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Liam Ronayne, Cork City Librarian

Thursday, 15th August, 2019 8:54am

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

The next Christy Ring (sadly it was not to be).

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I started working in libraries in UCC in the late 1970s. After a few years there I went to Glasgow to do a post-grad in librarianship. I came back to Ireland, where I got a job with Longford-Westmeath Joint Library Committee. I never really settled down so far from the sea, although there was a great social life in Mullingar. I then got the job as Donegal County Librarian and stayed in the north-west until 2004, when I got the job as Cork City Librarian. I got back here just in time for the European Capital of Culture year in 2005, a great year for us.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

Working with people, both those on my own team and the public. Working in libraries is a team effort, you achieve very little on your own. I am so lucky to enjoy working with a great team, and not only for work stuff - to enjoy their company as well.

What motivates you?

Knowing what difference libraries can make to people’s lives, when we get it right.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

There’s no point in giving any advice; as a 15 year old I wouldn’t have listened to an old guy!

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

That is difficult to say, but it would be something similar to what I’m doing. I didn’t set out to be a librarian; the job came up and I liked it, so stayed at it.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

What gives me most satisfaction in my working life is seeing people grow and develop. Everyone has something to offer and when they are given the chance they almost always rise to the challenge.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My parents. I didn’t always realise it, but in almost all instances, when faced with a decision, big or small, I think ‘what would they have done?’

What is the life dream now?

Stay healthy and happy for as long as I can.

How do you switch off?

Music and books, in that order. Some days when you come home, you need to hear the Sex Pistols or Led Zeppelin to blow off steam; some days it might be The Gloaming or West African kora music, other days blues or Portuguese fado. I’d be lost without music, but I read quite a bit as well.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

First Monday of September 1978, when the three-in-a-row team came home. In front of the Imperial with the crowd urging Ring to lift the Liam McCarthy, and the roar when he did. That is still a vivid memory, all the more so since he died the following spring. There are plenty of other great memories, including Rory Gallagher concerts in Cork City Hall at the turn of the year, when he was in his prime.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Home, but after that lots of places in the flat of the city, between the two branches of the Lee, looking up at the ‘Red City’ from Patrick’s Bridge, Fitzgerald’s Park and the Shaky Bridge.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’, a quote from Sam Beckett

When are you at your happiest?

Spending time with Nóirín, my partner, in Cork or on holidays somewhere.

Any regrets?

I’d go back to the Beckett quote. How can you live so long without making mistakes and failing? But what’s the point of having regrets?

What is your hidden talent?

Not sure if it’s hidden – after 64 years any talents would surely have emerged, but I am handy enough at small DIY jobs like painting and tiling.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

Up to a few months before the Leaving Cert I thought I’d be a soldier, like one of my uncles, of whom I was very fond. I had applied to be a cadet, and didn’t think about anything else. So when the New Year came around I suddenly thought ‘what would a long-hair who’s into Jimi Hendrix and Cream be doing as an army officer?’, and that was the end of that.

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