Trinity College Dublin Central Societies Committee
Society Alumni Testimonials
Éanna Drury CSC Chair The aim of this publication is to demonstrate at a very personal level how important Trinity Societies are, both to individual students and, by extension, to the University. Each contributor has taken the time to consider how their lives were affected by their involvement in societies. Some look back at a particular society as a place where they felt they ‘belonged’; others talk of honing skills and talents that they weren’t even aware they possessed; many regard their choice of profession to be influenced by their time running societies. All of them, and thousands of others not featured in these pages, made lifelong friendships. I hope that you will take the time to read these truly heartfelt pieces. I am confident they will instill in every reader a renewed appreciation of the enormous value of supporting and fostering society activity in this wonderful University. Going to University should never be considered a purely academic experience. Through involvement with societies, or other extracurricular activity, students can develop in ways not possible in a lecture theatre and point to achievements far more important than the grades on a transcript. Having had the good fortune to experience four years of society involvement in Trinity, my only regret is that I cannot do it all again. In each submission, we have highlighted the authors’ year of graduation, the societies in which they were involved, their subject of study and their current profession. I am confident that you will be surprised by the strength of feeling that is evident in the contributions that follow. Enjoy!
Leo Varadkar Class of 2003 Fine Gael and College Historical Society Medicine Minister for Health
I studied medicine in Trinity from 1997-2003 but looking back I think I learned as much and benefited as much from the wider college experience. Involvement in societies was a big part of that. As a Fresher, I debated with the Hist, judged school debates and travelled to Cambridge to debate. It really helped to improve my public speaking and presentation skills. I also got very involved in Young Fine Gael in college. We grew the branch, got noticed and won a â€˜society of the yearâ€™ award. I learned a lot about recruitment, public relations and event organisation. I was also elected to serve on the Central Societies Committee managing a big budget for the first time, hearing submissions from societies seeking for funding and learning about governance. Needless to say, all of this has come in useful in my current line of work! I loved my years in Trinity and through being involved in societies, really made the most of my time there.
Paddy Cosgrave Class of 2006 University Philosopical Society Politics and Economics Founder, Web Summit
Even though I didnâ€™t realise it at the time, I now know with the benefit of 10 years of hindsight that being part of a society in Trinity taught me more in a month, than four years attending lectures. Sure, over four years I learned things at lectures and in the library that served me well in exams. But almost every month in a society I learned things that have served me well not just for the last 10 years, but I believe for many decades to come.
True - lectures may be required, and societies may optional yet my advice to any aspiring student hoping to get the best out of Trinity would be â€˜societies are required, lectures are optional.
And when it comes to funding decisions being made by the College, Iâ€™d hope part of the same maxim might apply: proper funding and support of student societies is required.
My involvement in Trinity society life was primarily by undertaking a coup of the Politics Society back around 1998. It afforded me the opportunity to invite idols such as the late Gore Vidal to Trinity as well as the imprisoned Max Clifford. But above all else, it granted me the chance to understand the value of friendship and support for ideas from like-minded impassioned friends.
Michael McDermott Class of 1999 Trinity Politics Society Business and Political Science Founder, Le Cool Dublin
The CSC was the backbone of our stamp-licking and photocopying activities. It has and remains utterly essential and invaluable in its on-going assistance towards the whims and dreams of students on campus.
I left Trinity College in 1998 with a degree but nowhere on that piece of paper does it state the influence that DUPlayers had on me. It should. While studying history, I acted in, produced and directed plays in that wonderful wooden box in a corner of the campus known as Players Theatre. Some of the most creative people I have met passed through its doors. While we all shared a common love for the theatre, music and performance, it was the friendships rather than the plays that kept us coming back to spend vast amounts of spare time, writing, rehearsing, lighting, performing and living college life to the full.
Simon Carswell Class of 1998 DU Players History Washington Correspondent The Irish Times
In my four years at Players, I went from being a committee member to treasurer to chairman to helping to organise one of the biggest national student drama festivals ever staged in Ireland. In my latter years, I loved the great opportunities that came through the Central Societies Committee and the office in House 6 to mix with active members of other societies and, on occasion, collaborate on society events. For me, Players was never about cliques but involving as many as we could with common interests and a sense of fun. There was an abundance of that in House 6. During my work as a journalist, I travel quite a bit and I often meet people who attended Trinity. The conversations quickly turn to sharing happy memories and funny stories about the societies or clubs we were involved in, and then, maybe, to what we studied. In Players I learned how to work and interact closely with others and those are skills I use now every day in my job. My closest friends remain, 17 years on, the people I met in Players. They include my best friend, my wife, with whom we have two beautiful daughters - our best productions. One of my hopes for them is that they would have the same fun and life-shaping experiences we had in Players.
Roger Middleton Class of 2004 TFM, The Phil, CSC, Theological History Senior Program Manager Conflict Dynamics International Somali Program
Having been Chair and Amenities officer of the CSC, President of the Phil, Chair of Trinity FM and Treasurer of the Theological Society as well as being active in the activities of a number of other societies, it’s very much the case that Trinity’s wonderful range of societies played a really important role in my time at college. I’m now working in Somalia where the skills I learnt with Trinity societies; debating, communicating and administration are of daily use in my work in Conflict Resolution. I don’t think I would have benefited as much from my time at Trinity without the huge role that societies played in enlightening me. I hope that there remains an appreciation of the crucial work that Trinity’s societies do - both for the personal development of students and for promoting the University around the world. I hope that the college authorities continue to provide the financial and moral support to Trinity’s wonderful societies that they have in the past.
Looking at my peers I see many are now doing wonderful things that directly build on skills and experiences gained from society life, and are a testament to the important role that societies played in our development. 6
Eoin O LiathĂĄin Class of 2013 The Phil, Amnesty English Studies EMEA Sales, Dropbox
My college experience was defined by student society involvement. Though I benefited a great deal from the knowledge and ideas of my coursework, the true value that Trinity College gave to me as a person can, without a doubt, be traced back to society activities. Critical thinking skills were inescapable from all those debate tournaments. Learning how to motivate a team, how to manage events, how not to manage events, and even just basic email etiquette all followed from having made the decision to sign up societies during my first Freshersâ€™ week. Finding good graduate employment these days is difficult and stressful. Your personal expectation to get something after all those years of study, the social pressure to keep up with other friends who work and the basic need to start earning are factors which make leaving college hard. They are precisely the skills that employers look for and without a doubt what helped me get a job I love.
I am extremely thankful that in interview after interview I had in my arsenal a wealth of experience and skills to refer to from my involvement in society life.
Beyond the undeniable and extremely practical employment benefit that student societies bestow, more importantly the unique space they provide allow for you to explore who you are as a person and to meet friends who will last for ever. Every effort should be made to maintain the vitality of student societies thus ensuring future students have access to this valuable side of an education from Trinity College.
As someone who came to college without much of an idea of what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives, I often wonder how incredibly different things would be if not for somehow becoming involved with the societies of Trinity College Dublin. There is an infinitely less interesting trajectory that I would be on had I not ever darkened the door of Players Theatre or met multiple other people doing different societal work during my time in Players.
Ross Dungan Class of 2010 DU Players TSM Drama and Film Playwright, TV Writer
As someone who is now employed in the theatrical world (it being the theatrical world, the word ‘employed’ is used pretty loosely here) I can say with an unequivocal certainty that many doors would still remain shut for me if not for the friends and contacts I made in my time there, and that I would be significantly less capable and more inexperienced if not for the opportunities that societies, particularly Players, provided for me. And considering how incapable I remain, this is really quite a frightening prospect.
To put it simply, societies remain the cornerstone of the college experience. They are the lifeblood and heartbeat of the campus and the gateway for students to pursue interests and grow in a way that academics doesn’t always legislate for.
In the case for societies, you could wax lyrical about making friends for life which is as good a reason as anything. But when it came to working professionally and opening a theatre show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival three years after I left college, it only dawned on me during one mid-week performance that the 14 different individuals involved in the show both on-stage and off it, who were being so readily praised by critics, were all involved in it through a shared connection with DU Players.
Conor Kostick Class of 2001 SWSS, Chess, One World Writer and Historian
From the moment I walked into Front Square and saw all the various societies and clubs, I knew I was going to enjoy the experience of being at Trinity. One of the great pleasures of being a student at TCD is in being part of an energetic, vibrant, creative community of students exploring an enormous range of activities.
As a committee member of One World, SWSS and the Chess Club, I always found CSC enormously helpful in assisting me in whatever project any of these societies wished to undertake. With CSC support SWSS members were able to hear inspiring speakers, like Robert Fisk or Terry Eagleton. The Chess Club travelled the country to participate in competitions and events. And we formed friendships that have lasted long after we left college.
The fact that student societies are governed by students themselves is a big factor in their being so lively and enterprising.
It saddens me to learn that the resources available to CSC are under threat.
Alumni of education factories do not remember their college days with affection.
Are future generations of students to have a diminished opportunity to explore their interests, discover organizing skills, and to put it simply to have fun? I hope not. Moreover, to curtail the activities that enhance the pleasure of being a student at TCD seems very shortsighted to me. 9
The student societies I participated in, and the skills and opportunities they gave me, have played a major role in my life after Trinity. As a TSM Geography and Sociology student who had not get her first choice in the C.A.O. random selection. Through the T.V. Co., I gained valuable practical experience of the production processes and technology which I still use for my work today. I also was an active member of DU Players for all my time in TCD. I was on its board 1990-1991 as the technical house manager for the theatre (then housed in House 3 and 4 front square).
Laura Fryday Class of 1992 Film, Geography, Players Geography and Sociology Film and TV Production Lecturer
It is only through the C.S.C. student societies that I had the chance to meet a diverse range of other individuals from all reaches of the University and to form some of my very best friendships, which still are as strong now as they were twenty odd years ago.
Today, and for the last 19 years I have been producing short film dramas and documentaries for broadcast and been gainfully employed as a teacher and part time lecturer of Film and Television Production (including Media analysis - so the Geography and Sociology were not totally defunct!). Most of this work would have been far more difficult to enter without the opportunities outside a formal classroom or lecture setting which the D.U. Central Societies Committee funded societies provided me with.
It was only through the student societies, funded through the C.S.C., that I was able to explore and educate myself further in the basic grounding of my desired area of future employment.
It also enabled me to make other valuable contacts for work and social activities. Trinity College would be a far poorer university without the provision of access and opportunity for students to mix and integrate with fellow students from other disciplines which the student societies allow. 10
While in DU Players I honed my production skills and knowledge of lighting and sound technology. Again all the skills here are part of my everyday work life today.
As festival director of the 5th Trinity Arts Festival in 2010, I first initiated a talk series in association with the Hist. It was a pretty eclectic line up of speakers – Jim Carroll of the Irish Times & Michael Murphy on war stories of the music Dylan Haskins industry, Julian Radcliffe of the Art Loss Register Class of 2012 who tracks down and recovers stolen art, Michael Trinity Arts Festival TSM Colgan of the Gate Theatre and former chair of Social Entrepreneur Players chatting with then chair of Players and now award winning playwright Ross Dungan, film director Lenny Abrahamson, creator of Other Voices Philip King, retired Sec. Gen. of the Dept. of Communications Brendan Tuohy and others on Irish film and of course, David Norris on Ulysses. Come to think of it, that event is where I first met Philip King of Other Voices and South Wind Blows who I’ve since worked with professionally for the past 5 years. As a board member of Project Arts Centre, the largest multi-disciplinary arts centre in Ireland, and a member of the Science Gallery’s Leonardo Group since 2011, I’ve always liked working with organisations that think of the arts holistically rather being singularly focused on one discipline. I wanted to get involved with Trinity Arts Festival because it offered an umbrella under which to bring lots of different student societies together to collaborate for a week of arts events. The CSC is a year-round, even larger umbrella! The arts aren’t some bastion of the self-initiated, they’re an innate part of how we think, understand and feel, so focusing on it for a week gives everyone an excuse to get involved. Trinity Arts Festival harnesses the energy of so much of the student community in one big week-long event. It’s that energy, embodied in each of the student societies that for me is the single most important asset Trinity has. In recent years the Central Societies Committee has suffered cuts in funding and the difficulty of wading through by now infamous College bureaucracy seems to have only increased. I do hope the College comes to its senses again and realises that events like TAF and the work of the CSC are the lifeblood of the campus and what truly makes it both a unique offering for prospective student, and for those who have experienced it, a cherished memory of a formative era. This point should not need to be repeated, it was made long ago when the then Dean of Students and pioneer of student run arts initiatives, Professor George Dawson. In 1969, in a letter to the committee responsible for the design of the new Arts Building, he wrote: 12
â€œThe main problem is ... how to preserve and develop those aspects of our present arrangements that encourage primarily a sense of membership of a college with a rich diversity of activities rather than primarily membership of a faculty. Justifiable membership of a faculty should be within the wider context of membership of the college and this distinguishes the college/campus type of university education and experience. The Arts Building must make some contribution to solving the immediate and big problem that...
