‘I always loved going to Mellifont’
Where did you grow up?
I lived in many places growing up – Nenagh, Kilkenny, Dublin, but spent a lot of time in Drogheda with my Donegan grandmother in Mell, and my cousins on my mothers side – the Farrellys on the Chord Road. My aunt Mary Donegan always rented a house in Clogherhead or Bettystown, so I spent a lot of my summers there. We always seemed to have had amazing summer weather then or did we!
An event that stands out from your childhood?
I always loved coming to Mellifont Abbey with my dad, and visiting the High Cross in Monasterboice. We would spend days visiting all our relations – the Mc Donnells and the Donegans in Monasterboice, Dunleer , the Ginnetys in Dromiskin and the Cummins and the Farrellys in Drogheda.
Who has had an influence on your life?
My parents had a really strong influence on me, they instilled in me a sense of work ethic, to work hard and to follow your dreams.
How did you become interested in your career / hobby?
From when I was really young, my dad used to tell me about Nicholas Callan, who’s niece Marianne Callan was my great-grandmother. Nicholas Callan was born in Darver and he was the inventor of the induction coil, which is used in all cars now. There is a representation of it in Darver near the Gaelic pitches. I was intrigued to hear stories of this priest working in Maynooth discovering amazing things, and I think that inspired me to study science.
What was your happiest moment?
I was so happy to be in Croke park and to cheer on my cousin Roisin Kavanagh and the Louth ladies football team. My dad played for Louth a long time ago, and I know he would have been so proud of her!
What are you most proud of ?
In 2007, I won the EU Descartes award, that’s the EU highest award for science communication for a children’s science magazine I wrote in association with the Irish Independent. The award had been previously won by Sir David Attenborough and Bill Bryson.
Any big events coming up in your life?
Maths Week Ireland, an all island event event encouraging people to think diffeenetly anf have fun with maths runs from Oct 13-21st. I set up Maths Week 13 years ago and it has now grown to be the biggest festival of its kind in the world with over 300,000 participting last year. There are so many schools in Drogheda taking part, it’s great - that’s taking up most of my life now!
Sheila Donegan with Minister Richard Bruton