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National Winners with Fiona Deegan

National Student Enterprise Programme Winners pictured with Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office in Kilkenny County Council.

pictured left to right: National Runner Up My Entrepreneurial Journey Saoirse Walsh, Grennan College; Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office; Liam & Adam Doyle, Coláiste Éamann Rís, Callan, 3rd Place in Intermediate Category, Overall Junior Category Winner Ciara Ryan, St Brigid’s College, Callan and Overall Winner, My Entrepreneurial Journey Ned O’Meara, Coláiste Éamann Rís, Callan

Students from County Kilkenny had a very successful day at this year’s Student Enterprise Programme National Finals, with winners in Junior and Intermediate Categories and also in My Entrepreneurial Journey Competitions. The Finals of the Local Enterprise Office initiative were held physically for the first time in three years at the Helix in Dublin on Wednesday 18th May with An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and host RTE’s Rick O’Shea, with students and teachers in attendance from all over the country.

At the Plenary Meeting of Kilkenny County Council on Monday 23rd May, the winning students along with their teachers and family members were formally congratulated by the Cathaoirleach, Cllr Fidelis Doherty. Ciara Ryan from St. Brigid’s College, Callan received the overall award in the Junior category from An Tanaiste Leo Varadkar. Her enterprise business “Sew Stylish” creates uniquely designed multifunctional hair scrunchies with a discrete zip pocket that can be used to store money, lip gloss or keys, but can also still be used to tie your hair up. Ciara was supported throughout the programme by her teacher Ms. Lorna Cody, family members and Rosie Dunne, the SEP Co-ordinator in Kilkenny. In the Intermediate category, twin brothers Adam and Liam Doyle, from Coláiste Éamann Rís, Callan with their painting service business “Twin Painters Ltd “ won third prize overall along with the “Best Poster Award” with the support of their teachers Ms. Emer Hickey and Ms. Joanne Biddy.

There were 15 student enterprises shortlisted for the Final in what is Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students. The initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw 24,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part. The National Final students, who competed across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior, saw judging take place virtually via electronic submissions. Each student enterprise was challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product. The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.

Ned O’Meara, from Coláiste Éamann Rís, Callan received the overall national winner in the Intermediate category of “My Entrepreneurial Journey” and travelled to Dublin last week to accept his award from the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar. This competition requires students to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and how that could be achieved. Ned impressed the judges with his poster and his account of developing an eco-sportswear business which incorporates renewable energy sources and sustainable materials. Also, congratulations to Saoirse Walsh who was runner-up in the Junior Category of “My Entrepreneurial Journey Competition”. Saoirse interviewed local photographer Patrick McDonald as part of her entry and outlined how she developed Saoirse’, a chain of cafés throughout Ireland.

An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, who attended the Awards ceremony last week, congratulated the students; “Congratulations, of course, to all the winners and finalists here today, but also to everyone who took part. To be able to create an idea, turn that idea into a business and to grow that business, is a remarkable skill that will stand to you no matter what you end up doing in your career later in life. In Ireland we have always shown great fortitude, determination and grit in times of difficulty and if these students are anything to go by, we have not lost that ability - in fact, I’m more positive than ever about the future and the next generation. Special mention to the teachers and parents who helped the students along the way, we will all benefit from your efforts. Please know that for anyone who wants to keep their idea going or has an idea for a business in the future, Government will back you every step of the way.”

At the Kilkenny County Council Plenary Meeting, Cathaoirleach, Cllr Fidelis Doherty formally congratulated the students and said “The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving here in Kilkenny amongst our students with all Kilkenny finalists receiving awards at the National final which is a tremendous achievement”. She added “The Student Enterprise Programme is committed to fostering an enterprise culture among students here in Kilkenny and we are delighted with the successful results”.

Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny said; “Year on year the Student Enterprise Programme continues to showcase the very best of Irish ingenuity and entrepreneurship amongst our secondary school students. This year produced a varied selection of businesses, from agricultural products and homemade gifts to products that were built on our unique ability to tell compelling stories. We see every year that the National Finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a stepping stone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey”.

The Student Enterprise Awards programme is committed to supporting student micro-enterprises in developing their ideas, creating new concepts and growing their businesses. For over 12 years, the network of County and City Enterprise Boards has fostered an enterprise culture among students in Ireland