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Roisin Meaney B.Ed 1980
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Tell us about yourself

After leaving college in 1980 I taught for two years in St Mark's Junior School in Tallaght, Dublin before deciding I wanted to see the world. Since the career break had yet to be invented I resigned from my permanent pensionable job (much to my parents' horror) and went to Zimbabwe where I taught English in a high school for the following two years.

On my return to Ireland a vacancy came up in my old school and I applied, was interviewed and re-employed (much to my parents' relief). Over the following few years I wrote a regular column in In Touch about the joys of teaching infants. In 1990 the numbers in the school dropped and I, being last in, became surplus to requirements and was placed on the panel. I was subsequently offered a job in another Dublin school which I accepted, on condition that I could take an immediate career break, my feet having begun to itch again.

This time I went to London, where I found work in an ad agency as a copywriter, supplying text for ads, leaflets, brochures and press releases. I extended my career break and remained in London until 1993, when Ireland beckoned me home and I resumed teaching, this time in Limerick. (Apologies to the principal of the Dublin school where I was employed for three years without teaching a single day there.) It wasn't until 2001 that I began to write my first book, during a year in San Francisco on my third break from primary teaching. In 2008, five novels and two children's books later, I left teaching to devote myself to fulltime writing. So far so good...

 

Tell us about your time in Mary Immaculate College (MIC).

I enjoyed my three years there, not that I was a very diligent student! I attended lectures and duly took notes, but I have to admit that I preferred the social side of college, and also the panicky buzz of teaching practice, to the academic stuff. I was amazed at my 2:2 result at the end of Third Year – I suspect I scraped the honour by the skin of my teeth!

 

One memory that stands out in your mind from your time in MIC?

Treading the boards in a play (whose name I've forgotten) in First Year, as part of the drama club. Good fun, and the foundation for my love of amateur drama, which informed the theme of my fourth novel, Half Seven on a Thursday.

 

A member of staff who had an affect or made an impression on you during your time in MIC?

Siobhan Hurley, who nurtured my interest in infant teaching, easily my favourite class level.

 

What changes would you like to see within MIC?

MIC has changed so much since my day that any things I'd have liked to see done differently have already happened – students' union, affiliation with NUI, a more broad based curriculum etc. I envy the choices today's students have that we didn't. I do hope some things haven't changed though – like the regular Thursday night discos with UL students, and the great nights out at the end of teaching practice!

 

Do you maintain a relationship with MIC today?

Not in the academic sense – I've left that side of my life behind now – but I've often attended shows in the halla, which certainly brings back memories (PE with Brendan Smith, mostly).

 

What is your current occupation?

A real writer, hurrah!

 

What are the high points in your career to date?

Winning a two book publishing deal with my first novel, The Daisy Picker. Hitting the number one slot with my third, The Last Week of May. (Happily, that coincided with my being in Listowel, my birthplace, for Writer's Week – I could hardly have been in a more appropriate place.) The other high point was getting a US deal for the latest book, Love in the Making, which will be published there in April – can't wait.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

Just to keep writing, and to make enough to pay the bills, would be fine.

If you were President of MIC for a day what would you do?

Er – give everyone the day off????

 

If you could quickly sum up your time in MIC or have any advice for MIC students what would it be?

I had a great three years, learnt to do a job I loved while managing to have plenty of fun in between. To current students I'd say cherish your time at college, balance the books with the craic; memories are being made, so make sure they're good ones!

Roisin Meaney

MICE student 1977 - 1980

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