Changing careers later in life, Gerry O’Shea follows his passion for Law

Changing careers later in life, Gerry O’Shea follows his passion for Law

Sitting his Leaving Cert exams in 1980 in a vocational school in Kerry, Gerry O’Shea had set his sights on studying in one of Ireland’s National Universities. Having done well in his exams he felt he was on right on track but he was disappointed to learn it wouldn’t be possible afterall, as he didn’t have a second language. 

“Ireland was a very different country in 1980 and there wasn’t a lot of career advice readily available,” says Gerry.

Gerry signed up for a diploma course in electronics in Kevin Street, which is now part of the Technical University Dublin (TUD). However, after sticking with the course for three years Gerry failed two subjects in his final year.

“I blew off the repeats and went touring around France with my friend, much to my parent’s horror!”

Gerry joined the great exodus to the United States in 1985 and for the next 13 years worked and trained happily as a roofer and coppersmith.

Wanting to raise his family in Ireland, Gerry returned home in 1997 and set up a hospitality business, which quickly turned into a string of successful businesses. By 2016, he was ready for another fresh start and decided to change direction and return to his earliest career goal – the Law. He signed up for night classes  in University College Cork and quickly discovered a natural talent for the field.

His next step was to enrol in a one-year certificate course in Pre-University Law in Kerry College of Further Education and Training which he describes it as one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

“The lecturers were so helpful, and I found the other students so inspiring. Many of them had perhaps done a poor leaving cert the year before but they were trying a different route into university or a career.”

The year in Kerry College of Further Education and Training gave him a thirst for more, Gerry applied to Trinity College Dublin as a mature student to study a four-year degree course in Law and Business. The competition was tight as there were only two places available on the course for mature students but Gerry’s hard work had paid off. He is now in his 3rd year, and is currently studying online due to Covid-19.

“I hope to go on and study at Kings Inn to qualify as a Barrister At Law. After that, who knows, but I hope to work in the non-profit or charity sectors. I want to work towards social justice and engage in areas that I know I would find incredible fulfilling.”

Gerry has nothing but praise and admiration for the further education and training sector.

“They give an opportunity to so many people, like me, who the traditional route hasn’t worked out or been available. They are not obsessed with the ‘points’ culture, the race for places in collage, and see more of the potential of the individual than the results they obtained.”

Speaking to his law professors at Trinity, Gerry has often stated that he believes institutions like Kerry College for Further Education and Training are just as important in our educational system as the universities, and he says they agree with him.

“The path through further education, to full time degree and beyond, has been an extraordinary experience for me, and one of the best choices I have ever made.”

In offering advice to students considering their options Gerry says: “Don’t think about the road blocks to your path, think of the rewards."

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