Students of Mountjoy Square: Glenn

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My name is Glenn and I was born and raised on Dorset Street, Dublin 1.  I’m a former boxer who once shared the ring with olympians such as Paddy Barnes and John Joe Joyce.

In 2012 I left Dublin for Australia with no educational background.  Since then, I set out on a journey I never thought would be possible.  I worked on crocodile farms in Darwin and travelled with carnivals through the west coast of Australia.  I worked in bars in Nicaragua, Barcelona and Cambodia.  I spent two seasons skiing in the French Alps and in the Rocky Mountains in Canada. I lived on Triple Island Lighthouse off the coast of Canada, while hitchhiking over four thousand kilometres to Alaska for Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

In 2017 I lost my best friend to mental illness.  It took losing my best friend to help defeat my own problem with alcohol addiction.

Since I have been sober on 21/07/2018, I have cooked and talked my way into some of the best restaurants in this world.  I have lived inside a castle wall built in the 13th century on an island known as Gotthard in the Baltic Sea.  I have also cooked in Wellington in New Zealand.

Finally, my journey brought me to one of the most secluded islands on earth in the Pacific Ocean.  Unfortunately, I found it was not what I was looking for.

I realised that my dream is to become as aspiring writer. That’s exactly why I am here in the adult education centre.

To get me ready for future education and a masters, I have one to one tutoring and history classes.  Both will benefit my future goals, going back to the fundamentals and basics of the English language before I take a degree.

I think education is key.  In an area where homelessness and addiction is at an all time high, we need to look further for the children of the future and the adults of today.  Education can guide them in the right direction and give them hope of a brighter future and a purpose for living, in whatever they are passionate about.

Written by Glenn, a student in DALC


Now I Can Read

I can see things on posters that I’ve never seen in my whole life.  Like before it was just a blank wall. Now I look at signs. You know if you go into a shop and it says – buy one, get one free. They meant nothing to me. I wouldn’t have even noticed them, that’s being out straight. I don’t know how I didn’t poison my child!

I used to go by the labels on the tins. Now I’m seeing all these little things that I’ve never seen before.  It’s amazing.  Like a whole new world has opened up for me. A new window.

When I came in here first, I actually thought there was something wrong with my head.   My tutor learned me little words, small words and the alphabet.  I thought I could never read a book in my life and one day she brought in a book with all the small words in it. I read it. My tutor said “Now, I thought you told me you couldn’t read a book!”  I couldn’t stop laughing at the idea!

I can see things now I have never seen before.

When I came in here first, I couldn’t sleep all night. When I came here first I thought everyone was looking at me. It’s your nerves.  Now I don’t mind who sees me.

It is the best thing I ever done.


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A Student Perspective on Voting and Elections

The election coming up next Friday 24th May has brought politics into focus in the classroom.  Many are wondering what the difference between the local, European and divorce referendum means and we have been doing some work here in the centre in preparation for it.

A DALC student Patrick, gives his insights into why people can feel disengaged from politics and he shares his advice on the importance of making your vote count.

Firstly, we hear from Patrick about why he thinks there is a low voter turnout in the Dublin 1 area:



Patrick tells us why he feels people don’t engage with politics and what politicians can do about it:


Patrick gives us his view on The Constitution and why it needs to reflect the changing society in Ireland:


Finally, Patrick gives us his advice on why people should get out and vote in the upcoming election on Friday 24th May:

We had a recent visit in DALC from The Referendum Commission. Click on the link below to read the newspaper article about it: 





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Photo by Element5 Digital on

Students of Mountjoy Square: Frewoini

Frewoini is a literacy and language student from Eritrea.  She is one of our most enthusiastic and motivated students here in DALC.  She comes to classes here every day.



Here Frewoini talks about how independent she has become with her reading and writing. Now, she can go to lots of places. She can take a taxi and she can go to the GPO (General Post Office) alone.  She feels part of the centre and is making lots of friends here.


