When someone wins two All-Ireland senior medals 26 years apart it is time to sit up and take notice. That’s exactly what we in the Ulster GAA Writers’ Association have done as Mary Kirke is our Monthly Merit Award winner for April 2009.

This is a truly historic award. Not only is it the first time ever that a person from the GAA’s Scor section is honoured but it is also the first Quinn Insurance/UGAAWA Monthly Merit Award as our new sponsors come on board.

Mary Kirke was a member of the Emyvale Ceili Dancing team that won the All-Ireland Senior Scor title in Killarney last month, the only Senior Scor title to come to Ulster this year. She was also a member of the Emyvale Ballad Group that won the All-Ireland senior title all of 26 years ago. For bridging that yawning gap, we felt that the Monaghan woman is a worthy winner of the April 2009 honour.

“I’m absolutely stunned with this news,” said Mary when told she had won the award. “I would never have thought of anything like it but I must stress that I am only a small part for the winning team.

“It was the first time that the dancing team won out of Ulster. We tried for many years and failed and then gave it a rest for a while. It was always my ambition to get to the All-Ireland dancing final to experience the occasion, even if we didn’t win.

“It has been amazing the reception we got when we returned to Emyvale – we felt like true All-Ireland champions. It was a really big thing for us. Now this award is superb.”

Mrs Kirke has been a member of the Emyvale GAA club all her life. Her All-Ireland medal won in 1983 was collected at the National Stadium in Dublin.

She received her Quinn Insurance/UGAAWA award from Anthony Forde, Commercial Sales Manager at a reception in the Slieve Russell Hotel on Wednesday, May 6. The award included a sports voucher, an engraved Belleek China vase, specially designed jewellery from Omeath’s Garrett Mallon and sports gear from O’Neill’s International Sports. She will also receive two tickets and overnight accommodation for the UGAAWA banquet in the Slieve Russell Hotel on November 20.

Mary Kirke, Emyvale Ceili Dancing team, is off her trolley receiving the Quinn Insurance Ulster GAA Writers Association Monthly Merit Award from Jerry Quinn, Chairman of the UGAAWA. Giving a push to proceedings is Anthony Forde, Commercial Sales Manager Quinn-Group; Tom Daly, President of the Ulster Council, and Mary’s son, Colm, while his sister, Cathy, takes it easy.