HAVING inspired the nation, one of Ireland’s oldest full-time undergraduate students, Tom Boyle said he’d do it all over again ‘in the morning’ if given the chance.
Graduating at the age of 82 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Irish on Thursday morning last at Waterford IT, Tom clearly stood out from the crowd of 2,457 students at the conferring ceremonies.
His wife Phyllis, six daughters, one son and three grandchildren watched on with immense pride as he shook WIT President Willie Donnelly’s hand upon receiving his degree.
In the intervening hours and days, Mr Boyle became a national sensation following a flurry of media attention. Speaking to the Waterford News & Star, Tom said he’s had a multitude of phone calls in addition to cameras and microphones planted in front of him since graduating.
“I feel great now that it’s over,” he said. “I’m over the moon about it and I’d do it all over again in the morning.”
Having worked as a taxi driver for 20 years, the Wexford man decided to make the return to education at 78.
“My wife was so supportive and without her I wouldn’t have been able to do it to be honest,” he said while also praising his marvellous family.
Initially, Tom started his studies at WIT as a Law student before changing to Arts after realising the course didn’t suit him. He previously completed one year of arts over 60 years ago at UCD, and said WIT was happy to accommodate him in the switch over.
“I received great support in WIT. My lecturers were mighty and my fellow students, I find it strange calling them that given the age gap, they really accepted me,” he said.
Despite having way more life experience than the others in his class he said they “treated me as one of them. The craic was mighty”.
Reacting to President Willie Donnelly calling him a real inspiration, Tom said: “Willie was a very sound man. He was outstanding and very kind to me.”
To make his educational dream a reality Tom travelled 45 minutes to WIT each morning from Ramsgrange in County Wexford via the rural bus service provided by Willie Cadogan, whom he also thanked.
When asked if he’ll continue on his educational path, Tom said he wasn’t sure, adding that he was very satisfied with having achieved his degree. Tom encouraged others to follow in his path saying: “it’s never too late.”