Aoife Corridon - Solicitor
I completed my Leaving Cert in 1998 after five great years in Presentation. I was fortunate to have some excellent English teachers through the years including Mrs Elizabeth O’Keeffe but it was my fifth year English teacher Ms Quinn who first suggested to me to study law. I went on to study Law and French at UCC which included a year on Erasmus at the University of Lyon, France. I then completed a Masters LLM in International Law at the University of Edinburgh. While there, I began my career in criminal law working in criminal prosecution at the Crown Office Edinburgh. I qualified as a solicitor and since then have worked in criminal defence. I am now a partner in the award winning criminal defence firm of Michael J Staines & Company Solicitors in Dublin. I have acted in some of the most high profile and complex cases in the Irish criminal courts in the last ten years. I have nothing but great memories of my time in Presentation and the values and skills I learned whilst there have stood to me in my career. To this day some of my greatest friends are from my Presentation days.
Grace Earley Second Secretary, Embassy of Ireland, Abuja, Nigeria
|I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Pres Tralee; six formative years which undoubtedly shaped me and my career. Fourth year in particular provided me with the breathing room to identify the passions and extra-curriculars that interested me; I participated in the Mock Council of the EU in Belfast, European Youth Parliament, and, with Ms. Prendiville’s time and mentorship, a number of speech-making competitions. I also joined JIGSAW Kerry, soon undertaking a leadership role on the Kerry board of mental health service providers and running a number of social innovation and awareness projects at local and national level. Altogether, this provided me with a sense of my role and value to the community, and the importance of youth leadership. In the classroom and corridors, I was inspired by the knowledge and dedication of my teachers, as female role models: no-nonsense Ms. Barry motivated us to put the head down, work hard and prove ourselves, Ms. O’Sullivan inspired us to unlock the right of our brains and the late Ms. Dowling taught us the value of quiet confidence.|
I went on to study European Studies with History, Law, Politics, French and Irish in the University of Limerick (UL), working as a ceannaire with Gael Linn in the summer months, and had the opportunity through UL to live and work in Ghana for six months, whilst also completing my ERASMUS semester in Nantes, France. I also travelled to South Africa to represent Ireland at One Young World, in large part due to the mental health advocacy I had begun in my teenage years. In 2016, I moved to Brussels to work for MEP Seán Kelly in the European Parliament for a year, subsequently working as a lobbyist on ePrivacy and digital files for two years while undertaking a Masters in Political Strategy and Communication with International Development. During this time, I undertook the competition for Third Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, returning to Ireland in 2020 to begin my diplomatic career. In October 2021, I began my posting in our Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. I work to enhance the political and economic relationship between Ireland and Nigeria, engaging with our Irish diaspora, and promoting Ireland and our culture across West Africa. It is a challenging but really interesting role, and I’m proud to be here - I thank the teachers, staff and classmates of Pres Tralee for their role in getting me here!
Una Fitzgerald Barrister
I was a student at Presentation Secondary School Tralee from 1994 to 2000. I enjoyed my time in Presentation immensely. The school staff fostered a supportive environment which allowed students to develop both educationally and personally. There was a wide variety of subjects available to study at junior and senior level. I particularly enjoyed 4th year, as students were given the opportunity undertake subjects that were not on the exam curriculum, such as philosophy and enterprise.
The school provided recreational opportunities in the form of sports clubs, the production of musicals and plays, and school tours both in Ireland and abroad, which helped students maintain a good study and life balance. I have many fond memories of playing basketball and participating in school plays. The healthy balance between academia and extra-curricular activities was particularly crucial in ensuring that students were equipped to manage stress in exam years.
The subjects I enjoyed most were history and economics, and the interests I developed while at Presentation shaped the third level courses I applied for and the career I went on to pursue. Following my leaving certificate I went to University College Cork, where I studied Law. The study skills and the strong educational foundation I gained in Presentation were very beneficial at third level. Following the completion of my degree I went on to the Royal College of Surgeons where I completed a Masters in Health Care Ethics and Law. I then worked in the College of Law in the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Upon returning to Ireland I attended the Honourable Society of King’s Inns where I received my Barrister at Law Degree. I have been practising as Barrister, specialising in Criminal Law and Medical Negligence since 2018.
