Independent Thinking 2019

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INDEPENDENT THINKING The University College Cork Magazine 2019

DOING IT HER WAY Actor Fiona Shaw speaks about her life and outstanding career



Green Campus UCC President Patrick O'Shea addresses how our university’s proud, longstanding ethos of sustainability has a global as well as local impact


Connecting Generations UCC’s Alumni and Development team celebrate the symbolic use of a beautiful bridge on campus, to create a new visual identity connecting past and present students


Saving Our Planet Three UCC experts in their fields suggest how we can all help make Ireland carbon neutral by 2050



Dramatic Rise Acclaimed Cork actor and UCC graduate, Fiona Shaw, talks about the trajectory of her international stellar career

Not Just Baby Steps We look at the exceptional role played by Cork-based INFANT, Ireland’s only dedicated research centre, spanning maternal and child health



Playing Her Part How UCC has helped ‘artivist’ Alana Daly Mulligan to use the creative and performing arts to promote social causes

Net Benefit Conor Lyden availed of UCC’s business incubation programme, IGNITE, to create a safe platform for us to buy and sell online



Cumhacht an Logainm Pléann Máiréad Ní Loingsigh conas mar a nascann ár logainmneacha sinn leis an saol fisiciúil, sóisialta agus cultúrtha atá timpeall orainn

Mutual Taste Our university and Blas na hÉireann both bring a lot to the table in contributing to our country’s Irish Food Oscars


20/20 Vision We talk to CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor, about campaigning for gender equality in the field


Inclusive Culture Three members of the UCC community are reaching out in positive ways to the migrant community in Cork


Doing What They Love Three exceptional UCC women in the sporting arena


Floating Their Boats Congrats to our Olympic 2020 rowing hopefuls




The Perfect Package Professor Peter O’Brien explains how PIXAPP at Tyndall has become the global go-to for photonic industry expertise


Animal Pact Conservation ecologist, David O’Connor, reveals how the seed to his career, saving endangered species, was sown in UCC’s Boole Library


Reaching Out How generous donations help fund our students’ mental health

Keep in Touch

34 Weddings 36

Alumni Achievement Awards


Alumni Reunions


Spotlight on Sport



Jane Haynes




Margaret Jennings LOGISTICS


Patricia Finucane · Aideen Hogan Karen Kelly · Kate McSweeney DISTRIBUTION

Geraldine Taylor DESIGN

Vermillion Design Consultants




Fiona Shaw (Photography: Clare Keogh) IRISH TRANSLATION (page 5)

Brian Ó Donnchadha PRINTER

City Print, Cork EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES AND COMMENTS Nancy Hawkes T: 00 353 (0)21 4902812




Data Protection Statement: The Alumni and Development Office of University College Cork (UCC) maintains an alumni database which includes personal information such as name, address, telephone number, and qualification obtained. This data will be used to keep you informed about various university and alumni events and development activities at UCC. We will also inform you from time to time about opportunities to support these activities. Any information you provide to the Alumni and Development Office will be held securely and confidentially and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Acts 1988 and UCC’s Data Protection Policy ( data/dataprotection/).The Alumni and Development Office will make every effort to ensure that any information we hold about you is accurate and up-to-date, but would appreciate your help in informing us of any changes by contacting the Alumni and Development Office, University College Cork, Western Gateway Building, Cork, T12 XF62, Ireland. Email: Full details of how we process your personal data and your rights under the Data Protection Acts are outlined in UCC’s Alumni and Supporters Data Protection Notice: dataprotectionnotice/alumniandsupportersdataprotectionnotice/ If you no longer wish to receive information on the aforementioned opportunities, please contact the Alumni and Development Office, UCC at the address above.



A Independent Thinking for a Sustainable Future Machnamh Neamhspleách do Thodhchaí Inbhuanaithe


re you concerned about the future of our planet? I’m sure you are. This past year the volume of discussion and concern has become a crescendo as the threats posed by climate change and our unsustainable lifestyle become ever more evident. At times like this, strong leadership is called for. At UCC we are taking action. We are converting our research into practice. UCC has an outstanding record in promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our accolades have included the university being ranked first in the world in the SDG ‘contributing to responsible consumption and production’, and among the top 25 universities worldwide for the part we play in creating a sustainable future for our planet. And when earlier this year we became the world’s first university to receive a fourth green flag, from the Foundation for Environmental Education, it was further testament to how the entire UCC community have collaboratively embraced the ethos of a sustainable campus. UCC’s first annual Sustainability Report published last year was a celebration – a decade on from when our students first embarked on the Green Campus programme – of our university proudly hitting its public sector energy efficiency target: reducing consumption by 33%, three years ahead of schedule. Our campus is also home to Ireland’s first plastic-free café, where catering company KSG offers fresh produce from our farm and local suppliers. Other

environmental initiatives include the #loveourlibrary campaign; a pollinator biodiversity strategy with beehives on campus; and the introduction of electric bikes to our communal bike hire scheme for staff. Our tradition in sustainability stretches back, of course, to our foundation in 1845 and our first president, Robert Kane. His book The Industrial Resources of Ireland was the first sustainability manual for the Irish economy; he understood that the future of Ireland had to be built on working towards a sustainable economy and a sustainable culture. Our mission in 2019 is broader than it would have been in 1845; the issues that were local then are global now, because of our connected economies and connected cultures. Back in the 1840s, wealthy economies were dominated by physical capital, but today it’s increasingly intellectual capital. Our new academic strategy at UCC is focused on creating global citizens who are dedicated to, and capable of, generating more value than they consume – not just for themselves but for society as a whole. The ideas and actions of the UCC community (students, staff and our global alumni) encompass diversity, sustainability, efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and creativity – and we are proud to reflect some of these stories in this issue of Independent Thinking. In UCC, we are proud to say, we think globally and act globally. After all, there can be no more important mission than that.



n cúis imní duit a bhfuil i ndán dár bpláinéad? Táim cinnte gurb ea. Le bliain anuas tá an plé agus an t-imní seo ag dul i méid agus is léir do chách na bagairtí a eascraíonn as an athrú aeráide agus as ár stíl mhaireachtála nach bhfuil inbhuanaithe. In am an ghátair, bíonn gá le ceannaireacht láidir. In COC táimid i mbun gnímh. Tá cleachtas á dhéanamh againn dár gcuid taighde. Tá dea-theist ar COC maidir le Spriocanna Forbartha Inbhuanaithe de chuid na Náisiún Aontaithe a chur chun cinn. Ar na hardmholtaí a fuaireamar ina leith seo, tá an ollscoil ainmnithe mar an gcéad ollscoil ar domhan ‘a chuir le húsáid agus táirgeadh freagrach’ mar atá leagtha amach ag na Spriocanna Forbartha Inbhuanaithe. Anuas air sin táimid i measc na 25 olllscoil is fearr ar fud an domhain agus an ról a imrímid d’fhonn todhchaí inbhuanaithe a chruthú dár bpláinéad. Níba luaithe i mbliana ainmníodh sinn mar an gcéad ollscoil a fuair an ceathrú brat glas ón bhFondúireacht um Oideachas Comhshaoil, rud a léiríonn go bhfuil pobal iomlán COC ag obair i gcomhar chun campas inbhuanaithe a chruthú. Deich mbliana i ndiaidh dár gcuid mac léinn tús a chur le clár an Champais Ghlais foilsíodh an chéad Tuairisc Inbhuanaithe de chuid COC. Ceiliúradh ab ea é seo ar an sprioc a bhaineamar amach maidir le héifeachtúlacht fuinnimh san earnáil phoiblí chun úsáid fuinnimh a laghdú le 33 faoin gcéad. D’éirigh linn é seo a dhéanamh trí bliana níba luaithe ná mar a bhí beartaithe. Tá an chéad chaifé saor ó phlaisteach ar an gcampas seo againne, mar a guireann an comhlacht lónadóireachta KSG táirgí úra ar fáil ónár bhfeirm agus ó sholáthraithe áitiúla. Bhí baint againn le tionscnaimh eile ar son na timpeallachta ina measc, an feachtas #loveourlibrary;

straitéis bhithéagsúlachta phailneora le coirceoga ar an gcampas; agus scéim um rothair leictreonacha ar chuireamar tús léi chun gur féidir le baill foirne rothair lectreonacha a fháil ar cíos. Tá seantraidisiún againn maidir le hinbhuanaitheacht dar ndóigh a théannn siar go dtí ár gcéad uachtarán Robart Kane nuair a bunaíodh an ollscoil sa bhliain 1845. Óna pheann siúd a tháinig The Industrial Resources of Ireland, an chéad lámhleabhar inbhuanaitheachta le haghaidh gheilleagar na hÉireann. Thuig seisean go raibh todhchaí na hÉireann ag brath ar gheilleagar agus ar chultúr inbhuanaithe. Tá misean níos leithne againn sa bhliain 2019 ná mar a bhí in 1845; tá na ceisteanna áitiúla ina gceisteanna domhanda anois de bharr na nasc atá idir ár ngeilleagair agus ár gcultúir. Siar sna 1840í, bhíodh na tíortha saibhre i gceannas ar an gcaipiteal fisiciúil ach sa lá atá inniu ann bítear ag plé níos mó le caipiteal intleachtúil. Díríonn straitéis acadúil nua de chuid COC ar shaoránaigh dhomhanda a chruthú atá tiomanta do luach níos mó a chruthú seachas an luach sin a úsáid – ní hamháin ar a son féin ach ar son na sochaí i gcoitinne. Tá eagsúlacht, inbhuanaitheacht, éifeachtúlacht, éifeachtacht, freagrúlacht agus cruthaitheacht i gceist le smaointe agus gníomhartha phobal COC (mic léinn, baill foirne agus ár alumni ar fud an domhain). Ábhar mórtais duinn é cuid de na scéalta seo a chur san eagrán seo de Independent Thinking. Anseo in COC, maímid go mbímid ag machnamh agus ag gníomhú ar bhonn domhanda. Tar éis an tsaoil, ní fhéadfá teacht ar mhisean níos tábhachtaí ná sin.

An tOllamh Patrick G. O’Shea Uachtarán, Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh INDEPENDENT Thinking  5




People power can help fuel climate change reversal With UCC being the first university in the world to receive the Green Flag, it has led the way on sustainability development. Joyce Fegan speaks to three of our climate change experts - Dr Paul Bolger, Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, and Dr Áine Ryall - about how we can all help make Ireland carbon neutral by 2050.


n October 2018, we were warned that we had just 12 years to avoid reaching dangerous levels of climate change; that we needed to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5˚C. Just a half degree more, and the risk of droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people would significantly increase. This stark message came from the world’s leading climate scientists and featured in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At an EU level, the 2030 targets have been set, which include cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% – relative to 1990 levels – and an ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050. In Ireland, the government supports this EU ambition and so is currently assessing how to make Ireland carbon neutral by 2050. But as the clock ticks, what planet-saving steps can we put in place? “There is no silver bullet. Climate change is what is called a ‘wicked problem’ – it doesn’t have any one solution,” says

Dr Paul Bolger, manager of UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which has over 100 projects focused on this issue. “Climate change is a problem that goes to the very root of how we live on this planet. It involves how we heat our homes, where we live, how we get to work, how we get to where we want to play, what we eat and what and how we purchase,” he explains. However, there are four key areas that can be addressed:

“There’s an energy issue – a technology issue – and that’s the piece that is usually talked about. What is the technology that is going to fix this? Is it wind or solar or tidal power? But that’s only one piece of the jigsaw,” he says. “Just as important are the policies the government has. If you don’t have the right policy structures in place, it’s very difficult for a lot of these technologies to get any traction in the market. “The third area is economics – who is going to pay for all of this, as we saw with the introduction of an additional €6 per tonne of carbon in the 2019 budget. And the fourth area concerns the people – engaging with communities and the public on the need to change our ways, both as individuals and as a society.”

UCC’s wildflower meadow located beside the Cavanagh Bridge, was created as part of our Green Campus campaign. (Photography: Tomás Tyner)


Paul stresses that in order to tackle climate change, teamwork across these four areas is necessary: “Within the ERI, within the university, we are trying to use a different way of approaching these problems – by taking the perspectives of lots of different disciplinary researchers and integrating them together to get better outcomes. “Within the ERI for instance, we’ve got 20 different schools involved, which include everything from biology to chemistry to engineering to social sciences, to business and law and the humanities and public health and medicine.” Energy accounts for most of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and one expert in this area is Brian Ó Gallachóir, Professor of Energy Engineering at UCC’s School of Engineering. He is also Director of MaREI, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine. More than 200 researchers are involved in MaREI, in 12 third-level and research institutes, working with more than 50 industry partners and hosted by the Environmental Research Institute.

“CLIMATE CHANGE IS A PROBLEM THAT GOES TO THE VERY ROOT OF HOW WE LIVE ON THIS PLANET. IT INVOLVES HOW WE HEAT OUR HOMES, WHERE WE LIVE, HOW WE GET TO WORK, HOW WE GET TO WHERE WE WANT TO PLAY, WHAT WE EAT AND WHAT AND HOW WE PURCHASE.” Brian’s simple breakdown of statistics shows us where we are now and highlights where we need to get to: “Currently, 90% of our energy comes from fossil fuels and 10% of our energy comes from renewable energy – nationally. So, we have a long journey to transition to a net zero emissions country by 2050.”

