The Minister for Justice, the owner of Supermacs, the local Garda Síochána Chief Superintendent and a former Rose of Tralee were all on hand to pay tribute to the winners of the first Laois-Offaly Garda Youth Awards in the Killeshin Hotel on Friday night.
The event was sponsored by Supermacs and saw 15 award winners from across Laois and Offaly honoured for their outstanding contribution to society.
Eight of the 19 winners were from Laois – and these also contained was a group from Scoil Chríost Rí and two from St Fergal’s Rathdowney.
All of the winners were joined by family members, friends and supporters.
The Laois winners were:
Ryan Fogarty (Portlaoise College)
Nominated by Melissa O’Neill, Ryan has shone as a natural leader at the Porlaoise Family Resource Centre Youth Club over the past months. Ryan was involved in exchanges to Northern Ireland and Scotland as well as educating young people on the impact of Brexit. He also gave a number of speeches in parliament buildings at Stormont.
Margaret Doheny (Mountrath CS)
Margaret was nominated by Catherine Donlon for her positivity, good humour and cheerfulness at Mountrath Community School. Her classmates nominated her as Prefect in 6th year to lead the student body. As a member of the travelling community, Margaret is very proud to be studying Hospitality in WIT.
Ruth Bergin (Heywood CS)
Ruth was nominated by her teacher, Peter Malone, for her excellent leadership skills as Prefect. She has organised student teacher soccer matches which raised money for charity. Ruth was also instrumental with the integration of refugee students into Heywood. She is a great help to a fellow student who is dealing with anxiety.
Scoil Chriost Ri Library Committee
This library committee were nominated by Victoria Ryan for their commitment to the school. They often give up their free time to manage the school library. They have organised story writing competitions, poetry competitions and story readings. They also provide younger students with study skills.
Jonathan and Reuben Murray (Mountrath CS)
Jonathan and Rueben were nominated by their teacher Denis Boland. The identical twins are influental role in Comhairle na nOg. They have created the ‘Life In Your Pocket’ app which teaches young people about life outside of school. The boys started a petition to keep Mountrath Youth Café open which was highlighted in an RTÉ documentary and sent to Laois County Council. They are also part of the student council and school film club.
Orla Heffernan and Kate Herke (St Fergal’s, Rathdowney)
Nominated by Noleen Lynam, Orla and Kate travelled to Lourdes in 2018. They both fundraised to pay for their fares. Each girl took the responsibility of escorting a pilgrim to all events. They showed great humanity and kindness.
Laicey Gorman (Portlaoise College)
Laicey was nominated by her former teacher Noel Daly. She has been an active volunteer at the Portlaoise Family Resource Centre for ten years. She also works at a Peer education group where she helps young people. As part of this she starred in a short film created by Irish Cancer Society.
Lauren Lawlor (Mountmellick CS)
Lauren was nominated by her teacher Helen Shortall. During her early years at secondary school Lauren dealt with a challenging home life as her mother’s health deteriorated. In third year she tragically lost her mother to suicide. While grieving Lauren bravely did Transition without her friends where she embraced all new challenges. She is now planning a career in Social Studies which will be very suited to her.
Jack O’Neill (Colaiste Iosagain, Portarlington)
Jack has been a member of the Green Schools Committee for the last four years. He became a climate change ambassador last year. He has spoken at various conferences throughout Ireland. He has given a presentation on ‘Biodiversity’ to over 1000 students and staff. He has helped build a Bug Hotel and Hedgehog Hut in the school.