil a fhios agaibh cé chomh speisialta is atá an rud seo atá cruthaithe agaibh. Finally, buíochas ó chroí to all the MF family for a lifechanging experience that I know is only beginning.

Thank you and God bless.

Slán agus beannacht,

Aoífe