Engineering student Aisling Boyhan follows in her great-granddad’s footsteps

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Aisling Boyhan outside DIT Bolton Street

14 October 2013: A mechanical engineering student who has just started at DIT has discovered she is following in her great-granddad’s footsteps.

Just at the time that Aisling Boyhan was offered her place at DIT, she found out that her great-granddad taught sheet metal work at what was then the CDVEC City of Dublin Technical School in Bolton Street and later became DIT Bolton Street.

Aisling’s great-granddad on her mother’s side is Joseph Hedderman, who was originally from Whitehall in Dublin. He was born in 1913 and it’s thought he taught in Bolton Street in the late 1930s.

There aren’t any work records in existence from this time but Aisling’s great aunt remembers her father teaching at Bolton Street and says he also studied there as a young man.

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Aisling in one of the sheet metal work rooms at DIT Linen Hall. She’s holding a picture of her great-grandparents

Aisling’s granny Kathleen, who passed away in February this year, always spoke highly of Bolton Street and knew that her granddaughter had applied to study there through the CAO. But it was only when Aisling was offered her place in August that the family connection came out.

“Granny used to tell me that her dad did sheet metal work but I didn’t know back then that he had taught at Bolton Street,” says Aisling. “A lot of people in my family have been involved in carpentry and engineering type work so I suppose it’s in the genes that I would go on to study mechanical engineering!”

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A prospectus for the City of Dublin Technical Schools (including Bolton Street) from 1936-37. This is roughly the time that Joseph taught there

Joseph married a woman called Kathleen and had his family young. As well as his interest in sheet metal work, he was well known for his love of Shakespeare and English literature in general. Joseph’s surname Hedderman is of German origin – his father moved from Germany and married an Irish woman.

Joseph passed away in 1977 from cancer – many years before Aisling was born. However, she is now attending classes in the same buildings (and presumably the same rooms) as Joseph taught, including the sheet metal work rooms in Linen Hall.

Aisling is very proud of her family heritage at DIT and is enjoying her course here.

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A photo of Joseph Hedderman with his wife Kathleen

“I really love the course and I’m very glad that I picked mechanical engineering,” she says. “I’m studying for the Level 7 degree but plan to go on to the Level 8 degree, which will mean I’ll be at DIT for five years.”

Commuting from Co Wexford every day means early starts for Aisling but she is hoping to find more time to get involved in societies in the future, including WAVES, which provides a social network for female engineering students within DIT. Aisling is one of three female students in her class of 75.

She is planning to go back to her secondary school at some stage to talk about her experience at DIT and encourage female students to consider studying engineering at third level. And she’s planning a trip to the UK in November with her mum Sandra, where they hope to find out more about Joseph from relatives living there.

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