Countdown to Croke Park begins for Mayo’s Most Enterprising Students

Local Enterprise Office Mayo confirms that winning teenage entrepreneurs from Ballina & Crossmolina will represent county at National Final of Student Enterprise Programme

Eight teenage entrepreneurs from three local schools have won a place representing Mayo at the Student Enterprise Programme National Finals in Croke Park on Friday, May 3rd.

Every September through Local Enterprise Office Mayo, entrepreneurial secondary school students begin their business journey as they are encouraged to research, set-up and run their own real-world businesses.

The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities, is the most successful student enterprise programme of its kind in the country. An estimated 26,000 students from 490 schools around the country begin their entrepreneurial journey every year with the help of their teachers, student enterprise co-ordinators and the Local Enterprise Office.

The students were all competing at the Mayo Final on the 21st of March, which was held at the Sports Arena of Breaffy House Hotel, Castlebar. An estimated 1,200 students from 20 secondary schools took part in the annual programme locally, with 50 student enterprise teams making it to the county final on the 21st where the winning teams in the junior, intermediate and senior category were decided.

In the Junior Category, the student representing Mayo at the National Finals in Croke Park is Máirtín Maloney from St. Tiernan’s College, Crossmolina. His business, the Nephin Turf Company creates souvenirs and gift products crafted from turf.

In the Intermediate Category, Anne Murphy and Áine Killeen from Jesus & Mary Secondary School, Gortnor Abbey, Crossmolina will be representing the county in Croke Park. Their business created a fireproof pouch for storing electrical devices when charging for long periods of time.

In the Senior Category of the competition, Mayo will be represented on May 3rd by Laura Fox, Jennifer Burke, Eilidh Mac Phee, Mitchella Lacuesta & Ciara Sweeney from Worry Bear Co. at St. Mary’s Convent, Ballina. Worry Bear Co. sells cuddly bears with a dedicated pocket, where a child can place a “worry note” in the bear’s pocket before going to sleep, the aim of the product being to help minimise anxiety and worry amongst young children.

A new award was introduced to the competition this year, Mayo’s Most Enterprising School, which was presented to St. Mary’s Convent, Ballina for all their work in developing an enterprising culture within their school. The award was presented to Grace Downes, the teacher responsible for guiding and educating the senior category winners, Worry Bear Co. throughout the whole Student Enterprise Programme this year.

Grace DownesFrom left to right – John Magee, Head of Enterprise; Maria Murphy & Grace Downes, Most Enterprising School Award, St. Mary’s Convent, Ballina; Catherine McConnell, Director of Services


Special guests at the Mayo Final included Catherine McConnell, Director of Services for Planning, Economic & Community Development in Mayo County Council. Catherine praised the entrepreneurial spirit of all the finalists on the day and commended the effort and work put in to creating such innovative businesses over the duration of the competition, which commenced in September 2018.

The County has a successful track record in the student enterprise competition. Recent awards won by local secondary schools have included St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina and Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet in 2018, as well as St. Gerald’s College, Castlebar, St. Joseph’s Community College, Charlestown and St. Tiernan’s College, Crossmolina in 2017.

Speaking at the county final, John Magee, Head of Enterprise of Local Enterprise Office Mayo congratulated the students, saying “We have a very successful student enterprise programme here in Mayo, with over 1,200 students from 20 local schools taking part this year. Our national finalists are excellent ambassadors for the programme and we wish them the very best of luck in Croke Park on May 3rd.”

He continued: “What our students are learning from the programme is that with the right supports and encouragement, they can take an idea from the classroom and develop it into a real-life business. The skills they learn along the way, such as business planning, market research, selling and team-work, will help them become more entrepreneurial throughout their future careers”.

The local students will be competing against hundreds of other student entrepreneurs from all over Ireland in Croke Park at the Annual Student Enterprise Programme National Finals on May 3rd

Further information around the Student Enterprise Programme is available from and by searching #studententerprise on social media.