Tuesday, 27th February saw hundreds of secondary school students and teachers arrive at The Fairways Hotel, Dundalk for the Louth Student Enterprise Awards 2024. The energy in the room was simply electric, with students eager to showcase their innovative business ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

Lead judge in the 2024 competition, Claire Cunningham explained “We had a fantastic range of ideas and enterprises on show this year. It genuinely made selecting winners, across all categories, a real challenge. But it is also really inspiring to see so many local young people so excited and passionate about entrepreneurship as a future career opportunity.”

Over 1,200 students from 18 schools across the county participated in this year’s Student Enterprise Programme. A collaboration between Local Enterprise Office Louth and local schools, it is delivered by Fionnuala Rogers and Francis Verling. During the programme, students learn how to create a business idea, then they start and grow their own business. The highpoint is the county final where students get to present their businesses and future potential to a panel of expert judges.

The Senior category was won by Colour Mo Cheantar, with team members Laura MacArtain, Luke Crilly and Luke Duffy. Students of St. Mary’s College, Dundalk, they are supported by their teacher Shane McDonnell. Colour mo Cheantar specialises in creating colouring books for towns and cities around Ireland. The initial colouring book, focused on Dundalk, features 12 original artworks created by the team, along with a short summary of the places’ history.

1. Winner - Senior - St. Marys College - Dundalk

Programme Manager for Local Enterprise Office Louth, Sarah Mallon explains “Our judges were really impressed by this team’s ability to connect local history and heritage into creativity and learning. This product has the potential to be scaled across many other villages, towns and cities across Ireland. They have created a really innovative and special product and we, at LEO Louth, are delighted that Colour Mo Cheantar will represent Louth at the Student Enterprise Finals in May.”

Runner-up in the Senior category was won by Twine Time. This eco-friendly alternative to a normal dish sponge, is made out of twine, which is a sustainable and natural material. The sponge can be worn as a glove and offers a guilt-free cleaning solution with biodegradability and reduced environmental impact. Thanks to the materials it’s made from, the sponge can be washed in a washing machine or dishwasher so, unlike a normal plastic sponge, it doesn’t need to be constantly replaced. Twine Time was created by Shanze Chaudhry, Avery Kulajeva, Amelie Douet and Emmy Carpen of Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, Drogheda, with support from their teacher Susan Tarrant.

2. Runner Up - Senior Category - Our Ladys College - Drogheda

Hailing from Scoil Uí Mhuírí, Dunleer, Mk Keyrings won the Intermediate category. Using a purpose sourced 3D printer, entrepreneur Mark Kelly produces custom 3d key rings. Mark was supported in the Student Enterprise Awards by his teacher Martina Farrell.

3. Winner - Intermediate - Scoil Ui Mhuiri - Dundalk

Runner up in the Intermediate category was awarded to Kate Quinn, Minahil Majeed and Reem Ammar of Bits and Bobs from St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk supported by their teacher Eimear McCreesh. Bits and Bobs produce a range of trendy hand-made products including jewellery made from recycled beads and beauty products including lipgloss.

4. Runner Up - Intermediate - St. Vincents Dundalk

Lego Warriors, the creation of Islagh Hollywood, Ivanna Malone and Abigail Kerin took first place in the Junior category. Hailing from Dundalk Grammar School, they were supported by their teacher Elizabeth McCabe. This enterprising team repurposes old Lego to make unique table centrepieces, birthday party décor, seasonal crafts and childrens’ bedroom decor. The judges were deeply impressed that this team are utilising materials that would otherwise go to landfill, and highlighted the fabulous range of products that they offered.

5. Winner - Junior Category - Dundalk Grammar School

Winner of the runner-up prize in the Junior category was Designs by Ash. Young entrepreneur Ashling Maher designs and manufactures a range of snoods, hand-knitted from alize puffy yarn. A student of Drogheda Grammar School, Ashling was supported by her teacher Alma Carney.