...as the number of students increases it becomes more and more important to enable students to join groups which are not so large that they lose the sense of belonging and participationâ€?.
(mun director of buildings / box 4 / file 2 / 43 (10th October 1969)
I was fortunate enough to enter Trinity in 1988 with a couple of years in the workplace behind me. If nothing else, I think spending time in a dull office job gave me a greater appreciation of the opportunities offered by university than if I’d walked in immediately after finishing school.
John Connolly Class of 1992 ESU - Literary Society English Bestselling Author
It didn’t make me feel any less lost, though. In fact, the first time I ever set foot in Trinity was to register at the Exam Hall. I took an early lunch break from work, and went to pick up my ID. Even then I was uneasy as I walked under Front Arch and looked out on Front Square. I think that, deep down, I wasn’t sure I belonged, and a porter would sniff me out as an interloper and send me on my way. (This is one of the reasons why I’ve so enjoyed speaking to prospective students as part of the Trinity Access Project, as I don’t think I was alone in coming from a largely working class area of Dublin and finding Trinity alien and imposing.) And while I enjoyed academic life from the off – or I did once I’d found my feet a little – I don’t believe that I started to feel comfortable in Trinity until I began to engage with the college’s societies. Yes, a shared desire to study a particular academic discipline – English, in my case – gave one a certain commonality with one’s peers, but finding one’s balance on that common ground took longer than expected, as much because of the diversity of interests in a field as huge as English language and literature as with the challenge of coming to terms with new ways of studying, and speaking about, those interests. (We might all have been in the same boat, but we none of us knew where we were going, or how to steer.)
When I look around at my peers from Trinity, I see that the most successful are those who engaged with society life while in college.
But society life was different. Like so many freshers, I joined more societies than time, energy and academic demands would permit me to enjoy, but the ones with which I stuck changed me. There was none of the pressure – actual or perceived - of the lecture hall or tutorial room. It was among debaters, and science fiction fans, and even air rifle enthusiasts that I found my confidence, and that confidence and – yes – joy in being part of the life of the university fed back into my studies and my contributions to classes. Society life gave me a
sense of belonging, to the extent that, in my Senior Freshman year, I began writing for Trinity News, and in my Junior Sophister year took over the dormant English Speaking Union (out of which also emerged, incidentally, the Trinity Poetry Broadsheet, with which I had nothing at all to do, regarding the writing of undergraduate poetry less as a calling than a kind of illness.) Okay, so I embarrassed myself by asking the ESU’s first guest, the distinguished Yeats scholar A. Norman Jeffares, if Yeats had actually slept with Maud Gonne. (He was reluctant to answer, as if that kind of thing was a bit below him, but I really wanted to know. The answer, for the record, is that, yes, Yeats almost certainly did.) I also seemed to spend a lot of time dodging invitations to dinner with Prince Charles, but I really didn’t know what we’d talk about if we were seated together, and I wanted to avoid any awkwardness. I became a better student because of the ESU, and maybe a slightly better person too. I had a degree of responsibility. I had a room to look after, and events to organize. I had a small budget, and an equally small membership, but in all things I also had the support of the Central Societies Committee. The CSC wanted the ESU to do well, just as it wanted every college society to flourish, no matter how odd or obscure. And I remembered always the first time that I stepped under Front Arch on my way to register, and how out of place I felt; and I recalled the welcome that I received from those older students sitting behind tables on Front Square, and how they helped me to find my place in Trinity. I recognized that I was part of a support structure – an informal and sometimes noisy one, but a support structure nonetheless - which could take its place alongside the chaplaincy and the counselling service as a means of ensuring that students did not become overwhelmed by Trinity (and it can be an overwhelming place); that there would always a group of people with whom they could share coffee, or a drink, or simply a little time, away from the pressures of academia; and that, for a small few, it might make the difference between being alone and not being alone, and between quitting or continuing on with their studies in those first few months when doubt sets in, and college life seems incredibly strange and not a little difficult. It gave an added dimension to their personalities, and brought new abilities to the fore, or simply provided an outlet for those that were already evident but might otherwise have dwindled away without the opportunity for use. I see student debaters who became lawyers, student actors who became directors and playwrights, and student journalists who now work in newspapers, television, and radio. And, yes, a student writer, the friend Prince Charles never had, who became a novelist. Mostly, though, I look in the mirror, and see someone who was lost at the start, and then found himself thanks to the kindness of his peers, and the tolerance and support of the officers of the Central Societies Committee.
Iarlaith Carter Class of 1998 Singers, Music, Chapel Choir, Orchestra Single Honors Music Assistant Director Artist Management Agency As a member of various societies during my years at TCD (Trinity Singers, Music Society, Chapel Choir and, of course DU Orchestral Society where I think I may have held all of the officerships over the years!), I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my extra-curricular activities during that time have been of infinitely more practical use to me than my academic degree in my working life - and, as Associate Director of one of the most prestigious artist management agencies in the world, I am working in a directly related field to that of my music degree. It is vitally important that the college acknowledges, supports and actively promotes this aspect of the educational experience rather than seeking to hinder or curtail it.
Darragh Genockey Class of 2012 BBS Cancer Society and DUBES Music Management I was lucky enough to experience first-hand the vibrant society life during my time in Trinity, as the Entertainment Officer for the Dublin University Business & Economics Society and the Trinity Cancer Society. While I was involved in these societies I learned how to organise and promote events and campaigns, a skill that Iâ€™ve used to build my career to date. I also made numerous friends and colleagues within many societies in Trinity, who I know I can still get in touch with today if I need any advice or assistance in an area in which they work. This has been an invaluable resource in my work.
David Norris Class of 1968 Philosophical and Historical Senator, Seanad Eireann It used to be said that you learnt as much in Trinity from the people you met as from the lectures you attended. Even in my day 50 years ago there were many societies from the Phil and the Hist, the Laurentian Society for Roman Catholics, the Elizabethan Society for Women to the Photographic Society. I joined both the Phil and the Hist in my first term in College and by the end of that term had been expelled from both of them - the Hist for academic nudity (not wearing a gown) and the Phil for refusing to pay what I regarded as an arbitrary and capricious fine. However this did not stop me speaking at either of the societies to some acclaim and I walked off with Gold and Silver Medals and a series of honorary life memberships of both societies over the years despite my lack of official membership.
It is the societies that mark the real transition from school to university and long may they continue.
When I started teaching in Trinity there was a pass degree called General Studies. It was one of my favourites because people took a smattering of different subjects in a fairly relaxed way which allowed them to take part in many of the societies particularly the Dublin University Players which gave a series of distinguished performances.
Dara Calleary Class of 1996 Historical and Fianna Fail BESS TD Trinity students are privileged to be attending one of the best and the most famous universities in the World. Trinity offers a whole world of opportunities to get more then just a degree - an education can be got purely by becoming involved in the many societies. I was involved in the Hist and in Trinity Fianna FĂĄil as well as doing a year on the CSC committee. Those involvements gave me experiences in so many areas-organisation skill, financial skills, event management skills, marketing and promotion skills amongst others but most importantly I made friends through those societies, some of whom remain my closest friends today. And when you have to leave Trinity and hit the job market, it is the society or club involvement that makes the difference â€“ the willingness to give of time and skills to the broader college community is a testament to the kind of person that any organisation would be proud to have. A Trinity degree is a privilege, but the degree is only one part of a Trinity education. College authorities need to recognise that and invest in the society and club infrastructure - by doing so they will protect and enhance a Trinity education for generations to come.
I am a professional actor, playwright and director who has enjoyed a thirty year Declan Gorman Class of 1988 career on the roller coaster that is the arts Modern Languages and DU Players in Ireland. I have taught at NUI Galway and German, English and Creative Writing with New York University; chaired education Professional actor, Playwright and working groups for the Abbey Theatre; Director coordinated the Arts Council’s ‘Review of Theatre in Ireland’ policy initiative; led public art projects in sectarian interface areas along the border; toured to and presented in America, Russia and all over Europe; established and directed with two major production companies within Ireland; had a playwriting award presented to me by a president; been flat
broke but immersed in the riches of a creative life and at other times been comfortably-paid as an arts consultant to government and local authorities, always enjoying a sense that I was both lucky and successful. None of this would have come about had I not immersed myself in the life of two student societies in my time at Trinity College Dublin in the 1980s.
As a member of DU Players I learned the essentials of stagecraft and in particular the technical basics of lighting, sound and set design which stood to me later as a director. I was also president of the Modern Languages Society and that was where I really flourished. The various language departments encouraged their students to use the medium of dráma as a self-managed learning resource. I directed two large-scale German language productions in my first two years (the first jointly with a visiting lecturer). For the second of these, ‘Der Gute Mensch von Sezuan”, we received extra funding from the C.S.C. to take up an invitation to bring the production to Cambridge University. Thirty three of us headed off on that tour, an event that is still impressed on my memory as formative. Art and language helped us to cross barriers at a time when relations between British and Irish peoples were often beset with strains and suspicions.
Societies are informal incubation centres for self-training and enterprise, and they contribute to the cultural life of the nation in ways difficult to quantify and absolutely central to a rounded student experience. I greatly hope the college will continue to fund and place them at the centre of college life.
At that time, an intervarsity project known as The German Weekend thrived. Students from all the Irish third-level colleges with German faculties converged for an ISDA-like mini festival of German language drama and music. Mod Lang (as we were abbreviated) ran the event in 1985, expanding it to include an opening performance by the legendary cabaret artiste Agnes Bernelle. Through this festival I befriended UCD lecturer Joe O’Byrne and over drinks we agreed to establish Co-Motion Theatre Company, initially bringing translated German works on a professional basis to Dublin audiences. We went on to become one of the most renowned Irish independent arts companies, touring to Britain, America, Australia and mainland Europe.
During my time in Trinity I was involved in several societies, most particularly Boardgamers, where I was treasurer for several years, and later in the CSC itself as Honorary Treasurer for several more. I am now a director of a successful business, just around the corner on Duke Lane. Our CEO was also a student in Trinity and involved in Boardgamers and other societies.
David Roe Class of 1991 Boardgamers and CSC Computer Science V.P. Product WhatClinic.com
In my working life, I have found that my experiences in student societies of working with groups, committees, bureaucracies and just ordinary people were by far the most valuable experiences of my eight years in Trinity. I promoted events, negotiated with authorities, drew up and approved budgets, dealt with financial problems and all of the various interactions with people and organisations that are life, but cannot be taught in the classroom. These are all things that are required in running any organisation from a small society, to a large business.
Trinity is a special place. More than any other factor, college societies make it what it is.
It is not an exaggeration that the person I am today was shaped as much by my time being involved in Trinity societies as by my family or my church. For a great number of guests coming to the college - academics, sportsmen, politicians, board game designers and businesswomen, college societies are their hosts, fans and guides, and the funding for this all comes from the CSC, often on a shoestring, with every possible inventive method being used to bring the best of life and the world into the college.
