Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Living two fields away from her parents’ family farm in the valley of Slievenamon, Siobhán Walsh is married to Kieran and they have two lively and active little boys, Mike (4) and Donncha (2). For almost 10 years, Siobhán has been a Lecturer in Agricultural Science in SETU (formerly WIT) on the Waterford campus. She is also co-ordinator of the ag science and food science work placement programmes.  

Life in a day

WE are up at 7am each morning. No choice in that, when a four and two-year-old are demanding their porridge! Kieran drops Mike and Donncha to our wonderful childminder by 8:15 so I can go straight to SETU. I’m very lucky in my job, as no two days are the same. Typically, my job involves delivering lectures, practicals, supervising final year project students, working with employers and students to co-ordinate work placements and supervising postgraduate students. I am also involved in scoping out study abroad opportunities and last June I visited Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Poland. One of my favourite things to do is to represent the Department of Land Sciences at events such as the Ploughing Championships, where I get to meet prospective students and their families, past students and various stakeholders that are involved with our programmes in SETU. Needless to say, the day flies by and I’ve very little time to myself! During busy periods, Kieran collects the boys and I aim to be home for 6pm. It’s all hands on deck until bedtime. During the semester I would work most evenings catching up on emails or preparing for the following day’s tasks. But I can’t complain as things quieten down during the summer months – unless I’m needed to help my father on the farm, in which case there’s no time off!  

What school did you go to? 

I went to Scoil Mhuire (Greenhill) in Carrick-on-Suir, a fantastic school that provides many opportunities to their students. While I was there, I was involved in the Young Entrepreneur Scheme, Gaisce Awards, debating and was also on the Student Council. I also represented the school at swimming competitions. The school fostered learning both within and outside the classroom. 

What teacher do you remember most vividly?  

Mary O’Keeffe, who is now principal of the school, was my Irish and PE teacher. I can’t say that we always saw eye-to-eye, but she was the reason I loved Irish. Aside from that, she was a fantastic motivator and very engaged in enhancing student life and experience. Mary Power was my Economics teacher and by God did she go to every rounds to ensure that I understood all the major economic concepts. She had an amazing work ethic and teaching ability.  

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self? 

Just as I read this question, my son’s Woody figure from ‘Toy Story’ randomly went off and said ‘Reach for the sky’! I couldn’t have put it better myself. The world is full of opportunities – grab them with both hands. If you don’t have a clue today about what floats your boat, think about what you are passionate about and pursue that. Finally, try not to worry too much, as things have a way of working themselves out. 

How do you relax? 

During the pandemic, I thankfully discovered that not only do I like tennis, but that I’m able to hold my own on the court. I try to get a game in at least once a week followed by a post-match analysis and a glass of wine with Kieran. When I can, I love getting a night away with my friends. What’s seldom is wonderful.  

What is your favourite film and piece of music? 

On evenings when I just need to switch off, my go to is ‘Bridget Jones Diary’. I just love it and the older I get the more relatable it is! Kieran has introduced me to the joys of classical music, but for me it would be hard to beat ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries. Their albums were the soundtrack to my teenage years and I have many great memories of seeing them at various concerts. 

When was the last time you cried? 

Some would say far too often as I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. But the last time I really cried was when my Nana, who was 100 years old, passed away just before the pandemic. She was such an amazing person and played a big role in my life.  

What has been your happiest moment of recent times? 

I don’t have one happy moment in the last few years but a series of happy moments watching my two boys grow, learn and start to interact with each other has brought little joys each day. (Some frustrations too, but the happy moments outweigh those!) 

Do you pray? 

When moments, good or bad, arise I would often say a little prayer. I don’t regularly attend mass, but I like to believe that there is a higher power from which I can draw strength from. 

What is your biggest fear? 

Rats, but thankfully we have a wonderful black cat, Leo, who takes care of that for me!  

What is your most treasured possession? 

Currently it is two handmade Valentine’s Day cards from each of my boys. I’m not too materialistic, but I treasure personal sentimental gifts. Particularly from my little men! 

What is your favourite thing about Waterford? 

During my childhood, myself and my twin sister spent many wonderful summers in Bonmahon with Nana and my aunt Frances. For that reason, I adore the Copper Coast, and the many wonderful beaches along the coastline. Waterford is a very underrated county. 

If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be? 

If money was no object, I would remove the car park from the quays and replace it with a walking area, including cafes and amenities. It’s such a lovely part of the city and it is a shame that only the cars get to enjoy it. 

In conversation with Dermot Keyes 

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