One of Our Own - a Crucible of Creativity
BY ÉAMONN CREGAN
When news of the passing of Dr Terry Wogan OBE reached the University of Limerick in January there was a sense of loss – not just the loss of a great public figure, but a feeling that his departure from the ‘stage of life’ was felt like that of a family-member.
With his typically self-deprecating humour, Terry spoke in a previous UL Links interview of being bestowed with UL’s highest honour in 2004, saying that “In a moment of academic weakness the University conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Letters on my undeserving head”. The citation heralded his glittering career, his philanthropic work that benefitted so many and his “major contribution to improving relations between the peoples of Britain and Ireland”. No mean achievements for a man who put his successes down to being “luckier than most”.
Terry gloried in all things Limerick. “Limerick made me” as he so eloquently put it. And he saw in the University of Limerick a dimension that the ancient city of his birth had lacked when he was a junior citizen. He believed that this young institution could help build a new Limerick of which we could all be proud. As a member of the UL Foundation Board he was a keen advocate of the University’s development.
At a fund-raising event he co-hosted with his fellow UL Honorary Graduate, Dr Keith Wood, to secure significant funds for the University, Terry praised UL as “a crucible of creativity”. Terry was, in many ways, a veritable “crucible of creativity” in his own right. His unparalleled, decades-long career in the creative world of broadcasting was founded on his extraordinary talent for extempore commentary and ad-libbing while engaging in the high-wire profession of communicating live, unscripted and unedited with millions of listeners and viewers. So it is no surprise that he placed such great store on creativity in all its forms. Just as he created magic in front of the microphone or camera in his own, unique style, he truly valued how the University could inspire and nurture the spark of imagination that all students, researchers and staff so avidly seek in their pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. He cherished the innovations UL pioneered. He championed the UL cause whenever an opportunity presented itself. And he celebrated the University’s achievements with a vicarious delight that was infectious. Like so many others across Limerick and Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom and beyond, we feel as though we have indeed lost a member of the family.
The UL family is much the poorer for his passing. For Terry was, very definitely, ‘one of our own’.