PESS Department Updates : Giles Warrington (Head of Department)

As we enter into a new academic year I would like to take this opportunity of welcoming our new cohort of students starting in PESS who I had the great pleasure in meeting at the induction days. This year will see our largest intake ever of undergraduate students with 84 and 93 starting on the BSc in Physical Education and BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences respectively.

This September PESS has added to its existing impressive suite of Postgraduate programmes, which include the MSc in Sport Performance, MSc in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology and PME in Physical Education, with the introduction of the MSc in Applied Sports Coaching. Lead by Dr Phil Kearney and supported by Dr Ian Sherwin this exciting new programme has been a long time in its conception, design and development, so we are delighted to see it roll-out with its first cohort of 15 students. This innovative part-time two-year postgraduate programme will give experienced coaches the opportunity to enhance their practice through engagement with practitioner leaders and pioneering researchers in the field of sport coaching. The programme is being considered for alignment with the higher levels of coaching qualifications, as part of the Coaching Development Programme for Ireland (a partnership between Sport Ireland Coaching and National Governing Bodies of sport). The underlying philosophy of this innovative and applied MSc programme is to develop coaching expertise which can be employed by the graduates in their own context. As such, the course will be delivered by practitioner leaders in the field of sports coaching, and supported by recognised experts who combine research excellence with extensive applied experience. Using a combination of online tasks and on-campus face-to-face sessions, the course content and assessment will enable coaches to appreciate and challenge their own current practice, and to reflect against and design innovative alternatives.

At the UL conferring ceremonies at the end of August 148 students graduated from PESS taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes long with a number of postgraduate research students. The ceremony was particularly poignant with PE student James Meany receiving a posthumous award, which was collected on his behalf by his mother Martina, with a number of his family in attendance. May you rest in peace James. Sadly this is not the only death in PESS. In August, one of the original and longest serving members of staff in PESS, Dave Weldrick, who retired in 2009, passed away in tragic circumstance in his beloved Kilkee. Dave made an enormous contribution to PESS and the wider sporting community and was a man ahead of is time when it came to teaching, coaching and championing the importance of physical education, physical activity and sport. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Dave’s family.

In addition to our new cohort of students to our taught undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, we also welcome a number of new PhD students. These include:

  • Leanne Quinn, Supervised by Dr Matt Herring and Dr Mark Lyons (HRI funded)
  • Patrick Dolan, Supervised by Dr Ian Kenny and Dr Tom Comyns (HRI funded)
  • Lorna Barry, Supervised by Dr Tom Comyns (IRC funded).
  • Tim Smithies, Supervised by Dr Mark Campbell (IRC funded)
  • Patrick McCarthy, Supervised by Dr Catherine Norton
  • Kevin Volf, Supervised by Prof Catherine Woods
  • Joanna Clifford, Supervised Prof Catherine Woods
  • Padraic Rocliffe, Supervised by Dr Ciaran MacDonncha and Prof Patricia Mannix McNamara (PJ Smyth PESS scholarship)


We also welcome a number of new staff to PESS:

  • Jessica Mangione – Applied Studies Coordinator
  • Eimear Kelly, Ian Darragh, Ryan Meany – Teaching Assistants
  • Niall Carmody – PESS Administrator


Finally, our esteemed colleague and friend Dr Melissa Parker is retiring this September. A reception is being held in her honour on 15th October in the Millstream Common Room, UL from 4.30pm.

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