My name is Tara O’Callaghan. I live in Ballingarry, Co. Limerick with my husband and our two girls. I have been a full-time carer to my daughter who has Type One, Diabetes for nearly 10 years. She is nearly 18 years old so I wanted to get back into the workplace again. I felt like I wanted to achieve a qualification and thought hard about what I wanted to do. I did feel like as I was out of the workforce for so long that I might not be able to achieve this. My life has always been around school life and sports with my family and we were on the road every day and that was with me at home! I didn’t think it would be possible to commit myself to something extra, especially a full-time course.

Then, I saw an advert online about the Healthcare course with a QQI, Level 5 certification. I had previously done a Childcare course and also an SNA course and wanted to get into healthcare. I knew I just had to bite the bullet and ring to enquire.

I spoke to Nichola, the Development Officer with Ballyhoura Development, on the phone and she straight away eased my nerves. She was very positive and gave me all the information I needed. She explained that as I was a family carer that I could apply for the course. She told me that it was two, half days a week and that we would be doing the course alongside the primary school calendar, which meant when the schools were off we would be too.

This was amazing as I would still be able to be there for my girls but that I also could do something for myself too. I met with Nichola and registered the next day and started the course three days later. The first day I was so nervous, but Nichola was there again with a smile and there were other women there in the same situation as me.

Our first module was personal development which was a lot of bonding and getting to know each other along with confidence building and computer skills. It made coming into class much easier as the weeks went on. We got to do computer work and look at our CV’s also. When the COVID-19 ban came in I thought that the course would stop and I was devastated. But Nichola organised phone calls, emails and Zoom meetings to keep us all engaged and connected. We managed to complete our letters of application and our CVs. We even got the chance to do a mock interview on Zoom, which was a great experience. Our group has set up a WhatsApp group for us all to keep in touch also.

I have learned a lot about myself and made new friends. 

For more information about the Healthcare Opportunities for Women or to register your interest, please contact Nichola Grufferty at ngrufferty@ballyhoura


This project is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 - 2020.