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College days equipped RTE broadcaster with his own take on the questions for life

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Date Published: 23-Jun-2011

The phrase lifelong learning might well have been invented to describe Seán O’Rourke’s relationship with what was once UCG – because his education through the College goes back to his childhood when he learned to tell the time from its famous clock tower as he made his way past the College from his Newcastle home.

A little later he learned how to catch his first perch as a young fisherman in waters that ran through the university grounds, now transcended by the Quincentennial bridge – and the fact that his mother kept students for 40 years in the family home helped his education in matters of the heart as well.

“We had an old-style phone box in the hall and if my father wasn’t on it, it might have been one of three girls from Roscommon phoning home for ages with news of their respective love lives. And as you couldn’t help overhearing, you learned a lot from that as well,” he laughs.

The award winning RTÉ broadcaster will remember his parents in particular this Friday when he receives his Honorary Doctorate of Laws, back at his alma mater from which he first graduated with a BA in 1977.

He will be surrounded by family and friends, some of his old school friends from the ‘Jes’, some of his old neighbours from around Newcastle and Distillery Road; his five brothers Lorcan, Brian, Fr Kevin SJ, Fran and Gerard and his sisters Mary and Anne, his wife, broadcaster Caroline Murphy and their six children, Maeve – herself a Harvard graduate who is in the news these days through her work as legal advisor to the Justice for Magdalenes – Aisling, Kevin, Declan, Seán and Fergus.

And despite a mantelpiece groaning under the weight of awards for his work – he’s been News Broadcaster of the Year for the last three years in a row and his News at One has been News Programme of the Year for the last two years – this Friday is a special day on many fronts.

“It means an immense amount to me. Most of all it’s a tribute to my parents, because 50 years ago this year they moved from the rural idyll of Co Laois to Galway because my father saw that as the best opportunity we would have of a university education,” he says.

“It’s recognition of the importance they attached to education, and NUI Galway – or UCG as it was then – opened up tremendous opportunities to me in life.

“It was people like [lecturers] Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh and Hubert McDermott who taught me the importance of asking questions, and clearly that was something I’ve taken to heart ever since,” he jokes.

And indeed he has – because a rough calculation suggests 20,000 interviews over the last 16 years on the News at One, coupled with a conservative estimate of 1,000 on The Week in Politics.

“If there is an average of five questions in an interview, that’s 100,000 I’ve asked on the airwaves – so clearly I owe them a great debt of gratitude,” he quips.

Whatever debt he feels he owe his alma mater, he pays off in spades through his work with the NUI Galway Alumni Association; his latest contribution was to interview his old friend and fellow UCG graduate, RTÉ’s incomparable Colm Murray in the plush surrounds of the Aviva Stadium last week in an event organised by the NUI Galway Dublin Alumni Group.

The O’Rourkes arrived in Galway in 1961 from Ratheniska, a small village between Portlaoise and Stradbally. Seán was the sixth and youngest boy in a family of eight – he has two younger sisters.

With his father as Principal in the Claddagh National School, the family settled in Newcastle at the corner of what is now Séamus Quirke Road. Four of the O’Rourkes still live in Galway.

Seán followed the familiar path through the Claddagh National School onto the ‘Jes’ and eventually into UCG where he completed a BA in English, History and Legal Science in 1977.

But between second and third level he had his first experience of journalism, an experience which he says had the greatest influence of all on him, when he applied for a job as a junior reporter in the Connacht Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.

It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.

Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores

This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.

However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.

That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.

The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing

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Date Published: 13-May-2013

Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.

Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.

He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.

Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.

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