Tom Boyle graduated with honors from Waterford Institute of Technology this week

Tom Boyle, an 82-year-old Co Wexford man, achieved his life-long goal of getting a college degree this week.

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Boyle, who is thought to have been the oldest full-time undergraduate student in Ireland, received his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Irish during Waterford Institute of Technology’s graduation ceremony on October 31.

Speaking with The Irish Times, Boyle said: “It’s something I hadn’t achieved and it’s something I wanted to achieve.

“I actually passed first year of UCC [University College Cork] in 1959 but left it because of work pressures. I had a few different careers and went to England like everyone else at the time.”

Boyle worked as a taxi driver for over two decades before returning to school in Ireland at the age of 78. He initially set out to study law but then later switched over to an arts degree.

The proud graduate was joined by his wife Phyllis, their seven children, as well as their grandchildren at Thursday’s ceremony.

“My wife was so supportive and so helpful to me, without her help I couldn’t have done it, to be honest,” Boyle said.

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Boyle said left his Wexford home around 6 am every day to commute to Waterford. “Rural transport is a godsend,” he said. “It was a long old day making it to class and today made it worth it. But even if I didn’t have today it would still be worth it."

Boyle said the faculty and students all went the extra mile to make him feel welcome and supported. "I liked every bit of it. It was marvelous actually. You couldn’t be more happy with the setup in Waterford.”

Of his fellow graduates, Boyle said: “They treated me as one of them. The craic was mighty."

In 2016, Boyle was treated to a rendition of "Happy Birthday" from his classmates in a video that quickly went viral:

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Happy Birthday Tom 

A post shared by Waterford IT (@witwaterford) on

Boyle now says: “Going on the young people that were there in WIT, this country will be in good hands."

He thanked WIT for accommodating him as well: “They were very helpful getting you down on the right path. They were marvelous and fair play.”

Offering some advice, Boyle said: “Let’s be honest about it - there is a lot of reading and writing. But it can be done. My message to anyone is if I can do it, they can.”

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You can watch RTE’s report on the inspirational Irish man here:

 A Wexford man is living proof that you're never too old to go back to school. 82-year-old Tom Boyle graduated today with a degree in English and Irish. |

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 31, 2019