Ratoath College

Ratoath College

Mol an Óige agus Tiocfaidh Sí

Darragh O’Connor


Darragh O’Connor



Class of


LC Points:

3rd Level Course:

Bachelor of Science and Pharmaceutical Science
Why did you choose this course? I had a very strong interest in science since my very first year in Ratoath College. As a result, I chose to study Chemistry, Biology and Physics for the Leaving Cert. At first I wanted to study medicine, which required at least two science subjects but then I really fell in love with Chemistry.  I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry and so I chose to study Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences in DCU for its relevance to this industry and for the INTRA work placement in 3rd year where I got to work as a Process Development Chemist in a pharmaceutical company assisting in the development of their synthetic processes.
How long is/was the course?  The course was 4 years long which included the 6 month work placement in 3rd year.
Current role / employment:  After graduating from Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences I was offered a PhD by one of my lecturers Prof. Tia E. Keyes. This was a 3 and ½ years postgraduate where I designed and synthesised new chemicals called fluorescent dyes which can be used to selectively target and light up certain parts of the cell using microscopy, useful for biomedical and diagnostic purposes.
Best career achievement to date:  As I have been in education since I left Ratoath College I am really at the beginning of my career. Some of the highlights of my academia have been publishing two scientific journals in the first two years of my PhD. I also won a best poster presentation at the Microscopy Symposium Ireland 2018. I was chairperson of the Postgraduate Association of Chemistry for the 2017 year and organised the annual Chemistry Research Day in DCU 2018.
Have you any advice for our current students?  My advice would be to work hard but also have fun along the way! Life is full of stresses, so it’s important to look after yourself. It is completely fine to not know what you want to do at such a young age, but try to always have a goal to work towards whether it be personal or academic. If the leaving cert does not go according to plan it is not the end of the world, there is always a route B and C. Choose a topic that you love, as doing something you love is never work! Apply for every job or internship even if you think you won’t get it, always give yourself the chance. Try as many new things as you can, make new friends, travel to new places. You will never not learn something from someone new or a new country. Perfect the skills you are already good at and practice the ones you struggle with. Try not compare yourself to others, run your own race. Genius is 1 % intelligence and 99 % hard work. Some say school is the best years of your life, but life has barely begun by then. After school there is so much to learn/do/see/experience. Enjoy it!
Best memory of Ratoath College:  I have many memories in Ratoath College it’s hard to pick one. Our school trip to Paris in 1st year, playing on the basketball team and pretty much most of 5th and 6th year.