U3A Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Killiney

From Donal Denham (Co-founder and Chair)

Location: Dun Laoghaire, formerly Kingstown, so named after a visit in 1821 by King George IV to the newly developing port, is located 10 km to the south of Dublin, and is the site of an impressive harbour begun in the 1817 to offer shelter to shipping and as the location for the main mail boat service between Ireland and Britain right up to the end of the 20th century. The harbour is built of granite taken from Dalkey quarry, also the site of two mediaeval harbours of its own; Dalkey leads on to the grand sweep of Killiney Bay, often compared to its Italian cousin, the Bay of Naples. Indeed, adjoining roads bear names such as Sorrento, Vico and Nerano. Famous residents, past and present, include George Bernard Shaw, Bono, The Edge, Maeve Binchy, Damon Hill, Enya and Cardinal John Newman.

Membership: Dun Laoghaire and environs has the highest percentage of older people of any area of the country so it's logical that U3A should flourish in this environment. We started our group in September 2016 with a steering group of five and now have 150 members; the thirst for knowledge is not abated by age.

Our Activities& Plans: We are intent on developing a varied curriculum, following both Australian and British models. At present, we have thematic courses/ talks on the Arts, Sciences, Literature, Environment,History etc. every second tuesday, followed by coffee and an Alternate Tuesday Current Affairs group on topical issues, starting next month. We are also beginning a German conversation course.

Future plans include linking up with Hawthorn Australia Current Affairs group using live video conference facilities, despite the time zone challenge! And we have both French and Italian conversation classes in the pipeline. Details of our meetings, structure etc. are all available on our recently launched website, www.u3adldk.ie

Personal Comment: U3A is still in its infancy in Ireland but is making rapid progress as it becomes better known. We need to develop a tighter national oversight structure, to encourage contact with each other and to promote a more disciplined, coherent approach to curriculum development. Advances in information technology are there to be harnessed. Much has been done but more to do!