Frewoini finishes by telling us how coming to classes has given her more choices in life. She is planning to work in the future but more importantly, she is minding herself and she is happier.









Coming in the Door to Adult Literacy

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Photo by JorgeArturo Andrade on

I was driving home one evening when an ad came on the radio about the Dublin Adult Learning Centre.  They just gave a phone number.  I went home that evening.  I thought about it.  I was thinking what would I do when I left work.  Then I thought about it again.

One week later I picked up the phone and gave them a ring.   The girl was very nice.  I told her about myself.  I was not a good reader or writer or speller.  She said to come along and have a chat with us.  I said when.  She said when it suits you, we are open every day except Saturday and Sunday.

I then went along two days later when I walked up the steps. I got butterflies in my tummy.  The girl came over to me.  She said her name is Colette.  She had a lovely smile.  Then she introduced me to Mary Maher  Then Mary asked me to come in to her office.  My inside shook like a leaf.  We talked for a few minutes.  Then she took a list of words out and asked me to read then.  I was very nervous.

Then she said I will take you down to see Deirdre (tutor).  There were other people there too. I sat down.  The tutor gave me a pen and paper.  I was really nervous.  She sat down beside me and talked to me about the class.  There is nothing to be worried about, she said.

It was the best thing I ever did going there.  Now I am doing a computer class.  There are lots of skills to pick up.  I would recommend it to anyone because all the tutors are very nice.  They are very good at their work.

Written by Martin, a student in DALC 


I Was Once Sitting There – From Student to Tutor


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We hear from a woman called Mo.  Mo first came to DALC as a student six years ago to do a spelling class.  She believed education was being ‘a good speller’ but she soon developed a love of learning.  She has since gone on to further education to study Community and Youth Work.   She is back in DALC doing her placement with the group she was once a part of as a student.  

Tell me about yourself, your background and your life? 

I come from a big family; 11 children. I am second youngest.  I hated school. I was terrified of the nuns; the nuns were cruel. I was left handed. They tied my left hand behind my back and forced me to use my right hand.  I was so scared that I couldn’t learn – I was in fear. They weren’t all like this, but one particular nun was very cruel. That gave me a fear. If you have fear, you never learn.

At 11 years of age my mother took me out of school and I went to work in a factory.  At the age of 18 I met a man and got married and had five children.  It was very embarrassing as I couldn’t read and write when the children went to school so I started learning from their little books. I picked up the ‘thes’, the ‘ands’, from their little stories.  I tried to go back to adult learning classes in the school that they had for parents.  In one of the schools, the principal used to do a one to one with me.  He was very good.  I was busy being a mum and busy with life, that I couldn’t focus on it so I gave that up.  My mother and father got sick so I was carer for them for 18 years. I was always looking after other people so it was hard to learn. Over the years, I popped into different things trying to learn.


Did your own experience have an impact on how you helped them in school? 

I feel it was so important for them to have the best education that they could. I made sure they never missed a day in school, if they were sick I sent them to school.  It was important for me that they got the best education they could get.


Tell me about your current learning journey? 

Six years ago I decided, you know what, I had enough of waiting for people coming to help me to fill out forms – how to turn on the computer, how to look for something on the computer.  I went to the local employment exchange and told them I needed help with my reading and writing and they sent me here.  I passed by this building everyday and I never noticed it.  I spoke to Sue here (tutor) and that was the beginning of my journey.  It was a very, very difficult thing coming in the door. Very hard coming up those steps.

I came in with a determination in me.  The girl in reception Colette was very nice to me, she was very friendly.  It was the summer , June or July and Sue was constantly on the phone to me.  She made me not lose that determination. She rang me over the summer to tell me about what classes were on.  She cared enough to keep in touch. I said I would give this a shot.