6. Runner Up - Junior - Drogheda Grammar School

Dearbhla McArdle of St. Vincent’s Secondary School in Dundalk was named winner of the My Entrepreneurial Journey Award. Her 500 word essay detailed her new product idea, outlined how to develop that idea and tracked the steps needed to bring it to market. Her concept, a reusable sandwich bag that converts a regular sandwich to a toasted sandwich on the move, really came to life in her writing. Supported by her teacher Eimear McCreesh, Dearbhla’s essay demonstrated a true understanding of enterprise and entrepreneurship.

7. My Entrepreneurial Journey - St. Vincents Dundalk

An intense morning of judging saw the finalists present their business idea and answer tough questions from the judges. The Junior and Intermediate categories were judged by Lavina McGahon and entrepreneur Donal Quinn of Enzo, while Sarah Daly, Garrett Duffy and Claire Cunningham judged the Senior category.

An Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Cllr. Paula Butterly visited the students' stands over the course of the day, asking questions and discovering their business ideas, before presenting prizes to the winners. Each winner received a beautiful award, created by local ceramicist Sarah McKenna of Bridge Street Studios.

Winners of the Senior, Intermediate and Junior categories, along with the winner of the My Entrepreneurial Journey, will go forward to represent Louth in the Student Enterprise Awards national final in Mullingar in May.

Special congratulations also to teacher Deirdre Curran, of O’Fiaich College, Dundalk who received the Enterprise Educators Award. Winning this award is testament to her work and dedication in promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship in the school environment.

8. Special Educator - O Fiaich College - Dundalk

There were also 7 category award winners, recognising the expertise and skills demonstrated by the young entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Award winner was Spórt Na nÓg, with team members Sophie Gordon, Katie English, Aoibhin Finnegan and Mary Kate Mulholland from St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk, supported by their teacher Roisin Mallon.

9. Innovation - St Louis - Dundalk

The Best Social Media & Marketing Award was won by The Candle Company with team members Zoe Durnin, Erin Finnegan and Edie Henry along with their teacher Eimear McCreesh from St. Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk.

10. Social Media _ Marketing - St. Vincents - Dundalk

Just Wood, scooped the Sustainability Award. Their entrepreneurial team are Tadhg Flanagan, Harry Sayers, Tiernan Bruton and Ryan Connolly from Ballymakenny College, Drogheda supported by their teacher Shauna Kellegher.

11. Sustainability - Ballymakenny College - Drogheda

Drogheda Made Inspiration won the Best Creative Business Award. Team members Conor Black,Jack Heffernan and Karl Leonard from St. Mary’s Diocesan School, Drogheda, have been supported by their teacher Ciaran Roe.

12. Best Creative Business - St. Marys Diocesan - Drogheda

The Best Display Award was won by Bó Tag Keyrings. Sinead Fitzpatrick flew the flag for Scoil Uí Mhuírí, Dunleer and was supported by her teacher Martina Farrell.

13. Best Display Award - Scoil Ui Mhuiri - Dunleer

The Best Social Enterprise Award went to The Joes Christmas Cards with team members Alex McHugh, Jamie Rock and Cathal Mulholland, from St. Joseph's Secondary School, Drogheda,supported by their teacher Brian Lynch. Raising €6,000 for local charities, the judges were really impressed by the impact of their social enterprise.

14. Social Enterprise Award - St. Josephs - Drogheda

Cormac Broe and Cillian Forrester won the Best Service Business Award with their enterprise, Chores Outdoors. Supported by their teacher Martin O’Connor, they are pupils at De La Salle College, Dundalk.

15. Best Service Business - De La Salle - Dundalk

Sarah Mallon of Local Enterprise Office Louth concludes, “We wish our 4 finalists the very best of luck as they represent Louth at the national finals in May. Follow the competition using #StudentEnterprise on social media and discover more by visiting www.StudentEnterprise.ie. And remember, no matter what age or what stage of business you are at, your Local Enterprise Office is always here to support you. You can find out more about our supports and services by visiting www.localenterprise.ie/Louth”.