President's Welcome

Dear friends, for me, universities are all about their people. So, the stories in this edition of UL Links put our people first – our community, our academics and most of all, our students and our graduates.

Each story is remarkable but allow me pick just a few for you to consider. Galway Senior Hurling captain and UL graduate David Burke reveals the sacrifices he has made for his sport, while our cover star and UL aeronautical engineering graduate Norah Patten shares her journey to be the first Irish woman in space – two amazing graduates whose stories we will continue to follow.

The designation of UL as a University of Sanctuary has been a real highlight for me. UL was proud to award 17 scholarships to asylum seekers living in direct provision centres and Donnah Vuma from Zimbabwe, who is now studying sociology, politics, history and English literature, tells us of that experience in her own words.

On a wholly different front, read about the ground-breaking research taking place in UL’s Department of Physics and the Bernal Institute – sustainable, eco-friendly ways to generate electricity, we chat with visiting lecturer Making A Murderer’s legal eagle, Dean Strang about law in the age of Netflix.

UL alum Aoibheann O’Brien reveals why she co-founded food-sharing software platform, FoodCloud: “In Ireland, we waste one million tonnes of food.” To date, the initiative has redistributed the equivalent of 23 million meals to over 7,000 charities.

Another piece of UL ‘enterprise’ is celebrating the shared history between Ireland and New York - the new I.NY international cultural festival is the brainchild of UL graduate David O’Donovan and festival co-founder Aoife Flynn. David shares a memory from an amazing evening with award-winning author Joseph O’Connor and Oscar-winning songwriter Glen Hansard. Kathrine Barnecutt knows only too well how rewarding the gift of music can be to children. Katherine, she talks about Sing Out With Strings, a UL-funded programme bringing orchestral music to two Limerick primary schools.

There are so many other inspiring stories in this edition that I simply invite you to discover the amazing array of UL people who are having an impact on society, locally, nationally and internationally.

Finally, I would urge you to share these stories by going to

Dr Desmond Fitzgerald

President, UL