On the first day I did First Aid; I was thrown in at the deep end.  The first week I was with Pat (tutor) and she told me to write about myself.  She told me write a page and I thought she was mentally disturbed! I told her I couldn’t do it – did she not realise I can’t write? She really believed in me.  I said to myself I am only here to learn spelling, I had that thing in my head.  That was what I thought education was.

My idea of what education is has changed.  It finally clicked with me.

How would you define education? 

To me, coming here gave me a lot of confidence.  It built up my confidence.  I am not on my own. Why was I embarrassed about this all my life? Even our own Taoiseach at the time couldn’t spell!

Education is about me.  It is not about anyone else outside of me.  This is not about my children, or anyone else. This is about me.

I got a hunger to learn.  I was willing to give anything a go.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.  It is hard.  It is difficult trying to fit family life in with education but I had this determination, and I still do.  This is about me.  It is about your own personal journey, how far I can bring – me.

I am now in further education. I did three courses.  The first course I did was after a year here.  I was so interested in animals that the course I did was Animal Behaviour and Welfare.  I’d never been to college.  I went in there, gave it a shot.  I hadn’t a clue.  I got a merit in nine subjects. There was Latin and all in it – I had to work out the meaning of loads of big words.  I walked in and I said I’d give it a go.  I was interested in animals and learning about animals.  Then I did the Level 4 in Communications, then a 2 year course in Social Studies.  I got eight distinctions and one merit.   I was still attending DALC and they gave me help with my assignments. Now I am studying Community and Youth Work and I am back in DALC to do observation and placement.


What has it been like being back observing a group that you were once in? 

I started off in this same spelling group.  I am back now remembering where I was six years ago.  I can relate to them (the group) big time.  That’s why I try to encourage them.  I  have been where they are.  And I understand how they feel.  I had the same issues around reading and writing – you have no confidence reading out, all eyes on you. I can relate.  I understand how they feel.  They are really embarrassed but they don’t say it. There is a lot of joking and laughing but that is a cover up for how they really feel.


What is the most powerful thing about coming back to education that you want to pass on?

My children said to me when I came back to education after two years – “Ma you walk differently now.”  I have my head up.  I let people in. I didn’t shy away. And that for me sums it up.

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Students of Mountjoy Square: Fathi

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My name is Fathi.  I came to Ireland in 2010, on the 3rd day of the third month – March.  I came with one girl – my three year old daughter. My mother was already in Ireland. I am from Somalia and I came here for a better, safer life.

My first language is Somalian and when I came to Ireland I could only say yes or no! I went school in Somalia.  There is no public school there.  You can only go to private school and you have to pay.  Only the money people go to school in Somalia.  When I came to school here in Ireland the learning was easy because I know the writing and reading in my own language. I went to school in Somalia until I was 16.  I use google to translate from Somalian to English.

I grew up in Jowhar and when I was a child we moved to the capital city Mogadishu.  My family had their own shop there – a fruit and vegetable stall.  The stall was in the shopping area in the city called Suquaxolaha.

I miss sleep when I came to Ireland. In Somalia we sleep in the afternoon between 1pm and 3pm and I missed that. So when I came to Ireland I had no sleep in the day and I cried and got headaches!

The worst thing for me about coming to Ireland is the food! The food is very different.  I missed camel meat and camel milk and goat’s milk and goat meat.  The taste is so delicious!

The food in Ireland is different.  I had Cocopops for the first time in Ireland and I vomited!  I missed Somalian soup called maraq and anjero – which is soup and pancakes.  I could not get it here in Ireland. I had to get the ingredients here in Ireland but the taste is different because of the different spices.

I also found everything different here. When I go shopping I don’t understand the money when I came here first.

The weather in Somalia is much hotter but no change in the seasons from Somalia.  After a couple of years I had to take vitamin D and folic acid because I felt sick and dizzy.

Life is good here now.  I am Muslim so I go to the mosque every Saturday and Sunday.  My children are in school and have lots of Somalian friends.  I speak Somalian at home with my children.

I and my children became Irish citizens in 2016.  I am happy here.

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