Hello, my name is Noel Hanrahan and I live in Limerick City.
“I have discovered the wonders of my own self-esteem, the joys of learning to learn and learning.”
My early experiences of education were not great, as I look back from my current perspective. I developed a lot of fear in primary school. By the time I did my Leaving Cert, I was about to leave school never having learnt to learn, with a fear of responsibility and looking to withdraw from life as opposed to engaging with life.
I started a business degree in the National Institute for Higher Education, which is now the University of Limerick. I must add at this stage, I had no interest in business, but thought this was what I should do, even what was expected of me to do.
My addiction meant I never had money for saving, helping my parents, holidays etc. Everything in my life suffered: my health, emotional and physical, all my relationships including romances, and in time I went from being unemployed to being put on a disability payment.
At this stage I met an addiction counsellor who suggested I try four weeks in an addiction service in Kerry. I went there thinking this is something I will just go through and get through, but the four weeks had a profound effect on me. My very loving father died a year later and I was distraught. Somewhere in those years after dad died, I got to the point where I had had enough. I became clean and sober during Easter 2009 and a few years later I stopped gambling.
My mom developed vascular dementia and I became her full-time carer. I also completed a mindfulness course and a care for carers course while caring for my mom. My mom died in late 2013. Now for the first time in my life I would be living alone, while grieving for my mom and still in many ways like my eighteen-year-old self, not knowing what I wanted to do, or should do. The months of November and December 2018 and January 2019 were in truth the worst for me. But somehow with all the ups and downs in life, I came back to form at times and never gave up.
One Saturday morning in Arthur’s Quay shopping centre, I saw a woman preparing a stand and handouts on adult education. I approached her, we spoke about confidence, and I told her my confidence was on the floor. She said she could help me if I was interested and to contact her at a set date and time in a few days.
From that single meeting, I have discovered the wonders of my own self-esteem, the joys of learning to learn and learning. I have completed a confidence-building course and a personal effectiveness course and am doing a word processing course online currently. I am also involved with the Learners as Leaders programme with AONTAS. I have attended numerous extra-curricular school activities and loved them all. I now have a goal to study at third level in the area of social science, in particular, psychology. After years of hiding away in many ways from life, I have found somewhere I fit in. The teachers and guidance counsellors have been nothing short of life-saving for me. I can honestly say, I have never felt as well.
Noel’s story is shared as part of the Learners as Leaders Programme, which is funded by the European Agenda for Adult Learning.
Would you like to share your story and tell us what adult education means to you? If so, you can get in touch with Laura at email@example.com.