Meet Hubert from Oranmore
If you recognise this face from your university days you have something in common with our President Micheal D Higgins and his wife Sabina. You are also in the same company as Marie Mullen, Garry Hynes, Pat Rabbitte, Declan Kelly, and this half of Wonky Eye – all taught by Hubert McDermott -- The King of the Concourse himself! Hubert is a man that has entertained thousands of NUIG Alumni in the English department. Meeting him on the concourse 13 years after I left was nostalgic. There he was, seated on a bench outside the D'arcy Thompson Theatre, in the middle of a bunch of fresh faced first-year students. The distinctive tone of his voice brought back memories of my introductory lecture to English. His voice alone evoked memories I had long forgotten.
Hubert retired in 2014 after working in NUIG for 50 years. He started off working in the library and helping out in the Classics department. Just as he was about to start his Masters, in English, he was asked to cover a semester of lectures in English. With absolutely no teaching experience and fresh out of his B.A. Hubert was reluctant but eventually accepted the challenge.
His first ever lecture was an introduction to the study of English literature, the core of which would, essentially, be what I heard over 30 years later. At the age of 22, he struggled to control his large classes and teach effectively at the same time. He quickly realized, however, that lecturing, or teaching, was not so much about him, it was about his students and theireducational needs. He began to tailor his lectures to ensure that they were both relevant and accessible to those sitting in front of him; in other words, “to transmit on the wavelength of his students.”
As a lifelong fan of the novels of Jane Austen, Hubert has taken great pleasure in delivering workshops and holding seminars on her work. It is only fitting, therefore, that we end our blog with a quote we think Hubert would like and most probably say to his audience: "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid".