FRAN O'Neill dropped out of school over 25 years ago before sitting his Inter Cert, the forerunner to today's Junior Cert.
He was only 15, but in those days there was plenty of work available.
But after the economic crash, he found himself unemployed and realised that with his skills "I was going to be sitting at home; there was no prospect of getting a decent, paid job".
By now Fran (42) and his wife and four children were living in Co Cavan, having moved from Dublin to Ballyjamesduff about nine years ago.
With a little encouragement, Fran got thinking about building up his literacy skills and, after an online search, came across the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) writeon.ie website.
Fran said he "didn't know where to start" and so embarked on a level two programme, which he quickly completed before moving on to the level three.
"I loved it," said Fran, adding that while he had no problem with the reading and writing, maths was a sticking point.
Enthused by his return to education, he contacted Cavan VEC and sat the Junior Cert.
At that stage, Fran's longer term goal was to do the Leaving Cert, but he has already surpassed his own expectations.
After a further year at Cavan VEC, last month, Fran started on a one-year, pre-university liberal arts programme in Plunket College, Whitehall, Dublin, leaving home every morning at 6.30am to travel to the capital.
Although he finds the step up in study level a challenge, Fran describes the experience as "incredible". He realised, he said, that "it's all about believing in yourself".
He now hopes to enter Trinity College Dublin next year to study psychology, through the university's TAP access programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds..