A 60-year-old Galway woman who left school at 14 – and always regretted not having an education – took her chance second time round. And now she is contemplating a life in college.
Rosaleen Rice from Kingshill in Upper Salthill decided to return to education after rearing her own family of five and retiring from work – starting off by doing one-to-one classes in Galway Adult Basic Education Service, then the Leaving Cert and more recently completing a course in NUI Galway – something she never dreamt that she could do.
BY CLARE McNALLY
“I am the person I am because of the road I have travelled,” says the woman who managed a hairdressing business before turning her hand to running a B&B.
Rosaleen has lived in Salthill all of her life. Seventh of eleven children, she grew up in a very busy household. Like many people of her generation, she was only 14 when she finished school, taking up the opportunity to train as an apprentice hairstylist.
She was a quick learner, acquiring new skills in styling, cutting and all aspects of hairdressing. At 19 she became manager.
“I always think my mother made a wise decision when she suggested I train as a hairdresser. I would have drowned in secondary school but when I started hairdressing, I came into my own. I became more confident and my self-esteem grew,” she says.
Rosaleen eventually came to own the business, helped in no small part by the fact that she married Michael Rice, the person who originally employed her to be manager!
Rosaleen and Michael went on to have five children together – three daughters and two sons. Although she’d left school with very little education and weak literacy, her own thirst for knowledge and her desire to support her children’s education motivated her to keep trying to improve her skills.
“I was self-taught and by working on my reading it improved. When my first child was born I introduced her to books at the age of six months. Through reading to her and to my other children, my own reading ability improved.”
Rosaleen decided to retire from hairdressing and closed her business after her fifth child was born. However she continued to work all her life, supporting her husband’s driving school business and then running her own B&B for 15 years. It was only when she retired that she decided to take her first step back to education.
“I lost my brother and sister in a short period of time and it made me reflect on my own life. I felt that if you have an issue in life you should really do something about it, rather than wait. I always wanted an education.
“My sister Anne Broderick was the driving force behind me returning to education after I shared my feelings about my lack of education with her. She had done the tutors’ course in Galway Adult Basic Education Service and suggested that I get in touch with them. She even made an appointment for me as I was quite nervous in taking that first step myself,” says Rosaleen.
And she knows she fell on her feet when she engaged with the Galway Adult Basic Education Service – people like Alison Jones, Carmel Glynn and Kieran Harrington, to name but a few.
“The first person I met was Alison Jones. I found her to be the most open and truly lovely lady. It was such a big step for me going back to education that I actually broke down and cried when I started talking to her. But she was so understanding and put me instantly at ease. She suggested that I start on one-to-one and that’s when I met Carmel Glynn,” says Rosaleen.
“Carmel is the most amazing person – we clicked from the moment we met. In fact we have become great friends. She gave me all the encouragement I needed. In the end, I started writing short stories and her reaction when I would read one of my stories was so moving and touching.
“She unlocked something and made me believe in myself. I was beginning to discover things about myself I hadn’t known I was capable of and I can’t thank her enough,” says Rosaleen.
It wasn’t long before Rosaleen was being encouraged to try some exams, sitting Junior Cert English and Maths in 2012 and the Leaving Cert in 2014. Naturally, one subject wasn’t enough!
“At the interview for the Leaving Cert course, it was suggested that I try all six subjects. So I did, I studied Irish, English, Business, Maths, History and Geography. It was a challenge and there were times I questioned myself as to whether I could do it.
“However, with the encouragement I received from my tutors, family and my husband Michael, who kept dropping me off and picking me up each day, it helped me to persevere with it.
“To have completed the course and receive my Leaving Cert results was far beyond anything I ever imagined. It’s the most amazing feeling,” says Rosaleen.
More recently, through more encouragement from her tutors, Rosaleen has completed an Access course in NUI Galway.
“For all the years of my life that I passed by NUI Galway, I never dreamt that, one day, I would be a student in the University, or that it would be possible for me to be like other students, using the library, handing in assignments, dealing with the pressure of deadlines. You feel such a huge sense of achievement,” she says.
She’s not entirely sure what’s next.
“I have applied through the CAO to do a degree. I’m toying with that at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s what I really want to do. But what I do know is that it’s a wonderful place to be, to have that option. If I ever in the past doubted myself, going back to education has made me realise that I have the ability,” says Rosaleen.
Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones
These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.
But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.
If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.
All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.
You can email that with a photograph to us, to email@example.com or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.
We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.
This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances. You can contact our team for further details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gardaí seek help in locating missing man
Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.
He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.
Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.
Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.
‘Daredevil’ swimmers are a fatality waiting to happen
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – ‘Daredevil’ winter sea swimmers who dive or jump into the water in places like Blackrock during adverse weather are putting their own lives at risk – and possibly those of rescuers – by their actions, it was warned this week.
Water Safety Ireland have cautioned that the biggest single contributor to drownings in Ireland is what is known as ‘cold water shock’ – a condition caused by the sudden entry into a cold body of water.
There is now growing concern that a copycat trend is emerging with young people – without wet suits – diving or jumping into the sea in stormy or icy-cold weather.
Several people have been filmed on social media in the sea at Salthill during storms – with a number of them taking ‘running jumps’ off the diving tower at Blackrock.
Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Water Safety Ireland, told the Galway City Tribune that people jumping into the sea during storms showed at best a reckless disregard for their own safety and in a worst-case scenario represented ‘a fatality waiting to happen’ for the jumpers – or the persons trying to rescue them.
“Jumping into cold water puts you at risk of cold shock which can result in immediate incapacitation and doing so in storm conditions can make it difficult to get back out of the water safely and promptly before hypothermia sets in.
“Hypothermia leads to the cooling of the muscles needed in the arms and legs to stay afloat. Drownings typically happen when someone over-estimates their ability and under-estimates the risks,” said Mr Sweeney.
Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune, that the key thing for all people who enjoyed the water and the sea was to carefully plan their exercise or hobby.
“Cold water shock is a real danger at this time of year for all swimmers. Be prepared – have your cap, ear plugs, mats, woolly cap [after leaving the water] and towels all in place. Check the weather forecast and check the tides – and never, ever just jump straight into the water during the colder season.”
(Photo: Diving into the water at Blackrock during Storm Bella in December)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.