Students and staff marching in UCC's Strike for Climate Action. (Photography: Provision)


His work involves taking a broad view of the entire energy system, in order to identify where we can make planet-saving changes. “This energy system includes the power plants, which are generating electricity and causing emissions, but it also includes the cars and trucks we are driving, and our heating systems in our homes and in our factories,” he explains. Brian says Ireland generates about one-third of its electricity from wind energy; electricity represents just a fifth of our energy use. “While we’re getting 33% of our electricity from wind energy, that means we are only getting about 6% of our overall energy from wind energy,” he adds. Therefore, we need to do a lot of work on changing our energy sources for heat and transport, which together make up 80% of our energy use. “While we have been doing well on changing the supply of electricity, we haven’t done much in terms of heat and transport and that is why at the moment about 50% of our energy use is coming from oil,” he points out. However, scientific facts aside, we are now living in the era of social media and fake news, so the biggest challenge of all when it comes to addressing climate change as a people is in how we talk to one another. “The discourse is critically important – the dialogue; how we engage, how we discuss, how we tease these things out and how we look at the trade-offs and the benefits. Ideally, we need everyone to move together quickly, that’s the challenge.” And how we do we ensure then, that action is actually taken? That’s where the law steps in – and


The Environmental Research Institute, located at UCC’s Lee Road Building. (Photography: Stephen Bean)

another of our experts, Dr Áine Ryall, a qualified barrister who lectures in and researches, environmental, climate, and European Union law at UCC’s Centre for Law and the Environment. “What is particularly important is our climate legislation, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, and that Act obliges the government to put particular plans in place, for example the National Mitigation Plan, which sets out how Ireland intends to meet its climate targets,” she says. “It’s important to keep in mind that if the government doesn’t fulfil its legal obligations there are then mechanisms that individuals or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can use to try to hold them to account.” Áine says we are on the cusp of an era where climate litigation will become far more common and she cites a recent case taken in the Irish courts: “We had a High Court case, Climate Case Ireland, where an NGO, Friends of the Irish

Environment, who are a Corkbased NGO, brought the government to court trying to force more effective and more urgent climate action. “They weren’t ultimately successful in their case in the High Court, but they certainly managed to raise the profile of climate action and to make more visible, constitutional rights in the specific context of climate change and also the human rights dimension as well,” she says. “This is only the beginning of the kind of climate litigation we are likely to see in the future.” One example of potential future litigation is regarding our air quality: “There are Irish laws and European Union laws which set standards for air quality, and if it’s possible to prove through monitoring data that those air quality standards have been breached, then it’s possible to ask a court to make an order forcing action to ensure better air quality – and there has been very successful litigation in London and in other European capitals in that regard,” explains Áine.

“Nobody wants to bring legal action, but if it’s the case that our health is being impacted – including our children, people will turn to the law and they will use European Union law and Irish law to attempt to force stronger action on air quality. Governments take notice when people win court cases,” she adds. It is encouraging that we have such expertise at our university leading the way in addressing the problem of climate change, but it’s also clear from them that we all need to get on board; to work together to make Ireland carbon neutral by 2050, and play our part in saving the planet.

In UCC we think globally and act globally; that’s why we are ranked first in Ireland and 21st among the world’s top universities for the part we are playing in creating a sustainable future for our world.



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A woman of many parts Acclaimed actor Fiona Shaw caught up with Nancy Hawkes in between filming the latest season of the hit spy TV thriller, Killing Eve, to talk about her multifaceted career spanning television, film, and, most notably, the theatre.

Fiona Shaw, at home in London. (Photography: Clare Keogh)

“I was stopped by a policeman the other day and I thought: “My god! What have I done?” But he just wanted to say: ‘My wife and I LOVE Killing Eve!’ It was a relief I can tell you!” laughs the Cork-born actor, Fiona Shaw. The cat-and-mouse British spy thriller, Killing Eve, is an international phenomenon since it premiered in 2018. Fiona plays MI6’s inscrutable Head of Russia Desk, Carolyn Martens – a role which earned her an Emmy nomination and won her the British Academy Television Award for best supporting actress in 2019. “Killing Eve has attracted more attention than anything else I’ve done on television,” she says. “Children often recognise me because of my part as Petunia Dursley in Harry Potter. But now I’m stopped by people of all ages. I was in a restaurant recently, sitting in a window seat, when a group of Japanese tourists came in and asked if I would come out for photographs. I said: ‘No! I’m eating my lunch!’” The thriller, adapted by Phoebe WallerBridge from a series of novellas, Codename Villanelle, is syndicated around the world. She attributes its success to its razor-sharp writing, on the knife-edge of humour. “Phoebe somehow understands the real essence of the characters. This means that my character (Carolyn Martens) can do very wayward things and yet stay completely true to who she is. In series one, she is a rather staid individual who is the formal Head of Russia Desk of MI6. By episode five, she’s in Russia having an absolute ball!” One of the great pleasures of Killing Eve, she says, is shooting scenes using huge landmarks like Trafalgar Square or the Royal Albert Hall. “Yesterday we were in the Saville Club [an elegant and exclusive private members-only

establishment in Mayfair]. Although I’ve lived in London for 35 years, it’s surreal to suddenly be in a fantasy world, having access to these amazing locations that, when I first arrived in the 80s had once seemed out of bounds.” It is indeed a world away from her early days as an aspiring drama student. She arrived in London on New Year’s Eve 1980, having recently graduated from UCC. “The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art [RADA] was unlike anything I could ever have imagined,” she recalls. “I had passed RADA many times looking at the carved name above the door and thought: ‘Aren’t the people in there so lucky?’ I felt I was outside a wall looking in.” As punk had yet to hit Cork, Fiona cut a slightly quaint figure among her contemporaries in RADA: “Everyone in my class was a punk and I was wearing a tweed skirt and a sweater and still politely calling everyone Mr and Mrs!” she laughs. “At first I had a lot of catching up to do. I’d never even seen a Shakespeare play done properly. Life in RADA was very rigorous: I started classes at 10 in the morning and didn’t go home until 10 at night. Every hour was dedicated to training: movement in the mornings, then voice coaching, then speech, mime, dialect. When you train the mind and body so totally together, you transform. I’ve since realised that if you overcome yourself and do more than you ever thought yourself capable of, your world changes. You then find yourself on the inside of that wall.” It was in a second-year production of The Miser, by Molière, in her role of Frosine, that she suddenly “took off” and won the prestigious High Comedy Prize. She left RADA with two further valuable prizes under her belt: The Ronson Award – for most promising young actor – and the Bancroft Gold Medal: “I felt I was the most unlikely person to win these accolades – but it gave me the confidence to keep going,” she remembers. Fiona went on to the National Theatre – the “hot” place to be at the time – where she was INDEPENDENT Thinking  1 1


cast as Julia in a hugely successful production of The Rivals. From there, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and played many of the major female roles: Beatrice, Portia, Katherine the Shrew, and the traditionally male Richard II (at the National Theatre). “It gave me very solid training. I effectively trained three times – my philosophy degree from UCC, RADA and the RSC,” she explains. In 1989, she played the role of Electra. “Up until then, I’d mostly played comedy. Suddenly I discovered tragedy. I spent much of the 90s exploring classical tragedy plays but reinventing them to find the modern emotional connection. A production of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land in 1997 brought me all over the world. These projects took up literally years of my life. It was very hard work, but they were great experiments.” she adds. Her work has earned her the most prestigious accolades awarded for theatrical performances: the Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in 1990 for a number of roles – Celia in As You Like It at the Old Vic, the title role of Electra at the RSC at the Barbican and as Shen Te/Shui Ta in The Good Person of Sichuan at the National Theatre, the Olivier Award in 1994 for Best Actress for Young Woman in Machinal and the Drama Desk Award in 1997 for Outstanding One-Person Show for The Waste Land. She was also awarded an honorary CBE in 2001.

Fiona Shaw, with Gene Collins (left), on their graduation day in 1979.

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Aside from her obvious talent, Fiona’s singlemindedness would seem to have also defined her journey. For instance, in the early days, when she had a brief encounter with the mainstream film industry in Hollywood: “I’d already done some films in the late 80s – My Left Foot, and Mountains of the Moon. The LA film industry was very interested in me but said I was ‘already old’.” She was just 28.


“I turned my back on Hollywood and thought: ‘I’m going to do my own thing.’ I was enjoying great success doing what I was doing in the theatre, so why would I scrabble around in a competition that I couldn’t win? I am very pleased that I didn’t fall on the rocks of not being pretty enough or young enough, or available enough.” “I made my own career, and that career was the theatre,” She said. “I became completely absorbed and I dedicated the next twenty years of my life to that path.” Ireland has changed immeasurably of course, since Fiona (Fifi) Wilson left Cork for the UK. But she is keen to acknowledge the solid, loving and stimulating foundation her childhood there provided, for her to explore the world beyond: “The longer I live away, the more I see how valuable it was to have been brought up in Cork. I have a lovely family and there was always great conversation, music and entertainment at home,” she muses. She attended Scoil Mhuire on Wellington Road in the city centre. “It was a superb school run by Kate Cahill and Mary O’Donovan. They were a wonderful combination. Miss Cahill once


called me into her office and said: ‘Fifi, you can be a force for good… or not. It’s up to you which one you choose.’ At that moment I wasn’t sure which one I preferred. I didn’t know I was a force for anything! The school celebrated our imaginations. We all behaved badly, made noise and got into trouble, of course. But the standard was very high, particularly in the arts subjects.” Inspired by her drama coach, Abigail Scott (later Hennessy) of the Cork School of Music, Fiona decided she wanted to train to be an actor. “Abby had trained at RADA and that put the notion of being trained elsewhere into my head.” But her parents encouraged her to go to university first, so she enrolled in UCC in 1976 to study philosophy. “I’ve always appreciated the idea of education for education’s sake. Life is long, and an arts degree gives you the gift of appreciating the pleasurable things in life. Arts broadens human consciousness. If you do an arts degree, you’ll always have a rich life,” she says. “When I was 50 (she is now 61), I found I was tired from doing so many theatre productions. To balance my theatre work, I decided to work with some opera. I was asked to direct Riders to the Sea for the English National Opera. I went on to direct The Marriage of Figaro and The Rape of Lucretia which I thoroughly enjoyed.” More recently Fiona has had a number of standout roles during what is widely regarded to be a ‘golden age’ for television – in True Blood, Killing Eve and Fleabag. “Maybe it took me until my 50s to not mind what the camera sees – not in the sense of vanity, but I enjoy that I can now act on camera, as I did on the stage, but without huge physical demands,” she reflects. “I’ve never kept a television, so now I have a projector in my sitting room so I can project shows and films – large, onto a wall and really study them closely. I am a novice in television, and I’m having a gorgeous young career in it!” she laughs. When in character, her accent is impeccably cut-glass English quality. In reality, her voice retains the rich, soft Cork tones of her roots. She visits her family back home regularly. The Ireland she left in the late 70s is a world away from the modern Ireland proud of its place in Europe and embracing recent seismic changes to its social fabric.

The passing of the marriage equality referendum of 2015 is close to her heart: Fiona married her wife, Sri Lankan-born economist, Sonali Deraniyagala, in 2018. “I embrace the result of the marriage referendum in Ireland like everyone should. Anything that allows the human project to expand is a good thing. People should love and marry who they want; it helps integrate society. It helps define the country as a true democracy.” “I’ve never been so proud to be Irish than right now,” she says. “It is wonderful seeing the elegance of the new generation – their assuredness, their Europeanness, the internationalism of what it is to be Irish. It’s healthy and it’s open. Ireland’s optimism is breath-taking.”

“I’ve never been so proud to be Irish as right now. It’s wonderful seeing the elegance of the new generation,” says Fiona.

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Voice of her generation George J. Mitchell Peace Scholar and ‘artivist’, Alana Daly Mulligan, says UCC has armed her not only with an academic education but with skills for life, which she hopes to use in making this planet, our society and our lives better. In conversation with Jane Haynes.

Alana Daly Mulligan wants to work to make our society, our planet and our lives better. (Photography: Mike Hannon)

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I’m an artivist: someone who uses art to promote a particular social cause. My art is spoken-word poetry, film-making, and performing, and the causes I’m trying to promote are LGBTQ rights and gender equality through the creative and performing arts. When I was younger, I joined The Little Red Kettle Theatre Company, and it gave me this grá for acting and writing. I read Shakespeare like nobody’s business, and the whole world, to me, was about being able to create and express yourself. Coming from a school environment where you’re told that you must be A, B or C, I felt claustrophobic. I wanted to be able to be myself – and be many versions of myself, which is the great thing about acting and about literature: you can enter into the skin of any character.