One of the first things that hits you when you walk through the gates Trinity on your first day is the richness of college life as demonstrated by the societies lining the path through Front Square. This David Clarke cornucopia of groupings, from choirs to political Class of 1994 societies, from niche scientific interest groups to Metaphysical and CSC gamers, is the lifeblood of the college. Trinity without Philosophy the societies is unimaginable. Indeed, the college Marketing Consultant would cease to exist as we know it if there were no societies. After all, if you want to attract the best students you need the best extracurricular activities; a world-class engineer in the making who’s interested in debating isn’t going to go to a university without a decent debating society; the next Samuel Beckett with a penchant for chess will only go to a third-level institution that can satisfy this need.
University is about the unbridled pursuit of knowledge and the love of learning for learning’s sake. Only in this environment can the innovation that leads to economic growth and technological progress flourish.
For me at first, joining societies wasn’t at all because I was interested in the topics or aims that they espoused. Instead I thought it was a pretty good way of meeting girls. In this regard, societies were a complete failure for me. However, even with this base incentive, I did go on to learn lots outside my chosen area of specialisation (philosophy) and meet many people I still call friends 20 years down the line. And this is what university ought to be about. This was a time when we shouted from the rooftops that you could attend any public lecture at the college no matter what you were studying. That to go to the library was the opportunity to read up on just about anything you wanted, not sit down and learn by rote the teachings of the past week in order to pack your mind full of facts that could then be regurgitated onto an exam paper. There is misnomer that university is about training people for a job or a career, a lie spread around by business people (we’re the wealth creators!?) who either didn’t attend university, did attend university but did some rubbish business course or worked so hard that they didn’t have any time to enjoy themselves. This, of course, is rubbish. The cost of societies to the university is negligible when measured against the wealth of knowledge that comes from the enthusiasts who run and support these societies – in fact they are doing the job of the University for free. The litmus test of their attitude of university authorities to providing a broad and full education is their attitude to societies. They should be doing everything they can to support them. 23
The joke I still make when people ask what I did in college is that I studied economics and philosophy “to learn the price of everything, but the value of everything too.
David O Doherty Class of 1997 Jazz Soc Philosphy and Economics Comedian
I don’t remember the day I realised that my academic gifts weren’t going to set the economics/ philosophical worlds on fire. But I do remember the day I discovered my passion. It was the Society of the Year Awards, and my beloved Jazz Society were nominated for a gong. As I stood at the lectern, delivering a meandering, nonsense speech claiming we had brought peace to Northern Ireland and invented the internet, the audience began to laugh. A whole room full of them. I’d never known anything like that before. The day I graduated, my parents wanted a nice photo. Presumably grass and trees and scroll. What they got still sits on their piano: Lucy and I standing together, in the Central Societies Office, laughing.
Cian O Brien Class of 2003 DU Players Geography and Sociology Artistic Director Project Arts Centre
Since my first Fresher’s week at Trinity College I was a member of DU Players, eventually becoming Chairman in my final year.
It was my experience at DU Players which has led to my career in the theatre, firstly leading to an MA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management (which I would not have been offered without the invaluable experience I had at Players), then to jobs with Focus Theatre, Rough Magic Theatre Company and my current role as Artistic Director or Project Arts Centre, Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centre. I firmly believe that without the incredible resources that were at my disposal at DU Players, I would not be where I am today.
Senator Averil Power Class of 2000 Fianna Fáil and SU Business and Political Science Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Education and Skills Many of my best memories of Trinity are of my involvement with college societies. From attending debates as a fresher to becoming chair of Trinity Fianna Fáil in final year, I learned a huge amount from society involvement. My degree gave me a respected academic qualification. However, my experience with societies and the Students Union equipped me with the public speaking, leadership and team work skills that have been crucial to my career to date. Vibrant and diverse societies are the heart and soul of Trinity. They have long been - and must continue to be - the icing on the cake of the Trinity experience, enabling the university to offer an education that is truly exceptional.
While I came late to the societies, I feel it was one of the most beneficial activities I undertook while at Trinity - and if there were any regrets, it’s that I didn’t take the opportunity to get more involved at an earlier point.
Mieke Van Embden Class of 2008 Trinity Arts Festival Art History and Classical Civilisation Account Manager, Christie's
On a personal level, my involvement with the Trinity Arts Festival has undoubtedly stood to my benefit. It was my first attempt at project and people management and gave me a first taste of the many varied skills demanded by such work. It has all been indispensable over the last four years at Christie’s, where I began as a Data Management Assistant in Estates, Appraisals and Valuations, and have worked my way up to Account Manager in eCommerce. I’ll admit, I began writing this, and despite aiming to keep it short, realised when I started writing that I actually feel quite passionate about it. It was because I had been involved with TAF that the head of my department suggested I apply for the internship as assistant to Catherine Giltrap following my final year. I got the internship and it was one of the best experiences in my career to date. Indeed, I recall a conversation with the same lecturer a few months later whereby I confided that I was slightly disappointed with the result of one of my final exams, despite getting a 2.I overall. His responding comment has stuck with me which was essentially that I shouldn’t feel disappointed or negative, but that I should be proud that I had earned a 2.I whilst also being involved in the Arts Festival, as well as some other part-time and ad hoc work. He pointed out that my CV was all the richer for it, and given the choice, he would hands down hire someone with a 2.I over a first, had they also been adding strings to their bows in other ways. Kind words to make me feel better? Perhaps, but he made the same point a year later when I bumped into him in London, and given that I have been asked about my TAF activities in a number of job interviews over the years since leaving Trinity, I’m inclined to believe him! I think therein lies the core value of the societies to the Trinity student body. It gives students a chance to undertake projects that develop entrepreneurial and business skills, processes and responsibilities that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience so early on. It strengthens your sense of ambition, and it gives a much needed diversion where stress and tunnel vision might otherwise bring you down. It boosts confidence. The social aspect also had obvious benefits, and not just while in university. Of course TAF and the CSC gave me the opportunity to get to know much more about the university, and to make the acquaintance of other people who I wouldn’t have encountered through
my academic life. It taught me about engaging with the (college) community and giving something back. But perhaps most interesting, for me, is that now living in London, some of my closest friends here are other Society Alumni; people I didn’t necessarily know that well in college, but who I knew of. While the CSC didn’t bring us together at university, it is definitely the connections made there that have brought us together outside of it. These people are not just close friends, but also offer solid business advice. We help each other. I think that is just as valuable as the academic achievements earned in university. And the influence of Trinity’s CSC activities ripple out. I have watched eagerly from afar as I see TAF grow bigger and better every year, especially as it wins awards. I watch proudly as events which were included as part of TAF’s, and other societies’, programmes catch the attention of a wider audience and become stand alone events in their own right, beyond the Trinity ‘bubble’. A (paid) intern working for me last year asked about how I had built out my CV as a student, so that he might take some inspiration to develop his own. TAF captured his imagination in a way that discussions of more internships did not, and he vowed to return to the University of Leicester for his second year and try and develop to something similar there. Frankly, graduates now live in a world where third- and fourth-level degrees are not always enough to secure the jobs we seek. They certainly weren’t for me. We must display skills, capabilities and personalities that stretch beyond the academic. Trinity Societies,
Shouldn’t every university, especially in this post-recession climate, be facilitating rounded development opportunities for its students in every way possible?
operating under the umbrella and support of the CSC, offer students the opportunity to develop all of these facets. Experience gained here may mean one less unpaid internship. It may be the one thing between you and that other candidate getting the job. These things can make all the difference when you are just starting out. The manager who hired me into Christie’s told me it was because of all the ‘extra curriculars’ (besides my education) that got me the interview, and eventually the job. From that perspective, it is imperative that the university find a wait to continue its support for the CSC and its Societies.
Oonagh O Donovan Class of 2014 DU Players, TAF, CSC Drama Studies Director of Tragic Spud Theatre There are many things that makes Trinity unique, we all know this - the outstanding achievements in academics, phenomenal resources available to each and every one of our students, and the opportunity to study in one of the most respected colleges in the world. But as I said, we know all of this already. What you may not have known entering through Front Arch on the first day of Freshers’ week is that at the heart and soul of this college, society engagement is the most important and the most enriching aspect of college life.
This college is special because our college societies are so special. It’s what makes us unique and it is so utterly important that our societies are given adequate funding and support so that they may continue to develop and inspire our students.
I came to Trinity, not knowing a soul, a lone country soldier on a mission to engage in something new and exciting. I found my home in DU Players, the drama society and can truly say that getting involved in student societies undoubtedly lead to the best four years of my life. I got the chance to stage, direct, write, and perform in our very own student theatre. I was afforded a mountain of support and a safe space where it was okay to fail and learn from that failure. This college society is where I made my best friends, got to go for dinner with James Bond, got two free Trinity Ball tickets and most importantly is where I found my passion for theatre and so much more. Trinity wouldn’t be a tap without our societies, and that’s a fact. LONG LIVE SOCIETIES!
I was a co-founder of TCD Jazz Society and heavily involved in running it from 1994 - 1997. This led directly to my founding Note Productions Ltd. shortly after graduating. Note Productions is an Arts Council funded organisation committed to developing jazz and world music in Ireland. The Jazz Society is still in existence now and no doubt continues to enhance college life but here I will only make reference to my own personal experience as an undergraduate.
Ben Jackson Class of 1997 DU Jazz Society Philosophy Director, NOTE Productions
During that time, the Jazz Society promoted numerous concerts by Irish and international musicians and as well as masterclasses for aspiring musicians in college. At the time, jazz promotion in Ireland was generally quite amateur in nature and concerts featuring international jazz musicians playing with their regular band (as opposed to local musicians) were extremely rare. Consequently, the concerts promoted by the Jazz Society filled a gap not just in college cultural life but in Dublin cultural life generally. Our concerts were attended in numbers unheard of at the time, mostly by students but also by the general public. We provided students with access to high quality music and promoted artists including Brad Mehldau who is now one of the biggest names on the international jazz scene.
I am deeply concerned to hear of the difficulties faced by societies in Trinity, in particular the cuts in funding and problems accessing space in college.
In addition to the attention garnered in college publications, both the concerts we promoted and the society itself received widespread critical acclaim in the national and local media which must have been great PR for Trinity as a whole. Although some income was generated from the higher ticket prices paid by members of the general public, our activities were chiefly made possible by funding from college and from the access to college facilities that were made available to us (including the use of the Edmund Burke Theatre and the Steinway grand piano located there). The masterclasses provided something not offered at the time by the music department and were of great educational value. At least three of the students who attended the masterclasses during my time went on to become professional jazz musicians. Again we were able to provide these masterclasses thanks to the funding we received and the access to college space we were provided with. (continued overleaf) 29
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My experience of running the jazz society was also invaluable to me personally. A philosophy student could not otherwise have hoped to have acquired professional skills in concert booking, production, administration, accountancy, contracting, advertising and marketing, public relations and sales! My experience with the Jazz Society and our success encouraged me (against the wishes of my parents but surprisingly with the support of the college careers advisor) to pursue a career in concert promotion and I co-founded Note Productions in 1999. Note began bringing the biggest names and most critically acclaimed artists to Ireland and secured significant support from the Arts Council and from major sponsors (ESB, Miller Genuine Draft, Beamish, The Irish Times, RTE).
I would urge the authorities responsible to maintain funding to the Central Societies Committee and to ensure that college societies remain a central component and important part of college life.
Consequently, my experience with the Jazz Society led directly to employment both for me and for a number of other people. Although, I now pursue a different career, I remain a director of Note Productions.
Noel Mitchell I was a student in TCD from 1983-1994, and during that time participated actively as a member of many societies, and further as a committee member for some of the societies and capitated bodies.
