Staff Profiles

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Maria Keane
Resident Director, Ireland Programs
IFSA-Butler Ireland
Ireland Office

Bio

My name is Maria Keane and I work as Director of Programs in Ireland. I grew up in Cork but have lived and worked in eight different countries around the world so I am well versed in the opportunities and challenges that come with living away from home. I studied Criminology & Social Policy in England and have a postgraduate in Education from Trinity College Dublin. I love to travel and explore and eat good local food, especially smelly cheeses. Having worked with international students for over ten years I have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to your study abroad experience and will be here to help you all the way through your program.

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Suzi Breslin
Student Advisor & Exploring Ireland: Community and Culture Coordinator, Ireland Programs
IFSA-Butler Ireland
Ireland Office

Bio

Suzi graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with a bachelors degree in history and politics. She recently received a masters degree in modern Irish history from University College Dublin. In the mean time Suzi has travelled extensively and has worked in Australia and New Zealand. She has a passion for horse riding and all things equestrian. A coffee lover, Suzi is always available for advice and a chat all the way through your experience in Ireland!!

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Ashley Ryan
Student Advisor
IFSA-Butler Ireland
Ireland Office

Bio

Ashley graduated from the University of Cork with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. She completed her postgraduate in Psychology from the University of Bolton, UK. She has travelled extensively, and has recently completed a 4 month trip around South, Central and North America. She has worked in Tanzania, New York and the UK, and understands what it is like to move to a completely new environment. When she is not travelling, Ashley can be seen running the paths of Dublin, playing the violin, piano and tin whistle, and munching on all things sugary! Ashley is here to gladly assist you in any queries you may have so that you have the best study abroad experience possible!

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Darragh Power
Program Assistant
IFSA-Butler Ireland
Ireland Office

Bio

Darragh, (the ‘gh’ is silent!) graduated last year with a degree in Psychology from UCD, so he understands the struggles of student life better than anyone! He has worked in New York (loved it!) and volunteered in Nicaragua and is peppering to see more of the world. Outside of work, sport and music are his big passions. He would like nothing more than to show you how to play hurling (our own equivalent sport to baseball), or to bring you to an intimate music gig in the undiscovered gems around the country. Darragh is really looking forward to meeting you all so if you need anything, just ask!

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Gerard Finn
Student Services Coordinator Cork, Ireland Programs
IFSA-Butler Ireland
Ireland Office

Bio

What do you enjoy most about being a Cork Student Coordinator?
I get to meet so many interesting people with such varied backgrounds and interesting stories to share. I love showing students the real Cork and sharing the hidden gems that make the city and county really unique.

What is the most important thing students learn about Cork?
That it is the centre of the universe! Cork people LOVE Cork. They love to talk and are some of the most welcoming people you will come across in Ireland. Cork is a city but has more of a large town feel. There is a great live music and cultural arts scene but best of all it is a foodie paradise. From the English Market to the host of local, independent cafes, bakeries and artisan food producers you will be spoiled for choice. Students grow to love Cork, make it home and never want to leave.

What are some of the amazing places to visit in Cork?
The English Market, St. Anne’s Church in Shandon (you can even ring the bells yourself), the coastal towns of Cobh and Kinsale, Fota Wildlife Park, Baltimore and Sherkin Island, The Franciscan Well (no water here). Just a selection of what’s on offer to get you going.

Tell us about your background...
Originally from a small town in Tipperary I moved to Cork to do an undergraduate degree in Chemistry with Forensic Science at UCC graduating in 2011. Following this I spent a year working in medical devices. This didn’t really suit me so I moved to Dublin and worked with IFSA-Butler as a Student Advisor for over 2 years. I think I missed Cork too much though and I am now a student on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme in UCC.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to travel – I make an effort to go somewhere that I haven’t been to before at least once a year either in Ireland or abroad. I’ve been known to trampoline, play squash, tag rugby and even run through a couple of miles of mud all in the name of fun. I like going to Munster rugby games but most of all I enjoy meeting friends and catching up over a pizza.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.
I have a second degree black belt in Taekwon-do. Watch out!

What is your dream vacation?
Aside from camping on the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland…South America, taking it slow and steady. Getting to grips with the diversity of both the geography and people of the continent. I might need to make a few trips.

Tell us a little known fact about Cork.
In Irish Cork is known as “Corcaigh” which means marshy place. All of the main streets in the city are built on covered over river channels. There are still about 30 bridges in the city however.

What is your favourite place to visit in Cork?
In Cork City Fitzgerald’s Park or the Lee Fields to relax or the English Market for some of the best food you can imagine. In the greater county I love Garryvoe and Inchydoney beaches. I don’t get to visit as often as I would like but Allihies in West Cork is magical.

What are the little things that make Cork different?
“Echo” -- “Fresh from Castletownbere this morning” -- “A tradition of independent thinking” – Newspaper street vendors, food, a world class university that aspires to lead the thinking not just follow it.

What one piece of advice would you give someone planning to study in Cork?
Do it! Cork is not just a study abroad destination it is a home away from home. Come here to be engrossed in the culture and laid back lifestyle of the University, the City and the County.

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Eibhlin Walsh
Student Services Coordinator, Northern Ireland Programs
IFSA-Butler Ireland
Ireland Office

Bio

I graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a B.A in Modern Irish and French.
I understand what it is like to live abroad and settle into a new place. I have lived in Bordeaux, Montreal and New York. I am a proud Belfast native and love to show people around my unique home city. I love to organise fun things for our students to get a true sense of Belfast. I'm here to answer all your questions and queries about living in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

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