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Keith Neary

BA in Hotel, Restaurant & Resort Management, 2014 

Sometimes in life you need a change of direction. It might be a small detour or a total about turn, but enabling people to expand their horizons, at any age, is an LYIT speciality. Keith Neary, for instance, had run his own bar in Donegal for twelve years when he decided to explore new possibilities, enlisting in LYIT’s School of Tourism for a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Resort Management.

KeithToday, just a year after graduating, Keith is managing a staff of 28 (in the high season) at the Bayview Bar and Restaurant in Dungloe, one of Donegal’s most popular restaurants. Keith was based at the School of Tourism in Killybegs for the four-year course. Despite the long absence from academic study since his Leaving Certificate, he says he felt immediately at home in the small but welcoming campus.

“You’re made to feel part of the family,” Keith says. “I’ve made great friends there. Everyone knows each other and the social side is great too. But what stands out is the encouragement you get from the lecturers. You’re with them every day and they’re always on hand to talk to you.”

The degree was very comprehensive and involved both practical and academic classes. In the first two years Keith took bar and restaurant supervision modules and really enjoyed the intensive culinary work in the kitchens, which has given him an important insight as he deals with his own chefs now. As well as state-of-the-art kitchens and a bar, the campus has a working restaurant. In the Millennium Room students not only cook but prepare menus and serve. “It’s open to the public for lunch and is really well supported by the local community,”

Keith says. “Everyone gets to lead a team through service and set up for a meal. Having run my own bar for twelve years I was still able to learn a lot about bar work too, especially in areas like mixology.”

In the third year Keith was able to spend five invaluable months on work placement, assisting at the Central Hotel in Donegal Town, where he learned from one of the county’s most respected managers. Keith also enjoyed the tourism-based modules, learning about subjects such as destination marketing, digital marketing and the impact of tourism on local economies in Ireland and abroad. For his final honours year he specialised in human resources.
With its reputation as one of Ireland’s leading tourism and hospitality colleges, Keith
says that employability is one of the main attractions of the courses at Killybegs. “I myself am managing three other graduates from the campus, as well as someone who has done the bar and restaurant supervision modules there. It’s a great route to a job in the hospitality industry.”