Niall was born and bred in O’Malley Park in Southill and attended Southill Family Parish School before going on to study at St Enda’s Secondary school.
Niall’s mother worked in the field waitressing, cleaning and as a barmaid for many years and also working in-home help in the Southill area for over 10 years. His father worked as a driver for Sweeney’s concrete for 30 years before the company went out of business.
During secondary school, he opted to take the work experience programme option. Despite coming from a hard-working family, both his parents found themselves out of work for a time which resulted in both Niall and his brother actively working from an early age. Earning a wage and helping to support his family become more important than having an academic qualification.
Niall’s father Michael was very active in the local community for many years and was part of the original Southill committee back in the 1970s. His father was also a key player in managing to have the first credit union established in the area. Niall puts his own keep interest in community matters down to example shown to him by his father.
Before commencing work at Tait House Niall had been working as a painter and decorator for many years. Like many others, the economic crash in 2008 caused his bubble to burst. As a result, he started to reassess the direction his life was taking.
At the time Niall knew nothing else but construction. It was his wife who suggested that he might consider taking on some type of new qualification or course. Having never been any way academic, the very thought of attending college was something completely alien to him.
Despite his fears, he did make a few calls and it was suggested that he possibly could attend an access course at the University of Limerick. This was a one-year course which allowed students to prepare for possible entry into an actual undergraduate course at the university.
He admits that he struggled in this year but still managed to pass the course through sheer hard work. He ended up secure a place on the degree course for Digital Media.
Graduated from UL in 2018 was one of the biggest achievements of his life. He had never thought for one moment that he would ever don the cloak on graduation day at one of Ireland’s top universities. Graduation day was a day that he and his family will never forget.
During the course of his 4-year degree course, Niall had to find some work experience and it was this that opened the door to Tait House. Upon graduating he started working with Tait House helping in the creation of their digital and print media, using many of the skills he had learned during his time at UL. He managed to combine this work with his other passion – painting and decorating.
Niall applied for the role as community officer because of the love of community that his late father had instilled in him. Niall says that Michael Deegan was a man who simply loved his community. He would spend hours on the phone to various players in the community and was always striving to make Southill the very best place to live for all residents.
Niall’s dad died some time ago and didn’t get to see some of the more recent positive changes that were made in Southill. Niall’s desire is to continue his father’s legacy and to try to continue to help Southill’s renaissance.
Niall describes Southill as the best place in the world to grow up. He mentions the sense of community and the fact that everybody helped and looked out for each other. He remembers a time when everybody’s door was open, something that sadly seems to be lost. Niall’s dream is to help bring that sense of security and community spirit back to the area.
He lived through a dark period in Southill’s history, a period where he saw the place he knew as home was torn apart. He puts this down simply to the fact that there was nothing for people to do. Southill was almost forgotten as a community. Unemployment, hopelessness and despair were the issues that were attacking the community.
He still believes that there is a major lack of facilities for young children and families in the area. He puts the likes of anti-social behaviour and the resulting criminality down to the fact that kids are now growing up without the facilities that help them to keep occupied and to grow as people.
He has seen improvements in the area but does acknowledge that the community is still trying to recover from a period where it was broken up and torn apart.
He is determined to work hard as a community officer to listen to the people of the community, to understand their concerns and to create relationships with the various agencies who really can make a difference.
He would love to see the older generation to begin to work more with and listen to the younger community. He believes that young people are feeling left out when it comes to having a say on their future. He believes that it is crucial that the young people of Southill also find their voice. They are our future, after all.
Niall’s work as a Community Officer will involve ensuring that local people have their say as he helps to co-ordinate the yearly management plan. He will also be working to help develop new resources in dialogue with the community as well as evaluating existing programmes.
Niall hopes to build links with other organisations and agencies and to help offer support with information on rights and entitlements and to help to raise awareness on issues relevant to the community.
He will be responsible for coordinating the Community Information Centre based at Tait House which will offer services such as MABS, Legal and Mitigation and estate management. He will also continue to develop links such as those with local theatre companies, Music Generation and the GAFF.
He will also continue to ensure that Southill continues to shine through initiatives like the TLC Limerick event, Going for Gold and the Southill Tidy Towns entries.
If you want to get in touch with Niall you can contact him by phoning Tait House directly or by dropping him an email on email@example.com