What is it to live the good life? How can we give back to our community? In Aristotle’s thinking, the good life was a life that has meaning and virtue, where the individual lives by a set of moral values and a code of ethics. The individual flourishes using their gifts to benefit themselves and others. As a professional in third level education, I believe I have a duty and obligation to use my brains and experience to serve third level education and also my local community. It is also possible for teachers to experience burn out and burn in, when we are constantly giving, we can deplete all our personal resources and become resentful and negative of our learners. The only way to stop burn out is to give to ourselves; I do this through nurturing my hobbies and interests.
VOLUNTARY WORK IN HIGHER EDUCATION
I am an Associate of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. This involves attending regular meetings and making contributions to draft policies. I’m also Hibernia College representative on the Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) Teaching and Learning Committee. HECA was established in 1991 and is the recognised voice of independent higher-level education in Ireland; its main focus is representing the independent third level sector by ensuring the highest standards of quality amongst its members. The mission of the HECA Teaching & Learning Committee is to promote the enhancement of teaching and learning such that it has tangible effects in the classroom, effectively enabling people to learn. (http://www.heca.ie). In 2013, I designed and presented lessons on defining Irish Identity for a Hibernia College ‘Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to celebrate ‘The Gathering’ (a Bord Fáilte initiative to welcome the Irish diaspora). I have also acted as a peer reviewer for two journals. I have supported many colleagues in completing their doctoral studies, and I love mentoring students to help them reach their potential.
For the past ten years, I have been actively involved in the politics of my local community by serving on a residents association and working with the ‘Tidy Towns’ to enhance our community. I have been involved in the collaborative writing of submissions to the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan. I have served on a liaison committee with the DLRCoCo and Contractors in the building of the Waste Water Treatment Plant at Shanganagh, and we facilitated discussions with local groups to ensure traffic management and community gain in the building of the pipeline from Bray to Shanganagh. With Tidy Towns, I participate in local clean ups, picking up litter, painting fences, and weeding! Our efforts were rewarded, this year Shankill was awarded a ‘Silver Medal and Third Place in County’ and in the DLR Tidy Districts we won the Overall Winner and Silver Medal Cup and the Winner of ‘Award for Town/Village with Population over 3,000’.
I had the privilege of working as a researcher for the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) between 2006 and 2009. I was tasked with doing research with drug users who engage in prostitution in Dublin (Action 98 of the National Drug Strategy). This work really changed my attitudes towards sex work. I was part of a founding group with sex workers to decriminalise sex work (Sex Workers Alliance Ireland). I advocated in the media for a group who were too stigmatised and marginalised to speak for themselves; I hope I empowered sex workers to find their voices. In 2015, sex workers began advocating for themselves and challenging oppressive legislation that pushes sex workers into dark and dangerous places and increases not only the risks of violence but also the risk of sex workers not reporting violence. I also do my best to facilitate the work of others and have engaged in a number of research projects with students conducting research in this area.
I grew up in a household where my mother sang constantly; from an early age, I modelled her behaviour and loved to sing my heart out – in the bath, in the car or even in the garden (pity the poor neighbours!). I am a proud member of Corus, a democratic choir where the only criteria for joining is that you love to sing your heart out! We perform in many musical events throughout the year. Singing really nurtures my spirit, I believe that it is a form of meditation or mindfulness; when you are singing you cannot think other thoughts, it is a great way of giving the brain a rest.
FLOWERS & GARDENS
The wonderful gift that I received from my father is the love of flowers and gardens. There is nothing that I love more than spending a few hours in my little suburban garden on a Sunday with my friendly robin, stalking and serenading me. During the summer I love to visit private gardens that are open to the public, last summer I visited Port Stewart Gardens in County Down.
My husband David gave me the gift of an interest in golf. He loves golf so rather than being a golf widow, I joined him. I’m a high handicap player but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying myself. My argument is that you don’t have to be good at sport to be a good sport! I was on the ‘Ladies Committee’ in Charlesland Golf Club for 5 years (1999 to 2004) and was Lady Captain between 2003-4. I learnt so much about governance issues (Irish ladies golf is governed by the ILGU (Irish Ladies Golfing Union) and also the role that golf plays in many communities. Historically, golf was an elite sport, but today golf is for anyone who wants to play it, there are many beautiful pitch and putt courses and public golf courses around Ireland. One advantage of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger was that it made many courses accessible to a wider range of people. I’m also so proud that such a small country can produce world renowned players like: the Maguire sisters, Padraig Harrington, Rory McElroy, Darren Clare, Paul McGinley and Shane Lowry. My claim to fame is that I had a hole-in-one on the 12th hole in Druid’s Glen. I played the Kileen Course in Killarney Golf Club in June 2017 and had 38 points.
I developed a love of reading at an early age and read every children’s book in the local library. In the words of Karin Slaughter, novelist (b. 6 Jan 1971) ‘Reading is not just an escape. It is access to a better way of life’. Novels are a great way to experience other characters, cultures and time. I’ve been in a book club for the past 11 years and have read many novels and non-fiction books.
A dear friend and neighbour gave me the gift of bridge. She was a champion bridge player from Budapest, Hungary and in exchange for English conversation, she taught a group of neighbours how to play bridge. I now play on a weekly basis and really love the challenge.
I have just taken up cycling. I was encouraged by my sister and brother to cycle the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. Under the ‘Bike to Work’ scheme, I purchased a bicycle in March and cycled the greenway from Dungarvan to Waterford twice. I discovered I love cycling but didn’t think I would be able for the Ring of Kerry cycle because it is 188 KMs long. However, on the 1st of July 2017, we completed the ROKC! What a great experience.