Delia Lyons founded Portobello Institute 40 years ago in 1981.
Originally the “Portobello School of Childcare”, Lyons recognized the need for more qualified and skilled staff in the nursing sector. She set about educating students by making education accessible, engaging with every individual to build their confidence and abilities to the point that they were competent, confident practitioners in their sectors.
Since then, Portobello has grown. We now have six departments and Delia’s daughter Rebekah has assumed her role in driving the college forward. Rebekah Lyons is continually pushing the college towards offering broader and greater courses for a growing student base.
While the college now has new departments and more courses than ever before, the ethos of educating students remains the same.
At Portobello Institute you will get a level of engagement and support that simply isn’t on offer in other third-level colleges.
But don't ask us, let our students from the Sports department explain how our lecturers and teaching methods have helped them move forward in their respective careers:
Donna Power is a mother of three who returned to college to study Sports Therapy when she turned 40:
“I was filled with dread thinking maybe I’m not able for this, I’d already struggled in Colaiste Idé with the workload but I have to say it’s actually not at all what I was expecting. The workload suits me anyway. It’s more evenly spread in Portobello, which is easier for me to handle. Portobello’s modules are quality over quantity.”
Aoife Scally had been a full-time physiotherapist for 10 years before coming to Portobello to get a degree in psychology. She was particularly impressed by Programme Lead Dr Susan Giblin.
“I must say definitely in particular Susan is amazing. Any time you email her or if there’s an issue or a problem she’s just so good. She’s always straight back to you. Nothing is ever an issue for her. She’s just extremely, extremely helpful. I couldn’t actually say enough about her. Even small things where you’re thinking should I email her about this or should I email someone else, she’ll always do her best to help you even if it’s not her area to deal with as such. I found her brilliant.”
Dr Giblin sets the tone for the rest of the lecturers in the Sports department.
“All the lecturers I had were fantastic. I really couldn’t say enough about them. Emma was just amazing from the start. Really, really helpful. Outside of being helpful, I found her lectures were just really, really good for the information she passed on, I don’t think you’d find better.”
Tom Murphy spent his teenage years stopping shots from Wayne Rooney and playing alongside Ireland captain Seamus Coleman on Everton’s training field. But when he returned to Ireland at 18 without a Leaving Cert, he was left in limbo.
Portobello Institute offered opportunities that other colleges didn’t and from there he soaked up everything the lecturers had to offer.
“To be fair from Olivia right down they’ve been great. Olivia is constantly emailing on seeing if everything is okay and stuff like that. Emma McLaughlin is great. She goes above and beyond for everyone. We had two or three people come into second year through the access route and she was great at answering all their questions because obviously, they’d never met her before.
We had Barry Rowe this year for a coaching module and he was great…then Fiona Skelly she’d take it as far as taking individual zoom calls, and doing separate videos just to make it even easier… then other ones like Cathal Brady in first year.
I can’t recommend any of the lecturers enough. Any lecturer I’ve had to deal with has been spot on and really, really great.”
Eoin Byrne completed his degree at Portobello and went on to work as a producer for RTE and Eir Sport. He has broken down games alongside the likes of Damien Duff, Eamon Dunphy, Joe Brolly and Neil Lennon. He looks back on Portobello as the instigator of his success.
“It was great, you had people from all around the country that were doing it as well. It was just a motivating environment. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes lectures are hard no matter what you’re doing.
The lectures were great. The methods were amazing. Although studying was something I always struggled with, when you’re in a course that suits you to the ground and so orientated to what you love, it’s quite easy to take in the information so I think the whole environment was pretty good. It was just a really enjoyable course.”
Eoin has reached the heights of sports media in Ireland and he stresses how avoiding the CAO process made that possible for him.
“People get so hung up on it and I find that whole CAO process can be quite stressful…Having somewhere like Portobello with the degree programme they have without having to hit those CAO numbers is crucial.
It’s important that people in this country [understand] we have a lot of great colleges, we have a lot of great systems. It’s important for people who don’t necessarily do well, like I was a late developer. I was never massively academic, but I was certainly passionate and now I’m very lucky I’m in an amazing job and there are not many of them. It’s a great degree programme, it just gives people a chance which is all you can ask for.”
Thomas Maher was running his own gym and wanted to expand his skill set when he looked into going back to college. He didn’t know anything about academic writing and was initially overwhelmed, but found the lecturers were always there to help.
“I used to just give it to the lecturer and say ‘Tell me straight. What should I do?’ and they’d just give me pointers. I’d go away, come back and they’d say ‘That’s a bit better, you might just have to change that part.’ The more you write and the more you read, especially if you’re reviewing journals, you kind of get into the language of what you’re reading and you translate that back onto the paper yourself. It’s the same process as when you’re in school, just at a higher level.”
Matthew Bursey came to Portobello as a Leinster Rugby Academy player. He wanted to develop a broader career in professional sports and possibly play rugby again at an elite level. He worked closely with Dr Susan Giblin to pursue a career and further education opportunities abroad.
Dr Giblin ultimately helped him find his place at Exeter University where he gained opportunities to work alongside the famed Exeter Chiefs rugby club.
“Aside from the quality of her lectures and teaching she spent so much of her own time helping me with my career options and finding the best path for me. After long discussions I decided to go down the teaching route, Susan shared her knowledge of the top universities in the UK. She also helped me with my UCAS application and after assessing my options she helped me prep for my PGCE Interview at Exeter university. I have no doubt that her help prepping for my interview and tasks helped me achieve a conditional offer.
Susan offered her help and feedback regularly during my dissertation and assignments which only motivated me more to succeed. Her previous research with Kitman labs using motion capture was so valuable to me and my research. She helped me understand how to use Motion capture to assess squat depth and how to read the data that was gathered.
I still look back on Susan as one of the more influential people I have worked with and have no doubt that I would not be where I am without meeting her.”
Portobello Institute offers a wide range of courses at different levels across six departments. You can find our six departments and their respective courses from this page.
If you have questions, you can fill in this contact form or contact one of our admissions team members directly.
CAO points are not the only way to go to college. They are not the only way to earn a degree. Even if you don't get the course you want in September, you can still find a route to where you ultimately want to be in your career.
And if you want to avoid all that incoming stress between now and September, you can secure your place at Portobello right now. Your place will later be confirmed by your transcripts but you will not need to worry about losing it because of supply and demand.
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