Madame Marianne Griffin
Born in Switzerland to a French mother and Swiss father, Madame Griffin spent her early childhood in Geneva with her family who later moved to France, when she was a young teenager! Her love of music and fashion brought her to Paris where she studied haute couture and went on to work as a designer, in the vibrant Parisian fashion industry of the time.
In the late 1940s she returned to Geneva where she met and married her husband Major Ronald Griffin of Altavilla Askeaton, Co Limerick. He was working at the time, as an interpreter with the international Red Cross. They moved to Ireland in 1953 to settle and raise a family. Her husband died suddenly, four years later, leaving her with four children.
To earn a living she decided, with great foresight and encouragement from her good friend Nora Hawkes, to start teaching French, and so in the years that followed she studied modern and innovative techniques of teaching and became a master of her craft.
She was a founder member of Alliance Française de Limerick. As a young widow with four children, she embarked on a career spanning five decades of teaching French to adults and children all across themid-west. Her enthusiasm for her native language soon gained for her a reputation as an excellent and dedicated educator. In addition to teaching, Marianne established a drama group which staged plays and musicals in French and she brought French culture to a whole new audience.
Her dedicated group of students looked forward to lively debates on current affairs and diverse topics. She prepared meticulously for her classes, reading Paris Match and L’Express from cover to cover each week to source interesting articles to discuss in class.
Marianne receiving her ‘Medal of Honour’ from the French Ambassador
With her family L-R Nicholas, Gerald, Maude and Kay
In 2014, aged 93, Marianne was presented with a medal of honour by the Alliance Francaise de Paris, to mark her great contribution to French culture and the French language. The medal was presented by the French Ambassador at a function held in Mary I, Limerick.
Even though she spent most of her adult life in Ireland, she remained quintessentially Parisian, with a certain ‘je ne c’est quoi’ about her…. a colourful scarf here, a brightly coloured ring or brooch there. She loved to dress up ad attend functions and was an avid music lover, supporting the arts throughout her life. She had an amazing enthusiasm for life and this enthusiasm was infectious, it touched and inspired so many.
She passed away earlier this year at the age of 96 and is greatly missed and lovingly remembered.
“On ne verra plus jamais son égale”