Class of 1994 Science Fiction, Gamers, Bridge and Physical Experimental Physics Managing Director, Keynote PCO
There is no doubt that the college societies and clubs are an integral part of the fabric of college life, and also contribute massively to the overall experience of students attending TCD. The friendships and skills formed through society participation last a lifetime, and are certainly remembered far longer than the academic lessons; for many of us they also contribute in essential ways to our later personal and career development as well as creating an overall â€œroundedâ€? individual. College is supposed to be about growth and development of the individual, and the societies support this in so many ways. Participating as a member in a society opens up a range of social and educational options to complement oneâ€™s coursework, but for those who become committee members and organisers, we additionally learn project management skills, committee management, communication and negotiation skills, budgeting and financial management, administrative expertise and a wide range of interpersonal skills that will last a lifetime. In my own case this experience led directly to my chosen career path and success. The experience of travel for field trips, and the pride of intervarsity competition, are further examples of the unique opportunities offered by societies and clubs. Society activities need both direct funding, encouragement, and other assistance from the college and its agents. The societies need rooms to meet in and for their events, as well as access to the other amenities on campus. The aim should be to welcome and support the levels of activity from the societies, whether taking place within the college grounds or externally, as they contribute enormously to the reputation of the university and its interaction with the city and the outside world, and also to the wellbeing of the student body. I would like to endorse all efforts to continue to support the societies in TCD and the Central Societies Committee in coordinating their activities.
Ben Clifford Class of 2011 Comedy, SciFi, Players Drama Studies Actor and Writer My time at Trinity would have been incomplete without the experience I gained by being involved in societies (Comedy Soc, Sci Fi, Players and others). Simply put with societies I ...grew in confidence ...gained employability ...expanded my skills beyond academic ones ...made lifetime friends ...learnt networking AND ...got the support I needed to complete my degree Without my society involvement I simply wouldnâ€™t be a proud Trinity Alum.
Paul Brennan Class of 1995 SciFi, Gamers, the Hist, Biochemistry and Microbiological Biochemistry Director of Post-Doctoral Studies, Cardiff
During eight years in Trinity, I was involved in a diverse range of Societies which reflect the broad activity of student life. These included the Science Fiction Society, the Board Games Society, the Historical Society, the Biochemistry Society, the Microbiological Society and the Graduate Students Society.
I started off as an ordinary member, but I also worked on the committees and had executive roles. These include Treasurer of Science Fiction Society, Election Officer for Historical Society, Helped organise the World Student Debating Championships, Treasurer and Auditor of the Student Biochemical Society. I enjoyed being a member and participating in many different activities. More important than the activity was the experience these roles gave me in developing my organisational and leadership roles in the early part of my career. These were absolutely formative. I helped to develop the brand of Trinity College Dublin by inviting national and international speakers (authors and scientists) to visit the University and engage with staff and students. I was able to develop a national network, to receive advice and mentoring that I would not have received otherwise. I went on to become involved in the CSC and to become an organiser of the Trinity Ball. I was also encouraged to become part of the Graduate Students Union where I was involved in course validation and student appeals. Again, this taught me valuable transferable skills in running committees and organising budgets. I use those skills regularly today. This would not have been possible without the experience gained in the Societies first. I believe that Trinity College Dublin Societies play a vital role in both student life and student skills development. They enhance the reputation of the University and they make the University a place for developing well rounded individuals that can contribute to society in a more productive way. I encourage Trinity College to recognise the importance of student societies and to continue to support them.
When I arrived in Trinity in 2003 I was keen to get involved in student life from the offset and discovered that societies were the easiest mechanism to achieve that. I can remember the people I met in my first Fresherâ€™s week who encouraged me to get involved and I am still appreciative of the opportunities it afforded me.
Elizabeth O Brien Class of 2007 International Soc and CSC History International Policy Officer
For the first couple of years I was heavily involved in the Trinity branch of an international student organisation. I travelled extensively, discovering new countries through the eyes of the friends I had met at international conferences, sharing these experiences with some of my fellow Trinity students. When the commitment to my degree took precedence I was able to shift my involvement to societies that were more internally focused. This gave me an outlet in my final couple of years to continue to experience new and interesting aspects of college life whilst ensuring I was on track to graduate with a good degree.
My continued belief in higher education and the value generated by higher education to business, society and the individuals is related directly to the richness of my experience through TCD Student Societies.
Since leaving Trinity, it is the friends made through societies that I have kept in contact with. All of the societies I was involved with relied upon university funding. I believe the Central Society Committeeâ€™s review of spending applications ensured that all proposals were wellresearched and enhanced the development of each society and its members. I believe that societal involvement is integral to the modern Trinity graduate image. I note, now, that whilst registering to join the online alumni network there is the opportunity to get connected with societies. This reiterates to me the value the University places on societal involvement amongst its student body. I would hope that the University would continue to support the activities of students through societies, both financially and practically.
Ian Lahiffe Class of 2007 Music, Orchestra, Choral, Cumann Gaelach Music China Country Manager, Agri Food Business I was in Trinity from 2003-7, and was very involved in the Music side of things. I have moved away from Music as a career and I now work in Beijing in the Agri-food Sector. I speak Mandarin and my life and career are both going very well. I still keep in touch with Trinity’s International Office and Chapel Choir, and have met lots of Trinity people passing through China. I was Treasurer of the Music Society for a couple of years, and also of Trinity Singers, I was Chair of Singers and Conducted the Orchestra. I was also Organ Scholar, which I guess had me on the Chapel Choir committee from time to time. I also remember being on the Cumann Gaelach committee at some stage.
Trinity’s society scene is streets ahead of the other universities I have attended for further studies in the UK and Asia.
I always enjoyed the vibrant society life in Trinity and the confidence placed in Trinity students to run events, manage budgets and to represent the University. I remember signing a 46 Million Euro Indemnity clause for a Concert that we did in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, it was a scary but exciting moment. The concert was a huge success and one of the high points of my university life. I always pass through Front Square when I am in Dublin! I learnt a lot through my society experiences, made lots of friends for life and couldn’t recommend the CSC and Trinity’s societies more highly.
Padraic Foley Class of 2007 LGBT Theoretical Physics IT Consultant
Trinity - what do I remember from Trinity? The list is nearly endless - the Buttery, the Hamilton, lab experiments gone wrong, friends, walking in through Front Arch late at night, cobblestones, tourists - oh lectures too! I can easily go on. Most of all for me I remember House 6 and a small room on the 2nd floor just beside a music rehearsal room. It was the home of the LGBT Society.
My first memory of Trinity is trying to find the LGBT society stand in Front Square, walking towards it with trepidation, signing a small sheet and being given lots of info regarding the happenings in the Society for the coming weeks. Later that day I popped up to the society room in House 6. Little did I know that it would become my home for the next 4 years. Those stairs have been very well trodden by myself and so many other LGBT students. My participation grew in second year to being on the committee and actively taking part in organising the events we held each week. In my third year I ran unopposed and took the Auditor role to lead the society for 05/06. It was an amazing experience to say the least. I got to see the society grow and develop and thrive in the years that I was a member. The society played an integral part of my time in Trinity, they are inseparable. I can say that the friendships developed in House 6 last to this day.
Joining societies in College did me so much good, but I didnâ€™t know it at the time because I wasnâ€™t trying to build a CV but just to have fun. I learnt a great deal from working in and taking part in societies and it probably changed the course of
Ruth McAvinia Class of 1998 The Phil, Law and the Hist Drama Studies and Modern Irish News and Media Executive
my life. Many of my most precious friendships date from this time, with people from Trinity and from many other colleges and universities whom I would never have met without intervarsity debating. The Phil, the Hist and the Law Society gave me a home and a family in my time in College. I loved my classmates but without the extra influence of societies I think I might have been a pretty lonely student. I think now with so much of life happening online, societies must be even more important. They are wonderful places to learn things you never knew you needed to know.
Being involved in TCD societies was the making of so many of my fond memories of Trinity. It created friendships, connections and bonds beyond the lecture theatre, as well as thousands of transferable skills I still rely on in every role of employment I’ve taken up since. I was a student of Irish Studies from 2008-2012, during my time in Trinity I was actively involved with An Cumman Gealach, The Hist, Vis Arts and Choral Society as well as attending all the other amazing events run on campus by all other societies.
Holly Furlong Class of 2012 Cumann Gaelach, the Hist, CSC, Visual Arts and Choral Irish Studies Learning Team Assistant, Titanic Belfast
I was also a member of CSC Exec in 2010-11 and Secretary 2011-2012. Societies in Trinity taught me to be organised, adaptable, and to work as part of a team. As Choral Secretary I was responsible for 100+ member choir who preformed twice a year, including in 2011 a concert of Verdi’s Requiem in the Grand Canal Theatre.There are many quotable things about transferrable skills from societies we all know them inside out “team work” “leadership” and “communication skills” which are extremely worthwhile but I feel most valuable in hindsight it is the way it prepared me for real life. Societies taught me how to adapt in the split second your event changes or has a spanner thrown in it, how to keep smiling and think on your feet no matter what and most importantly it gave me confidence in myself that I could achieve just about anything if I put my mind to it! I’m now nearly 3 years out of Trinity and have completed a MA in Museum Studies and worked at the National Library of Ireland, Kilmainham Gaol and now most recently Learning Team Assistant at Titanic Belfast. As well as this with friends and connections made from TCD societies I was part of a group of four that Established the Womens’ Museum of Ireland in March 2013. Working in a learning and outreach department builds on my experience from Choral Society of producing large scale events, my times working with CSC exec on grant apps being put to use in budget meetings and funding applications. I have no doubt that I could not have achieved all this without my experiences from tcd societies, I also am convinced the Womens’ Museum of Ireland would not exist were it not for societies.
Dermot Heslin Class of 2000 VDP Computer Engineering
I was involved with the Vincent de Paul society from 1996 to 2000. I served as president and treasurer in that time. In Trinity, I studied computer engineering, and worked as a software developer when I left college.
Five years ago, I left my role as a software developer, to volunteer in Kenya with Suas. Returning from Kenya, I took a full time job with Suas, managing the Overseas Volunteer Programme. I worked there for 5 years, finishing up last October. I am now studying psychotherapy with plans to become a therapist. I am also working part-time in IT to fund my studies.
As my career has progressed, it has become more and more influenced by my time in the Vincent de Paul. It was because of my time in VDP that I linked up with Suas and decided to travel to Kenya, and then become involved in a full-time basis. My work with the VDP has also heavily influenced my decision to pursue a career in psychotherapy. While I learned strong technical skills while studying for my degree, it was my time in the VDP that got me really interested in people, and a career supporting others. 39
Jennifer Geraghty Burner Trinity stood out for me as an obvious choice, not just because of our academic reputation but also because of our rich, close-knit community and the sense of belonging that our students feel.
Class of 2010 Food and Drink, TAF, TES, Management Science, VDP Management Science Project Manager, Boston
I believe that we wouldn’t be the vibrant and exciting place we are today without the events that happen day and night, both on and off campus. The events I’m referring to are initiated, paid for and organised by the societies. But college societies aren’t just about events - they provide a structure for the college community to meet, get to know and learn from each other. For me, the best experiences I had at Trinity are the friends I made, the events I attended and the welcoming, intelligent, determined and motivated community involved with societies. I learned more through my involvement with societies than I could have learned in fifty years sitting in class. I really can’t over emphasise the impact that society involvement had on me - I learned how to really work with and motivate others, how to organise successful, enjoyable and well-run events, how to deal with conflicts, how to fail, how to cold call and sell, how to get up in front of a room of 300 people and hold their attention, and just how important it is to get out there, meet people, and have new experiences. I made amazing friends from all across campus, gained incredible time management skills and had a huge amount of fun along the way. The friends that I made through regular meetings and shared experiences provided a support structure that was important to me, as a young student learning to live on my own for the first time in a new city. Being well practiced at meeting new people and speaking about my experiences made interviewing for a job very natural for me, and I started at Google the week after I sat my final exams. My team mentioned that it was my enthusiasm for and involvement in societies and running events that made me stand out from the hundreds of others they interviewed for the role. I’m now a Product Manager at a tech company in Boston, and I would never have had the confidence to do this without the experiences I got from running events and looking for sponsorship for college societies. As a graduate (‘10), I still feel a strong sense of belonging to, and pride in, Trinity; and I hope that the contribution of societies to our students’ experience is recognised, celebrated and emphatically supported.
