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2013/14 National Secondary School Essay Competition Award Ceremony

Overall winner: Niamh O'Connell, Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry From left to right: Prof. Sarah Moore (UL Associate Vice President Academic), Noreen O’Connell, Niamh O’Connell, Prof. Don Barry (UL President), John O’Connell and Noreen O’Connell

Leinster winner: Cormac Byrne, FCJ Secondary School, Bunclody, Co. WexforLeinster winner: Cormac Byrne, FCJ Secondary School, Bunclody, Co. Wexford From left to right: Prof. Sarah Moore (UL Associate Vice President Academic), Theresa Byrne, Cormac Byrne, Prof. Don Barry (UL President), Peter Byrne and Emma Kirwan (Cormac’s teacher)

Ulster winner: Mark McDonnell, St. Macartan's College, Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan From left to right: Prof. Sarah Moore (UL Associate Vice President Academic), Noreen McDonnell, Mark McDonnell, Prof. Don Barry (UL President) and Dermot McAree (Mark’s teacher).

 

Over 200 secondary school students from all over Ireland took part in the inaugural National Essay-writing competition sponsored by the Regional Writing Centre, University of Limerick. Students from Transition year, 5th year and 6th year were invited to take a decisive stand on the following statement from Paul Row, the Chief Executive of Educate Together and respond to it: “The Leaving Cert… perpetuates a system of learning that poorly prepares students for either the realities of third-level education or modern life in general”.

The Regional Writing Centre, under the auspices of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at UL, supports both undergraduate and postgraduate student writers and collaborates with faculty to develop their own writing and to expand writing-based curriculum innovations.  Established in 2007, Ireland’s first academic writing centre was inaugurated to ensure that writing skills are supported and promoted in a number of ways. The resource is dedicated to helping all students develop strategies to become better and more confident writers.

The overall national winner of the competition was Niamh O'Connell, Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry with provincial winners: Cormac Byrne, FCJ Secondary School, Bunclody, Co. Wexford (Leinster), Mark McDonnell, St. Macartan's College, Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan (Ulster) and Niall McGovern, Rice College, Castlebar Road, Westport, Co. Mayo (Connacht).

UL President, Professor Don Barry presented awards to the winners of the competition which was developed to highlight UL’s commitment to supporting the educational advancement of prospective students and promote the development of good writers.

The winning authors illustrated a strong proficiency in writing. Indeed, their essays stood out from the 200 plus entries that were received from across Ireland. Their essays reflected the ability to develop a strong argument, to be clear and coherent, to achieve accuracy in language and form, and perhaps most importantly, the winning essays illustrated a capacity for critical reflection and creative thinking. Such capacity is highly commendable given that the development of creativity is not without its challenges, particularly in the current culture of points-oriented education. The ability to both think and communicate critically and creatively will serve this generation well both in the workplace and beyond where advancement is inexorably linked with imagination, creativity and innovation and the ability to communicate it to others.

The UL President reiterated the university’s commitment to and support for the work of the Regional Writing Centre and the Centre for Teaching and Learning in their endeavours to facilitate an engaging, meaningful, high-quality learning experience for UL’s students. He expressed pride over the pioneering role that the Centre has played in this regard. Ireland’s first academic writing centre, said Professor Barry, is paving the way to ensuring that writing skills are supported and promoted in a range of important ways.

The four winners were delighted to have won, as were those who accompanied them from their homes and schools. Overall winner Niamh O'Connell took home a new Apple iPad. The provincial winners, Cormac Byrne, Mark McDonnell and Niall McGovern received a €200 voucher.