UL former students

Cranberries-loving Erasmus students return to UL after 20 years

By Mariana Reis

Posted: 10 May, 2018

Prompted by the recent passing of Dolores O’Riordan, five former Erasmus students at UL returned to Limerick last week to mark the 20th anniversary of their time on campus and to meet some of the University’s current batch of visiting international students.

Francisco Ayllón Toro, Ricardo Cartagena Ballesta, Juan Luis Robles Gómez, Sergio Gómez Vela and Pedro Catalán Guerola did not know one another prior to their 1998 arrival in Limerick from five separate corners of Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Granada, León and Madrid). However, they quickly bonded over their love of Limerick and its most famous musical export, the Cranberries.

After their semester in UL, the five young men returned to their homes in Spain, graduated, began their careers, got married and started families. Throughout those various chapters in life, however, they maintained the close bonds that were established back in Ireland.

“It was the beginning of a friendship that kept us together for 20 years. We met from time to time in Spain or even abroad. We have been at each other’s weddings, we have celebrated the birth of our children,” wrote Pedro in a letter to the International Education Division in UL earlier in April.


On January 15th last, the five former UL students were using their shared Whatsapp group to recall their love of the Cranberries, following the death of Dolores O’Riordan. Over the course of a day spent sharing old memories, the friends realised that 2018 was the 20-year anniversary of their time in UL.


“We took that as a sign,” Pedro continued in his letter. “Two days later, all of us had our flights booked, one of us arranged the accommodation, another rented a car, and the trip was organised! Coming back to Limerick, to the campus, the Stables, the library, and the places where we lived will make for a very emotional trip. We are sure that, the same as what happened when we left Limerick in the last century, all of us will shed some tears when we are back again.”

Francisco, Ricardo, Jan, Sergio and Pedro met with some of UL’s current Erasmus students on Monday, April 30th, and compared their experiences. They went on a tour of the campus to learn about the many changes that have been made in the last 20 years.