I don’t think I ever wanted to be a leader – I wanted to be the role model that I didn’t have when I was 14 years old. I wanted to be the voice that didn’t exist for me as a kid. I have some of the most incredible mentors in my life, and I’ve worked with some fantastic leaders and met some wonderful young people who inspire me every day, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I see how other young people do it, and I want to do it like them so that we can all work together and make this planet, our society and our lives better. I started writing because I was feeling really sad and I didn’t want to feel sadder. There is a real sisterhood in poetry, where you can be akin to someone else’s feelings. You make something beautiful out of something dark. If you’re creating, and you’re able to do something that makes someone else understand themselves a little better, then you’ll understand why you are yourself, a bit more, too. Being part of Herstory was a huge deal. My image was projected onto the GPO in the capital, along with Countess Markievicz and so many other incredible Irish women. It was amazing to be considered a part of the change. It was a really big honour, a very surreal moment. I’m in the University of Maine, US on my Erasmus year, on the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship. I’ll be studying English and History but doing a lot of really interesting and different subjects that I’m passionate about, which I hope will fuel my activism and my academics as well.

UCC has been such a gift to me, the greatest adventure of my life; it really does provide a worldclass education. There’s a huge academic part to that, but I have learned so much from the societies, my fellow Quercus Scholars, clubs. You learn all of these different skills, not just for an academic career – you learn for life, whether that’s how to boil an egg or how to start a campaign. All of it’s worthwhile, and you can learn it all here. You don’t just come out of college with a piece of paper – it’s also about all the relationships you make and what you learn through clubs and societies. You could literally do anything, which is what a degree should be equipping you for. I’m working on a lot of spokenword short films at the moment, and I’ve also been very lucky to get a publishing deal. I’m really excited to make some more change with more amazing people, and I’m just very happy to be here. Cork has such a fire in its stomach for change, and it’s really exciting to watch this city grow as I grow. The Quercus Talented Students Programme is supported by Ford.

The word quercus is Latin for 'oak'. At UCC, the symbolism 'from acorn to mighty oak' represents the growth that arises from nurturing talent.

INDEPENDENT Thinking  1 5


Cumhacht an Logainm Agus sinn ag iarraidh dul i ngleic leis an mBreatimeacht agus le cúrsaí na timpeallachta, is cosúil go bhfuil an nasc atá againn le háiteanna níos tábhachtaí ná mar a bhí riamh. Pléann Máiréad Ní Loingsigh conas mar a nascann ár logainmneacha sinn leis an saol fisiciúil, sóisialta agus cultúrtha atá timpeall orainn. Is deacair ár slí a dhéanamh sa tsaol gan logainmneacha. Bainimid leas astu chun brí a bhaint as léarscáileanna agus comharthaí bóthair agus chun an córas iompair a úsáid. Is léir go bhfuil tábhacht mhór leo ó thaobh na geograife de, ach tá feidhmeanna eile acu chomh maith – i dteannta ár n-ainmneacha baiste agus ár sloinnte, nascann siad lenár n-áit chónaithe sinn agus is gné thábhachtach den ómós áite iad. Nuair a théimid amach ar a bhfuil i logainmneacha na Gaeilge faighimid mioneolas ar an dtírdhreach chomh maith le mórán nodanna seandálaíochta, béaloidis agus miotaseolaíochta. Buailimid le foclóir saibhir, samhlaíoch sna tagairtí meafracha do na baill choirp in ainmneacha gnéithe topagrafaíochta, cuir i gcás. Is minic a bhuailimid le logainmneacha i gcomhthéacs an spóirt ón uair go mbíonn logainmneacha mar chuid d’ainmneacha na gcumann spóirt

Glassillaunvealnacurra (Glas Oileán Bhéal na Cora) and Muckanaghederdauhaulia (Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile) are among the longest Irish placenames on record.

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go minic, mar shampla leithéidí Ringmahon Rangers (cumann sacair i gCorcaigh) nó Listowel Emmets (cumann de chuid an Chumainn Lúthchleas Gael i gCiarraí). Téann logainmneacha

“DEALRAÍONN SÉ MÁS EA GO MÚSCLAÍONN LOGAINMNEACHA ÁR gCUID MOTHÚCHÁN AGUS GO BHFUIL BAINT ACU LENÁR nÁIT SA PHOBAL” áirithe i bhfeidhm go mór ar lucht tacaíochta an chumainn spóirt dá bharr san. Tá taithí anois againn ar mhórán logainmneacha ón iasacht de bharr an spóirt, go háirithe an rugbaí agus an sacar; is mó logainm ar nós Manchester, Munich, Toulouse agus Toulon atá i mbéal an phobail, go háirithe i gcás daoine óga, agus is fearr an cur amach a bhíonn acu orthu san ar uairibh ná ar ainmneacha áiteanna atá níos cóngaraí don mbaile. Buailimid le móran

logainmneacha sa chóras oideachais agus sa chóras sláinte – is amhlaidh a bhíonn siad mar chuid d’ainmneacha na n-ospidéal agus na scoileanna, an-mhinic sna hainmneacha oifigiúla atá orthu agus uaireanta eile sna hainmneacha neamhoifigiúla a bhaisteann muintir na háite orthu. Ar an gcuma so is mar a chéile logainm uaireanta agus ainm institiúidí áirithe, agus is minic a bhíonn íomhá ghruama ag na hainmneacha seo, mar shampla Daingean (St. Conleth’s Reformatory School for Boys, Daingean, Co. Offaly) nó Tuam (Bons Secours Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway). I gContae Chiarraí, cuir i gcás, shamhlaítí an logainm Cill Áirne leis an ngealtachas. Nuair a labhartaí ar bheith ‘i gCill Áirne’ ba léir gur thréimhse mar othar i dtigh gealt an bhaile sin a bhíodh i gceist. Bhí ‘Cill Áirne’ no ‘Daingean’ dá gcuid féin ag bailte eile, dar ndóigh, agus bhí brí shóisialta leis na logainmneacha mícháiliúila seo. Tá an-shaibhreas le fáil i dteanga na logainmneacha. Múintear a lán dúinn mar gheall ar an dtírdhreach – deintear cur síos ar an dtalamh ard i bhfocail mar cnoc, sliabh, cruach agus binn. Tá sruth, sruthán, abha agus glaise againn, cuir i gcás. Léiríonn na focail páirc, gort, garraí, inse agus móinéar difríochtaí áirithe go bhfuil tábhacht leo ó thaobh na feirmeoireachta de. Ní foláir nó bhí tábhacht mhór leis na crainn nuair a ceapadh an-chuid d’ár logainmneacha. Ainmnítear mórán crann iontu – an dair, an bheith, an t-iúr agus mórán eile nach iad. Ina theannta san tá


focail sna hainmneacha a dheineann cur síos ar shaghasanna éagsúla áiteanna ina mbíonn crainn ag fás – doire, ros, garrán, gaortha, scairt agus muine, mar shampla. Chomh maith leis na focail ar fad a thagraíonn don dtírdhreach fisiciúil tá móran focal sna logainmneacha a bhaineann le cúrsaí lonnaíochta, mar shampla dún, ráth, lios, cathair agus caiseal, agus gan amhras léiríonn focail ar nós cill, Domhnach, mainistir, teampall, eaglais agus díseart anáil na Críostaíochta. Ní fuirist i gcónaí brí a bhaint as teanga logainmneacha na Gaeilge ón uair gur i bhfoirmeacha béarlaithe atáid tar éis teacht anuas chugainn don gcuid is mó. Is é atá sna foirmeacha béarlaithe seo i ndáiríre ná iarrachtaí fhoireanna na Suirbhéireachta Ordanáis sa naoú haois déag ar na logainmneacha Gaeilge a bhailiú agus a thrascríobh. Is minic a labhartar ar an dtruailliú a deineadh ar na hainmneacha, ach ba cheart a admháil gur ar éigin a bheadh teacht againn ar oiread abhair logainmníochta mura mbeadh iarrachtaí údaráis na Breataine ar logainmneacha na hÉireann a bhailiú agus a bhreacadh ar léarscáileanna aimsir na Suirbhéireachta Ordanáis. Bhí seans, leis, againn tar éis don dtír an tsaoirse a bhaint amach go raibh lucht rialtais na hÉireann sásta Coimisiún Logainmneacha agus Brainse Logainmneacha a bhunú agus a chothú. Is minic a bhíonn cumhacht ag logainmneacha. Músclaíonn siad an mórtas agus an t-uaigneas agus cuireann siad eachtraí gránna i gcuimhne dhúinn (cuimhnímis ar Mhainistir Leathrátha, Gránard nó An Droichead Órga).

Nuair a deintear praiseach ar uairibh de logainmneacha na Gaeilge cuirtear cainteoirí Gaeilge ag gáirí nó is amhlaidh a bhíonn siad le ceangal. Bíonn spórt againn ar fhoirmeacha Béarla logainmneacha áirithe (Nobber, The Paps, Effin, Moll’s Gap).

Illustration: Caitlin Quinn

Bítear ag iarraidh an logainm is faide nó an ceann is giorra nó an ceann is gáirsiúla a aimsiú. Samhlaítear an logainm An Teampall Mór i gContae Thiobraid Árann leis an nGarda Síochána toisc gurb ann atá coláiste oiliúna an fhórsa lonnaithe. Léiríonn logainmneacha an deighilt a bhíonn idir pobail ar chúiseanna socheacnamaíochta, go háirithe sna bailte agus sna cathracha mar a mbíonn cáil an tsaibhris ar cheantair áirithe agus drochtheist an bhochtanais ar áiteanna eile.  Tá fuíollach fianaise le haimsiú i siopaí bídh go bhfuil logainmneacha ábalta ár theachtaireachtaí a chur in iúil dúinn. Is mó táirge bídh go bhfuil logainm mar chuid dá ainm, go háirithe táirgí déiríochta (Kerry, Charleville, Kilmeaden, Dubliner), agus uisce i mbuidéil (Ballygowan, Tipperary, Evian). Is é atá á chur in iúil dúinn ná gur áiteanna glana ar an dtuath iad na háiteanna so agus dá réir sin go ndéanfaidh na táirgí a luaitear leo maitheas dúinn agus gurb é ár leas iad a cheannach. Is cosúil ná meallann áiteanna plúchta, truaillithe sa chathair lucht siopadóireachta. Dealraíonn sé más ea go músclaíonn logainmneacha ár gcuid mothúchán agus go bhfuil baint acu lenár n-áit sa phobal. Léiríonn siad difríochtaí agus cuireann siad teorainneacha fisiciúla agus teorainneacha sóisialta in iúil chomh maith. Agus sinn ag iarraidh dul i ngleic le stiúrú na timpeallachta, an t-athrú aeráide agus an Bhreatimeacht, b’fhiú dhúinn machnamh a dhéanamh ar ár gceangal le háiteanna agus le logainmneacha chun sinn a cheangal leis an saol fisiciúil, sóisialta agus cultúrtha atá timpeall orainn. INDEPENDENT Thinking  1 7


Meet, Grow, Love Robert O’Sullivan talks to three members of the UCC community to find out how each of them are reaching out in a practical and impactful way, to respond to the needs of the migrant community in Cork.

DR NAOMI MASHETI She moved to Cork in 2001 with two children – juggling life as a single mother, living in a new country and attending UCC. As the coordinator of the Cork Migrant Centre, Dr Naomi Masheti brings her academic expertise, as well as practical life experience as a migrant, to the role.


aomi graduated with an undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology in 2007, completing an MA Degree in Forensic Psychology, the following year. She then did a PhD with the School of Applied Psychology specialising in the psychosocial wellbeing of SubSaharan African migrant children. While studying in UCC Naomi had to also raise her three children. The fact that she was a migrant, but her kids spent their days with mostly Irish children in school, sparked her interest in reconciling the difference between the two cultures – especially from the point of view of a parent. This led to her future research, as well as her work with the migrant community in Cork. “Psychology is really a western discipline, so when I first started

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researching the psychology of migrants, I gradually focused on cross-cultural psychology,” says Naomi. She then switched her focus to psychosocial models of health. Psychosocial work, she explains, is about “building the supports around the individual who is vulnerable” and “building the capacities of the people”. Naomi noticed that some migrants here – particularly those seeking asylum from war-torn countries and disaster areas – are able to come to terms with their suffering, despite the severity of their experiences when psychosocial supports are mobilised around them. The opportunity to establish a psychosocial centre at the Cork city-based Nano Nagle Place shifted Naomi’s primary focus to working directly with migrant mothers themselves. They started with coffee mornings, as the women who had come to the centre highlighted their lack of opportunities to form friendships as a key issue. “At first it was just a small group of mothers. I said to my friend, ‘when we started there was coffee and tissues. Because there are a lot of tears, because people are trying to express themselves,’” she says.

Over time, membership grew from three women to 50+ women living mainly in direct provision centres in Cork. They developed relationships with bodies like UCC and the city council, and throughout these partnerships – and the events that came from them – the “coffee morning women” were there at the forefront. It’s been over 18 years since Naomi arrived in Ireland, where she was “the only black face in Ballincollig” and it’s now a different place. Though one would hope that with time comes progress, Ireland has not been immune to the global trends of intolerant public opinion and stereotyping towards migrants. Naomi has highlighted the remote placement of direct provision centres as a contributing factor, as it’s “very easy to condemn people you can’t see.” Her collaborative work with the Cork Migrant Centre and with UCC is even more important in this context. Events like Refugee Week help to reduce the distance between direct provision and the rest of Irish society. And it goes beyond UCC, as the students of today are the professionals of tomorrow.

