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.
Judge adjourns Connemara assault case
Date Published: 08-May-2013
A date will be set next October for the trial of a 52-year old Connemara man, who is charged with assaulting traditional Irish musician Noel Hill five years ago.
Michael Folan from Teach Mór, Lettermullen, is charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Noel Hill at Tí Padraig Mairtín Beag in Leitir Mór, on St Stephen’s Day, 2008.
The matter had been listed for trial on several occasions before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in the intervening period.
It was referred to the High Court in Dublin last year for judicial review after Michael Folan said he wanted his trial heard ‘as Gaeilge’and that a bi-lingual jury be made available to hear the case.
At Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe adjourned the case for mention to October when it’s expected a date will be set for trial.
Bank of Ireland Galway Shopping Centre branch to close
Date Published: 10-May-2013
Bank of Ireland’s branch at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road is to close in July.
The branch is to merge into the BOI outlet at Galway Industrial Estate in Mervue.
Galway Bay fm news reports the 14 staff impacted are to be offered redeployment and there will be no job losses.
Galway RNLI rescues three people stranded on Hare Island
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway RNLI Lifeboat has come to the rescue of three students who got stranded on Hare Island after getting caught in the tide off Ballyloughan Beach.
The two girls and boy, in their late teens had gone for a walk and were spotted waving from the island by a local resident who contacted the emergency Services and Galway Lifeboat.
Conditions at the time (4pm) were very changeable with heavy showers.
Three members of the Lifeboat shore crew were working in the vicinity of the station at the time and launched the boat in six minutes.
The three students were picked up safely and brought back to the Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks where they were warmed up and given tea and did not require medical attention.