It was a real family affair at University of Limerick as the new Vice President for Research was part of the processing party to confer her own parents with a Certificate in Local History.
Professor Norelee Kennedy, the incoming Vice President for Research at UL who is due to take up her position in January, had the extra special privilege of being part of the graduation ceremony for her parents Pat and Phyllis Kennedy.
Pat and Phyllis Kennedy, from Toomevara, were among the more than 3,400 students graduating this week as six days of conferring ceremonies take place on the University campus and are live streamed around the world.
Speaking after receiving their parchments, the Kennedys said that it really was a “teamwork graduation”.
“He was a great help to me and vice versa,” Phyllis Kennedy quipped of her husband as her proud daughter looked on, who laughed that she was regularly called by her studious parents and asked: “How do we log on and how do we do this?”
“Naturally we would call you,” Phyllis said, adding with a laugh, “sure that’s what you are there for”.
Pat and Phyllis were among 20 students who completed the Certificate in Local History, which was hosted off-campus at the Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, Co Galway.
“It was quite interesting and relaxed and we made some great friends,” Pat Kennedy said with Norelee adding that many of the students were “of the same vintage”, although Pat proclaimed that he “would have been considered the elder Statesman” of the group.
Looking at Irish folklore, the history of place names and periods of the 19th Century, the students examined the relationship between landlords and tenants associated with Portumna House during the course.
Mrs Kennedy proudly said that she loved being a student and said: “I can still get all my books from the Glucksman Library with my student card.”
Many of the participants said that taking the course had “awakened” their minds and set them on a path to follow further educational routes.
Dr David Fleming, course director and Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at UL, explained that the local history course is offered completely off campus and is hosted in the former workhouse, built in the 19th century in Portumna.
“This is the second year that the course is running and we have a group of dedicated tutors, many of them graduates of our own,” he explained.
The level 6 course runs as a precursor to the MA in Local History offered at UL or as course of interest to those looking to understand and know more about their area and its history.
“It is designed for people with an interest in local history and for those who could be afraid of entering university life, but we have put it in to their own locality to make it more accessible,” he explained.
Dr Fleming outlined that this “takes the intimidation out of it and indeed follows as a best example of anybody who could go to university, should go to university.”
“We have all ages and all sorts of types participating on the course – from people in their 80s to those in their 30s,” he said.
And of the Kennedys, Dr Fleming said: “To have a husband and wife taking the same course is special, but then to know that there was a direct connection with the University and the new vice president for research makes it even more special.
“It is lovely for them, for Norelee and the University when these things combine, it’s what we are all about,” he added.