Dr Naomi Masheti (centre, dressed in red), with some of the participants at the Cork Migrant Centre. (Photography: Clare Keogh)




STEVIE GRAINGER It is well acknowledged that the Cork city-based music producer, journalist and radio DJ, ‘Stevie G’ (aka Steven Grainger), is a Leeside institution, who for over 25 years has injected the local scene with his enthusiasm and passion.


graduate of UCC, Stevie qualified with a BA in English and History in 1995. He was still a student there when he broke into the music scene, DJing for spells in the Old Bar, before hitting the big time with well-renowned sets at Sir Henry’s, the historic club in South Main Street. Since then he’s been a permanent welcome fixture in Cork’s music scene – DJing, promoting club nights, writing articles for local media outlets, and hosting a series of radio programmes on Cork’s RedFM. But Stevie G has also added another gig to his portfolio – organising dance classes for young girls in the direct provision centres in Cork, a system which he describes as “awful – a bit like a prison.” A few years ago the Cork Migrant Centre, in Nano Nagle Place, contacted Stevie to do a workshop with young people living

Stevie Grainger in action with some of the schoolgirls who benefit from his workshops.


within the direct provision centres. With his background in DJing so well established, he initially ran DJing workshops with the kids, and though it went well, he found it wasn’t clicking with the younger girls in the groups. He decided to seek out Corkbased dancer and choreographer, Andrea Williams, to help develop a programme for the teenagers. Then Andrea, who was working a fulltime job, in addition to her musical projects, was joined by UCC Dance Club member and medical student, Kate Wang. Despite all three either working or studying full-time, it didn’t stop them from becoming dedicated to the job at hand: “Kate at one stage busted her leg and I thought, ‘I probably won’t see her for months.’ And she arrives up on a crutch, teaching the girls the following Wednesday,” says Stevie. “It’s been the same with Andrea; she’s been injured a few times and she’s always there – the most dedicated person I’ve ever worked with.” Their goal was clear for the teenagers: “Andrea and myself just wanted to get their joy across with dancing,” says Stevie. It has worked: the positive effect of the dance sessions over the months has provided a platform for the kids to express themselves – and has also helped them with their self-esteem.

Attendance at the workshops has grown over time and social media promotion has highlighted the positive impact that people living in direct provision have on the wider community. The photos and videos of the teens going through the routines – choreographed by Andrea – clearly gets the message across of what a difference such a project makes. Stevie G is synonymous with the Leeside Indie music scene in particular, because he brought genres from other corners of the world, to introduce them to generations of Corkonians. His openness to learning about those genres began while he was on a J1 in the United States, all those years ago, when a burgeoning hip-hop scene – less concerned with guns and machismo, led by people like Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill – started to take centre-stage. “When I returned to Cork I had the vision of what I wanted to do musically,” he says. Those few months as a student abroad ignited by his openness and inclusiveness – sparked the direction of Stevie’s music career, influencing so many Corkonians. And now decades later, he is also influencing migrant kids living in the city.


Vera Stojanovic (front left) with some of those who participate in the Better Together group she established.

VERA STOJANOVIC A chance encounter in Cork City centre led to UCC mature student, Vera Stojanovic, setting up a local charity, empowering women seeking asylum in Cork.


went into town one day because I had no coffee, and I bumped into a man giving out information outside the Peace Park, about direct provision,” says Vera. That man was Mike Fitzgibbon, a lecturer in International Development at UCC, who was passing out information for a group campaigning for the rights of asylum seekers. Vera had been involved in circus skills at that time and thought that organising a workshop or event in one of the centres in Cork might be a good idea. A newly qualified yoga instructor offered to teach classes to the women in the centres. As time went on, the yoga class turned into a women’s group, with the

participants staying behind after classes to talk about their lives and their problems in direct provision. Established in 2016, Better Together began, Vera says, with those yoga classes. A few months later, there was a circus Easter camp they wanted to send the kids to, so they fundraised and were able to send eight children – a pivotal moment in the settingup of Better Together. “I didn’t intend to set up an organisation; the need was there for it, so we just kept doing the things the women were asking for,” says Vera. The impact of Better Together on the migrants quickly became apparent. The women spoke about how the yoga helped with their mental health, and one of the kids started doing yoga in the crèche of one of the centres. This led to the crèche coordinators organising yoga with the kids, causing what Vera described as “a lovely kind of chain reaction to what we were doing.” Originally from Wexford and living in Cork for the past seven years, Vera initially studied Drama

and Theatre Studies in UCC in 2011 but stepped away from the course after feeling that university wasn’t the right thing for her at the time. However, as the work with Better Together progressed, she became drawn to returning to university. As a Quercus Active Citizenship Scholar, she now combines her studies with continuing the wonderful work of the organisation she founded. The “chain reaction” continues: final-year Occupational Therapy students at UCC also got on board with Better Together, through a research project exploring what supports – and barriers – existed for asylum-seeking women who wished to integrate into life in Ireland. With the research highlighting employment as a key issue, the group went on to organise a series of employment skills workshops for over 50 women, in UCC’s library. Vera also sits on the working group of the UCC University of Sanctuary and the board of management for Cork’s Social Health and Education Project, (SHEP) and she represents BetterTogether on the advocacy and child and family subcommittees of the Cork City of Sanctuary programme. Her goal is to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – an impressive leap from that chance encounter while shopping for coffee!

UCC holds University of Sanctuary status. This title was awarded by People of Sanctuary Ireland, in recognition of the university's efforts in promoting the welfare of refugees and asylum-seekers.

INDEPENDENT Thinking  2 1



Tyndall is a leading light in the photonics world PIXAPP boasts the world’s first open-access PIC assembly and packaging pilot line, but Professor Peter O’Brien tells Margaret Jennings that the Tyndall-led consortium has also become a global co‑ordinator, which includes the training of the future workforce in this cutting-edge technology space.


Peter O’Brien, who is leading the photonic revolution at the Tyndall National Institute, stands beside the Gaposchkin Chandelier, which represents the institute’s contribution to science. (Photography: Mike Hannon)

he term ‘Valley of Death’ has an ominous ring to it and indeed, within the world of research, it is a phrase that graphically encapsulates that gap that needs to be traversed from the initial phases of the laboratory research, to getting a product out into the market. Many a good research idea has literally died that death because it could not be transferred and practically manufactured in the real world. This is a challenge that has existed in the cutting-edge world of photonics, a technology that uses the generation, control and detection of light through nano-scale silicon chips, called Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs). As the speed and usage of our traditional electronic technology is almost at capacity, photonics has the potential to have a farreaching impact on our lives in many areas – including high-speed communication systems, miniaturised healthcare devices and compact sensing devices for mass market applications, such as self-driving cars. But while there have been significant developments globally to advance these technologies – mostly focusing on those tiny microchips – there were major technical and economic hurdles to overcome when it came to connecting these microchips to the real world, using fibre optics, micro lenses and electronic control devices. It is also worth noting that

these ‘photonic packaging’ tasks can amount to 80% of the total manufacturing cost. It became evident that it would be necessary to develop design rules and standards for packaging PICs; to package them costeffectively, so that the gap between research and industry could be bridged – a vital task, considering the photonics markets is expected to be worth €615bn by 2020. Tyndall National Institute professor, Peter O’Brien, first identified that requirement within this technological revolution 10 years ago; now he and his team are recognised as world leaders in packaging PICs. “Besides performing the research, you have to ask, ‘how can I focus my research to make a real impact?’ And this was it,” says Peter. “I saw the need for packaging as an opportunity – almost from a business point of view, but from a research perspective, obviously – that we could have a unique selling point in advanced photonics research.” It paid off: two years ago the EU invested €15.5m in an international consortium called PIXAPP led by Peter, who is also head of Photonics Packaging Research at Tyndall. His research group is also participating in 14 major EU research projects under the Horizon 2020 programme. PIXAPP provides the world’s first openaccess PIC assembly and packaging pilot line, which accelerates research from the laboratory to industry. One example of a product which hit the headlines for PIXAPP some months back is a ground-breaking hand-held device which provides an early-warning indicator for cardiovascular disease. It will enable GPs to detect hardening arteries, sparing the patient visits to hospitals and clinics and should be available on the medical market in about five years’ time. INDEPENDENT Thinking  2 3


“All the critical parts of this compact medical device have been miniaturised into tiny millimetrescale chips, replacing the large and very expensive equipment used today. It’s just one example of the many emerging market opportunities within the photonics space,” says Peter. Because the PIXAPP pilot line has become globally recognised for creating and formalising the core technologies – applying design rules and standards – they are now in a pivotal position between researchers in major educational institutions and industries worldwide. They have established collaborations, for instance, with some of the top US universities and institutes including Columbia University in New York (where Peter is a visiting scientist); University of California in Berkeley; the California Institute of Technology; University of Arizona (where Peter is an adjunct professor) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Irish government has also invested a further €4.1m in funding from the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) for the establishment of a national pilot line, to build an indigenous photonics manufacturing capability. However, Peter points out that at this stage PIXAPP has gone beyond just the technology aspect. “There is great technology, and we saw a gap in the “WE’VE GOT THE REMIT, THE research field and we KNOWLEDGE, THE NETWORK AND exploited that, but now we are coordinating an THE CONFIDENCE TO GO OUT ecosystem – the people who make AND PROMOTE THIS COMMUNITY these PIC microchips, ON A GLOBAL STAGE – SO IT’S the research scientists, engineers, the machine BIGGER THAN JUST THE builders, the people who manage the TECHNOLOGY. I THINK THAT’S AN designs; we are seen IMPORTANT MESSAGE.” as a global coordinator in that space, in a market that is taking off in a revolutionary way." It’s a very good place to be in. “We’ve got the remit, the knowledge, the network and the confidence to go out and promote this community on a global stage – so it’s bigger than just the technology. I think that’s an important message.” 24 INDEPENDENT Thinking

Because of their international reputation, the Tyndall-led consortium has also become a space for training the future workforce in photonics. “A lot of resources we get from agencies like Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the European Commission I see as seed funding for additional growth; an initial investment in us to go and build something bigger. That includes educating the future generation of photonic scientists and engineers,” says Peter. “We have a training programme for industry and an education programme for students. We have PhD students and we educate them in advanced technologies," he adds. “Then we are also training the future workforce in photonics. For example, the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics is setting up a new photonics packaging capability, so they sent over their development team to be trained here: we charge for that, which contributes to our long-term sustainability.” Their success didn’t happen overnight of course: they started with a strategic plan to focus on a core technology and to collaborate with leading academic and industrial partners around the world by offering a unique research capability. “With the support of SFI and the European Commission, in particular, we have been able to reach our strategic objectives and we are now planning for even bigger developments in the coming years,” says Peter. “I think it’s a message about how you run your research group as well – to differentiate, to collaborate with the best, to identify uniqueness in your research, to network and travel and to win competitive funding. You can’t expect to keep working in isolation doing great research and expect things to happen; international collaboration, promotion and outreach are essential.”

The Gaposchkin Chandelier, by artist Emer O'Boyle, is displayed in the Tyndall National Institute. Inspired by Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin who discovered what stars are made of, the discovery forever changed how we understand the physical universe.


ZOOming in on animal and human welfare Conservation ecologist, David O’Connor, tells Jane Haynes how a rainy day in UCC’s Boole Library inspired his fascinating career working with communities and endangered species.


avid O’Connor’s life sounds like a cross between an Indiana Jones movie and a David Attenborough documentary. Then again, when you split your time between working with endangered giraffes and elephants in Kenya and other parts of Africa, and fighting to end the trade in bears in Southeast Asia, every day is an adventure.

Former UCC student David O’Connor, is passionate about his work as a conservation ecologist. (Photography: Ian Lemaiyan)

A community-based conservation ecologist at the world-famous San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG), an organisation committed to saving species around the world, David’s job takes him all over the globe to work with a diverse range of communities and endangered animals. Is it exciting? You bet. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. Is it scary? Oh, yes. Indeed, it is hard to believe that it was amidst the hushed aisles of UCC’s Boole Library, on one wet afternoon during his college days, that the sparks of David’s passion for conservation were ignited. David, a Waterford native who was fascinated by nature while growing up, was studying for his undergraduate degree in Zoology at the time. “I remember very clearly, there was one rainy Saturday, and I decided to go into the library. I picked up this book from one of the shelves, and I started reading some of the scientific papers.

