I dreamt last night of Galway. I dreamt of the time that I was there and the freedom that I felt in my spirit that encouraged such a curiosity of wonder, a stillness in my heart and an adventure in my soul. It enthralled me as a place and invigorated my curiosity. I thrived there and loved the open and free-minded, pure, heartfelt nature of the people. The streets are filled with fire breathers, musicians and dancers. The people speaking in Irish, English, French or German along the main street of Shop Street. The University where challenges are met with enthusiasm and support along with a great community spirit by taking the approach of 'we will get through this together'. The mentality that we can and will accomplish our goals or anything that we set our minds to. The people that I have met with team work in mind and as part of that team work it is ingrained in us as part of the culture that 'no man is an island' that we need the community for support. The magnificent nature and sea front that sweeps along the Wild Atlantic Way and affords the people of Galway a glance into the sea by walking along the sea front in Salthill. The wonders of both the ocean and the landscape that is adorned with green rolling hills and crashing waves when you look out upon the seafront and its backdrop in the distance.
In the University, the place where curiosity minds are met and challenged. The lecturers thrilled to give you an opportunity to ask questions and push their research. I am grateful for the time I spent there. I am grateful for the wonderful teachers and lecturers that I had. I am truly in awe of the spectacular ability to convey the complexity of mathematics and computers in such a clear and simple manner to make learning it fun.
I had wonderful lecturers in my undergraduate I.T. degree, Dr. Colm O'Riordan who I asked questions to about natural language processing and data processing as well as search queries and neural networks and he endeavoured to answer every part in the lectures that followed.
Dr. Sharon Flynn who taught Formal Methods and used unconventional ways of poaching students to come to the front of the lecture hall that seated 250 students and we were usually only about 20.
Dr. Catherine Cronin who taught me to remain calm during presentations (although I have forgotten these once or twice when going through stressful periods) I remember the strategies she taught us.
Dr. Michael Madden teaching us programming and Java for the first time and how challenging I thought it was. He inspired me to keep going and I remember having a meeting in his office when I thought it was really challenging and he lifted my spirits to keep going and that it is there to be overcome.
Dr. Barry Gleeson who taught mathematical physics and made it look easy while translating the most complex mathematical equations to our class in the McMunn theatre.
In my Masters I had Dr. Michael Lang for databases and he made it very easy, so simple in fact that I worked as a functional analyst afterwards and found SQL databases easy to use and program. I then went onto work using Oracle too.
The most inspiring programming lecturer has to have been Martin Hughes, he restored my love of programming in Java. I always thought I wasn't good enough and was very intimidated by the people around me. He took us through .NET and gave us weekly tests to do in class. These were always negative marking and challenging but he made us believe programming is easy.
Dr. Seamus Hill for supervising my thesis in Knowledge Management and it had a large component of statistics of which I am grateful for the guidance that this entailed and the supervision necessary for me to achieve my first class thesis.
In my PhD, I had the best and most wonderful supervisor, Dr. Catherine Paolucci. She is an incredible woman with many achievements under her belt. She has achieved so much already and having received her doctorate at Columbia University was in Ireland and I was lucky enough to have such an inspirational supervisor who got me to believe in myself and that it was possible to accomplish the PhD. I even managed to present in her University towards the end of the PhD in NY and loved working with her. She went back to the States and now is a professor in Florida.
I also worked with Dr. Mary Fleming who pushed me and challenged my way of thinking. She challenged every single word that I wrote and distilled the process in the final chapters.
I am forever grateful to have been to NUI Galway, to have made friends and the community that remains and been surrounded by critical-thinkers that invigorate your level of curiosity like no others and to all the lecturers and teachers that I have not mentioned in this post. I truly am grateful for the upstanding and excellent teaching that you have brought me and my fellow alumni. They are truly inspirational and my love affair with Galway will remain.
Photo credit: @nuigalwayalumni instagram account for St. Patrick's Day.
This year Galway is the European Capital of Culture and for St. Patrick's Day lit up Connemara to show the true magic of the part of the country.