Ivana Bacik Class of 1990 Historical, Philosophical, Socialist and Labour Law Senator, Seanad Eireann From my own personal experience, I can testify as to how important student societies are in contributing to the vitality and vibrancy of campus life. I was involved as an undergraduate in a wide range of student societies, from the Hist and Phil to the Socialist Society, the women’s group and students’ union, the Labour Society, the karate society - and even the Croquet club. The diversity of activities offered by the many clubs and societies was part of what made the Trinity experience so attractive, affirming and life-changing to me as a student; I believe that the strength of our College societies is a uniquely defining feature of a ‘Trinity education.
Societies are an excellent way to meet new people, grow friendships and stay in contact both over the course of student life, and long after it. Involvement in Societies will enrich life skills – patience, perseverance, probity. They provide a unique opportunity to learn a great deal about working with the full range of personalities – a skill that always comes in handy!
James Nix ELSA and Law Society Director, Green Budget Europe
Attending lectures and studying is important. But it is engaging in societies that provides the full range of what college has to offer. For my own part during my college years I headed up the European Law Students Association, was later involved as co-editor of Miscellany magazine and also acted as Treasurer to the Law Society. Today I’m director of Green Budget Europe in Brussels which works to relieve labour taxes by raising charges on pollution and resources in a socially equitable way.
Khalehla Nuzum Class of 2013 Visual Arts, Food and Drink History of Art and Sociology Speakers Manager, Web Summit
Until I went to college, I had huge resentment for the education system in Ireland. I attended a school which quantified your success based on your academic or sporting performance. The former suited me fine but sport was never my fortĂŠ and I always resented not having another way to spend my time. Joining Trinity truly revolutionised my relationship with formal education. The academic side of it was excellent but my involvement in college societies was what truly opened my eyes.
For two years, I was on the Visual Arts committee. We visited amazing cities around the world as well as seeing Dublin in a completely new light. But for me, my real love was the DU Food + Drink Society. I was on the committee as a general member for two years and then became the Chair of the society in my final year. When I started college, I would never have thought I was capable of taking on such a daunting task. I had to learn to be creative, organised and determined on a week to week basis, while balancing it with my college work. I had an incredible committee of people who loved
Every day I use skills that I learnt in House 6. The CSC is truly magic and the societies it nurtures provide a wealth of value to the college community and I hope it continues to do so for years to come.
food and drink as much as I did. Working with them was an absolute pleasure and I made friends for life. The financial support that the college provided us with gave us the scope to do some amazing, amazing events. Some of my fondest memories I have would be the whisky tastings, cheese nights and the whirlwind that is freshersâ€™ week. Not only were these events of huge value to our members but the education it provided the committee with was one that you could not receive in a classroom. We learnt to budget, negotiate, manage people and time, think outside the box and push ourselves. For the past 18 months or so I have been working as a Speakers and Guests Manager at the Web Summit. Without my society experience, or the confidence it instilled in me, I would not be capable of this role.
When I started in Trinity in 2008 I knew that I was going to study PPES and that I would join the radio society Trinity FM. The latter of these went on to change my experience of university and is undoubtedly a huge element in what went on to be a fantastic four years.
Kate Cunningham Class of 2012 PPES Trinity FM Freelance Communications/Creative Founder - Women's Museum of Ireland
Being part of an academic course was a given but joining a society gave me a real sense of identity in Trinity that I has struggled to find when I had enrolled (and dropped out) the previous year. Radio had always been in my sights as a possible career route but being given the opportunity to actually present and produce shows, for myself and other people, gave me a focus that a general arts degree lacked. Through â€˜workingâ€™ in the station, first as a presenter and later as an editor and treasurer, I became aware of my own potential to create and manage people and projects, something which I had never had the confidence to do before.
My role with Trinity FM also allowed me access to the network of societies in Trinity and through this I ran for a position as a committee member of CSC. As with the society, through this experience I grew in confidence, learned what it meant to be a decision maker and a negotiator. I also made some of the best friends that I would come to know in college â€“ people who through a purely academic experience I never would have met. I now work in media, and run a non-profit organisation with a former fellow CSC committee member. My academic time in Trinity was a great one but without the experience that Trinity FM and CSC gave me it would have been far less rich. 43
When thinking about my fondest memories of my four years in Trinity, I realised just how many of them were a direct result of being involved in societies. From the lifelong James Kelly friends Iâ€™ve made to the incredibly original, Class of 2012 often daring events myself and fellow History, Politics, Amnesty, CSC, students put on, the CSC and the over 100 Cancer Soc , LGBT societies that are associated are part of History and Political Science the very fabric of â€˜the Trinity experienceâ€™. Public Relations Manager To talk about the tangible worth of being involved in societies and in keeping them well funded, many of the skills I, and my peers, learned while involved with societies have been invaluable in the years since. From gaining skills in event management to budgeting, from communications to sales, involvement with societies helps develop skills that are absolutely essential to personal growth and to ones ability to become a fully functioning, well rounded member of ones community. While these practical skills alone are worthy of keeping the CSC well-funded, society life offers something so much more invaluable to Trinity students. It offers a freedom to express creativity and individuality, to make decisions both good and bad and learn to grow from them, to work towards something bigger with a team of your peers.
The fact that so many thousands of Trinity students have voluntarily given over countless hours of their young college experience to their society of choice is testament to the importance and necessity of a Central Societies Committee that is both well-funded and well-staffed. The tireless work of the staff of the CSC and each individual committee adds something undeniable to the fabric of the life in Trinity. I hope that Trinity continues to support society life so that the unforgettable experience I had in Trinity is protected for the generations to come. 44
During my years in Trinity I was involved in a variety of societies and other capitated bodies and in running the CSC itself. This allowed me to have a wide range of valuable experiences. I had the opportunity to present papers and debate in public, not only with my peers, but with leading politicians and other important figures of the day, and also to adjudicate at debating competitions all the way to world championship level. I was able to perform on stage with probably the finest university dramatic company in Europe. I got to edit Irelandâ€™s oldest student magazine and to manage the logistics of college-wide elections.
Tony Wall Class of 1996 The Hist, Theo, CSC History Public Service Manager
Through my involvement with the CSC itself I learned valuable administrative and accounting skills and had the experience of being an employer and of managing substantial amounts of money to exacting audit standards. I also had the privilege of being involved in the organisation of Trinityâ€™s own unique take on the rock festival, the Trinity Ball. While much of what I learned through my involvement has had direct application, both in my academic studies and in my current work as a public service contractor/manager and trade union official, the value of student activities far transcends any narrow vocational purpose. A university is a community of scholars, gathering together people from a wide variety of backgrounds engaged in the study of a wide variety of disciplines, and this admixture is a vital part of the university experience and the formation it provides. With an ever increasing narrowing and specialisation, even at undergraduate level, student societies and other extracurricular activities are an essential avenue to provide this key part of a university education. How else do you get students of physics, law, biochemistry, philosophy, engineering, English, economics and history to sit in a room together and have a debate about theology? The quality of the service the capitated bodies provide, and the perception of that service by prospective students is a part of Trinityâ€™s distinctive identity. The capitated bodies represent, in the overall context of university finances, an excellent and extremely cost effective way of delivering an extremely important part of the formation of the students involved. The genius of their endeavours is that they rely, not on some kind of top down, administration heavy, central initiative, but on the creativity, enterprise and spirit of volunteerism of the students themselves. Such pursuits should not be dismissed as merely some kind of hobby or social activity. Most graduates do not end up working narrowly within the area of their degree subject, rather the point of a university education is a general, rigorous intellectual formation, and the experience gained and the values learned through student society activities are an inherent part of such an education. 45
Nick Hodsman Class of 2004 DU Music, Singers and Trinity Orchestra Economics Associate Director
During my four years at college I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time involved in societies. In my case these were mainly musical societies. It enabled me to continue my love of music to a very high standard whilst undertaking an economics degree. I was both conductor and held some other positions in the Music Society, Trinity College Singers and the DU Orchestral Society.
Personally, I was able to dedicate a lot of my college life to something I love, made friends and had fun along the way, making it easily my defining memories of college. My lifelong friends all stemmed from work I did in college societies. Professionally, I couldn’t recommend student society involvement highly enough, both from an employment perspective and the training you get for the world of work. I still sometimes use my college experience of running the University Orchestral Society today. During the time I was in charge we doubled the size of the orchestra and significantly improved concert attendances. It is an example of motivation, entrepreneurship, leadership and teamwork. I’ve applied the experience to my role today. The application of what I learnt during this time will set me apart from other applicants as I seek to move up in the organisation.
As a manager I look to recruit rounded graduates who will add something to my team. Graduates with college society experience are frequently able to use examples at interview which demonstrate the competences we look for, as I certainly did in my early career.
In addition, I also use the skills to help run a large London based choir called the Bach Choir. My experience at Trinity enabled me to help as a trustee for a highly professional organisation. The discipline of managing a team and understanding what motivates people, alongside managing a budget helps in so many parts of the workplace. It goes without saying that any institution which offered less of these activities would certainly suffer in its employability stats. The other incredible thing about college societies is that in an institution of learning you were given the freedom to stretch yourself and understand that very little was impossible. Societies enable students not to be scared to try things even if they didn’t always work out, as some of my concerts certainly didn’t! Knowing this has helped me to succeed in the workplace at the very highest level. 46
Thank you to the Trinity College Societies for providing me with a rounded and rewarding education. Allied to my college degree I’ve gained a skill-set which has enabled me to have a brilliant career doing a job I love. In addition I had huge amounts of fun and made life-long friends. I wouldn’t be where I am now were it not for those experiences. Their value to me were priceless. Thanks so much to all those who made college societies possible.
I arrived at Trinity as an outsider - I’d been at school in England for 5 years, knew nobody in the country, and was somewhat introverted, anyway. I left with a girlfriend (who’s now my wife), lifelong friends, and a network of contacts through the IT industry, all of whom I met through my involvement in societies and the CSC. Without them, I would have neither the happy life nor the successful career I’m now in.
Oli Bird Class of 1998 Gamers Society Mathematics Senior Test Engineer, IBM 47
Eoin O Braoin Class of 2010 DU Comedy, CSC Philosphy and Economics CSD Associate, Workday I type this mail while creating a financial plan for the members of my team who over the course of the next fiscal year will generate approximately a quarter of a billion dollars of revenue for a high tech company with a European headquarters 15 just minutes’ walk from Front Arch. I have spent the 5 years since I left Trinity College Dublin working for well known multinationals, boutique consultancies and now a global leader in software. The reason I am writing this, having achieved what I have is down to the skills, experiences and capabilities I learned while engaged in student societies in Trinity.
The importance, and the unique nature of Trinity’s society life are to be treasured, nurtured and encouraged if Trinity is to maintain its charms, quirks and its rightful place as an important place for people to develop as people and not to simply pass exams and make up the numbers. The true Trinity experience is shaped not only by the ivy clad surroundings of Botany Bay, the library and the exam hall but also by the clamour of Freshers’ week Front Square, the celebrated speakers of the high profile societies and the comfortable collegiate atmosphere of the niche societies. While the lecture hall allows the broadening of academic horizons the ineffable “Trinity experience” has foundations in society life. Real life experience in building a team, organising events, raining money and creating something that outlives one’s time in College are experiences that have affected and influenced my professional career and my personal life far more than the time I was supposed to spend in lectures. 48
Joe Heron Class of 1997 Model UN, DU Players and College Historicial BESS Account Director, Murray Consultants I attended TCD between 1992 and 1997. During my time in Trinity I was heavily involved in College societies. During my time, I had the opportunity to do the following • Represent TCD at the World Debating Championships (as well as other intervarsities) • Organise Ireland’s first third level Model UN event, with delegates from all around Ireland and the UK • Write, direct and perform a play in Players Theatre to over 400 people over a week • Organise debates for TCD Hist • Interview David O’Leary in front of a packed GMB • Write Policy Papers for one of Ireland’s major political parties The skills I developed as a member of Trinity’s societies are central to my professional and personal life. They have helped to make me the person I am. To take one example, the ability to speak in front of a crowd of 1,000 people, which I first did while speaking at a TCD Hist / UCD L & H event in the O’Reilly Hall, has had more practical use in my career than many of the academic lessons I learned. This is not to diminish the importance of TCD’s role in helping to shape mental acuity, but rather to say that extra – curricular activities also have a key role in developing life skills. I wish the CSC continued success in representing the interests of TCD’s societies and it’s students.