Norma Foley -TD & Minister for Education
Little did I know as I took my first tentative steps across the threshold of Sr. Baptista’s wonder-filled Junior Infants classroom how my life thereafter would forever be entwined with Pres. Tralee.
A Pres. girl for all of my Primary and Post-Primary education, what a joy it was in later years to return to Presentation Secondary School, Tralee, as a member of staff.
I have loved every minute and moment of my time in Pres. Even now my heart soars with pride when I catch sight of a Pres, Tralee uniform. To be of Pres., I have found, is to be part of a unique community, a family, who continue to walk with you long after you leave the school behind. Whilst time and technology moves on, the heart of Pres. remains the same. The Presentation crest carries Nano Nagle’s light, a rich symbol of the Pres. lantern that continues to light the way ahead for all who are of Pres. A Pres. girl never walks alone, for once a Pres girl, always a Pres girl!
Professor Mary Horgan -President of the Royal College of Physicians
I have fond memories of my time in Presentation Secondary School in the late 1970s. In those day the teachers saw no barriers to women progressing in whatever career they chose in a time when there were fewer opportunities compared to now. There, I was taught to follow my dream and to be ambitious with my career plans, to respect the privilege of a good education and to remember your roots and help those who need help. Another fond memory is the once-a-year half-days when Kerry won the All-Ireland and brought the Sam Maguire to the school! Sr Bridie was a great principal and gave us the confidence to reach our potential. For that I will be always grateful.
Úna-Minh Kavanagh -Journalist
My name is Úna-Minh Kavanagh and I was a student in Presentation from 2003 - 2009 - these days I work as a journalist, travel writer and multimedia content creator with a focus on the Irish language. The Irish language was always very important to me and I was very grateful for the drive that my Irish teacher Ms Kirby gave me throughout my years which inspired me to do well in my exams. In fact, Irish was my best subject at school! I went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Irish and Journalism from Dublin City University and a Professional Certificate in Digital Policy from UCD. The friends I made in Secondary School are still my closest friends today and we've been together through thick and thin.
While in secondary school and at home, I was encouraged to pursue media, and in my Transition Year, I explored this further through work placements in radio studios. It was always my intention to work as a journalist and after my studies I worked as a Senior Community Journalist, Staff Writer and Digital Content Manager before going freelance in 2016. Transition Year was invaluable for discovering how to go about forging my career.
I now am fully self-employed and work for many people including Lonely Planet, Fáilte Ireland and TG4. I'm the author of 4 books, Anseo (2019), DIY Gaeilge: 150 Irish Language Resources (2021), DIY Gaeilge Part Two: 50 More Irish Language Resources (2022) and Experience Ireland - Lonely Planet (2022). I was the Culture Night Trailblazer for the Irish Language 2020 and Winner of Social Activist of the Year 2017 at U Magazine 30 Under 30 Awards.
I'm very lucky to be an Anti-Racism Committee member, appointed by the Government and supported by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and a member of the TG4 Audience Panel - these are positions that are vital to the community, particularly my Anti-Racism work that focuses in on new legislation.
Being a freelancer has offered me brilliant opportunities across a vast variety of career paths and I'm never confined to one position. Going freelance was the best decision I ever made!
Sinead Kissane Journalist
Presentation Secondary School, Tralee always brings back good memories for me from my time there from 1990-1996. I knew I enjoyed my time at the school because when I decided to repeat the Leaving Cert - because of my young age and also to get better grades – I didn’t mind having to spend another year in Pres. My favourite memories of my time there are linked with sport. Pres gave me an opportunity to play sports I hadn’t played before – like hockey. We played hockey on the tennis courts at lunchtime and I even captained our school hockey team for a competition we competed in in Cork which I was very proud of. A Gaelic football team was also set up during my time there and we won a few county football championships and it was also great fun to be part of that team with my friends and my sister, Niamh, who also went to Pres. And, of course, I loved our school sports days on the pitch out the back and anytime I smell freshly-cut grass it still reminds me of those days.
Because of my interest and love of sport, the teacher who made the most impact on me was former PE teacher, Mrs Anne Moran. She was always encouraging and supportive especially when I represented the school in athletics. I was so honoured when she presented me with a few sports star of the year awards during my time there. One of my other favourite teachers was Mrs Pontillo. She taught me English when I repeated my Leaving Cert and I loved her classes and the way she taught. She really added to my interest in English and I went on to study Mode 1 English as part of my Arts Degree in UCD. In fact, I still have my copybooks from her classes and can still recite most of Hamlet’s soliloquy after learning it off by heart back then!
