‘Outstanding achievement’: First Traveller in Ireland to graduate with PhD conferred at UL

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Dr Sindy Joyce, Mincéir (Traveller); human rights activist, and doctoral graduate of the Department of Sociology, University of Limerick Picture: Sean Curtin/True Media

Dr Sindy Joyce, Mincéir (Traveller); human rights activist, and doctoral graduate of the Department of Sociology, University of Limerick Picture: Sean Curtin/True Media

AN award winning academic has become the first Mincéir (Traveller) in Ireland to graduate with a PhD at the University of Limerick.

Dr Sindy Joyce, human rights activist and doctoral graduate of the Department of Sociology at UL, is among the 67 students being conferred with PhDs at UL’s annual Winter Conferring Ceremonies this week.

In total 1,715 students are graduating across four faculties at UL this week.

Dr Joyce, whose PhD thesis examines how young Travellers’ movements through, access to and use of public and commercial urban space are shaped by their ethnicity and by anti-Traveller racism, was awarded a number of competitive awards during the course of her studies at UL including an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholarship, UL’s FAHSS Dean’s Scholarship and AHSS Registrar’s Scholarship Award.

Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point, congratulated Dr Joyce on her “outstanding” academic achievement.  

“The research that Sindy Joyce carried out for her Doctorate gives important visibility to the Traveller perspective, in this case the perspective of young Travellers in Galway,” he said.

“Travellers, down through the years, have often been researched and documented – but usually by people outside our community. It is an important step for Travellers that we have our own academics who can decide what is important from a research point of view – and what is ethical in carrying out this research. Sindy Joyce, on a personal level, is a great role model and an inspiration.  

“Her hard work and determination in her studies shows that all Travellers are missing are the opportunities to succeed.

“The Irish Traveller Movement is delighted to pay tribute to Sindy Joyce, PHD for her outstanding achievement. This PHD compliments her reputation as a committed human rights defender and passionate educationalist, whose community is to the forefront of her focus. Given her ongoing research interests she is a deserved education ambassador especially for anyone who advocates for equality through the difficult lens of experience,” he added.

UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald said: “We wish all of this week’s graduates well as they join the wider family of UL alumni. Our most recent figures show that UL graduates continue to be in high demand among employers. UL’s graduate employment rate for 2017 primary degree-holders is now 17% higher than the HEA’s most recently-available national average figure which is 62% for 2016 graduates.

“80% of UL’s 2017 graduates are employed, 18% have chosen to take on further study with just 2% seeking employment. I’m sure this week’s graduates will continue this positive trend and we look forward to hearing of their many successes in whatever paths they choose from here,” he added.

UL conferred honorary doctorates on activist Bob Geldof and author Marian Keyes on Monday and will also confer honorary doctorates on The Cranberries, with a posthumous honour for Dolores O’Riordan, this Friday.