A picture of the group at the launch of the book at Plassey House
Professor of Creative Writing at University of Limerick and international bestselling author Joseph O’Connor, President Professor Kerstin Mey, Sarah Moore, Professor of Teaching, Learning and Creative Practice and Eoin Devereux, Professor of Cultural Sociology at the launch of DREAMS at Plassey House Picture: Alan Place
Wednesday, 22 March 2023

A new book documenting 50 years of creativity, culture and community at University of Limerick has been launched.

Professor of Creative Writing at University of Limerick and international bestselling author Joseph O’Connor devised and lead-edited a special edition collection of essays in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University’s foundation.

‘DREAMS – 50 years of creativity, culture and community at University of Limerick’, was co-edited by Eoin Devereux, Professor of Cultural Sociology and Sarah Moore, Professor of Teaching, Learning and Creative Practice at UL.

The book features fifty contributions from or about people associated with the University, including, among others - internationally acclaimed composer Bill Whelan, entrepreneur Paddy Meskell, Noel Hogan of The Cranberries, Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell, interview with rap artist Denise Chaila, award winning author Donal Ryan, human rights activist Donnah Vuma and President of Ireland Michael D Higgins.

The sumptuously illustrated book, published by Irish Academic Press, also features a wide variety of writing, with poetry, personal memoirs, scholarly essays, and students’ tweets among the rich contributions celebrating a wide spectrum of members of the UL community, from catering and ground staff to teachers, researchers, inspirational current students, and alumni.

Speaking at the launch of DREAMS at UL’s Plassey House this Wednesday, UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “It is very difficult to capture the essence of a place at a moment in time but this is precisely what Professor Joseph O’Connor and co editors Professor Eoin Devereux and Professor Sarah Moore have achieved with DREAMS.  

“The composite picture of University of Limerick presented by the book is a moving tapestry of the amazingly vibrant people of our community. There is a richness of stories and a sense of belonging to UL within the pages of DREAMS that is truly humbling.

“This magnificent text will hold its place as an anthology of creative and scholarly writings to celebrate our milestone fiftieth anniversary.

“Between these pages, there is a restlessness to push on, to do more around the vital issues of sustainability, inclusion, class, disability, participation, and equality. It is a book that entertains and educates, that celebrates and honours – but also a book that challenges us to DREAM.”

Professor Joseph O’Connor said: “To have been asked by University of Limerick to devise and project-manage the fiftieth anniversary book was an honour and a challenge, for which I am profoundly grateful.

“When researchers and readers in the future want to know what UL was like in 2023, they will have this book, made by so many of us who value and believe in this place, as map of where we were, and of where we wanted to go.”

Included among the pages of the beautifully illustrated volume are many images of the institution and its people, as well as the Special Collections and Archives of the Glucksman Library, highlighting the many treasures located there.

Also featured are contributions from professors, lecturers, researchers, PhD students, writers-in-residence, poets, former Fulbright scholars at UL, biographers who have used the Library.

All of UL’s faculties are represented in the book, as is the University Concert Hall and the very special place that sport plays at UL. One highlight includes a piece by the great Paul O’Connell (in conversation with Joseph O’Connor) in which he looks forward to UL’s growing presence in the city.

He says: “I always felt UL was open and it was the place you did your sports. It was brilliant…I joined the gym here about 17 and started doing my weights here. And literally, until I retired as a professional rugby player at the age of 35, I would have been going in and out to UL all the time. So, it’s a second home in one way.”

Among other essential voices is an essay from Wafa Rougab, one of the many Algerian PhD candidates who enriched UL by becoming part of the community in 2021, while also saluting the courage and commitment of those like Charlie Mullowney who campaigns for people with disabilities.

It also honours the profound example of Donna Sibandah Vuma, whose studies began while she was a mother living in Direct Provision. Donna writes about the positive experience she had with the Mature Access programme at UL, adding that pursuing education later in life should not be “frightening” but something that can be coped with, so just “zone in”.

Her piece finishes with some inspiring words about the value of education, as she writes: “Education to me means knowledge, hope and power. It means and shifting in one’s way of thinking and being able to identify one’s own worth.”

‘DREAMS – 50 years of creativity, culture and community at University of Limerick’ is published by Irish Academic Press and is available now in bookshops and also online from the publisher at https://www.irishacademicpress.ie/product/dreams-50-years-of-the-university-of-limerick.