A man in a black suit jacket and white shirt
University of Limerick (then NIHE) alumnus Pat Dowling, who graduated from European Studies in 1983
Thursday, 8 February 2024

In the next instalment of our Alumni Spotlight series, we speak to University of Limerick graduate Pat Dowling, who studied European Studies in the National Institute for Higher Education, which became University of Limerick in 1989.

Current Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat reflects on his fond memories of UL, and how his time here prepared him for a successful and varied career.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a native of Knockaderry, West Limerick and a graduate of UL. I now reside in West Clare since my appointment to the post of Chief Executive, Clare County Council in September 2016.

Prior to my appointment in Clare, I was Deputy Chief Executive in Limerick City and County Council.

I have worked in local government for the past 22 years and had responsibility for the merger of Limerick City and County Councils. I worked in a number of areas in local government including responsibility for housing and regeneration programmes in the Limerick City area.

At national level I am Chair of the Age Friendly Alliances and Chair of the Age Friendly National Advisory Group. I am also active across a number of other national committees including the Local Government Management Agency.

Prior to joining local government, I worked with Clare Youth Service, National Youth Council of Ireland, Macra na Feirme and Kildare LEADER Programme.

What course did you study, and what year did you graduate?

I graduated from the National Institute for Higher Education with a Degree in European Studies – 1979 to 1983, specialising in public affairs.

Pat with his mother Meg Dowling at his graduation ceremony in 1983

Pat with his mother Meg Dowling at his graduation ceremony in 1983

Why did you choose to study at UL?

I always had an interest in humanities and the public sector and based on my research I felt the course available through UL was best aligned with my interests.

What were the highlights of your course?

Politics and the language option, co-operative education aspect of the course. My first co-op was in the United Nations in New York and my second co-op was in the European Parliament in Luxemburg.

What advice would you offer to students considering studying at UL?

I would highly recommend studying at UL. First class tutors, the vast array of courses available and the excellent sporting facilities.

Separately, what advice would you offer to students considering studying your course?

I would totally recommend the course I did and gained invaluable experience from it. Excellent course in context of Ireland’s position in the European Union and on the world stage.

Were you a member of any clubs or societies? If so, tell us a bit about your experience?

I was a very active member of the cheese and wine club!

What are some of your favourite memories from your time at UL?

It was an excellent course. Very relevant and appropriate to the career path I took. I have very fond memories of the social aspect of college life and being able of avail of the facilities of Thomond College of Physical Education (as it was known back then) and also my co-op experiences in New York and Luxemburg.

Are there any campus locations that hold special significance to you?

I loved the excellent library that was available to us and of course the many happy hours in the Stables!

How did your course and your overall UL experience prepare you for entering the workplace upon graduating?

I graduated in 1983 and had hoped to get back to Europe but it was the early 1980s and we had a serious economic depression in Ireland. There were high numbers emigrating and there were few job opportunities available. I made the decision to acquire any work position I could in order to start my working career. It took a number of years to get into my preferred choice of career.

Could you update us on where you are now in your career?

I commenced as Chief Executive with Clare County Council in 2016.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

To successfully compete my contract with Clare County Council and then to enjoy my retirement in West Clare.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Recipient of a bronze medal for exceptional achievement at my graduation in 1983.   


The bronze medals Pat received on his graduation