“I’ve always wanted to, but…”

—By Ulysses Ryan-Flynn, Head of Education Experience at Renaissance Academy

Ulysses Ryan-Flynn, Head of Renaissance Academy

Ulysses Ryan-Flynn, Head of Education Experience at Renaissance Academy, enabling older people to do what they always wanted to, but…

As the pandemic finally subsides, older people are rediscovering their choices in life, including taking control of their “third chapter” to learn new skills and knowledge.

As we get older, there is this nagging sense that we could have done more, should have done more, should have been more in our lives. There is a natural inclination to strive for the best in our lives, but what happens when we feel that opportunity has slipped by?

Over the past two years, older people in Ireland have been trapped in a ceaseless cycle of cocooning, isolation, and trepidation. Our older generation has been caught between a rock and a hard place; fearing the future while also rueing missed opportunities to see loved ones, be sociable, and enjoy daily activities that were previously taken for granted.

At Renaissance Academy, we are breaking the negative cycle of the past two years, providing a much-needed outlet for like-minded people to meet up, learn new things, share each other’s life experiences and enjoy each other’s company. Renaissance Academy replaces the statement “this is what you are going to learn” with the question “what do you want to learn?”

More than thirty courses on offer

Our comprehensive offering of over thirty courses across the arts, business and personal development, gives our members the opportunity to change their learning experience on a daily basis. We understand that every day is valuable and we give our members the opportunity to make the most of it as they see fit.

For people who always wanted to learn something, but never had the time to do so, Renaissance Academy gives them the opportunity to invest this time in themselves. Our lecturer in our Lifelong Learning Course, Michael McEvoy, sums up our approach aptly:

I was in a similar space two years ago. Having been made redundant, I did not know what I wanted to do next. I was in my 50s, fed up and lacking purpose before a friend suggested I draw on my experience in marketing as a lecturer. This eventually led to the development of the Lifelong Learning Course at Renaissance Academy.

Lifelong Learning is more than just upskilling, it is an opportunity to draw from your life experience to contribute to a community of like-minded people.

Life is full of obligations thrust upon us by society, be they family or work-focused. We firmly believe at Renaissance that the third chapter is the most important; a chance to make it your own and explore opportunities that previously seemed unattainable.

Learn on your own terms

Our state-of-the-art facilities, flexible learning programmes, and vibrant social calendar give Renaissance Academy members the opportunity to learn on their own terms, being given the space and time to flourish intellectually and socially.

Unlike other third-level institutions in Ireland, our course structure is modelled on the Liberal Arts framework. The Liberal Arts framework is evidently popular in the United States, where the overall objective is to show students how their skills and knowledge can seamlessly integrate into a wide range of subject areas. Showing clear evidence of how skills can transfer into different subject areas boosts students’ confidence, increases learner autonomy, and encourages them to broaden their horizons.


The brainwave that led to the structuring of our educational programme on the Liberal Arts framework was prompted by a SOLAS study in May 2021. This study showed a decline in the number of people participating in lifelong learning by 78,700 between 2019 and 2020. The main contributing factor that led to this decline was a 30% fall in the number of non-formal learning participants representing 84,400 fewer learners.

Bridging the gap between formal and informal

Renaissance Academy aims to bridge the gap between the formal and informal education setting, providing a university standard education, while concurrently emphasizing the importance of our members being able to socialize and reflect on their learning experience. The opportunity to reflect on the learning experience is that which sets Renaissance Academy apart; our courses are shaped by member feedback.

We are committed to continuously adapting our courses to cater for the educational and social needs of our members. Where other third-level institutions provide courses for upskilling, we provide a platform for people over 50 to steer the course of their third chapter in life, intellectually, socially and personally. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” We encourage continuous learning for the over 50s by giving them the opportunity to learn what they want to learn, how they want to learn it.

Based at Maple House in South County Business Park, Renaissance Academy is less than a minute’s walk from the Central Park Luas Station.

To learn more, please visit www.renaissanceacademy.ie or call 01-267 8654 to enquire about our growing list of courses and range of membership packages.



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