“I had never read raw scientific papers before – it was about squirrels and foraging. And the whole afternoon I was reading this book, and it was in that moment that I knew that was what I really wanted to do – because it absolutely fascinated me.” From student digs to San Diego Zoo Global is quite the leap, and David admits that he took the ‘long path’ to where he is today. Despite his passion for nature and his initial desire to be a wildlife photographer, for a time he felt the pressure to ‘be more practical’ and went on to study a postgraduate business degree at University College Dublin. The experience left him in no doubt as to where his future lay: “I decided I didn’t really care for business – I knew I wanted to go into conservation and wildlife.” Born in the United States to Irish parents, David found himself in a fortunate position, holding citizenship where the major wildlife publications and wildlife funds were located. He moved to Washington DC and gave himself a year to make strides in the industry. It was a move that well and truly paid off. “I worked office jobs just to pay the bills, and then eventually, after about a year, I got a job at National Geographic magazine. From there on, I’ve been working in conservation; it was my first big entry point,” explains David. It was during his time as a researcher with the magazine, INDEPENDENT Thinking  2 5


covering fascinating conservation “We started a community-based “A lot of people think stories, that he realised it was time project called the ‘Twiga Walinzi’ conservation is only about wildlife to get out into the field. which, in Swahili, means ‘giraffe – it’s not, it’s actually about people. “I really wanted to go back and guards’. We’ve hired all local You have to work with people, do hands-on conservation rather people, worked with them and because it’s ultimately those than just reporting on it,” he recalls. trained them on how to do people, who live side-by-side with “So I did a master's in conservation research; they have these animals, who might actually Conservation Biology at the had to do work with communities be the ones to determine their University of Michigan and then, and educational programmes. The future,” says David. before I graduated, I got a job in whole programme is actually Indeed, it was through engaging the local land conservancy in San implemented by the local people, with locals during work on Twiga Diego, California. Jobs in our field which is as it should be.” Walinzi, that led to the development are hard to come by, so I took it.” David also works with the Reteti of another programme, focused on He went from working as a Elephant Rescue Centre, the only conserving leopards. conservation manager to community-owned and run, “When we were going around contracting in San Diego Zoo elephant rescue centre in Africa. working on the giraffe project in Global, before eventually joining “They take orphan elephants the various communities, they SDZG full-time. Today, David works from the wild, whose parents have would tell us that what they really in the zoo’s Institute for been killed. If there’s no way to get wanted help with was the Conservation Research, which is them back to their herd, they take leopards,” he recalls. committed to conserving species them in and rear them and then “We did these big surveys, and and fighting extinction. He is front re-release them back into the it turned out that the leopard was and centre in that fight, working wild,” he explains. the most hated animal in the area with communities and endangered He admits that, while it may not because they would take their animals, primarily in East Africa. be obvious to an outsider, the work livestock and dogs. So, we started “I work a lot in Northern Kenya. he is doing with the local a project there to try and increase The biggest programme I run there communities is one of the most the coexistence between people, is for the reticulated giraffe, which important aspects of a leopards and livestock.” is a species of giraffe found conservationist’s work. The Indiana Jones reference nowhere else, really. isn’t an exaggeration; And they are officially, as passionate as “IN PLACES WHERE THE ECOSYSTEM IS SO as of last year, David is about his classified as work and tackling EVOLVED AROUND THE CLIMATE, THE endangered,” he says. conservation handson in the field, he has BIGGEST THREAT IS THAT YOU’LL GET experienced his fair PROLONGED DROUGHTS WITH HUGE share of close shaves. “Any time an NUMBERS OF ANIMALS AND LIVESTOCK elephant charges you is pretty scary. They’ll DYING. THIS THEN INCREASES TENSIONS, do these mock PEOPLE BECOME MORE DESPERATE, AND charges, but sometimes they’ll THERE’S MORE CONFLICT.” really charge you and chase you. I’ve had that happen a couple of times, especially on foot. You think you would hear an elephant, but you don’t. Trying to run away from a fully charging elephant is pretty scary!” he admits.


“I’m most scared when I’m in the field with elephants and buffalos. There are moments when you surprise each other, where you realise just how small and vulnerable you are as a human, when you have this massive, multi-tonne animal chasing you!” Beyond what we might see in the pages of National Geographic – which, incidentally, he still contributes to – David is exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly of the natural world; and what he has witnessed of climate change most certainly falls into the latter category. “I kind of wish that it hadn’t been called ‘climate change’ initially, because that process is more like climate chaos,” begins David. “The patterns of the weather are changing. In Northern Kenya, for instance, they had a very regular pattern and depended on this cycle of a wet season and a dry season. The whole ecosystem had evolved around that and that is basically nearly gone now. “In places where the ecosystem is very closely connected to the climate, the biggest threat is that you’ll get prolonged droughts with huge numbers of animals and livestock dying. This then increases tensions, people become more desperate, and there’s more conflict – and it all just builds from that. And you definitely are seeing that more and more.” It’s now abundantly clear what David means when he says that it takes ‘a certain kind of personality’ to get involved in his line of work. As well as the travel and physical aspects of the job, immersing yourself in work upon which so many – animals and humans alike – are

dependent must draw heavily on one’s emotions. “Once you get involved and you know the people and the stakes, and you see the animals every day and see how they live, and you hear these sad stories where something goes wrong – yes, it can affect you, and it takes a while to get over it,” David admits. Equally apparent, however, is his passion for his work; it’s clear

David says he is exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly of the natural world. (Photography: Ian Lemaiyan)

there is no other job he would rather do. He’s modest when the topic of ‘achievements’ is raised, but his pride in what he and his team have accomplished for conservation in just a few years is undeniable. “If you had told me back in my UCC days that I’d end up doing something like Twiga Walinzi, I would have said there’s no way I’d ever be able to.”

David O’Connor (Photography: Ian Lemaiyan)

Don’t Hide It – Mind It

Alan and Niamh, UCC Students' Union 2018/19

Your generosity is altering the direction of our students’ lives


t was Martin Luther King Jr. who said that life’s most urgent question is, what are you doing for others? Over 60 years later, and the world looks different: now, Dr King is delivering his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech to students via hologram; however, that sense of urgency is as tangible to us now as it was then. At a time of such political and economic uncertainty, when the most important decisions lie with world leaders, it is this urgency to effect change in our own lives and communities that empowers us to take positive action. In an age when there is such demand for endless consumption, it has never been so important to give for the benefit of others; as UCC’s President, Professor Patrick O’Shea describes it: to create more value than we consume. Our greatest responsibility, as a university, is to nurture the next generation of independent thinkers, and philanthropy forms an essential thread in the tapestry of that story. UCC’s community has always appreciated the power of giving back, embracing the opportunity to play a role in delivering the most enriching experience for each of our students. The power of philanthropy is changing lives in UCC, as evidenced by the impact of our recent appeal: Don’t Hide It, Mind It. This appeal sought to extend UCC’s counselling 28  INDEPENDENT Thinking

service to offer out-of-hours support in the evenings, and by phone at weekends. This was a direct response to research showing that more than 80% of UCC students who attended counselling counted it as a factor in remaining at university, and statistics showing that the service was struggling to provide support to every student seeking help. An appeal was sent out to the UCC supporter community, to help provide a solution to the problem. What followed proved that the power of philanthropy is not only alive but life-changing. A staggering €35,000 was raised for out-ofhours student mental health counselling this year. The counselling service is now better placed to provide essential support to our students, helping them through some of their most challenging moments. You have made a tangible difference to the lives of thousands of students, and for that, we thank you. Your generosity has helped to enrich UCC students’ lives in powerful ways. The success of Don’t Hide It, Mind It marks an important step forward, but it is just that: one step in our quest to provide the best experience for our students. As we continue on that journey, we hope you will continue to support us along the way.

Will you make a difference? Support UCC’s Student Mental Health Campaign €60 will provide one hour of counselling. • €180 will provide three hours of counselling. • A direct debit of €60 per month will provide 12 hours of counselling in a year.


ur students’ need for professional counselling keeps growing. You can guarantee, through a donation, that more of our students will get to see a counsellor when they need to, face-to-face in the evenings and by phone at the weekends.

We want our counselling service to be accessible to students who need it, when they need it, by offering out-of-hours support in the evenings and by telephone at the weekends. We do this so we can match the rhythm of the stress and pressure points in their lives.

More young people than ever before are experiencing mental health challenges.

Although the university assigns significant resources to supporting our students’ mental health each year, it is clear, nonetheless, that the demand for counselling services continues to grow. Sadly, this means that we do not get to meet all the students who need us.

Not only is this due to the pressures that students feel, but also because they are at the age when mental health problems begin to emerge. At University College Cork last year, counsellors saw 1,481 of our students at one-toone sessions. This number is increasing by more than 100 every year. We know that counselling is effective. More than eight in every ten students at UCC who attended counselling said this was a key factor in them remaining in university.

Please invest in our students' well-being by donating today at: Donate now and your gift will have a lasting and positive impact on our students’ well-being.

There are several ways to donate to the UCC Annual Fund

Above: Niamh and Alan, Welfare Officer and President, UCC Students’ Union, 2018-2019


If you are based in Ireland, you can make a monthly contribution to UCC. Simply download (or complete the attached donation form) and return to the address provided.

GIVE VIA CHEQUE To donate by cheque, please consult the table below, complete the attached donation form, and return your cheque to the address provided.

GIVE ONLINE If you want to donate online in Euro, USD or in GBP, please go to

Giving options in

Giving options in

Giving options in

Giving options in


the UK

the USA

the rest

• Direct debit • Cheque • Online

• Cheque • Online

• Cheque • Online

• Cheque • Online

of the world

Cheques should be made payable to

Cheques should be made payable to

Cheques should be made payable to

Cheques should be made payable to

Cork University Foundation.

UCC Educational Foundation.

Irish Educational Foundation.

Cork University Foundation.

Cork University Foundation is a registered charity CHY11831.

UCC Educational Foundation is a registered charity with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Registration no. 1021681.

Irish Educational Foundation is a registered charity with 501 (C) 3 status in the USA. Federal ID number is 04-3115638.

Cork University Foundation is a registered charity CHY11831.

If you would like to find out more about giving to UCC please contact the Alumni and Development Office W: E: T: +353 (0)21 4205942

INDEPENDENT Thinking  2 9

A symbol between past

Our Alumni and Development team is committed to playing a lifelong and meaningful role in the lives of our former students. A key part of our efforts has been the recent creation of a new visual identity, representing a familiar landmark within University College Cork, which links our alumni to their past here. Director of Communications, Kate McSweeney, explains. 30 INDEPENDENT Thinking

UCC alumni are found in every aspect of our community and nation. They are among our educators, artists, poets, playwrights, athletes, coaches, mentors, public servants and parliamentarians. They are serving the poor and disadvantaged; are among those seeking justice and those providing healthcare. They are leading businesses that contribute towards the growth of our economy. In short, UCC alumni are helping to build a stronger Ireland and a better world. Our university is committed to playing a lifelong and meaningful

role in the lives of our alumni; our team has reached out even more so, in recent times, to re-energise our engagement with our former students, offering regular invitations to engage with us, including expanded alumni programmes and services. A key part of our efforts to build and solidify our role in the lives of our alumni has been the creation of a new visual identity for our office. Its key motif is a graphic portrayal of the beautiful bridge (shown here) – which is known to all students and alumni of UCC. The tag line, Connecting You, reaches out to all

and present

our community – our alumni, students, donors and friends. The bridge, of course, is also a symbol of transition; students enter through UCC’s ornate ceremonial gates and cross it – into a world of opportunity and promise. Similarly, we connect you, our donors to philanthropic opportunities, which make a real and lasting difference. Investing in UCC, connects you, our past students, with future generations. Similarly, our students leave after their final studies, via the same bridge – this time equipped to engage with and challenge the world, in all its complexity, and strengthened also by

The Alumni and Development team stand on the UCC bridge which represents the office’s new visual identity, linking alumni to their past at the university. (Photography: Mike Hannon)

their connection to our university, as new alumni. Symbolism is important. A bridge connects; it supports; it provides passage over sometimes harsh or uncertain terrain; it spans distances and generations; it links diverse worlds and communities; it connects students of the past with our graduates of the future. Essentially, it is a perfect representation of what our university offers to our community. To honour our student/alumni connection with our university and to inculcate and celebrate the idea that UCC is a bridge to opportunity and achievement – as well as to a lifelong-

held familial connection – the bridge, following a naming ceremony in October, is now known as the Alumni Bridge. Our hope is that the Alumni Bridge will quickly become part of UCC’s rich symbolic landscape – a place of personal and public ritual. Its name will be a constant reminder of how much we hold our past, present and future alumni in high regard, and how we value those lifelong bonds that we aim to continually strengthen, between our alumni, donors, friends and UCC benefitting each immensely, in the years to come. The Alumni and Development Team at UCC looks forward to Connecting with You. INDEPENDENT Thinking  3 1

Keep in Touch

Now that you’re part of the UCC alumni community you can update your

As an alumnus of UCC, you can • attend cultural, educational and networking events in Ireland and abroad • request assistance in planning your class reunion • join alumni chapters around the world • avail of a UCC email account for life • stay connected through UCC’s social networks for alumni • enjoy preferential rates at the Mardyke Arena Health and Leisure Centre • reserve the UCC Alumni Room on campus for special meetings and events • get married on campus


with UCC …

details, register for events or make a donation at

To find out more about any of the benefits listed, contact UCC Alumni and Development.

E: T: +353 (0)21 420 5942

INDEPENDENT Thinking  3 3


I Do! UCC’s beautiful campus is a popular choice for church and civil weddings. Here are some of the happy couples who celebrated their big day here.

