Stacey Flaherty – BA (Hons) in Performing Arts

Name: Stacey Flaherty

School: St Patrick’s College, Lacken Cross, Ballina, Co Mayo

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to choose your course: 

After 9 years as a stay at home Mum to 3 kids, I was looking at getting back into work. I previously worked in accounts for 10 years and knew I did not want to go back to working in offices, if I could help it. I was given the name of a career guidance counsellor in the ETB Office in Castlebar, after speaking with her and filling in a questionnaire to see my strengths she suggested two courses, Events Management with Tourism and Performing Arts, both courses were in ATU Sligo.  I never considered going to college, I had done part-time courses in the past but suddenly a new world had opened up for me.  From researching both of the courses, I knew that Performing Arts was the course I wanted. Going back to my leaving cert in 1997, the course I had highlighted for my CAO was Acting and Television in Dublin, but at the time I didn’t believe in myself enough and went with the safer route of doing a Secretarial Course!!  I called down to the open days, spoke with lecturers, I even sat in on lectures, I needed to be sure because I knew the huge commitment I was taking on with having 3 kids and unfortunately my marriage also broke down around this time, but I knew this was what I wanted to do to make a better future for myself and my kids.   

 What specifically about the course do you particularly enjoy:

The modules in the first year are very varied, no two days are the same, and you learn both acting and design. I have learned so much about myself during the acting module, and it is a different style of learning, something you cannot learn from any textbook.  The course is a continuous assessment, it is busy but manageable, challenging and very rewarding.    


What is the best thing about your course that you think new applicants should know:

It is not just an acting course!!!  You learn so much more, both academically and personally.  The lecturers are a huge support and the number of students on the course is small, everybody knows everybody, we are like a family and we all help each other along.    


If you were speaking with a first-year student about to start your course, what advice/information would you give them:

It is 13 weeks a semester, keep your head down and do the work!!  If you have any problems, talk to the lecturers, you will have good and bad days but it is all learning and most of all enjoy the experience.   


What are the positive aspects of ATU Sligo that you didn’t know before you started studying here:

The support and understanding from the lecturers with travelling to college and having 3 kids and the financial assistance for a mature student that had never been to college.    

What are your plans after ATU Sligo and any long term goals you are aiming for:

I have finished my first year on the course and I hope to continue with the same work ethic for the next 3 years and perhaps go on and complete a masters.  I have chosen to do the design strand of the course in my second year and I aim to help make the arts more accessible and prominent for everyone in the west of Ireland.


Stacey recently won an award for the highest overall grade in her final year of Performing Arts.


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