A nosa María Castaña


Josefina Prol was born in the mountainous lands of Trives, Ourense. She was one of those women who studied the career of Maxisterio in the years of the IIª Spanish Republic. This apprentice teacher had access to the new didactic tools coming from the advanced Europe of the time, thanks to the help of Albino Núñez Domínguez (1901-1974). This man was president since 1932 of the A.T.E.O. (Asociación de Trabajadores de la Enseñanza de Orense) and directed the pedagogical magazine Escuela del Trabajo. From him Josefina learned the techniques of the New School, which defended the immersion of boys and girls in their environmental and historical context through field trips and excursions in the countryside, visits to elements of historical heritage, observation of the landscape and interaction with the natural environment. During the civil war, the triumph of feixism in Galicia led to the purge of Albino Núñez (reinstated in 1959) and the suspension of the summer 1936 competitive examinations for the teaching profession, to which Josefina presented herself. After the conflict, she practiced her profession for decades in the parish of Cereixa.

Despite the repression (which affected her family deeply) this woman adapted to the times but always tried to maintain her dignity in the face of national Catholicism and continued to put into practice the methods of the new school, with excursions and field practices, like the teacher of the wonderful and tragic novel by Manuel Rivas A Lingua das bolboretas (The language of the bolboretas).

Figura 2

The centenary dona Fina passed away with the arrival of spring 2015 in Pobra de Brollón Station. We remember her when, a few days after her passing, we organized from the school group of A Pobra, on 5th May 2015, a tour for primary school students so that they could get to know the material and immaterial remains of the Middle Ages in the old land of Guímaros and María Castaña.

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Dona Fina taught in class the historical discourse assumed by the Movement, according to which the union of Celts and Iberians strengthened the essence of the Hispanic race in the fight against Rome. When speaking of the Celtiberians there was no mention at all of the Galician castros. In the same way, the official account of the Middle Ages focused on the Reconquest and the dominating spirit of Castile, which culminated with the Catholic Monarchs. If the Galician language was forbidden in the classroom, how would one feel a single word about the medieval Kingdom of Galicia? The boys and girls of Cereixa never felt from dona Fina’s mouth a word about María Castaña. But they did feel it at home, from the mouths of their parents and their grandparents. Because in the parish of Cereixa the figure of this woman was preserved in the collective imagination.