Alumni Spotlight

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews

13 Nov
Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and other events internationally, from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. His new book ‘The Ascent’ looks at the rise of Irish cycling’s Golden Generation which included the likes of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. Barry talks to us about his college days and gives his advice to students looking to break into journalism.

Course/subjects studied in University College Cork
BA English and Italian, 2001-2004. PhD Italian, 2004-2008.

Best memory of UCC
Too many to mention, from quiet moments on Q+3 to slightly louder ones watching football in Cissie Young’s. Above all, I value the friends made during my time at UCC.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
Journalism is a profession where practical experience is generally more valuable than academic qualifications, but a degree in a foreign language was a help in my case. Although English has gradually become the lingua franca of professional cycling over the past twenty years, knowledge of foreign languages (especially Italian and French) is still very important for journalists covering the beat in depth.

The critical thinking and independent research demanded by a humanities degree are also useful tools for a journalist. The principles of reporting a story are much the same as writing an essay or a dissertation: it’s essential to gather and analyse as much information as possible before committing words to the page.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
For UCC students looking to break into journalism, I would recommend seeking out practical experience where you can, either through work placements or by writing freelance articles. That’s easier said than done, given both the industry’s current state and the workload of a college course, but even a small portfolio can help later on. Beyond that, it never hurts to read widely and write a lot (be it for practice or for publication) in your spare time.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Madeleine O’Rourke was my first Italian teacher at UCC, and her brilliantly engaging classes inspired me to study the subject to degree and later to doctoral level. Whether teaching first year Italian language or lecturing on Machiavelli, Madeleine delivered classes that were challenging and entertaining in equal measure, and peppered with cultural references from F Scott Fitzgerald to Frasier Crane. From the beginning of my time in UCC, her encouragement was very much appreciated.

Margaret Healy and the staff in the Finance Office also had a very important and positive influence on me. I was fortunate to work part-time as student help in the Finance Office at various points during my years at UCC, and their kindness and professionalism were an example to follow.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
Not beyond the occasional, unsuccessful guest appearance in the Quarry Cup.

Favourite UCC legend or superstition
I suspect most UCC superstitions (not walking across the quad, crest etc.) were encouraged by Buildings and Estates as a way of preserving the grounds by playing on impressionable undergraduates’ greatest fears. I hope the ruse is still working.

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