Grandparents Graduate with PhDs from NUI Galway

Pictured at the conferring ceremony at NUI Galway (l-r): Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar, NUI Galway; Drs Richard and Betty Gray, PhD; and Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway.
Dec 01 2016 Posted: 11:44 GMT

Couple go from diploma to doctorate in decade following retirement 

At NUI Galway’s November conferring, a Sligo couple Richard and Betty Gray, both 71, were conferred with Doctorates in Archaeology. 

The couple, from Ballinafad, County Sligo, embarked on their educational journey when they retired after 40 years in the insurance industry in 2005, completing the NUI Galway Diploma in Archaeology at St Angela's College, Sligo with Dr Michelle Comber.  Following that Betty earned a first class honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and Classics, while Richard was awarded first class honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and History at NUI Galway. 

Under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth FitzPatrick, both recently earned doctorates.  Betty’s doctoral research was centred on ‘Material Culture of High-status Drinking Ritual in Medieval and Early Modern Gaelic Ireland’ and Richard’s research was focused on ‘Settlement clusters at Parish churches in Ireland 1200-1600 AD.’

Speaking at the conferring ceremony about her educational achievements, Dr Betty Gray said: “The last decade has certainly been challenging but also very rewarding and satisfying. We embraced student life and in the course of our journey we made many wonderful friendships through our involvement in the student mentoring programme and college societies. In particular, the NUI Galway Archaeology society where we both had the honour of serving as auditors. We have had the opportunity to visit and explore medieval and prehistoric landscapes in Ireland England Scotland and Wales. What began for us as a part-time diploma developed into an incredible shared academic journey and we availed of some the wide range of programmes offered at NUI Galway from part-time diploma to full-time honours degree, and in our case a PhD.”

Speaking about his educational journey, Dr Richard Gray said: “It was not our initial aim to complete a PhD. The diploma provided a great grounding in archaeology and an excellent foundation for further third level education. The full time BA was hard work, but we were welcomed and encouraged by the support for mature students in NUI Galway. We availed of the back to education courses and the support of the Academic Writing Centre at the Hardiman Library, who helped us to improve our academic writing skills.”


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