01 03



34  INDEPENDENT Thinking





07 10

01 Ingrid Barry and Brendan Cotter (BA Hons ’99, H.Dip Mgmt. Hons ’00, H.Dip. Ed. ’03) 02 Sarah Mansfield (BComm ’11) and Peter Clune (BDS ’12)


03 Denis Twomey (BSc Government and Public Policy ’08) and Clare Hurley 04 Oisín Greaney and Yvelynne Kelly (Medicine ’09)


05 Diarmuid McCarthy and Fiona Fahey (BA Math. & Geog. ’07) 06 Micheál Dillon and Carol FitzGerald (BSc Hons Genetics ’05) 07 Paula O’Regan (BPharm ’11) and Michael Sheehan (BSc Accounting ’08) 08 Michael Scanlan and Dr Fiona Geaney (BSc ’07, MPH ’10, PhD ’15) 09 Jennifer Ryan (BA Early Childhood Studies ’08) and Sean Elliott 10 Paul Mullane (MB Bch BAO ’10) and Laura Tobin (BSc Physiology Hons. ’09) 11

Ian Lyne (BComm ’12) and Amanda O’Sullivan (BComm ’13)

12 Dr Grace Neville (MB BCh ’11 , MSc ’15) and Aengus Carmody 13 Diarmaid Carr and Elaine Tynan (BA ’09, Dip Ed ’10, MSc ’14 )


14 David O’Halloran (BComm ’08, MSc Econ. ’09) and Louise Browne (BA Econ. ’08, MSc. Econ ’09) 15 Deborah Murphy (MA Geog. ’04) and Patrick Dinneen (BSc Food Science ’00)

If you are a UCC graduate and would like more information on celebrating your wedding day in the Honan Chapel please contact Yvonne McGrath at +353 (0) 21 4903088 or If you would like to enquire about a civil marriage ceremony in a venue such as the Aula Maxima, please contact or phone +353 (0)21 4903588.



INDEPENDENT Thinking  35

UCC Alumni Achievement Awards 2019

Five exceptional UCC alumni were honoured at the university’s annual Alumni Achievement Awards on 22 November, in a gala ceremony at the Aula Maxima.


his year’s awardees were: legendary sports broadcaster, Marty Morrissey; pioneering surgeon, Professor Calvin Coffey; one of the country’s best-known psychologists, Dr Maureen Gaffney; renowned Michelin-starred chef, Ross Lewis; and Naomi James, the first woman to sail solo around the world via the treacherous Cape Horn route. The awards were kindly sponsored by Bank of Ireland, Boston Scientific, Henry Ford & Son, Hayfield Manor and UCC Visitor Centre.

36  INDEPENDENT Thinking

Professor Calvin Coffey, BSc 1995, BMedSc, MB, BCh, BAO 1998 Professor Calvin Coffey qualified with a degree in Medicine from UCC in 1998, and completed his PhD in 2005. He recently made headlines around the world when he and his researchers reclassified part of the human digestive system, the mesentery, as a new organ. This discovery led to updates in Gray’s Anatomy and Langmans’ Medical Embryology, also featuring in Time Magazine, National Geographic and the Guinness Book of Records. The impact of his research is ground-breaking. As Coffey explains, “Identifying the mesentery as an organ clarifies what we are and how we are made up. It re-orientates human biology and by extension, clinical practice.”


Dr Maureen Gaffney, BA 1968 Dr Maureen Gaffney is a psychologist, broadcaster and the best-selling author of Flourishing and The Way We Live Now. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from UCC in 1968. Maureen has worked as a columnist for The Irish Times, a clinical psychologist in the HSE Ireland, a Senior Lecturer in Trinity College Dublin, and as Director of the first Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology in Ireland. Her new book, Your One Wild and Precious Life, will be published next year. Speaking about how modern life has impacted our health and well-being, Gaffney says: “The single biggest factor in my view is distraction – much of it self-created by addiction to smartphones, social media and the cult of convenience. The result? Cognitive overload, chronic low-level stress and rushed, distracted close relationships.”

Marty Morrissey,

BA 1980

Marty Morrissey is legendary in the sports broadcasting world. Born in Mallow but raised in the Bronx, Marty moved to County Clare at age 10, returning to Cork several years later as a UCC student. He initially studied medicine and science, eventually finding his place in the arts and graduating with a BA in 1980. A passionate GAA fan, Marty played hurling and Gaelic football for Clare. He joined RTÉ as a sports commentator and presenter in 1989 and has been a member of The Sunday Game team for 30 years. He is one of the best-known voices in Irish sport, having commentated on every All-Ireland hurling final since 2012.

Naomi James, BA 1997, MA 1999

Ross Lewis, DipDySc 1985

Naomi James was the first woman to sail solo around the world via the treacherous Cape Horn route. She departed Devon on 9 September 1977 and began her adventure aboard the 53-foot yacht, Express Crusader. During her voyage, she nearly lost her mast and capsized, and had no radio for several weeks. After 272 days she completed her challenge, and on 8 June 1978 arrived at her destination to a huge welcome. In recognition of her achievements, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979. After her voyage, she moved to Cork with her husband, who tragically died in a sailing accident. She found solace in a return to education, graduating with a BA and an MA in Philosophy at UCC, and later a PhD from Milltown Institute.

UCC Dairy Science graduate, Ross Lewis, is renowned for championing the best of Irish artisan food produce at his Michelin-starred restaurant, Chapter One. Lewis and Chapter One have placed Ireland firmly on the international food map, with culinary gurus such as A.A. Gill, Colman Andrews and Barbara Fairchild among the esteemed food writers who have visited the restaurant. It is not surprising then that Lewis has strong views on the importance of educating children about food: “Teaching children about how to eat and how to cook is, in my opinion, a fundamental life skill that directly affects physical and therefore mental health”. INDEPENDENT Thinking  37


UCC CLASS OF 1969 GOLDEN JUBILEE GRADUATION REUNION, AUGUST 2019 Friends and classmates were reunited at UCC for the Golden Jubilee Reunion of the Class of 1969, which took place on 30 August. Professor Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC, welcomed graduates back to their Alma Mater for a day of celebration. Over 120 alumni and friends, from all faculties, came together to mark the 50th anniversary of their graduation. Guests travelled from all over Ireland, the UK, the USA and Canada to re-connect with old friends. Alumni enjoyed a celebratory lunch in the Aula Maxima and toured the historic centre of the university, the Boole Library and the Glucksman Gallery.


02 03


01 Christine McCarthy 02 L-R: Margaret Murray, David Noonan, Lucy Wall-Noonan 03 L-R: Phil Staunton-Lally, Margaret Bermingham, Mary Reid-Sheehan 04 L-R: Michael Leahy, Prof. Patrick O’Shea, President, UCC 05 L-R: Roger Barrett, Joe O’Sullivan, Julian Williams


38  INDEPENDENT Thinking


There’s nothing like catching up with friends, classmates and teaching staff in person. Every year, UCC welcomes hundreds of graduates back to their alma mater to celebrate the anniversary of their graduation day. Here are some of the reunions held during the last year. 1998 Medicine 20 Year Reunion

L-R: Dr Patrick Schweiger, Dr Ann Collins, Dr Philip Cantillon, Dr Helen Barrett, Dr Mary Burke

1999 BCL 20 Year Reunion

L-R: Catherine Barry, Pat English, Helen Coughlan, Stephen Foley, Deirdre O’Halloran, Mark Doherty

1998 BCL 20 Year Reunion

L-R: Deirdre Cooper, Dave McCoy, Sinead Corcoran, Deirdre Quinn

1959 BE 60 Year Reunion

Standing L-R: John Thompson, Barry Mackin, Declan O’Riordan, John O'Neill, Michael Buckley, Kevin O’Brien, Terry Foley, Kieran Curley and Michael Higgins. Seated L-R: Noel Horgan, Henry Murdoch, Jim Barrett

Silver Jubilee – Did you graduate in 1995?

The Social Network

We are looking forward to hosting a special celebration for graduates of 1995 this coming spring. Please make sure we have your up-to-date contact details so we can contact you about this special day. Update your details at

Social media means that it has never been easier to network and keep in touch after graduation. However, there’s nothing like catching up with friends, classmates and teaching staff in person. Every year, UCC welcomes hundreds of graduates back to their alma mater to celebrate the anniversary of their graduation day. For reunion photographs and more, visit:

Organising Your Class Reunion Are you planning to celebrate the anniversary of your graduation in 2020? Did your class graduate in 2010, 2000, 1990, 1980, 1970 or would you like to celebrate other milestone years? If so, we can help you plan your class reunion and put you in touch with your friends and classmates. For more information contact Bernadette O’Regan at +353 21 420 5751 or

INDEPENDENT Thinking  39


So proud of our growing INFANT Professor Geraldine Boylan tells Michelle McDonagh how the inspiring team at the Irish Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research is continuing to make a name nationally and internationally for its groundbreaking work.


NFANT is the wonderfully appropriate name for the leading research centre focused entirely on pregnancy, birth and early childhood – and which is perched in a bright and colourful facility on top of the Paediatric Day Unit at Cork University Hospital. As Ireland’s only dedicated research centre spanning maternal and child health, it is a hub that houses a passionate and enthusiastic team of close to a hundred, led by one of its two co-founders and now sole director, Professor of Neurophysiology, Geraldine Boylan. Although it’s only six years old, INFANT is already firmly placed on the global map as a world leader in its field, as a result of breakthroughs in neonatal seizure detection, pre-eclampsia, neonatal brain injury, maternal nutrition, and childhood allergy. For example, the ANSeR (Algorithm for Neonatal Seizure Recognition) study, headed up by Geraldine, created an algorithm that can detect seizures in newborn babies, alerting the healthcare team that the baby may need help. This enables the team to treat


seizures promptly and improve the long-term outcomes for children who have had a difficult start in life. The centre has licensed the algorithm to a Japanese company who have added the software into their monitoring machines, and the UCC technology is already in use in neonatal units in hospitals in Japan. Another breakthrough – this time by the IMPROVED project team – is the development of a blood test with the potential to predict pre-eclampsia risk, by measuring biomarkers with unprecedented accuracy. With conservative estimates of pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders being responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year, this could have groundbreaking effects globally. While around 10% of all newborn babies end up in a neonatal unit — some with minor problems and others very sick — Geraldine points out that most parents are blissfully unaware of the type of complications some newborns can experience – until their child is born with a problem. “It’s so traumatic for a parent when a baby is born prematurely or unwell – and they walk into this unit

where their tiny baby is surrounded by tubes, monitors and alarms. It is scary and it can be overwhelming, but they are in an environment where they will get the best possible care for their baby,” she says. The professor can’t speak highly enough either of the amazing nursing and medical staff that work in the maternity and neonatal units at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and in units all over Ireland: “There is so much bad press about frontline staff and lack of funding in the health service, but I see on a daily basis how hard these people work. They work day and night delivering babies and caring for women and sick infants, while often juggling their own families and childcare and at the same time working extra shifts when needed at the drop of a hat.” It is well recognised that hospitals that have a research centre such as INFANT, which is integrated into a clinical care setting, have better outcomes for patients and higher overall standards of care, she points out. INFANT is also Ireland’s leading partner in conect4children, a pan-European research network which is carrying out clinical trials to develop better treatments for children. “Our aim is to ensure that Irish children participate in the best trials available across Europe. About 60% of current drugs used for children were developed for adults. We often use a smaller dose of the drug for children – but children are not small adults; their physiology and how they handle drugs is very different to adults. The gold standard for safe drug use is to test using randomised controlled trials which need to be done for children also,” explains Geraldine. As well as the development of drugs and devices specifically



Professor Geraldine Boylan and Freya (Photography: Clare Keogh)

INDEPENDENT Thinking  41


for children, INFANT is involved in research in a wide range of areas from eczema and allergies to stillbirth and pregnancy loss, and optimal nutrition for premature babies. The centre was founded with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding which ended in May of this year, so it’s now standing on its own two feet, as such: “It’s a new phase for us, a very exciting phase. We were very grateful to get SFI funding to set the centre up, and over the last six years we have built

An Post honoured INFANT’s seizure detection algorithm in a €1 stamp series titled ‘Irish Scientific Discoveries’. The series highlighted discoveries made by scientists who work in pioneering research and development in Ireland.


up an amazing and talented team of people here. INFANT has now moved into the toddler phase and we are growing and evolving and adding new team members all the time,” Geraldine says. Just as INFANT is growing up, so too are the newborn babies who were the focus of much of the early research. The centre expanded to the third floor – a brand-new extension at CUH, which opened last year and was funded through the university and philanthropy. It now has its own state-of-theart development assessment unit headed by a senior neuropsychologist, ensuring that all babies are followed up, into and throughout the childhood years. “We are really delighted with this assessment unit. We regularly have international visitors here at INFANT and they can’t believe the purpose-built set-up we have here for doing assessments. My challenge as director is to sustain this unit and the team, to ensure we can follow up every child who participates in research into their teenage years,” says Geraldine. The idea, she explains, is to see how the complications these children experienced as newborns or in the womb affects them as they grow, and to ensure better outcomes through assessment and early intervention. It’s very hard to get funding for this kind of research – but Geraldine says she is never going to stop trying. One research team, for example, is investigating the right balance of nutrition for growing preterm babies. INFANT is also heading a team that is developing a new drug for children at risk of peanut allergy. Another project is focused on identifying babies who will develop severe eczema, while the neonatal brain team have identified

biomarkers in the blood for severe brain injury in babies. INFANT researchers are also trying to understand the underlying causes of pregnancy loss and stillbirth and are looking at mothers’ experiences of maternal morbidity, to bring these issues to the forefront and begin conversations between patients, healthcare providers and the community. A panel of parents of sick children who have been through the neonatal unit at CUH, and families who have experienced complications of pregnancy, is being set up to provide input into the design and development of parent information leaflets and future research projects at INFANT. Geraldine expresses deep gratitude to the staff in the maternity hospital and the paediatric unit who manage to find the time during their incredibly busy workdays to support and facilitate INFANT research. The ever-growing talented multidisciplinary team includes clinical researchers, scientists, engineers, computer scientists, physicists and nurses, and her own enthusiasm and passion is infectious, no doubt. “You need the right team and the right people and we have been very lucky in INFANT with our amazing team of people here which is our major strength. It’s very rare to get a centre with all this different expertise together in one place,” she says. “We have a talented and enthusiastic pool of PhD students and post docs – the next generation who, I hope, will continue on the work we started and build on it. We have so much more to do, so many areas we have not even scratched the surface of yet, in terms of the research we need to do.”


