Sherkin the island of paint and scholars

ONE of Ireland’s most southerly communities has become the Island of Paint and Scholars after the first graduates of an offshore degree programme earned their scrolls yesterday.

From a seed grown almost a decade ago in west Cork, the visual art course on Sherkin Island has become the envy of international colleges.

The seven artists who celebrated yesterday include a mix of islanders and commuters, with one student travelling regularly from Dublin to take part.

“The islanders were very welcoming and very helpful to me, because my installation was all about the local oyster farmers and their work with nature,” said Jill Hegarty, who transferred to the programme after sitting the first three years of the course in Dublin.

Geoff Stephens, a retiree living on Sherkin, had far less travel, but was equally proud of his qualification.

“I’d recommend something like this to everybody; the learning process should be for life,” said the former Office of Public Works employee.

There are almost 30 full-time students on the course, providing a number of jobs as well as a welcome boost to local businesses off-season.

Sheelagh Broderick from Baltimore, a short ferry trip from Sherkin, was among those who donned the cap and gown yesterday.

“I started with the rest of them at the initial pilot phase of the course, and my two children have almost gone through school at the same time, so we’ve all been learning together,” she said.

The other graduates were: John Desmond, Heir Island, Co Cork, who takes his own boat to Sherkin for the course; Gill Good, Ballinadee, Co Cork; Tess Leak, from Baltimore and Ciarnad Ryan, Co Tipperary.

The programme is run by Sherkin Island Development Society (SIDS), West Cork Arts Centre and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), whose lecturers visited regularly to deliver the course. From a pilot programme that began in 2001, it is now taught in the island’s community hall as well as using the internet and other technology.

“Today’s event proves, if a community comes together and sets itself a target, anything is achievable,” said SIDS chairman Dan Reilly.

He was joined by DIT leaders and Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe at the graduation ceremony, with practically all the island’s 100 residents.

“In over 30 years of conferrings I’ve attended, nothing comes close to this,” said DIT director of academic affairs Dr Frank McMahon.

* The graduates’ work is on show at the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen until March 21.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Let Me Tell You

Let Me Tell You is a new bespoke podcast series from 

Logo IE

Hosts Daniel McConnell and Paul Hosford take a look back at some of the most dramatic moments in recent Irish political history from the unique perspective of one of the key players involved.

Bespoke political podcast series from

Logo IE
Execution Time: 0.217 s