ITCarlow – My Alma Mater

Justice 1

The Institute of Technology Carlow, my Alma Mater.

So there you have it, after 5 long years and at the age of ‘almost’ 50, I’ve graduated with a LLB from ITCarlow (a 2.1 which I’ll accept graciously). Who’d have though it? Most definitely not I. Graduating the same year as my very talented Graphic Designer son (Congrats Jake), was not the position I’d have have predicted to be in at aged 49 and ¾. Then again, iatrogenic deaths and sharing head-lice lotion with my daughter weren’t on the agenda either, but hey C’est la vie.

Alas, I doubt if I’ll be allowed to wallow in my new-found intellectual prowess for too long – as one of my nonadmirers delighted in saying “she’s no Erin Brockovich, is she?” Quite right too! Nevertheless, I’d highly recommend studying as a ‘mature’ student, even for the older but ‘not so mature’ scholar. It certainly helped to divert my attention from 24/7 ‘iatrogenesis’ and taught me many, many things, not necessarily wholly related to legal academia. Quite an expensive but very effective therapy. While my so-called ‘mad’ friends (the ones with an actual diagnosis), are actually very sane on the Charlie Richter scale, the lecturers on the other hand..


Five years ago I ventured out of my comfort zone as a scared, scarred and grieving ‘40 something’ – as a third level rookie. I had decided on a ‘Foundation in Law’ course in Dublin’s Institute of Technology, Aungier Street, more by accident than any foregone design. Having attended an information evening (and handing over my Visa card), before I could utter “erm, not quite sure…”, I was duly plonked on a chair and photographed. Soon afterwards I found myself standing on the steps of DIT with a student card in hand, complete with obligitory dodgy student photo. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, but when I adjusted to the shock – it turned out to be one of my better decisions (the course, not the photo).

The lecturer, a barrister, took one look at me and formed an opinion – instant dislike. It has to be said she’s not the first and surely won’t be the last. My gravestone epitaph may yet contain the words ‘Mrs Marmite, you either loved her or you hated her’ and this legal instructor just so happened to fit the latter category. Anyway, this became quite the conversation piece with the other students and I was quite content to be the source of this amusement. As I come from a very large family of loud and happy(ish) sibling naysayers, the looks of ‘utter distain’, usually directed at me, effectively made the classes decidedly more entertaining – water off a duck’s back. I thoroughly enjoyed this time in DIT though, particularly those classes. It was a brilliant foundation for the LLB and I loved every second of it, however many ‘loaded glances’ were aimed in my direction.

2011 – 2015

The following four years, while simultaneously arguing the toss with psychiatry and their ridiculous ‘medical model’, I attended ITCarlow’s Wicklow Campus, culminating in today’s results. The beautiful building alone, which was formerly a girl’s boarding school (Our Lady’s School, Clermont), makes it well worth a visit. Martin, the lovely groundskeeper, gave me a personalized guided tour one day, complete with eerie ‘ghostly nun’ story. Coincidentally, I rarely used the facilities again, at least not without a chaperone! I’ll miss Martin’s frendly face and Elaina’s, who along with Mags, ran the Wicklow Campus like clockwork and always, always with a smile.

While ITCarlow lacked in the ‘hostility’ stakes (not even a smidgen for entertainment purposes), it proved equally enjoyable. The lecturers, while ultra-intelligent, did not disappoint and were an interesting and good-natured eclectic bunch. There were also at least a couple who could knock good old King George off his madness pedestal. It should be noted though, there was one issue that disturbed me greatly – my student photo turned out to be even dodgier than the one in DIT.

Scary Emmett O’Byrne gets my vote for eccentricity, as much for his flashes of brilliance as for his entertainment value. Criminal law à la Emmett was a delight, an ‘edge of the seat’ affair. I’d be very happy to have him on my side if I do ever end up being hauled before a judge on defamation charges (and yes, I realize that’s civil law). Having seen him in action in Bray Courthouse: win, lose or draw – you surely wouldn’t get bored.

Another legal eagle, Alan Haugh, who is leaving ITCarlow to take up his new post as Deputy Chair of the Labour Court, gets my vote for being super-intelligent and for making the much-maligned ‘jurisprudence’ surprisingly enjoyable. Although philosophy wasn’t my strongest subject, the Hart-Devlin debate will be fondly and forever engrained into the furthest recesses of my mind. The ‘welcoming orifice’ argument by John Finnis is regrettably similarly engrained. There is no doubt that the Labour Court will be a far better place under Alan’s guidance.

Equally fabulous lecturers such as Cormac, Siobhan and Wayne, made passing the exams a much more likely possibility and again, infinitely more entertaining. My fellow students and ‘colleagues in crime’ were also an absolute delight and thoroughly deserve a mention:

Michael, who has more letters after his name than the German Alphabet and who did the LLB ‘for fun’. Thanks for all the help and the ‘dry’ humour – and for reminding me that employees of Pharma are not all bad – in fact they can be positively lovely. When I grow up I want to be as intelligent (and as kind) as you.

Katie, (previously a UCD scholar), who worked full-time for Arthur Cox while studying for the LLB. Thanks for the ‘young’ perspective, the forthright opinions and the good natured competition. I will always think of you when I see the bold Enda on TV.

Kamil, the dashing Pole, who is taking himself and his legal skills and hightailing it back to Poland. Thanks for the laughs, the fashion and the Polish fags. A trip to Warsaw is most definitely on the cards. Can’t wait to read about you once you become that fabulously flamboyant and brilliant lawyer.

Lastly but not of least importance, thanks to my very special family and the bold husband Tony, aka the sensible half (God help us all), for making dinners and cleaning up around me, while I, on occasion, pretended to be engrossed in the ‘big books’. Now to find something to do for the next five years…

So long and thanks for all the legislation..

Is mise –

Erin Leonie

9 thoughts on “ITCarlow – My Alma Mater

  1. So pleased and very proud of you Leonie.

    As for Erin Brockovich, she did what she did, and continues to do what she does… without ever having experienced such a loss as yours. I have great admiration for people like you. You just keep on going and going, kicking ass along the way.

    Well done…very well done.

    PS – Dust off the old 70’s vinyl and get your tartan trousers on. Ah, go on, go on, go, go on 😉


  2. Well now Leonie, that fecking blog gave me a giggle & a tear all at the same time…sure your just some woman for one woman, very proud to have you on my side xxx


  3. Well done you!
    You have proved to be a determined and successful student. Nothing in a barrister’s disproving glance could subdue or thwart one so formidable. I await the next installment of Life with Leonie.


  4. Okay, I googled BLL every which way and can’t seem to find a definition for it, other than “flights from bll to ie” , but from what you wrote, it seems you are now a lawyer. Well I find that somethin’ to write home about Leonie. Very well done to you.

    You are one gutsy broad. I love gutsy broads.


  5. What a wonderful story above, Leonie! You make the people real and the places “occupiable”, and such an ability brings you into focus as “quite Someone!” Proceed with the adventure. 🙂


  6. Thank you to you all fso much or the encouragement – and alas no, not a lawyer as yet. That may take a few more years. The reason you couldn’t find the definition of BLL is that it was supposed to read as LLB ( as in Legum Baccalaureus or Honours Bachelor of Laws). The mix-up of letters means that despite the LLB, I’m still a feckin eejit sometimes. There are only so many miracles that ITCarlow can perform in the one day…


  7. Congratulations Leonie. With your indefatigable qualities of determination and perseverance there was never any doubt you would succeed. And don’t worry about the dyslexic letters in your degree; I think it is a BLL in France.


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