Career Stories

Gemma Linehen, Apprentice Mechanic, Cork

Gemma Linehan pictured in CIT, Cork where she is studying as an apprentice mechanic. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

My name is Gemma Linehan and I’m currently a student in Cork Education Training Centre in Bishopstown. Im serving my time just outside Mallow, in a garage, Ballyhass Motors, with my father. I am on phase 7 (fourth year) of my apprenticeship training to become a Motor Mechanic. Almost there! It all began when I was younger, seeing my grandfather and father having such dedication and interest, so determined, so much passion, that it always made me wonder what it was like to have a job that was completely different.

That every day you are learning something new, not just a job where you turn around in the morning and think to yourself “ugh work in the morning”, instead a job that I also felt passion for.


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Lisa Foley, Electrician, Longford

lisa foley electrician


One of the most frequently asked questions when I meet a new client is ‘how/why did you get into electrics’?

It was actually slightly accidental! When I was filling in my college application form, I had the notion that I wanted to do engineering. Ignoring the advice to ‘disregard the points needed but put your choices by preference,’ I filled out my application form. Electrical engineering was at the top of the list and much to my surprise when I got my Leaving Cert results I had enough points to get a place in GMIT. Seeing as it was my first choice, I had no option but to take it or wait a year and reapply. Civil engineering was second on the list but was actually my preferred choice!

So that’s how it all started out. I went to GMIT and studied Electronic Engineering. In a class of 44 there were 40 guys and 4 girls. In the years above and below us there were even less. It never bothered me; I liked the uncomplicatedness of the guys.

From then on things morphed a bit. I went to live in France for a year. My partner, a plumber, was working in the building trade. I helped him. People wanted little electrical jobs done. The system in France is a bit different to the Irish system, so armed with a book I learnt the French way.

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Nuala Ward, Carpenter, Tiler & Landscaper, Galway

women in tradesNuala has managed to design a life’s work weaving together trades, art and community projects. In fact it sounds like you couldn’t keep her down if you tried. Even when she was diagnosed with crohns disease in her 20s and had to deal with the operations and illness that accompanied it, she kept herself busy learning new skills. She is self-taught in carpentry, tiling and landscaping amongst other things.

Although living with crohns made it difficult to get regular 9-5 work, she became known around her circle of friends and beyond for being the capable woman to call for a myriad of tasks and has often ended up on spontaneous repair jobs, hanging doors and such. She studied a FETAC level 5 in furniture design and making and has also since graduated in Fine Art at Cluain Mhuire, which she undertook part time over 7 years. At the graduation show she brought in her tools and paint gear to assist with the installation of the gallery display space. She ended up teaching some of the women who didn’t already know how to use tools to hang their own pieces.

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