Judith Chavasse Essay

UCD in 1967
Well we were still in the Terrace; hideously over-crowded, most significantly in the Library. The latter probably contributed to my making few acquaintances and fewer friends. I mostly read at home, otherwise it was in the RDS library or the National Library, both good for Archaeology.

But I must put myself in the picture: I was an evening student, already teaching in a School of Nursing and with quite a heavy teaching load. I had done a Nurse Tutors Diploma course in UCD two years previously, so aspects of UCD were familiar to me.

The evening student options were limited and, if I had really studied all I undertook at any depth, very heavy: 4 subjects in 1st year and 3 in the next two. However the actual curriculum in most subjects was limited. In retrospect, I think we were encouraged to pass exams rather than obtain real understanding or appreciation.

The Departments where I experienced depth were Archaeology, English and History. I was already interested In Archaeology and disappointed it wasn’t available in 1st year, so that was an obvious chance in 2nd year. Although I had friends in the History Department, I decided not to take it after 1st yr, as I had found it very demanding. I took English from the beginning. There I had the invaluable help of Gus Martin, already a friend. He set and critiqued essay projects for me, which I really enjoyed; it was a real education. (Like many others, I still miss Gus.) Initially I found Philosophy very narrow and easy to commit to memory, though I disagreed with a lot of the Ethics course. This all changed when Paddy Masterson came back to the collage; Philosophy became challenging and applicable.

Eventually I came back to UCD and became a lecturer in the School of Nursing, so my perspective changes. I’m grateful for my UCD degree. It had opened even professional doors for me, chiefly because, in those days, there were few nurses who had degrees in anything.