Mother-of-one enjoys the whole experience of First Dates show

By Aimee Walsh

An Cosán graduate and employee Avril Hannifin appeared on the first episode of RTÉ’s ‘First Dates Ireland’ season six.

Mother-of-one Avril, 35, from Clondalkin, was paired up with 35-year-old Shane from Meath for the televised first date. It was revealed on the show that Shane had spent the last 14 years putting his life back together after a significant head trauma.

FD S6 Avril Shane 1

Avril and Shane appeared on First Dates

Speaking about her experience on the show, Avril told The Echo: “The whole experience was brilliant. It was this time last year I applied, it was one of my goals.

“I was volunteering in a spirituality course in An Cosán and we did a wheel of life situation where you see what you want to do and there was a zero in my romance. It didn’t really bother me before, but I thought actually I could make time for someone else.

“I was delighted with it, because you don’t know what way you’re going to turn out. It was filmed a good few months ago, so you don’t really remember.”

Avril currently works in ICT support and Moderation in An Cosán, also helping to train staff in IT.

An Cosán is an organisation based in Jobstown, Tallaght, which offers adult education and other services to women from disadvantaged areas and is Ireland’s largest community education organisation.

Avril attended St Brigid’s Girls National School in Clondalkin and gave birth to her first child aged 19.

After the birth of her daughter, Avril said she found herself isolated and lacking in confidence. Determined to continue her education, Avril said she turned to An Cosán.

“I registered for a degree in Community Development and Leadership with An Cosán. An Cosán benefited my life a lot because it is flexible. They worked around my schedule because I was working as well at the time.

“As a parent, I didn’t have free time so the fact that it was part-time, flexible and one day a week was great and we had lots of support as well like peer support and mentors.

“As well as that, you could pay in instalments. After being a student there I volunteered and worked my way up.”

With the help and support from An Cosán, Avril went from strength to strength in her career, being accepted for an internship with the Social Enterprise Development Company in Ballyfermot, and then shortly after joined the Clondalkin Travellers Development Group as an administrator.

Avril volunteered in the Young Women in Technology course in An Cosán and became interested in technology, she then went on to undertake a paid apprenticeship in Goodbody Stockbrokers as an IT Support Engineer.

“I know I work there [An Cosán] now, but I am actually giving my true story. It was just very supportive -they understood the issues faced by people like me in the community.

“If I had gone to Trinity, I know people are lovely, but I don’t think I would have fitted in as well because people wouldn’t have understood my situation.”

Avril says although we are going through trying times with the pandemic and lockdown, An Cosán continue to show their support.

“We are trying our best  throughout these hard circumstances with the online learning.

“I need to thank my colleagues, friends and students at An Cosán for all the support now and throughout the years. I’m delighted to be with such an amazing team, and that’s from my heart.

“I want to tell people to never give up on your dreams. Things may seem impossible, especially now but we all need a bit of hope.” Avril added.

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