Double first: President McAleese attends DIT BA in Visual Art Graduation on Sherkin Island

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Graduate Peggy Townend from Sherkin receiving her award
from the President of Ireland Mary McAleese and Dr. Frank McMahon of DIT.

6th May 2010

President Mary McAleese made presidential history recently by becoming the first holder of the office to visit Sherkin Island off west Cork.  President McAleese made the special visit to the Island for the conferring of awards for the DIT BA in Visual Art Graduation.

DIT’s BA in Visual Art is the first third-level degree programme to be offered on any of Ireland’s off-shore islands.  The programme is fully accredited, managed and delivered by the Dublin Institute of Technology but it is taught in its entirety on Sherkin Island.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony President McAleese said she was “delighted” and “honoured” to join this unique graduation ceremony for students of the BA Visual Arts programme. “We gather on this one day knowing that it is the culmination of over 10 years of careful planning and pilot projects and that it marks something quite remarkable and wonderful – the successful delivery of a fully accredited degree programme on an island. There is blood, sweat and tears embedded in this day and I warmly congratulate all those whose determination turned an ambitious idea into a successful reality” said President McAleese.

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The Graduating Class

The President added “Through the development of the B.A. in Visual Arts, a bridge has been built between the local community and the higher education sector and we are seeing in a very real way that geographic location is no real barrier to access to education.

The seven final-year students from the BA in Visual Art Programme were awarded their degrees by Dr Frank McMahon, director of academic affairs, DIT and Brid Grant, director and dean of DIT’s College of Arts and Tourism.  The event was also attended by various local community and governmental representatives as well as family, friends and members of the wider community.  The graduating students were Lorraine Bacchus, Monica Boyle, Rebecca Keyser, Veronika O’Driscoll, Catherine Ryan, Peggy Townend and Alison Trim.

In his address, Dr. Frank McMahon said “It has been my great privilege to confer the award of BA (Honours) in Visual Arton the second ever cohort of graduates from this programme.  As students, you commuted from all over the West Cork area to avail of the opportunity presented by this endeavour in outreach education.  You have also worked extremely hard and made sacrifices to attain this qualification and I extend my congratulations to you all”.

Dr. McMahon praised all involved and said “This programme, developed as a collaboration between DIT, the Sherkin Island Development Society, and the West Cork Arts is innovative in every way. It is an example of ‘distance learning’’ at its best - it takes full advantage of technological developments and uses them as a bridge to this island community”.

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The Graduating Class - Lorraine Bacchus, Monica Boyle, Rebecca Keyser,
Veronika O’Driscoll, Catherine Ryan, Peggy Townend and
Alison Trim enjoying the sunshine on Sherkin

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