Conor hosts Climate Hack for Cork students

Connor McGookin, MaREI Conor will be running a Climate Hack event for secondary schools as part of the Cork Science Festival which is running this week. For more details 
Conor hosts Climate Hack for Cork students

Connor McGookin, UCC. Picture: Tomas Tyner, UCC.

TELL us about yourself; 

Graduating from UCC with an honours degree in Energy Engineering, I felt the most effective means for me to utilise my abilities would be through continued study as a PhD candidate. In doing so, I hope to better understand the nature of the transitions required, in the energy sphere, and in particular how technology and the energy sector interact with society.

The core focus of my research has been to explore the ways in which we engage with the planning of our energy system, and approaches for encouraging greater levels of dialogue in order to understand the tensions and barriers slowing our rate of progress. This has led me to a collaboration with a number of stakeholders from the Dingle peninsula, to explore, support and enable the broader societal changes required for the low carbon transition. For further details please see our project site - I am also an active member of the Imagining2050 and CREDENCE projects.

Where were you born? 

Dungannon, Co. Tyrone 

Where do you live? 

Since March I’ve been living in Vienna, but prior to COVID-19, I spent the last eight years primarily living in Cork City, with weekend visits to my family home, which is just outside Waterford City in the sunny South East.


I’m from a relatively large family of six, with a brother almost exactly 18 months younger than me and then two younger sisters.

Earliest childhood memory?

For my fourth Birthday, I got this massive cake shaped like Barney the Dinosaur, the thing hardly even fit in our fridge.

Person you most admire?

 A little cliché perhaps and with apologies to my dad and his father, I think it’d have to be my other Granda (Mother’s father). That guy really nailed it, he’s 86 years old with remarkable health, still does a bit of pottering around the farm and gardening, has this fantastic friendly attitude to life, beautiful home, 18 grandchildren, all of life’s essentials. If I’m as healthy and happy as him when I’m that age, I’ll die with a smile on my face.

Person who most irritates you? 

If we are talking my all-time least favourite person, then it would be my English teacher from the year I repeated my Leaving Cert. However, more recently, Donald Trump has quite proudly held that spot.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why? 

Pearse Doherty, I don’t agree with everything Sinn Féin say and do, but I like Pearse. He is very strong whenever I see him speak in the Dáil or at committees.One of the few Irish politicians I’d place any faith in. And it’d be nice to have a Finance Minister that might put people before industry lobbyists and their friends.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

 In 2018, I spent three weeks travelling around Japan. It was a great experience. One of my personal highlights was the toilet in an AirBnB that had a sink over the cistern so the water from washing your hands was then used for flushing, genius!

Favourite TV programme?

Peep Show.

Favourite radio show?

Very rarely listen to radio but my favourite weekly podcast is the Bugle.

Your signature dish if cooking?

My family and friends would know me as a baker not a cook, most standout would be my courgette and poppy seed sponge with a lemon or lime drizzle.

Favourite restaurant?

In Cork, it has to be Yuan Ming Yuan, with the crispy shredded chicken. That has been the highlight of my many of my hangovers.

Last book you read?

Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell.

Best book you read?

Tough one, probably have to say Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman. Its one of the most memorable ones, sparked my interest in psychology, which was very nearly my choice of degree.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Last Christmas I bought my uncle ‘Tash Sultana, Flow State’, does that count? Otherwise I cant remember, I just use Spotify or YouTube.

Favourite song?

Currently, ‘"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) from Talking Heads’, there’s a great cover by the Swedish pop act Gloria.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Talking Heads, but not like now, I want the 1970/80s version with the whacky dancing.

*Do you have a pet?

No, I had cat when growing up but at the moment I move around too much, think it would be irresponsible to get one.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person on weekdays, night owl at the weekend, not a fantastic combo come Sunday night / Monday morning.

Your proudest moment?

For now, graduating top of my class from the Energy Engineering degree in UCC. I had a bumpy start to my college education, somewhat of a quarter-life crisis because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, repeated both my Leaving Cert and the first year of college. However, once I found the energy engineering programme I excelled, life is a lot easier when you figure out what you’re passionate about.

Spendthrift or saver?

Definitely, saver, PhD students aren’t exactly the best paid but I’ve still managed to save a bit over the last few years. Though I’m not without the occasional reckless spending moments, some sort of hereditary problem inherited from my dad.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live? 

The insulation in the walls of homes and buildings, it’s the single most effective way to reduce heat loss, increase comfort and save on energy/CO2 emissions.

What makes you happy?

Many things, I am a very privileged man. I have a loving girlfriend, great friends/family, and the ability to enjoy lots of life’s luxuries; spending time outdoors, Guinness/beer, pizza, watching rugby, reading, playing computer games, the list goes on.

How would you like to be remembered?

For making some sort of positive contribution in our efforts to slow climate change and shape a better society, as well as the beautiful house I will one day leave behind.

What else are you up to at the moment?

My two newest hobbies are Taekwondo and whittling. My girlfriend and I started Taekwondo training last month in an effort to shave off the lockdown weight gains, and I’ve started practicing whittling snowman / Santa’s for some homemade Christmas presents.

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