After Pres, I studied Arts in UCD and I went on to do a Masters in Journalism in DCU. After a few years freelancing in places like NewsTalk and RTE, I got a full-time job with TV3 in 2005 and spent 16 years working there (now called Virgin Media Television) as a sports reporter, presenter and rugby correspondent. This year I decided on a change of direction and took up a new role as special correspondent in sport with the Irish Independent. I look back on my time in Pres, Tralee with great fondness and certainly my time spent playing sport and studying English in Pres helped shape the career I have today.
Erin Le Gros - Designer Nike Sports
I still remember my first day at Presentation Secondary School walking into PE class that first morning wearing my favourite pair of Nike Cortez sneakers, it was 2001 and if someone had told me twenty years later, I would be designing Footwear at Nike’s campus in America I would have never believed it!
Looking back, I have such fond memories of my time spent at Presentation, I enjoyed the balance of study and sport and especially the double art classes on a Friday afternoon. The art studio was where I always felt most at home, it was an open space where I learned the essential skills that later, I would rely on. As young students we were just beginning to discover our talents and at Presentation, I always felt that our creativity was supported. We were all encouraged to develop our own individual style and this creative freedom was so important. Looking back now it was the little things like, having the work we had done be displayed on the studio walls for the next class to see, that would inspire me to pursue a career within the field of Art and Design.
After completing the 2007 Leaving Cert at Presentation, I was offered a place on the Fashion Design course at the University of Northampton in the UK and won a design competition, in my second year for an internship at ASOS.com gaining experience working in a fast-paced and creative environment. After graduating in 2011, I started my first role as a Junior Apparel Designer at Sports Direct International, creating collections for a variety of in-house sports brands, across Men’s, Women’s, and Kids markets.
In 2014, I was approached by a London recruitment agency and relocated to Nuremberg, Germany to start a new role as Designer for Accessories at Puma’s Headquarters. Over the next four years I led the creative process for global headwear product but by 2018 I was searching for a new challenge and changed product categories completely moving into the Footwear Department as Designer for Collaborations where I was responsible for designing exclusive footwear products, travelling to different cities such as Paris, LA, and New York, and working with global creatives such as Ami Paris, Maison Kitsune, The Hundreds and Cara Delevingne.
Then in the spring of last year, I was offered a new design position at Nike to join their footwear team designing new materials for future concepts at the World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon and so my husband and I left Germany and moved to America, with just a couple of suitcases and full of excitement to explore the Pacific Northwest Coast.
It still feels very surreal to be designing for such an iconic sports brand and I’m so grateful for every opportunity that has led me here, never forgetting where it all started or underestimating that with some creative freedom, support and encouragement from family, friends, and of course the staff and resources at Presentation Secondary School – that no dream is too big
Dr. Sharon Phelan - Lecturer MTU,Tralee
I will always remember Presentation Secondary School, Tralee. Entering the school, was a turning point in my life. Intellectually it would inspire a lifelong interest in academia, professionally it would carve a career in education, and socially, it would provide a lifelong circle of friends.
Today, I lecture in Literature. Performing Arts, and Cultural Theory, at Munster Technological University, and my interest in these areas, started in Presentation Secondary School. There, a unique learning experience, was provided by dedicated broad-minded teachers. They provided a wide body of knowledge, and they encouraged independence of thought, through their teaching methods and styles. Their constant encouragement was to sow the seeds for a journey through third level, where I completed a degree in English and Physical Education, a Masters in Anglo Irish Literature, and a PhD in Cultural Theory.
Education at Presentation Secondary School was broad-based, and my interest in Performing Arts and sport were encouraged, inside, and outside, the curriculum. I will always remember the school’s artistic performances. They provided a highpoint, as I performed with my friends, in operettas, plays and musicals. From a physical perspective, as I played sports with my friends, I learned to work as part of a team and to value the importance of Physical Education.
I want to express deep gratitude to my teachers. You captured the world of knowledge and you passed it on to the student, inside and outside the curriculum.
Mary O'Mahony-French & Geography teacher
My name is Mary O’ Mahony. I have recently completed a Masters in Education specialising in French and Geography. I have always wanted to be a teacher. After my second year of placement in Presentation, I am delighted to now have the opportunity to teach here as a fully-qualified teacher.