In safe hands Conor Lyden is the founder-CEO of Trustap, a platform that acts as a safety net for those buying and selling online. The award-winning entrepreneur and UCC graduate talks to Jane Haynes. I did engineering because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in college. I liked maths and was told it was a good base degree to have for going into business afterwards. In final year I took business electives. I’m a Liverpool supporter and I went to matches in the UK every now and then. I’d look for tickets online, and the same thing kept happening: the person selling the ticket would say, ‘pay me the money and I’ll post the ticket afterwards’. I was uncomfortable doing that – I actually got scammed a few times. I thought, ‘there must be a better way of doing this’ – and that’s where the idea for Trustap came from. I had a job lined up on a graduate programme, but I decided to apply to the IGNITE programme as I had the idea for Trustap. I chose not to go forward with the graduate programme and do IGNITE instead;

it was probably the best decision I ever made. During my J1s, I ran a sailing programme in the States. That was a phenomenal experience, because you build leadership qualities and learn how to properly delegate and maintain a happy work balance for everyone. Learning that meant that I didn’t go into business completely inexperienced. I’ve adopted an attitude of ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ I was on an accelerator programme in Texas, and had been trying to get in touch with a company called BigCommerce, but I wasn’t getting through to the right person. I got a taxi one night, and the driver asked me what I was doing over there. As it turns out, he was the Head of Partnerships for BigCommerce. He had just moved to the city and was taxi-driving to get used to the place. What are the chances?! I

Former UCC student Conor Lyden is helping us keep out of deep water by making online transactions safer. (Photography: Clare Keogh)

was in there the following week, meeting with the top people. It shows that if you keep pitching, eventually you’ll be heard by the right person! We’re enabling people to transact with strangers, where they wouldn’t have before. And that, in turn, leads to sustainability, because more people are buying and selling second-hand stuff. Our goal is to get Trustap integrated into as many buy-andsell marketplaces as possible. We’ve had great success over the last couple of months, signing contracts with some big marketplaces. That’s where our focus is: to Conor was add more models, to recently listed in incorporate different the Sunday kinds of transactions, Business Post’s and then sign up as Top 30 Under 30 many of those sites as in Irish Tech. we can. INDEPENDENT Thinking  4 3


Blas-oming relationship UCC is known as Ireland’s Food University. But the role it has played in contributing to the highly respected annual Blas na hÉireann awards has enhanced our expertise also. Kate Ryan talks to two of the leading players behind our Irish Food Oscars. They are known as the Irish Food Oscars among our home-grown talented producers and this year the Blas na hÉireann awards attracted a record 2,500 entrants, since they were first established in 2007. It’s a tribute to the high esteem in which the awards system is held; Blas na hÉireann has developed into a recognised and respected mark of quality for consumers, buyers and producers alike, at home and abroad. Without a doubt, it rests upon the quality of the products that are granted the Blas seal of approval. But what marks Blas na hÉireann out from other industrysimilar awards is its rigorous two-step sensory evaluation.

The judging of the finalists – the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country – is conducted by an extensive panel of experts from across the Irish food industry spectrum, whose feedback determines who is bestowed a bronze, silver or gold medal. The awards system – and the science behind it – was developed by Artie Clifford, chairman and founder of Blas na hÉireann, and Professor Joe Kerry, senior lecturer and head of the Food Packaging Research group, in the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at UCC. Back then, when Artie was developing a seafood chowder product under the brand of Ballyhea, at the Dingle plant he was managing, he wanted to figure out how to extend shelf life, so he could enter the retail food market: “That’s when I contacted Joe Kerry and his team in UCC, to help us to increase shelf life through pasteurisation – and Joe and I hit it off from day one! “I was complaining about not having an Irish accreditation for food, and established Blas na hÉireann, but I wanted Blas to be different from other awards – I wanted it to be all about the product and all about the taste,” says Artie. “So, Joe and I discussed how we would judge

Green Pastures Donegal 2019 – Supreme Champion for their Supreme Champion Green Pastures Donegal Soft Cheese “This is a huge accolade for us, it’s great to know that our knowledge of cheese-making mixed with a modern approach is producing an award-winning cheese. We must thank the farmers we work with also who ensure we get the best possible quality milk to work with.”

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Celebrity chef Brian McDermott with Green Pastures Donegal Soft Cheese, which was crowned Supreme Champion at Blas na hÉireann. (Photography: Don MacMonagle)



Three years after the first Blas awards, Joe’s methodology was recognised as the international industry standard for blind sensory analysis. With every year that has passed since the first awards, the

HAS EVOLVED, ENSURING A HEALTHY EBB AND FLOW OF MUTUAL BENEFITS BETWEEN THE TWO BODIES.” multi-category foods using one system. Joe developed the Blind Sensory Analysis method, and that’s the method we have stuck with.”


Aisling & William O’Callaghan – Longueville House Beverages 2019 – Gold for Longueville House Cider and Mór Cider, for Longueville House Brandy “We are thrilled with our accomplishments at this year’s Blas na hÉireann Awards, Ireland’s most revered food and drink awards. Getting to the final and winning is a huge achievement in itself and a fulfilment of the late Michael O'Callaghan's dream. To win at these awards is a marvellous boost to our business in ever-rising sales, and it opens doors for us here at home and worldwide.”

relationship between Blas na hÉireann and UCC has evolved, ensuring a healthy ebb and flow of mutual benefits between the two bodies. “Working with Blas gives our food science students exposure to the food industry that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” says Joe.

Longueville House's award-winning cider.


Illustration: Caitlin Quinn

“For four weeks every July, they are tasting products and meeting producers as they drop off their products at the university.” Known as Ireland’s Food University, UCC has for 90 years provided academic study of dairy and food science. Working in partnership with Blas na hÉireann has enabled and encouraged our university to expand and further promote its own academic offering to both students and industry. This was copper-fastened last January with the launch of our Food Institute, which provides a single access point for the myriad of departments involved in food in the university. “It means we can better communicate our message about what UCC does in relation to the various fields of food study and research for anyone wishing to make contact with us,” says Joe. In recognition of the important role that academia and ongoing learning plays for food producers, Blas na hÉireann has connected with the likes of our Food Industry Training Unit (FITU) and Taste 4 Success Skillnet. FITU specifically developed a series of industryfocused courses and workshops with Blas na hÉireann, with topics based on key points identified by the very producers showcased through the Blas awards system. They approached the producers and asked what they would like to know and learn, says Artie. As a result, Blas Backyard was formed: a series of masterclasses, panel discussions and meet-the-


UCC has its very own brand of honey, Alma Nectar. This delicious honey is produced by bees from an apiary located on the university’s North Mall campus.

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buyer events that take place after the judging has concluded. It makes a producer’s journey to Dingle to collect their award even more worthwhile – giving them the opportunity to network, learn and hear from other producers. Surveys carried out with past Blas winners have shown that receiving an award helps increase sales of the winning products by a staggering 20%. But, as Joe Kerry says, “there are two ways to look at Blas – either as a bunch of awards, or as a dataset for scientists to scrutinise!” The Blas movement is motivated by different things. It is numbers, it is data – but it’s not motivated by the kind of numbers that are to do with money, or exports, or burgeoning markets. It’s purely about the producers and their products and about taste and quality. “Blas is a community,” says Artie, “and when it gathers in Dingle, it’s one big business network. Everyone in that judging room will give their time to Irish producers, and most people know each other. “If you were to look down the list of names of judges – anything that's happening in the Irish food scene right now, they're involved in it. Food is at the centre of who we are. And dealing with people like Joe – that’s why I think we’re successful. We are both motivated by a different path.”  To learn about the science behind Professor Joe Kerry’s Blind Sensory Analysis methodology, visit

Caroline Murphy, West Cork Eggs 2018 – Gold Award, 2019 – Silver Award “Winning a Gold Award was totally unexpected and brilliant. What makes an award at Blas so special for West Cork Eggs is that it is for our product – the humble and simple egg! It shows that by treating our hens right, by giving them good food, freedom and fun, they give us in return award-winning eggs! What Blas did is give us that external validation from an experienced panel who know about food and an award that people know and trust.”

Caroline Murphy whose West Cork Eggs company won a Blas na hÉireann Gold Award.


A pitch-perfect move

She has 12 All-Ireland GAA titles to her name and is the CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport. Jane Haynes discovers why Cork woman Mary O’Connor is using her insight and passion to spearhead the 20x20 campaign, to create a cultural shift in the presentation and perception of women’s sport in Ireland.


here was a time when Mary O’Connor was desperate to fit in with the boys. So much so, that on one occasion – unbeknownst to her mother – she wandered into a hairdressing salon and asked for a boyish crop. Already a member of the camogie team in her native village of Killeagh, this sports-mad little girl decided to join up with the local hurlers to get more gametime, and she hoped that by looking more like ‘one of the lads’, she might quell the jibes inspired by the removal of her helmet. Through dedication, devotion to her county, and a passion for sport, she went on to represent Cork at the highest levels, retiring in 2011 with an 12 All-Ireland titles and a career that any athlete would envy.

But this outstanding athlete had only begun to make her mark in that world: having participated for years in a sphere that viewed women’s sport as secondary to men’s, she is now spearheading a national movement called the 20x20 campaign, to bring equality between female and male athletes; to make this the norm in Ireland. Mary has walked the talk, so to speak. Between playing intercounty camogie and football and spending a decade in games development with The Camogie Association, she has been both affected and frustrated by the gender politics of sport in Ireland. Having stepped into the role of CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, she threw her full support behind the 20X20 campaign – the brainchild of marketing agency

As CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary is central to the discourse around the current 20x20 campaign. (Photography: Clare Keogh)

Along Came A Spider – which seeks to create a cultural shift in the presentation and perception of women’s sport in Ireland. With the backing of media organisations and key sporting bodies and figures, the goal behind 20x20 has been to increase media coverage of women’s sports, attendance at women’s games, and female participation at all levels of sport by 20% each, by 2020. “Women – definitely in Gaelic games – tend to be very humble and put things down to luck. We’d never talk ourselves up,” says Mary. “I should have spoken up more in interviews about the value of women’s sport, but I didn’t. Looking back on it now, I think it was because I was solely focused on enjoying what I was doing and being the best that I could be. INDEPENDENT Thinking  47


“But now that I’m retired, I want the next generation of women to feel that they’re being well rewarded for giving their all – in terms of how they’re looked after, how they’re supported, how they’re recognised. I think that’s what female athletes want; to be recognised, to be rewarded with good facilities – the basics they need to succeed, or even just the basics of being given the platform to be treated equally.” The mantra of the 20x20 campaign is: If She Can’t See It, She Can’t Be It. And a year into the campaign, proof of its impact is there for all to witness. Some 71 National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships have signed up to the 20x20 campaign. Separately Sport Ireland has now secured additional funding for women’s sport, meaning that 40 national governing bodies of sport will be able to invest extra money, solely towards the development of women’s sport. The “ferocious” hard work of the NGB’s, LSP’s, the sponsors and media partners of the 20x20 campaign has also helped hugely with changing outdated attitudes, along with the support of the public who are engaging so powerfully with the content, points out Mary. “We’re in the very initial stages of this movement – of women’s sport finally getting a tangible piece of recognition via mainstream media, among their male peers,” she explains. “It’s about having that constant stream of news; people talking about women’s sports. And from the federation’s point of view, we can really see the change in people’s attitudes. The public have been voicing their support of the campaign via social media and by 48  INDEPENDENT Thinking

going to matches, by talking about games, and by criticising as well – that’s important.” Mary recalls the overwhelming reaction to the sight of 35 young girls marching onto the pitch at Croke Park for the Dublin v Mayo All-Ireland semi-final, holding aloft a flag that bore the distinctive black-and-red symbol of the 20x20 campaign. It was an incredible moment for everyone watching at home and inside the stadium – not least for Mary. “It goes back to the mantra of the campaign, If She Can’t See It, She Can’t Be It. It’s also about saying: the more we see women on mainstream TV as athletes, as people who are physically and technically talented at what they do, the more it will be taken seriously – and the more attitudes will change, and the more conversations will be had,” she adds. Mary’s inherent sense of pride underpins her dedication to the campaign, her own work, her family, where she’s from – and of course, her county. She admits to feeling “energised” simply by casting her mind back to pregame in the Cork dressing room. “We used to have a saying: ‘we are Cork',” she recalls, “and that wasn’t out of arrogance; it was about the pride of representing.” Indeed, anyone who has met Mary or even just heard her speak will know that arrogance is the last trait you could associate with her. In fact, this 12-time All-Ireland champion is almost achingly modest. Take, for example, the story of her reaction to being invited to receive an honorary doctorate from UCC in 2012. Mary recalls being on her way out to camogie championship training when she opened the letter:


“I thought it was someone having a joke off me!” she laughs. “I put the envelope into my office in my house, closed the door, went training and didn’t think any more of it. I think it was August when someone from UCC rang me up and asked if I was going to accept. I couldn’t believe it!” The following September, she was presented with the degree of Doctor of Arts, alongside fellow sporting legends Brian Cody and Denis Irwin. It’s a day that Mary won’t forget – not that staff at Croke Park, where her conferring cap is on display, would let her; some now refer to her as "Doc". It wouldn’t be her last day walking through the hallowed Quad, though. During her time working with the camogie association, she discovered a passion for volunteerism, and, having retired from professional sport, she decided that she was ready for the next challenge. She enrolled in the MA in Voluntary and Community Sector Management at UCC in 2014, graduating two years later. “It has benefitted me so much,” says Mary, “and not just by having the academic qualification. It made me realise that once you apply yourself to something, you can do it, regardless of your own perceived ability.” Her passion for volunteerism continues to burn bright. Just this past summer, she achieved a goal she set for herself when she initially took up her role at the Federation of Irish Sport two years ago, by successfully establishing the 32-county Volunteer in Sports Awards.

