Proud of where we’ve come from. Proud of where we’re going.

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Alumni of the Philosoph have gone on to seek success in all corners of the world, moving to achieve great honours in the arts, sciences, the fields of business and law and a variety of other professions. To celebrate the brand new UCCPhilosoph.com, we invited some alumni to tell their stories to us; how the society helped shape their lives, both while in UCC and to this day.

Alumni of the society are as always welcome to our gala events and alumni dinners; you can find out more about these through our Facebook Group for society alumni.

Below, we’ve included testimonials from two successful alumni, Tiernan Fitzgibbon and Siobhán Greany, who reached out to help us create this new page.

While building the website we wanted to offer ways for alumni to reconnect and to explore the society’s traditions and legacy, and to share these with new society members. If you want to extend or add to this page, contact our webmaster to help contribute to this project.

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“Without a doubt debating has had a huge impact on my life. Not only did it introduce me to the people that I consider amongst my best friends to this day, but it gave me a host of skills that have allowed me to succeed in the practice of law.” — Tiernan Fitzgibbon, Philosoph Alumnus

Tiernan Fitzgibbon in 2009

I first started debating when I was in school, reaching the semi-finals of the Concern Debates and the final of the Philosoph Schools debating competition.

When I started my law degree at UCC in 2005, I decided that it was definitely an activity that I should keep up as it would stand to me in my legal career in the future. Before I knew it, I routinely found myself representing either the Law Society or the Philosoph at debating competitions all over Ireland, Britain and even further afield. I became so involved that I even found myself in final year running the Philosoph’s Cork Inter-Varsity Debating Competition, one of the biggest debating competitions in Ireland which runs over the course of three days in early December.

Two memories of my time debating in UCC stand out for me. The first was representing the Philosoph at the World University Debating Championships in Vancouver, Canada (I did say that we got to travel) where my team-mate and I were ranked 13th best team out of 338 others. To this day I can remember the nerves and anticipation on break night as we waited for the organisers to announce the top 32 teams that would participate in the knockout rounds of the Championships. The other memory that really stands out for me is the house meeting that the 158th Session held on the reporting of suicide in the media. Obviously, this is an incredibly sensitive and emotional topic, but the reaction and participation of the audience was inspiring to hear. People who would never before have considered speaking before a crowd as large as a packed Boole 3 were standing up to deliver some truly amazing speeches that often drew on deeply personal experiences.

Without a doubt debating has had a huge impact on my life. Not only did it introduce me to the people that I consider amongst my best friends to this day, but it gave me a host of skills that have allowed me to succeed in the practice of law. The skills that it taught me from thinking on my feet to critical analysis of arguments are ones that I rely on every single day as a litigation lawyer working in an international law firm.

Once I left UCC, my debating background was a key topic of interest and conversation in every law firm interview that I had. In one memorable interview I was asked to explain what motion I would pick as the very first motion to debate if I were to set up a debating society. Having debating on your CV undoubtedly makes you stand out from the crowd, you would be amazed at the number of people (even lawyers) who are unable to make the simplest of presentations. Moreover, debating teaches you any number of skills that employers seek in their employees, critical analysis, creative problem solving, team work etc. The list goes on and on.

My advice? Get involved. It’ll do you the world of good.


“Philosoph taught me a lot about how to research, how to argue the point and not your opinion or emotion, how to speak effectively in public, how to ignore your own inner doubt and fear and get up and talk for a few minutes, even when you’re completely outmatched and outwitted, to keep trying.” — Siobhán Greany, Philosoph Alumna

Happiest memories of the Philosoph generally involve house parties. I’m still friends with people I met through Philosoph, and though I haven’t been back to UCC in a while I have very fond memories of it.

I got to go to Dublin, Limerick and Galway courtesy of the society, and even to Durham (where we slept under the pool table) and Birmingham (upgraded to a couch). My house for 2 years on Barracks Street was nicknamed the Zoo, and we had to bounce our own house for the post-post IV party when Danny Gleeson (who I was dating at the time) was the IV Convenor.

Out of all of our speakers I particularly loved meeting David Norris. Tony Murphy was the chairperson when I started and was incredibly welcoming to us freshers. Speaker development on a Tuesday night was also a great icebreaker in addition to pints after the house meetings on Mondays. I actually helped write a couple of articles for the wiki when it was initially set up, I remember plaguing Luke Harris for tips on formatting. And I possibly submitted an article or two for the magazine, Philatio.

I’ve attended one Alumni dinner, which I did enjoy, but since I’m living in the UK I find it difficult to get back for events like that. Philosoph taught me a lot about how to research, how to argue the point and not your opinion or emotion, how to speak effectively in public, how to ignore your own inner doubt and fear and get up and talk for a few minutes, even when you’re completely outmatched and outwitted, to keep trying.

My degree was a BA in English and Philosophy, which I might not have passed had it not been for the maths students I met through debating who got me through logic as a module. I went on to get a Masters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, and now work for the publisher Taylor and Francis in the Academic Books Production department.