Walking through the doors on my first day as a teacher was quite an emotional experience as I reflect on my own school days in Presentation. The school left a lifelong impression. The teachers encouraged and educated me to be the best version of myself. Their impact entailed much more than academic skills but an overall growth and development to become a confident young adult. Presentation was and is still a welcoming school that promotes a culture of good friendships where people thrive and grow.
Upon completion of my Leaving Certificate, I pursued a four year bachelor of arts degree in University College Cork. I perused my lifelong passion for Irish Dance and travelled the world as a professional Irish dancer in multiple well renowned productions in countries such as Japan, China, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, South America, France, Russia and others. Some of the most memorable performances were for Rita Ora, Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue etc at the Echo music awards, Germany and a residency in the L’Olympia Theatre in Paris. Irish Dancing has brought me to many fantastic places such as the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, The Berlin Wall in Germany, and the Pyramids in Egypt, In 2017, I passed my TCRG exams with Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha, the governing body for Irish Dance, and went on to teach with the highly successful Aine Murphy Dance Academy of Irish Dance in Killarney.
Aisling O'Sullivan - actress
I am proud to be a past pupil of Presentation Secondary School, Tralee, Co. Kerry.
The school was the centre of my teenage world. I learned more there than the curriculum. The high standards inculcated by the principal Sister Brid and the teachers influenced me and the course of my life.
I felt protected by the school. I felt then and know now the teachers took an interest in my future. I learned that with hard work and some luck anything was possible and that dreams and ambitions could be fulfilled.
Though many years have passed since I was a student, I feel a deep connection to the school.
At heart I will always be a Pres Girl.
Dr Ramona Usher
I graduated from Pres in 1996. Sister Brid always saw something in me. I loved writing and was awarded for an essay I wrote.
I will never forget only having £14 for a trip when the cost was £15. Sr Brid put one pound on the table to make up the cost.
I am passionate about the historic environment. I went on to achieve a first-class honours degree in Heritage. I was then awarded a full scholarship to study an MSc in Oxford Brookes and University of Oxford.
I have worked extensively around the UK on historic conservation. In 2014 I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with my doctorate. I studied the politics of architectural destruction and have since been appointed to the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
I am a keen hiker and have just returned from Everest Base Camp for the second time. I aim to summit in the next 5 years. Not bad for someone who was bad at PE!
I have many warm memories of Pres and when I was featured in a conservation magazine, I acknowledged my English/German Mrs Quinn as being my young inspiration.
I was a student at both Presentation Primary School and Presentation Secondary School. You could say that I am a Pres girl through and through after spending 15 formative years there. When I reflect back on my time at presentation, I enjoyed it wholeheartedly. The school environment and teaching team were incredibly supportive and really fostered a culture that promoted kindness and understanding to one another.
The subjects I enjoyed the most were always the ones that had practical elements such as Art and Home Economics. Mrs O’Sullivan my art teacher emulated passion and creative freedom that ignited my keen interest. To this date, I still flitter around the National Gallery London looking at all the great impressionists we studied and mutual paintings we visited on our art trip to the Hugh Lane Gallery.
Another teacher that sparked my interest in my career now is Ms Mulcahy. Ms Mulcahy embodied what I now know today as unconditional positive regard. She provided an approachable, safe and non-judgmental space for students to book an appointment and get support with careers and mental health intertwined.
Following my Leaving Cert in 2016, I went on to study Psychology at the University of Northampton and obtained a first class honours degree in 2019. Whilst studying, I spent two years volunteering at St Andrews Healthcare as a patient support volunteer. When I graduated, I went on to management in the film industry but when the Pandemic occurred, I went back into mental health care as it was needed more than ever. In 2020, I obtained a position within Mind BLMK which is affiliated with National Mind and is one of the UK’s leading Mental Health Charities. Here, I was appointed team leader for the Milton Keynes Crisis Café. In 2022, I was promoted to an Assistant Crisis Service Development Manager where I am now mobilising and managing new Young Person’s Sanctuaries across Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton. It can be challenging working in mental health but the resilience I learned as a Pres girl and our former principal’s motto “be kind, be kind, be kind”, I feel like this is my life’s vocational calling. I have Presentation Secondary School to thank for my morals, values and passion to have kindness towards one another.