Colin Roche, Computer Science Student & Musician

My love for music started from a very young age. When I was about 5 years old, my parents sent me to tin whistle lessons with my local music group called Cuisle Avondhu. They both loved traditional Irish music and wanted to give me the opportunity to be a part of it. I immediately fell in love with traditional Irish music, which branched out into a love of all things music. I have been listening to and playing music ever since.

My name is Colin Roche and I am a 23-year-old student currently in my first year of a full-time PhD in computer science at NUI Galway.

I have always had an interest in technology from a young age. However, I never considered it as a career option until I was doing my Leaving Certificate and deciding what degree I wanted to pursue in college. During my search, I came across a computer science and IT course in NUIG. Having read into it more, I found it fascinating and decided that this is what I wanted to do in college. From that point on, I haven’t looked back.

Four years later, and having obtained my bachelor’s degree, I was delighted to have been offered a paid scholarship to pursue a PhD. It has always been a goal of mine to gain a PhD, and I consider myself very lucky to be given the opportunity to fulfill this dream.

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I have been living and working from home in the small village of Killavullen, Co. Cork. Before the pandemic, I was living in Galway, where I lived for the 4 years of my undergraduate degree. I hope to move back up to Galway once the pandemic has eased.

My main musical interest is Traditional Irish Music. I love playing the tin whistle, but I also play a little bit of button accordion and am qualified to teach piano. I have taken inspiration from a variety of musicians throughout my time playing music, from simply listening to my favourite bands to playing with a wide variety of talented musicians.

What I love about playing music, particularly traditional music, is the friends you make and the opportunities you get to create some great experiences. I am at my happiest when I am playing music surrounded by friends. In that moment, all my cares and worries disappear. You will not find a place filled with more joy and happiness than a good trad session. Being able to be a part of that is what I love the most about playing music.

I have made many great friends as part of both my local Cuisle Avondhu music group and, more recently, as a member of the Irish traditional music society (TradSoc) in NUIG. When I am in Galway, I look forward to the weekly Tuesday night session in The Crane Bar. I hope that once life returns to normal again, these sessions will be able to resume.

Probably my most memorable experiences have been when I have gotten the opportunity to travel with my music as part of different groups. I love travelling, and playing music always provides many opportunities to travel to a wide variety of locations. I have been lucky enough to have been able to travel to places both within Ireland and abroad as part of various music groups. I have travelled all across Ireland to places such as Inishmore, Doolin, Cashel, and Kilfenora. I have also travelled abroad to places such as Glasgow, as well as Pescina in Italy.

My main hope for when I return to Galway is to get involved in playing music again once group activities are able to resume. I hope to once again get more involved with TradSoc, and hopefully continue to travel with my music and create memorable experiences. I would also love to learn a new instrument in the future.

I believe that any technological career, much like playing music, requires a great deal of creativity. A lot of my work involves experimenting with new ideas and technologies, much like in music where you are also constantly experimenting with and learning new techniques and different ways of playing.

My love of music has given me a confidence in myself and in my ability to express myself and my ideas to others, which is always important in a tech career. I also feel that my music career has helped me to improve my skills when it comes to teaching others. Throughout my music career, I have spent time helping and assisting younger students in their music learning. This has helped me to develop my skills as an instructor, which I use today as part of my Teaching Assistant work with my PhD. It is also a dream of mine to become a lecturer in the future, and these skills would be vital if this were to happen.

Many people who try and get into trad music can often find it daunting and believe that it is extremely difficult due to the speed at which musicians play, as well as the intricate skills involved in playing trad instruments. However, this is not the case. My advice would be to join a local music group or even find a local weekly session. The best way to learn trad music is to listen to it being played. You will also find that any trad player you ask will be more than happy to aid you and give you advice. Much like learning a language, immersing yourself in the culture will help you to gain an understanding and knowledge of trad music.

There is always more than tech. I have always felt that many people outside of the tech community are of the stereotype that people in the tech community live and breathe their work 24/7 and have no lives outside of tech. However, as any member of the tech community will tell you, this is not the case. I feel it is very important that people can see that a wide variety of passions and interests exist within the tech community. Working in technology involves much more creativity than the average person realizes, and this creativity often spills over into lots of interesting hobbies and passions.

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