Andrew Byrne Nearly 9 years after leaving Trinity, one early memory comes clearly to my mind’s eye; the image of the dark entrance of Front Arch giving way to a Front Square bustling with the stands and banners of Fresher’s Week.
Class of 2007 SU President, CSC, Greens, College Historical Society Foreign Correspondant Financial Times
That first week in College confirmed or me all of the reasons I chose to come to Trinity and it set in motion some of the most formative experiences of my life. “How on Earth are you going to do all of that?” a friend asked, leafing through the two dozen society membership cards I had accumulated after just one day of Fresher’s Week. I never did become a photographer, film critic or mountain climber. But I did debate alongside future law professors at the Hist
It is simply vital that College does everything it can to support Trinity societies. Because it this dimension of Trinity life that takes students and turns them into leaders.
and in the Trinity Greens, my friends and I won a mighty victory when we banished styrofoam cups from college catering facilities. Over 10 years ago at the Hist, I organised a debate on gay marriage with a little-known drag queen called Panti in the chair. A decade later, that drag queen launched the national debate on marriage equality on RTÉ televsion, prompting legal threats and an international media furore. As ever, Trinity societies were ahead of the curve. Running a society gives students a platform to practice teamwork, organisation and creative thinking. These are the kind of skills that are en vogue at universities around the World, but no seminar on innovation or group assignment can replicate the real-life experience of running the enterprise that is a society. When I look at my peers who have already made an impact in the World, I can see so clearly that it was their experience running societies that empowered them to go forth and create internationally-renowned companies, engage with senior figures in business and politics and above all, to have faith in their own abilities.
David Adamson Class of 2010 Philosophical, Historical, DUPA, CSC, DU Players English Literature Planner, Fallon London The Phil and the Hist taught me how to articulate my thinking and speak my mind. Societies like DUPA and Players gave me the self confidence to work (and play) well with others, and my time as CSC secretary gave me my first real taste of responsibility and leadership. Trinity’s societies were my creative playground. They’re where I could indulge my passion for ideas, debate, theatre and design, and they’re where I developed the skills I’d need to pursue a career in the creative industries.
Not everything worth learning can be studied. Trinity’s societies taught me that.
Now I come up with ideas for a living and work with brands like Cadbury, Netflix and Adidas. Trinity gave me a great start, but societies are what gave me the head start.
As clichéd as it likely is by the time you’re reading this – societies made my time in Trinity. My memories of those four years are bookmarked by my collection of membership cards. Some are pulp and some are immaculately unused.
Class of 2014 VDP, DU Players, CSC Drama and Theatre Studies Artistic Director
Societies were my first interaction with the university. It was the society leaflets that were the most exciting part of the Freshers’ mailout. I remember these particularly well as that year the Phils’ publication was heavily censored, with whole paragraphs blacked out. Joining, I mentally noted, was a top priority. Freshers’ Week was like nothing I had experienced before. Everyone was open & friendly; excited about what they were representing. This wasn’t like the school experience I had just graduated from. It was acceptable to get involved - even cool. In first year I was an active member of SVP. Participating in their weekly soup-runs is (and probably will be for a long time) one of the proudest highlights on my CV. Second and third year were dominated by my involvement in Players. I graduated last year from Drama and Theatre Studies, but truth be told it was Players that was responsible for the majority of my learning in college. Ask any graduate of the drama department and they will tell you the same. It was through Players that I made the connections that have and continue to serve me best post graduation. If it weren’t for Players I would have left Trinity with less than half the confidence I had going into the difficult world of theatre production. Being a member and committee member of this society meant something very special to me and I have friends for life as a result. In my final year I was a member of two committees – Trinity Arts Festival and the CSC. Both were demanding but also very rewarding. The diversity of the societies I was involved with is equal to the diversity of the skills I learned. Societies in Trinity have a lot of emotive memories for people; it is where most of us writing made our closest friends and shared experience. Objectively, however, it is through societies that I have gained most from Trinity. I can only write from my own experience but I don’t doubt there are many who will write the same. Without my involvement in societies throughout my four years I would not have the practical experience, confidence or general cop-on that I did on graduation. These experiences have given me an edge in an already difficult career field. I am only beginning to realise how formative and rewarding my experience in these societies was and how much it is standing to me. 52
My first memories of hearing about life as a student in Trinity College, a few years before I registered there in 1995, were about the incredibly high academic standards and the rich Brian Nisbet culture that was only made possible by the many Class of 1999 societies that all students were encouraged to Gamers, CSC join. When I went to my first Fresher’s Week I, History like many others, joined many, many societies Network Operations Manager, and fully intended to get involved in them all. HEAnet Equally like many others I didn’t quite manage that, but I did more than most and before the end of Michaelmas term I was on at least one committee, but it may have been more. Over the following four years my involvement deepened and without that my time at Trinity would have been so much less than it was. Through societies, the ones I ran, the ones I just got involved in, I met so many people and learnt so many things. There was book keeping, politics, diplomacy, bargaining, volunteer wrangling and, overall, how to organise things in a way I hadn’t really considered before. I had the opportunity to run events from small lectures up to conventions of several hundred people, to meet speakers from all over the world and to truly receive the “life education” that was promised me by the university.
A university without societies is a grim place - a mere timetable of classes and lists of results. It will never truly prepare its students for life and it will send them out into the world with fewer tools than it should. A university with societies is a place of true education in all sense of the word and everything possible should be done to keep that spirit alive in Trinity.
Most importantly I met people and built my first “adult” network. Societies gave me the opportunity to meet people from outside my class, outside any experiences I’d had before and to form real bonds. I met engineers, physicists, computer scientists, medics and dentists. I met people from every branch of Arts (Humanities & Letters!) and from across every discipline that is taught in the university. These people became friends and colleagues, mentors and teachers; people who I still meet on a very regular basis and people who have done favours and business purely on the basis of a shared experience now over fifteen years in the past. Without these connections, these people, all linked through societies, not only would my time in Trinity have been less than it was, my life now would be less than it is. I would likely not have the job that I have now, nor would I have the skills to achieve a similar position. 53
John Smith Class of 1993 College Historical Society Law Lawyer
One can enter through the front gate of Trinity past serious old Edmund Burke, (“But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever”) or with a nod to dear Oliver (“Girls like to be played with, and rumpled a little too, sometimes”).
It would be simplistic to suggest that the two men embodied the concepts of a balance between work and play – Burke and Goldsmith are most assuredly not Yin and Yang – but the quotes are helpful in reminding us that through that gate lies every aspect of human life. You can learn how to build a nuclear reactor or join the Ski Club. I joined the Hist - a lifetime of passive smoking in just four years. Camels, Marlboro Lights, Benson and Hedges (the socialists), Embassy (the snooker room afficianados, of course) and the occasional packet of Dunhill for the crazed loners. I saw a great many great debaters – dammit I was one – but I felt that only those who could smoke nonchalantly and debate at the same time could really aspire to the Pantheon. In trawling back one remembers the cringe-inducing nights just as vividly as the glories. I am not sure that calling the then Chief Justice, “Chiefie” for an evening did much for anybody’s edification; likewise pointing out to the late Lord Longford that just because you were invited didn’t mean you always had to turn up. There were other moments too though, having Richard Ingrams approach and thank me for the laughs, is a bit of a favourite. And finally I recall typing in the Societies Office on a computer – an extraordinary novelty – when another student who has gone on to an annoying amount of fame in the entertainment industry and so will remain firmly anonymous here, bustled in asking to send a fax, it too something of a novelty. On being told that it would cost the whopping total of three pounds he brushed it off as if it was a mere peppercorn and on being asked whose name was the coversheet to be addressed to, he announced without noticeably lowering his voice, “Mr. Douglas Fairbanks Junior”. Even then, as a twenty year old, I laughed and said to myself, “Only in Trinity.”
Rob Kearns Without a doubt, the most important part of my time in Trinity was spent working with societies, primarily Trinity Orchestra.
Class of 2012 Trinity Orchestra Music Co-Founder and Director Ensemble Music
The opportunities made available to students are unparalleled â€“ From working with booking agents for the largest festivals in the country, to organising huge tours abroad, to producing viral hit videos that are viewed millions of times around the globe, my time with societies really was the peak of my learning and personal development in Trinity.
No course can provide the real world experiences and interactions that are afforded to you by participating in student society life.
RĂłise Goan Class of 2004 DU Players Theatre Studies Arts Producer and Curator
I studied at the Beckett Centre but my real theatre education happened in Players. An active member of the society since my first term, I served on the committee in 2002-2003 and worked on countless productions, festivals and events with the society during my 4 years in TCD. I still regularly work with the people I met there, both in the theatre, in media and in business Societies are an essential and integral part of the learning experience at TCD.
The CSC plays a vital role in funding, supporting and monitoring societies like Players, The Hist and The Phil and should be protected and resourced as a major priority by University management.
Societies provide a platform for students to explore their own ideas, develop entrepreneurial talents, and find their future colleagues, clients and friends.
Kathy Rose O Brien Class of 2002 DU Players Drama and Theatre Studies; Profession Actress and Screenwriter
Hands down, my involvement in Societies at Trinity was one of the most invigorating and important elements of my four years as an undergrad student.
The panoply of societies and the wealth of experience they offer shaped me in ways that all the lectures and study in the world couldn’t replace. The contacts, skills, confidence and friendships forged because of my involvement in society life have been invaluable to me since graduating. I came to Trinity as a Drama and Theatre Studies student, pretty young for third level education and thus under the legal drinking age, and infuriatingly prevented entry to the campus drinking holes by an unwavering yellow stripe running down my I.D. card. Socialising was far from scuppered but it had some extra challenges! Desire to mingle aside, I recognised early on that Trinity prided itself on offering a safe space to try out different passions, vague interests or crucially things that students one day might like to pursue career-wise. Inner desire to be a media mogul? Guilty. I got a slot presenting a half hour radio programme on Trinity FM, wrote a handful of articles for the Trinity News and set up a magazine for D.U. Players, the drama society extraordinaire that was ultimately my big love. Guilty. I got a slot presenting a half hour radio programme on Trinity FM, wrote a handful of articles for the Trinity News and set up a magazine for D.U. Players, the drama society extraordinaire that was ultimately my big love. I felt welcomed to partake as little or as much in lots of societies and the Central Societies Committee advised me on how to raise funds or manage events for societies I was more active in. So, I like to think I got a business module alongside my Arts degree that my parents still seem reassured by! I dipped in and out of clubs like Mod Lang, availing of travel to Prague and Spain and keeping connected to Spanish and French, subjects that had been part of my school life but weren’t otherwise being carried into my third level journey. I could go on and on… College Life is its own cosmos and you can test its parameters - and your own - to your heart’s content. Trying new things and, gasp, failing, is one of the best education’s you can get. Stellar academic teaching yes but I thank Trinity the most for its Societies’ smorgasbord. 56
Conor Hanratty Almost every memory I have of college is in some Class of 2003 way connected to DU Players. Even despite DU Players the sting of not being cast in the Freshers’ CoDrama and Latin op (from which I have just about recovered), I Theatre, Film, Opera Director managed, by the end of my first year, to have made great friends and been involved in a crazy number of shows. Another year later I was on the committee, and the year after that I wound up Secretary of the CSC committee, doing my level best to show no bias towards my beloved society. (Although Players DID manage to win Society of the Year that year at the CSC Awards...)
