'AN A1 is beyond my wildest dreams!'
For Denis North, who was born in the momentously historic year that was 1945, getting the chance to sit down and complete his Leaving Cert History paper was something he was looking forward to all year.
Having achieved an honours result in pass Maths last year, he was hoping to better that mark in his History exam and having worked has all year, despite recovering from a serious illness, he managed to do just that.
The New Ross man is aiming to complete several Leaving Cert subjects, one subject at a time over the coming years, having dropped out of school at a young age due to the break up of his parents' relationship.
'I had no trouble with the history as I lived through most of it. I'm hoping to qualify for playschool next,' he joked.
Next year he will sit the English exam and he plans to complete the Geography paper the following year.
Denis, 71, picked up his results at New Ross Vocational College on Wednesday, along with 30 other students. What makes his story all the more remarkable is that he is only receiving from an operation following an aneurysm.
'I sat the Inter Cert in 1960 and I left school the following year. I always regretted that I didn't complete my schooling. Life got in the way. I spent most of my life working in sales and then with a tyre company as a financial rep.'
He retired aged 63 after his section was closed and immediately started doing courses in computers. This led him to do a VEC course at New Ross Vocational College where Jim O'Connor encouraged him to go back and do his Leaving Cert.
'I did History because it's a subject close to my heart. Now I'm hungry for more and I will continue with my studies if my health allows me. I may have to have an operation in September.'
Denis studied at the school each day and is popular among the students.
'I like to study and to me it's no big deal as it passes the time and it keeps me busy. I wasn't expecting this result. I was hoping for a C or a B if I was lucky and the paper was marked easily, so I'm over the moon.'
Principal Sue Barrett described Denis as an inspiration to the students.
'We are all delighted for him. It's wonderful to see him do so extremely well. He gave his all to the subject. He wants to continue his education and isn't that wonderful. He is to be admired and it is a wonderful example to see a man aged 71 who wants to be in a classroom and who wants to study and learn when he doesn't have to.'