'I was the only one judging people'

Fri, Nov 23, 2012, 00:00

Case study Gary Gannon, History & PoliticsFive years ago, Gary Gannon was an apprentice plumber. “I didn’t like it and wasn’t very good at it. Actually I was so bad at it that I got sacked.” He would have been just another statistic of the downturn but for the site location.

“We were working in Griffith College and I was seeing these people not working half as hard but earning twice as much,” he jokes. More seriously, he says: “Teachers had always told me I had potential but needed a kick up the backside. So at that point, I started imagining what I wanted to do with my life.”

That led him to the one-year TAP foundation course for higher education. A couple of weeks ago, he graduated with a 2.1 in history and politics.

“It was a great day,” Gannon says with a broad grin. “Where I come from, college isn’t necessarily the done thing.”

The second of a family of four boys from the inner city, he is the first to go to university, an achievement that has resonated throughout his family. All three brothers now have their sights on college.

The TAP foundation course was the “quick, sharp” catalyst. “It was the shove I needed to think academically, to see there was no reason why you wouldn’t succeed. It was about confidence . . . You wouldn’t believe how it has revolutionised my mindset.

“None of the things I do now would have been possible without TAP – not the friends I have, nor the confidence I have to question my surroundings.”

Socially, too, Trinity defied his expectations. “I came with the expectation that I wasn’t going to fit in, that I would be in a class of snobs. And after six months, I realised that I was the only one judging people according to their circumstances. I had friends from so many different backgrounds.”

As well as working part-time in a betting shop through the course, Gannon is writing a thesis on education and civic participation for a master’s in public affairs and political communication in DIT, while also working as a Dáil intern.

At 25, his ambitions lie firmly in politics. “I want it for the betterment of people and not party. It’s about getting stuff done.” The late Tony Gregory is his role model. “I am in awe of Tony Gregory – and of the people around him.”