While as CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport she is central to the discourse around the 20x20 campaign right now, the remit of the organisation’s role in the world of Irish sport, and the social issues embedded within, is vast. Following the launch of the National Sports Policy last year – the first ever in the country – the federation is focused on using its influence to drive change in other areas.

“I WANT THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN TO FEEL THAT THEY’RE BEING WELL REWARDED FOR GIVING THEIR ALL – IN TERMS OF HOW THEY’RE LOOKED AFTER, HOW THEY’RE SUPPORTED, HOW THEY’RE RECOGNISED.” As well as ensuring that funds are utilised to hit the policy targets regarding diversity, ethnic minorities and gender, the federation hopes to progress a proposal to see 4.2% of the sugar-sweetened tax invested in sport – and getting people more active – while another proposal is aimed at using a portion of the betting tax levy increase to fund an education programme around the danger of gambling. Ensuring that sport is continually funded and that actions

are being delivered upon is particularly important in today’s climate, says Mary: “The one thing I’ve noticed in the last while is that sport naturally develops emotional and physical well-being as well as adding societal value. But sport is now being tasked with some of society’s issues and challenges and while the sporting world will embrace that, it must also be supported, in order to embrace it.” With 20x20, the melding of Mary’s experiences as a decorated Cork player and as CEO of one of Ireland’s highest sporting bodies gives her not only a unique insight into her work, but an opportunity to raise issues, where previously she may not have felt so empowered. “I’m doing my best to ensure that women feel that they can speak out and that they will be supported; that it’s OK to question things. And if they do question things, that they feel that questioning is valid and that they can be supported in that,” explains Mary. “I don’t think people should be afraid to have conversations. And they will get rebuked and told that women aren’t as good as men, but that’s not the argument we want to have; the argument we want to have is around what are the support mechanisms for women and girls in sport in Ireland and how can we help women of all ages and abilities get value from being involved in sport and physical activity. “It has evolved greatly since I was playing. It’s getting better. We have a long way to go – I know that – but this campaign has really struck a chord with people.”

As a former high-profile camogie and Gaelic football player Mary has been affected by the gender politics in the field. (Photography: Clare Keogh)

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Going for goals We put the spotlight on three exceptional UCC women from the world of sport. Ciara McNamara

Mary Fitzgerald

A gifted player and a natural-born leader, Ciara McNamara is a jewel in UCC’s sporting crown. She began playing soccer at the age of five with the boys at St Mary’s AFC, in the absence of a local girls’ team. She was already one to watch, by the time she moved to Wilton United in her early teens and was welcomed into the fold at both Cork City FC (CCFC) and UCC Ladies Soccer Club. A recipient of the Roy Keane Soccer Scholarship, Ciara was presented with the captain’s armband for both her club and college teams, balancing a rigorous training and game schedule with her Social Science studies. She led CCFC to victory in the FAI Women’s Cup in 2017 and brought the Kelly Cup home to UCC, in 2019, while completing her postgraduate diploma in Youth Work. Ciara has represented Ireland at youth and university levels and recently celebrated her 100th appearance for CCFC.

To master one sport is enviable; to dominate at three is simply incredible. Para-athlete Mary Fitzgerald already held the Irish records for javelin, discus and shot put by the time she arrived at UCC to study Occupational Therapy. A Quercus Sports Scholar, the Kilkenny native has enjoyed major success nationally and internationally while representing her country. In February of this year, Mary added to her already impressive medal collection from the IWAS World Games, winning three golds at the 2019 competition in the United Arab Emirates. A member of the Paralympics Ireland team, she recently celebrated yet another amazing achievement: representing Ireland at the World Para Athletics World Championships in Dubai, in November.

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Joanne O’Riordan While Joanne O’Riordan graduated from UCC with a BA in Criminology in 2018, it’s her love of sport which has steered her career towards the world of journalism. One of seven people in the world born with tetra-amelia syndrome, Joanne first rose to prominence through the documentary, No Limbs, No Limits – and this sentiment is a mantra that Joanne lives by. A prominent disability rights activist, in 2012 Joanne addressed the United Nations Assembly on the importance of technology in her life, and two years later she joined the first intake of UCC’s Quercus scholars for active citizenship. With a lifelong love of sport, Joanne chose to pursue that passion by becoming a sports journalist. She is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and recently launched her own podcast, The Joanne O’Riordan Podcast, on Cork’s RedFM. Among her areas of special interest are women in sport, and disability in sport.

Congratulations to our UCC Olympic hopefuls, who qualified their boats for Tokyo 2020! Ronan Byrne It has been quite the year for Quercus Sports Scholar, Ronan Byrne, who qualified his boat for Tokyo 2020 after winning his World Championship semi-final in Austria, with Philip Doyle. The pair also pulled off the impressive feat of winning a silver medal 'in the World Championships final. This topped off a phenomenal 12 months for Ronan, who won a European U23 gold medal, as well as a horde of silverware at local, national and international competitions. Having recently been named as one of World Rowing’s Rising Stars, Ronan’s future is certainly looking bright!

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy Olympic medallist Paul O’Donovan has had an exciting first year at UCC, becoming the world champion in Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls and going on to win gold at the Indoor National Championships and silver at the European Championships. Paul, who is studying Medicine at UCC, went on to qualify his boat for Tokyo 2020 alongside UCC alumnus, Fintan McCarthy, who graduated this year with a degree in physiology.

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Spotlight On Sport 2018/19 has been a truly unforgettable year for sport at UCC. We cheered as our hurling, Gaelic football and soccer teams won the historic treble of the Fitzgibbon, Sigerson and Collingwood Cups. We looked on with pride as Mary Fitzgerald returned with her trio of gold medals from the IWAS World Games. We cheered as our Olympics rowing hopefuls crossed the finish line to qualify their boats for Tokyo 2020. These, and so many more achievements, gave us moments that made us so proud of the many tribes that come together, under the iconic symbol of the Skull and Crossbones, to form one team: Team UCC. This was also the year when we witnessed the launch of our new Sports Strategy – building on our strong sporting tradition with high ambition for the future and setting out our vision of becoming the go-to university for sport and physical activity in Ireland. With our sporting clubs, teams and individuals representing college, county and country at the highest level, UCC continues to prove that with pride on our chest, belief in our heart, and sport in our bones, together we can achieve anything.

GAELIC FOOTBALL UCC’s Gaelic footballers claimed their 22nd Sigerson Cup victory in 2018/19 under the leadership of legendary Cork coach, Billy Morgan, with Seán O’Shea voted Electric Ireland Footballer of the Year at the Third Level Colleges All-Star Awards. With the seniors also crowned college league champions for the second year in a row, it was no surprise to see UCC so well represented in the Cork team that was crowned All-Ireland U20 Gaelic football champions. Jack Murphy, Colm O’Callaghan, Brian Hartnett, Ian Giltinan, Colm Barrett and Mark Cronin were all members of the victorious Rebel squad. Elsewhere, Niamh Cotter and Quercus Scholar Hannah Looney were members of the Cork team who won the 2019 Ladies Gaelic Football National League.

TAE KWON-DO Anya Curran (pictured left) dominated at competitions throughout the year. She claimed overall victory in a staggering seven black belt categories in the Mixed Martial Arts Intervarsities (including one team event), and the Tae Kwon-Do Intervarsity Championship. Anya’s winning streak continued at the 2019 International Tae Kwon-Do Federation European Championships, where she won two gold medals and one silver.

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SOCCER UCC Soccer Club enjoyed a stellar year, with both the senior men’s and women’s teams bringing a horde of silverware home to the Mardyke. The men’s team claimed Collingwood Cup victory, while also being crowned Munster Senior League and O’Connell Cup winners. The ladies’ team topped off the winning streak by bringing home the Kelly Cup at the intervarsity competition. Several individual players were acknowledged for their hard work, talent and dedication, with the following selected to represent Ireland at the World University Games in Italy: Shane Daly Butz (graduate), David Coffey, Simon Falvey, John Kavanagh, Ciara McNamara, David Philips, Pierce Philips, Rob Slevin and Gordon Walker.

John Hodnett, left, and James Taylor, both impressed in rugby this year


VOLLEYBALL UCC’s Volleyball Club went on a winning streak this year, with both the men’s and women’s teams claiming first place in the Irish Volleyball Intervarsity Cup, the Irish Beach Volleyball Intervarsity, and the Munster Volleyball Cup.

Exceptional talent, riveting games, hard-fought victories; this year, UCC Rugby had it all. There were celebrations for the senior team, who retained their All-Ireland League Division 1A status for 2019/20, while the U20s retained the Donal Walsh Trophy in Tralee. This year marked the establishment of the Moss Keane Scholarship, with James Taylor proving a very worthy recipient. Finance student James scored 150 points during the regular season and earned the title of Rising Star for Division 1A, at the IRFU AIL Awards. UCC Quercus Scholar John Hodnett also impressed throughout the year, representing Ireland at the U20 World Cup and featuring in the Irish U20 squad that won the Grand Slam.

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TRAMPOLINE UCC’s Trampoline Club made history this year, after being crowned overall champions at the Irish Student Trampoline Open. The club amassed nine medals – including six gold – at the competition, with Donnacha Kavanagh being singled out for his individual performance. The success didn’t end there, however; the club went on to dominate at the Trampoline Intervarsity Championship, being named overall winners and coming away with a staggering 32 medals – including 15 gold, for team and individual performances. Quercus Scholar Ciara Judge was awarded the Student Sport Ireland Leadership Award for her dedication to the sport and her team, while the club was presented with the Event of the Year Award for its hosting of the intervarsities competition in the Munster Colleges competition.

ULTIMATE FRISBEE UCC’s Ultimate Frisbee Club enjoyed major success this year, taking home silverware in every major competition and claiming gold at the Women’s Indoor Intervarsity and the follow-up Championships. Ireland’s Senior Women’s team enjoyed phenomenal success at the European Championships, being crowned overall champions, and UCC was proud to see the Skull and Crossbones so well represented in this victorious squad. The winning team included students Emma Healy, Bríonagh Healy and Sinéad Dunne, along with graduates Michelle Leahy (coach), Clíona Doyle, Sinéad O’Shiel Fleming, and Kelly Hyland.

ROWING UCC was the club to beat in 2018/19, with successes galore at competitions and regattas, both at home and abroad. Most notably, the club won seven medals – including four gold – at the National Indoor Rowing Championships, with UCC claiming the ‘best club’ accolade. The Women’s Senior Team claimed 1st at the Rowing Intervarsity competition, while Hugh Sutton and Ronan Byrne also won their categories. In addition, a team consisting of Emily Hegarty, Tara Hanlon, Eimear Lambe and Claire Feerick won silver at the World U23 Rowing Championships.

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PARA-SWIMMING Sean O'Riordan (right) para-athlete and UCC Sports Scholar, was part of the Irish team that competed at the World Para Swimming Championships in September. Sean finished a credible 11th in the 400m Freestyle and in a time very close to his best. He is now in heavy training in an attempt to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Shane Conway, UCC (left) and Conor Delaney of DCU Dóchas Éireann.

HURLING UCC Hurlers completed the historic treble of 2018/19, capturing the Fitzgibbon Cup after victory over Mary Immaculate. Shane Conway went on to be awarded Electric Ireland Hurler of the Year at the Third Level Colleges All-Star Awards. Shane joined teammates Niall O’Leary, Eddie Gunning, Chris O’Leary, Paddy O’Loughlin, Conor Browne, Shane Kingston and Mark Kehoe on the Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Stars Hurling Team 2019. The winning streak carried over to the UCC Fresher ‘A’ Hurlers, who won the college league, and to the UCC Junior Hurlers, who claimed victory in the Munster Colleges competition.

To find out more about sport at UCC, visit INDEPENDENT Thinking  55

In University College Cork we think globally and act globally. That’s why we are ranked twenty-first among the world’s top universities and first in Ireland* for the part we are playing in creating a sustainable future for our world.

Independent Thinking for a Sustainable Future *Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, 2019