From the Archives: Barbara Clarke - Administrative Officer to Nine Deans

‘If you count Professor Jessop, the first Registrar of the Trinity Veterinary School, I have worked alongside nine Deans since 1963.’

Barbara Clarke is well known to all the students and faculty staff as she has manned the faculty office for over thirty five years. She first worked in the Department of Social Medicine, Trinity College under Professor Jessop. In 1966 she was recruited to the Trinity Veterinary School in Ballsbridge to help smooth the transfer from the Department of Agriculture to the Trinity administrative system.

Professor Baxter, the next Director of the Veterinary School was an Edinburgh graduate. He was intensely loyal and dedicated to the Trinity school, and Barbara remembers typing up reams of documents for him late into the night. With two faculties sharing one premises, rivalry was inevitable in the early days. 'We weren't encouraged to associate with the UCD people in case we gave away trade secrets.' The professor also had high hopes of moving the Trinity school away from the cramped Pathology block into a modern tower block to be built on the site of the old Trinity Botanical Gardens.

In 1970, Professor Lee became Director and later Dean so Barbara moved upstairs to Parasitology. With only 10 students in each class the Trinity office was a small and friendly place. Barbara knew all the students by name and as exams were processed internally the Director's office was the whole hub of the Trinity Veterinary School. When the two faculties merged under the umbrella of UCD in 1977, Professor Rhatigan became the new Dean and Barbara suddenly found herself working for the 'rival' camp. 'It was much more impersonal as there was suddenly 60 students in each class and all the exams were processed centrally in Belfield,' she recalls.

Professor Rhatigan resigned after one year to become acting Administrator of the Veterinary College and Justin Keating became the first elected Dean of the merged faculties. Keating had previously been the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the Coalition Government and Barbara still remembers his incredible mind. 'He had an excellent brain. He could scan a page in seconds and get the whole gist. He made everything sound so simple.'

When Professor Keating resigned due to ill health Barbara found herself working under the fifth Dean in eleven years. Joe Hanly had been President of the Irish Federation of University Teachers so had plenty of skills to continue facilitating the merging of the two faculties. The move to the long promised tower block was finally accomplished and the faculty office was installed on the fourth floor of the 'new building'. Since then the Deans too are lasting the pace. 'I'm keeping them now - the last four have all done two terms each.'

In 1984, Professor Hannan was appointed and it was during his term that plans moved ahead for the move to Belfield. Tommy McGeady was appointed Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Barbara remembers how all the students called Hannan 'Sir' but McGeady was always 'Tommy'. 'They were like chalk and cheese but together they made a perfect team.' Professor Hannan also stimulated her interest in antiques. 'He was very gifted at woodwork and restoring old furniture and was wonderful at restoring pieces for me.'

When Tommy McGeady became Dean in 1990 there was a complete change of culture in the faculty office. 'His door was always open and he was always available. Tommy loved the students and would always be popping down to Histology giving lectures and practicals.' Tommy carried on the good work of Professor Hannan and for the last five years Barbara has been busy working with Michael Monaghan on the proposed move to Belfield and more recently the Centenary Year.

She moves to her new state of the art office in Belfield in 2002 and when Professor Monaghan finishes his second term she can look forward to working with her tenth Dean. 'I came to the Veterinary College in 1966 because I wanted a change. I haven't moved since then as in this job, I get a new boss every few years!'

From 'Pegasus - Graduate Edition' (Issue 6, Summer 2001)