JOHN and Josie Franklin from Pallasgreen experienced contrasting emotions this week as their youngest son, Thomas was conferred at the University of Limerick.
As any parents would be, they were extremely proud of the 22 year-old who achieved first class honours in his Bachelor of Science in PE.
To add to the excitement, Thomas, who studied at CBS in Tipperary Town, started his new job as a teacher at Glenstal Abbey school this Wednesday.
However, as Thomas was clutching his parchment following the conferring ceremony, there was a tinge of sadness as the thoughts of John and Josie switched to another of their sons - Denis - who remains in a coma, more than a decade after he was viciously assaulted in Cork city.
The now 35-year-old, sustained multiple blows and kicks to his head on the night of Feb 17, 2001.
The talented hurler, who represented Limerick at minor level, was left in a permanent vegetative state as a result of the attack.
“We say the rosary every night for him and have done so since it happened,” said John who added that the “hand of God is the only thing that will bring him back”.
Denis remained in hospital in Cork for several years after the attack but was transferred to Milford Care Centre in recent years, which he remains.
Thomas, who will teach PE and maths at Glenstal was one of four recipients of JP McManus All Ireland scholarships to be conferred at UL this week.
He received his scholarship after sitting the leaving certificate in 2009. “The scholarship was a huge boost to me, it just made me want to succeed a bit more and it just took all of the financial worry off us and it was just great and it just meant that all I had to do was concentrate on my studies,” he said adding that he was delighted to have achieved first class honours.
“I’m delighted (to have done so well) and again the scholarship gave me a great opportunity to do so well and I’m delighted. There is a sense of relief and satisfaction knowing that you have a good degree behind you from UL and that helped me when I was seeking a job, he said adding that he’s looking forward to his new career.
“It’s a great opportunity and it is nice to be able to start something that you wanted to go to all you life such as teaching and I’ll be involved in the coaching as well.”
See this weekend’s Limerick Leader, print editions, for more photographs from the UL conferring ceremonies.