Society life is an incalculably valuable part of the university experience. Of course education and study in our chosen fields is the backbone of our time at college, but the joy, madness, zeal, heartbreak and community that I experienced at Players were what helped me find what I wanted to do with my life, where I met my best friends, and where I became the person I wanted to be.
It’s always tempting to imagine that one’s time at university was a golden age, and that it was absolutely the best of times. I’m no exception - and I think the enormous impact that my contemporaries at Players have gone on to achieve is proof that something very special was developing in our time upstairs above the Samuel Beckett Centre. We have gone on to become Artistic Directors and Festival Directors, work at National Theatres at home and abroad, work behind cameras at Rockefeller Center and around the globe, star in plays and films on all five continents, get Masters and PhD degrees from Yale, Stanford and UCLA, change careers entirely and become architects, midwives, painters, hedge fund brokers, journalists, and of course one of us landed a role in a little show called Downton Abbey...!
My involvement with societies started first as a member and then on the committee as secretary of DU Orchestral Society, now Trinity Orchestra. It was a great introduction to college, a way to engage with an extracurricular interest and make some great new friends in all studying different things. I was so impressed with the activity and calibre of a student run society that I was inspired to continue the work of previous committee members as a second year.
Jack Paterson Class of 2011 Trinity Orchestra, CSC Law and French Associate Gunderson Dettmer LLP
As my time in Trinity continued I began to see just how central the student societies were to creating the uniquely stimulating and happy atmosphere in College. In third year I joined the CSC Exec, and saw first hand the sheer enthusiasm of students pursuing their interests. I was fortunate to witness not just the variety, energy and reward that is part and parcel of society life in Trinity, but also to understand just how important student activity is to college itself. I really enjoyed playing a role in supporting the society activity through the grant system, as well as participating in events that brought the society community together.
The society experiences I had were great learning opportunities, but more than that they were a lot of fun. Orchestraâ€™s rehearsals and CSC Execâ€™s meetings were weekly highlights for me, and they were formative influences in my skills, my career path and my friendships â€” all things which have lasted far beyond time spent Trinity. Being surrounded by so many tireless and dedicated students working to achieve amazing things in their spare time was one of the true privileges of my undergraduate years.
Simon Mills Class of 1987 Philosophical, Historical and Biological Association Medicine Barrister
Trinity taught me a lot about medicine. Trinity’s societies taught me – far more importantly – how to be a doctor: how to learn the lessons of my limitations; how to interact with others and the adversity arising from human relations; how to fail and fail better in matters more important than exams. It was involvement in the Hist and Phil that ultimately gave me the courage and capacity to leave medicine after 10 years and to move instead to the law. Without them, I would be a barely-content doctor instead of enjoying a more satisfying career elsewhere.
I hope my 4 school-going children will eventually go to Trinity. I plan to donate to Trinity in the future. I would be less vigorous in these hopes and plans were Trinity too much a disciple to Mr Gradgrind, forgetting in the process how much of what it means to be a functioning, emotionally healthy, curious and prepared young adult is taught in the human rough and tumble outside of lecture halls and tutorial rooms.
When I think back on Trinity, the foreground of my recollections is crowded out by events and people of the Hist, the Phil, the Bi Soc (as it was then called: the fluidity of language has taken the word “Bi” out of the ownership of the Medical Students and it has since been renamed, I think), and the rest. The events and the people jostle so closely together that they form a near-solid and enduring tableau of what it mean for me to be at Trinity.
The societies at Trinity create a unique atmosphere, one that sets our College apart from the other leading universities in Ireland; their contribution to college life can be a difficult one to quantify but should not be underestimated. The societies are the basis for my fondest memories of studying, the reason I have great friends and most tangibly are the reason I am employed.
Paul Gallagher Class of 2010 Food and Drink, CSC, MSISS Management Science Systems Analyst
During my 4 years I attended countless events, was an active member of over 10 societies and served on the committee of 4 societies. The society committee roles are much more than playing shop, they are roles of actual responsibility with external and modern relevance. I would not have the friends and connections, that are invaluable to me day to day, were it not for the experiences I had at the societiesâ€™ events that I helped run or simply attended. I would not be leading a multimillion dollar business intelligence service in Procter & Gamble were it not for the skills gained during my 4 years at TCDâ€™s diverse societies How did I rally a team to fundraise â‚Ź10,000? How did I budget for 20 diverse events over the course of the college year? How did I manage a team of 8 to recruit 1,500 paying members? What did I personally contribute to support the other committee members? These are only a few of the questions I was asked in my interviews for a management position at P&G and are the types of questions that the company continues to ask graduates and internship candidates. The experiences gained from du food and drink, DUMSS, TES, DU Players and the many others helped me answer those interview questions and help me execute my daily work today. I sincerely hope that the College recognises the unique impact our societies have on the total college experience, the image of our university externally and the life of the alumni after departing Trinity. I trust those leading the university will continue to support the endeavours of the societies both in policy, facilities and funding to further their impact and the reach of the university for years come.
As both an undergraduate alumna of Trinity College, Dublin, and a current postgraduate
student at St. Andrewâ€™s University in Scotland, I
Class of 2014 LGBT, Literary Philosophy and English Lit Ph.D student
can say with full confidence that neither of these prestigious qualifications would have been mine were it not for the outstanding status given to TCD societies.
As a new study abroad student, both the then-LGBT and the Literary Society, as well as many others, gave me a platform to do that which few American study abroad students ever do â€“ to completely immerse myself in Irish student life. My decision to remain in Ireland as a result of this immersion has been one of the most important and transformational decisions of my life. In the years following, Trinity societies gave me personal confidence, CV qualifications, and a springboard from which to involve myself in Irish life on a Dublin-wide and Ireland-wide scale. In addition, I can confidently assert that the benefits I owe to student societies at Trinity were every bit as essential to the continued success of my current academic career as those I obtained in a classroom setting. This is especially so in an atmosphere as unfriendly to women and minorities as is world-class philosophy; Trinity societies gave me the just personal and professional skills and confidence that enable me to compete successfully in such an environment. I urge all involved not to underestimate the importance and vitality of this part of TCD life.
Of all my experiences while in Trinity, there’s little doubt that my involvement with societies is the one that has left the greatest mark on me and I know for countless students that is the David Doyle case. Having worked for the Alumni Office as Class of 2013 a student caller raising funds for the college, QSoc, CSC, Players, Theo it was often experiences of involvement in English Lit and Theology societies that alumni talked about when talking Freelance Theatre Maker about their time in Trinity. I was involved with a large number of societies during my time in the college, both as an active member and also as a committee member and I benefited greatly from that involvement. One of the most important things that I’ve taken from my involvement in societies in Trinity is a skill set that simply wouldn’t have otherwise been an element of my college education. Through running societies I developed marketing, administration, and financial skills that have been invaluable in finding employment since graduation. They equipped me for real world positions that my more theoretical arts degree never could. It wasn’t only demonstrable skills that I picked up, it was also new ways at looking at things through meeting people from different backgrounds, international students, and students from different academic disciplines from health sciences to law. Those interactions would never have happened to the same degree had it not been for my involvement in societies. I simply never would have had the opportunity to have met those people, and my college experience would have been much less valuable for that. The people that I’ve met through societies have become housemates, life long friends, collaborators, and employers. That strong network that societies help build is crucial in experiencing all the facets of Trinity. Through societies I also expanded my interests, both in terms of experiencing new areas within my own subject of study, as well as experiencing things that I never otherwise would have had the opportunity to. Societies during my time had many wonderful academic speakers, and organised academic conferences on subjects that I was studying and supplemented what I was learning as part of my degree. I had the chance to listen to leading academics in my field in a way that I never could have without societies. Also through DU Players I got to explore theatre, and because of that and through the skills learnt in the society it has become my field of employment. The career that I have never would have been possible had it not been for societies in Trinity. I’m aware that there is a funding issue within the college at the moment, indeed I’ve been a victim of it with classes without necessary equipment and a lack of module choices due to staff shortages. However a cut to the money granted to societies won’t fix that issue. Comparatively society grants are a very small amount of money and the value for money that they give is huge. I’ve seen societies stretch euros beyond what I ever thought possible. 62
They do this through a massive effort from the students involved, putting in hours beyond the call of duty every week to make sure that they can put on events to enrich the college experience of thousands of students. Already operating on a budget stretched so thin, any cuts will mean one thing and one thing only; a reduction in the activity of societies. Societies will have no choice but to stop running the same number of events and events of the quality that they do. The results will be disastrous. Often something overlooked is the services that societies really provide within the campus. From mentoring services for first year students through S2S, to support structures for LGBTQ students through Q Soc, to careers fairs for students to supplement those provided by the Careers Advisory Service, and much more as well. Without the funding these simply wonâ€™t exist anymore. They are services critical to the college and will ultimately put greater stress on the other services provided by the college. Societies provide these at a cost so low that it is impossible to match it either in terms of quality or value for money.
Societies are so effective in what they do because they are run by students, they respond to their needs, and organically help to create a stronger and more enriching campus life.
In truth thereâ€™s a very strong argument for increased funding for societies, not less and to discuss a cut is to my mind unconscionable. To cut funding for societies will have a disastrous impact on the lives of students and staff of Trinity College. Like many of the alumni that I encountered societies are what comes to my mind when I think about Trinity. They are often something that I tell people about when Iâ€™m talking to them about Trinity and they are one of the reasons that I think Trinity is such a wonderful place to study. They offer a more holistic college experience and I treasure my involvement with them hugely. Trinity would be a far worse place without the societies it has. It is crucial to continue supporting them, to help them develop, and ensure that the next generation of Trinity students has the same wonderful experiences through them that I was lucky enough to have.
Rob Farhat During my years as an undergrad in Trinity, my time spent at the heart of Trinity Orchestra and the Central Societies Committee was without a doubt the greatest learning experience for my future career.
Class of 2012 Trinity Orchestra and CSC Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Sociology Co-Founder and Director Ensemble Music
As head of Trinity Orchestra I organised its first ever concert abroad and turned it into an online marketing machine, while as chair of the CSC I oversaw the activities of all societies and founded and edited the Trinity Societies Yearbook. This hands-on experience was the closest thing Trinity offered me to what working in the real business and arts world is like, much more so than anything I learned in the lecture theatre.
On the back of that experience and success I was given a managerial role in one of Irelandâ€™s most successful companies straight out of college, and then subsequently started my own company. I have no doubt that my time with Trinityâ€™s wonderful societies was the main (if not only) deciding factor in my subsequent career path, and my life is all the better for it.
Raeghnya Zutshi Class of 2014 Trinity Singers Music Musician Composer
Looking back, I donâ€™t think I could imagine my time at Trinity without any connection to societies. It was such a rewarding experience, being able to grow and develop myself as an individual, while also exploring new opportunities that were not so readily available to me within my course. I was given the chance to meet and work alongside many great people through collaborations, both in and outside of the college circle while also discovering new passions.
As a music student, the course did not give many opportunities at exploring various aspects, such as conducting or composing for ensembles. Through working with societies, I was allowed to explore these, working as a conductor with Trinity College Singers, and also as a composer and arranger for the various ensembles in the society.
We were so appreciative of the continuous support of the CSC. Having a more experienced team ready to help was such an asset, lending a helping hand to guide and support us at all times. I discovered my love for management while working closely with societies, getting the opportunity to manage a society as a chairperson, along with many other committee roles. This experience has lead me to continue exploring these areas since completing my studies at Trinity. When asked about my time at Trinity, I find myself always referring back to the incredible opportunities that students have while getting involved in societies at Trinity, and I truly am saddened to see these budget cuts that continue to affect this great part of the college community. It was such a memorable experience for me, and one that should be upheld and supported to ensure that these same society traditions can be experienced by all Trinity students. 65
Aaron Heffernan Class of 2013 DU Players Drama Studies and Classical Civilization Actor
Without the existence of Trinity Societies during my four years in Dublin University I wouldn’t being anywhere near where I am today both in my professional and personal worlds alike. I give most of my societal thanks to DUBC, DU PLAYERS, and of course the CSC and the movers & shakers therein.
