ATU celebrates 50 years of Toolmaking

Thursday, February 16, 2023 Press Office
Press Releases

Over 50 years ago, Sligo RTC opened its doors to students with a focus on providing high-quality education in engineering and technology. Amongst the various fields of study, the toolmaking course was established to provide apprentices with hands-on experience in creating, designing and fabricating various precision engineering tools and components.

Fast forward to today, the toolmaking course at ATU has become one of the most sought-after programmes, attracting apprentices from all over the country and further afield.

To celebrate this historic milestone, ATU hosted a 50th anniversary celebration in honor of the toolmaking course. The event was attended by alumni, industry members and staff both retired and present. The celebration included tours of the toolmaking workshops, demonstrations of the latest equipment and techniques, and a presentation of the achievements and contributions of the Toolmaking in the region over the past 50 years.

Representing ATU’s Governing Body and President, Mr Felim McNeela welcomed staff and apprentices, both past and present to the celebration to mark 50 years of Toolmaking in Sligo.

Head of College and Head of Faculty of Engineering & Design at ATU Sligo, Úna Parsons looked back over her own history at the college. Úna was one of the first female apprentices in Toolmaking in Ireland coming to Sligo RTC from her native Dublin in 1978. From there Úna established an outstanding career which sent her around the world and eventually back to Sligo as Head of College some 45 years later. Ms Parsons said it was a credit to the staff and students over 50 years for the growing success in Toolmaking in Sligo;

“The program has evolved with the times and has adapted to the changing technological advancements, offering the latest equipment and techniques to the apprentices . The faculty and staff at ATU have always been dedicated to providing the best education possible, and this has been reflected in the achievements and success of their graduates.”

One of the highlights of the celebration was the reunion of the alumni of the toolmaking course. Many of them had not seen each other in decades and used the opportunity to reminisce about their time in college when it was known as Sligo RTC.

Among those who presented on the day were present Head of Department at ATU Sligo Padraig McGarry and his predecessor Michael Casserly. Industry was represented by John Prior, CEO of Leitrim based company, Prior PLM Medical.

Head of Department of Engineering Technology at ATU Sligo, Padraig McGarry thanks everyone for their contribution to Toolmaking in the region over the past 50 years and said it majorly contributed to the growth of the manufacturing industry in the region:

“Sligo has become the National centre of Excellence for the trade of Toolmaking since courses began here over 50 years ago. Back then the staff here recognised there was a gap and so developed a syllabus that dealt specifically with the trade of Toolmaking. The first group of apprentices started their block release in September 1972. We have now passed the milestone of 50 years since that first group came through the doors and every year since, this university has turned out thousands of qualified toolmaking trades people. Today was an opportunity to celebrate all those who made this happen.”