My time with these societies was nothing short of formative and life-changing. In freshers week I joined Trinity Rowing largely with a view to getting one of the sexy Gilet splash jackets that it’s existing members had been sporting around campus, but more importantly to follow the advice of my school French teacher and former DUBC club captain & coach Nick Dunlop. Dunlop would always assimilate schoolwork with athletic work, Olympic work and rowing training, and after six years of secondary school hearing mantras on the value of sports mentality and academic discipline I had to give this very Olympic, very illustrious looking sport a go. Athleticism in my academic work always followed thereafter. I enjoyed two years worth of seasons with the novice and intermediate crews between ‘08 and ‘10, and in the summer after my final year exams my acquired set of principles and ethical discipline even helped me overcome and train through a leg break before a personally seminal season of very I portent show runs. In October last year I opened a gym with my PT brother coach Heff called ‘Metaphysiques’ in Harold’s cross and continue to incorporate physical fitness and wellbeing into my life and my work. A friend and colleague from trinity Scott LaValla, infamous member of DUCAC, Trinity Rugby, Fashion Soc and Players, amongst others, is a globally loved professional sportsman who was an operative member in the early weeks of our gym founding. He now plays for Stade Francais in Paris and represents his native county USA Rugby on the international platform of world rugby, having been similarly primed & groomed through trinity societies. DU Players was my home base during my college years. This society, based in the The Samuel Beckett Centre, played a crucial role in both moulding my career and shaping my future as an actor. I served one year as Front of House Manager on the Players committee, and my main claim to players posterity still hangs in the upper hallways of the theatre space in the form of a 12 metre long & 10 metre tall painting. In Players I worked with friends that have now become close colleagues in all my work, having formed part of the critically acclaimed & internationally-touring sketch comedy group ‘A Betrayal of Penguins’ as well as having 66
founded my theater company Collapsing Horse Theatre with Eoghan Quinn, Matthew Smyth and existing Trinity student Jack Gleeson. We have, as a company, enjoyed four sold-out national tours with many of our 5 shows, some of which have travelled internationally to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to London and even as faras Moscow. We are currently in talks with Oscar-winning Irish animation powerhouse a Brown Bag films, about an adaptation of our first hit musical show ‘Monster/Clock’. In Players as a young actor I was privileged enough to meet film, television and theatre Giants such as Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes and even the Queen of England & her hubby The a duke of Edinburgh...
Which brings me to the time I pretended to be Barack Obama, on & off, for about three years. When in my second year I was grabbed by the collar and thrown in a rehearsal room to play Obama in the original musical ‘Obama Mia!’ in players theatre, which we later tool to the Edinburgh Fringe for a sold-out month-long run. Soon after that we thought it would be a good idea to run me for Student Union President, also as Obama, surrounded by faux secret service agents and a team of no-bullshit bodyguard. So when the queen came to visit the college I muscled my way to the front of the queue. Like a boss. I was made a lifetime member of DU Players in 2013, and am currently developing a documentary feature about the Obama years for release in 2017 in conjunction with when the man himself comes to the end of his tenure, with footage from both the TCD campaign AND the time Henry Healy Obama’s Irish cousin invited me & the team to go to Moneygall and re-enact the visit, with the helicopters and Garda escorts galore. Since having graduated from the college and its incredible societies I have enjoyed work in The Gate Theatre; on the Abbey National Stage; on Dublin stages in The Project Arts Centre, athe Samuel Beckett Centre; on national television in the crime drama series Love/Hate Season 4 and voicing the Meteor advertisement campaigns; on the international screen for The Alan Partridge Movie and the feature film Poison Pen. Collapsing Horse Theatre will be showing ‘Bears in Space’ in the Soho Theatre in London. Two words: Trinty. Societies. Nuff said. 67
Walking through Front Arch in the fall of 1992 I was greeted by the Law Society, Players, the Historical Society and the Philosophical Society. A long way from home in rural Ireland, and never having lived in a city before, to have a society reach out a welcoming Pauline Turley hand as I entered was a defining moment in my college Class of 1996 life. I immediately became very involved in Players, DU Players first as a stage manager for the Freshers Co-op, and Drama and Theatre Studies then and as treasurer of the society at the end of my Director, Irish Arts Centre, first year, which became a two year term. In my final New York year I became Chair of Players, following in the long line of producers who had also whetted their appetite for theatre and entertainment at Players â€“ Michael Colgan, Paul McGuiness, Jim Culleton, Lynne Parker to name but a few.
Having spent the last 18 years of my life since graduation working with the Irish Arts Center in New York - for the first ten years as a theatre producer and now as a member of the Board of Directors building a new $60 million facility â€“ my experience working with Players was invaluable. Not only did I meet friends who would become work colleagues and partners in future artistic projects, but I learned how to run a theatre company through the society. Whilst I deeply appreciate the academic education I received and my B.A. in Drama and Theatre Studies, I would wager that my society experience was more valuable to me in my early years, and is more responsible for my success than my degree. From society life I learned how to be more responsible, starting with the creation and management of budgets, to the artistic development of theatre making, and most importantly, how to sell theatre. I learned how to motivate and inspire a team, how to speak in public and negotiate with both society members and college regulators. It was this experience that stayed with me when I first began working at the Irish Arts Center. To this day I still call on my Players relationships and friendships that were cemented by the experience of long days spent rehearsing, working together, relying on each other, and working to deadlines. College life without society life is unthinkable. The show must go on. 68
I am writing to express my strong support for the importance of student societies in the Trinity experience. They offer students the opportunity to develop interests outside of their narrowly prescribed academic areas, to interact with people from across the College community, to broaden their minds through exposure to new and varied experiences (surely at the core of what the university experience should entail) and to take an active part in organisation, developing skills that may end up being far more useful than the knowledge picked up in any specific lecture course.
Kevin Mitchell Class of 1991 SciFi and Cards-Bridge Genetics Ass. Professor, Smurfit Institute of Genetics
There are few opportunities within academic courses themselves for students to develop these skills, to drive an agenda and accomplish goals not dictated by authority figures but based on the collective desires of a group with shared interests, which is led by the students themselves. As a student in the late 1980â€™s, I was involved with the Science Fiction Society and the BridgeClub, becoming a committee member of both and serving as Entertainments Officer and Secretary of the Science Fiction Society and Auditor of the Bridge Club. These experiences were hugely enriching and an important part of my educational experiences, beyond the purely academic. I look back on them fondly as a central part of my Trinity life and as the testing ground in which I developed leadership and organisational skills that have continued to stand to me over time. Strong support for student societies is vital if this important component of the Trinity experience is to be maintained.
When I first stumbled through Front Arch in autumn of 2004, I learned, embarrassingly for Robert Kearns the first time, that Trinity College had a Front Class of 2009 Square. I was an 18 year old from Mullingar, who Comedy Society and CSC had walked past Trinity around 10 times ever in BESS my life and had always assumed that it was bank Operations Manager for Kenya, One Acre Fund. or something. (Maybe that’s Trinity? No, it can’t be, they couldn’t fit 15,000 students in that one building!) A week later, I came back through the same gates to my first Freshers’ Week, saw a sea of people buying and selling memberships of societies and clubs, and immediately realised that college was going to be a lot more fun than I’d expected. I was lucky to be involved in a number of parts of college life – the Students’ Union, different volunteering opportunities, and the CSC, but the latter made by far the most difference to me. In my third year of college, some friends of mine and I got together to revive the somewhat defunct DU Comedy Society. We held a committee election in a hallway of our friend’s apartment in Botany Bay, and DU Comedy Society 2.0 was born. Over the next two years, I was secretary and chairperson, and got to see our hall-way society grow to contain thousands of members, host international artists, win awards, run a stupidly large festival, train performers of tomorrow, and generally make Trinity a funnier and more yellow place. At the time we liked to believe that we were a boot-strapping gang, taking on the world, but we knew that we always had the unbelievable support of the CSC behind us, allowing us to take risks, and funding a huge amount of the work we did. In the 2008/09 and 09/10 academic years, I served as secretary and chair of the CSC itself and got to see first-hand the work that the committee can do to encourage student activity in every corner of the campus. Every day I got to see hundreds of students availing directly of the funding, facilities, information, advice, and general support on offer, largely directly and in-person at the offices in House 6. By sharing in the commitment that Lucy, Joe and Emma make to Trinity’s students for just those few years, I came to be in absolute awe of the commitment they make to student life here every day of the careers they’ve had here. Being in a student society, and being involved with the CSC, taught me so much about the world and has been directly related to everything I’ve done in my career since leaving Trinity.
Right out from my degree, I took the skills I had learned in the Comedy Society and started producing comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, working largely with artists who had been in Trinity or performed with the society during my time there. Producing comedy led to producing theatre (again with some Trinity alumni friends) and that led to creating the 10 Days in Dublin festival, a huge open-format festival in Dublin city which ran every July for three years. I was lucky to produce shows across Ireland and Britain, host international artists in Ireland, win awards, sell-out tours, and support the work of hundreds of artists. In 2013, I began working with a major international development organisation in East Africa, again employing organisation, project management, and leadership skills which were much better informed by my society time than my BESS degree. Being involved in a society is the perfect starting place for any entrepreneur or business leader – you get to run your own organisation, market events, manage projects, and try to balance the books at the same time. Most importantly of all, the CSC gives students the opportunity to fail, learn from mistakes and start again! All that said, if all the CSC did was breed people for their post-Trinity professional careers, that would be pretty boring. Having a job is great, but what I got from my time in Trinity was worth so much more to me. The people I ran my society with are still some of my best friends in the world, as are many of the people who took part in events we ran. So many of the people I know became better humans because of their time in Trinity societies – better leaders, better speakers, better carers, better supporters. The CSC supports a huge web of young people who are dedicated to giving huge amounts of themselves to the community around them and that’s something which everyone should want to see flourish. The Trinity Experience is a funny thing. As a brand, it is trumpeted by academics and administrators who believe that they can buy and sell it. As a thing, it is unfortunately not so easily transferable. It’s not something you can take off a shelf and consume. It’s the essence of a timeless community which envelopes you, restores you, and takes all you can give, only to return it ten-fold. The CSC is at the heart of that community, binding it together. Without the work that they do, the Trinity Experience really would just be a phrase in a recruitment letter. The next lost teenager who stumbles into Trinity to discover a wealth of hidden treasures deserves for that most precious of items to be just as amazing a find for them as it was for me.
index. aaron heffernan 66 andrew byrne 50 ben clifford 32 ben jackson 29 brian nisbet 53 cian o brien 25 conor hanratty 57 dara calleary 19 darragh genockey 17 darren sinnott 52 david adamson 51 david clarke 23 david doyle 62 david norris 18 david o doherty 24 david roe 22 declan gorman 20 dermot heslin 39 dylan haskins 12 éanna drury 2 elizabeth o brien 34 eoin o braoin 48 eoin o liatháin 7 holly furlong 38 ian lahiffe 35 iarlaith carter 16 ivana bacik 41 jack paterson 58 james kelly 44 james nix 41 jennifer geraghty burner 40 jessica bernard 61 joe heron 49 john connolly 14
john smith kate cunningham kathy rose o brien kevin mitchell khalehla nuzum laura fryday leo varadkar mieke van embden nick hodsman noel mitchell oli bird oonagh o donovan paddy cosgrave padraic foley paul brennan paul gallagher pauline turley raeghnya zutshi robert kearns rob farhat rob kearns roger middleton ross dungan ruth mcavinia róise goan senator averil power simon mills tony wall
54 43 56 69 42 10 3 26 46 31 47 28 4 36 33 60 68 65 70 64 55 6 8 37 55 25 59 45
All images credit Dublin University Photography Association. Cover
The publication is a compilation of reflections by Trinity Alumni on their time here, and the invaluable and incomparable experiences they r...
Published on Oct 22, 2015
The publication is a compilation of reflections by Trinity Alumni on their time here, and the invaluable and incomparable experiences they r...