National success and recognition for 7 Mayo students in Croke Park

Ireland’s largest celebration of secondary school entrepreneurs took place in Croke Park at the Student Enterprise National Final last week (May 2nd), co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Offices.

Mayo Success

Students from both St. Mary’s Secondary School, in Ballina, and Our Lady’s Secondary School, in Belmullet, have taken home awards at the Student Enterprise Programme National Finals in Croke Park last week, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) for secondary schools. 

The students from the two schools have received the Intellectual Property Award in the Intermediate and Senior category respectively, and were presented with their awards on stage by the Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D. and Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices.

St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina


The winning students at the Senior level were: Eiméar Winters, aged 16. Maelíosa O'Hara, aged 16, Erin Gannon, aged 16, Mary Gilvarry, aged 17, Holly Kenny, aged 16, and Nicola Lowther, aged 16 from St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina who worked under the guidance of their teachers, Mark Barrett and Claire Kelly. The student enterprise team ‘Back 2 Basics’ developed grammar books for students in Irish, French and German, a study aid for all levels of education.

Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet


The winning student in the Intermediate category was Catriona Batty, from Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet who worked with the support of her teachers, Colm Doyle and Lisa Connolly. Her student enterprise company was called: ‘Comfy Hands Healthcare’ and she created a padded fabric cover with a Velcro fastening system. The aim of the product is to bring comfort and support to the hands of anyone who needs to use mobility aids, whether it be through disability, chronic illness or temporarily after an accident.

Representing the county in the Junior Category on the day was: Aine Dixon, Alannah Concannon, Katelynn Cosgrove, Leah Gaughan from Our Lady’s, Belmullet. The student enterprise was called: Life Charms, unfortunately the team did not receive an award, but they did receive a lot of recognition and encouragement for their concept, from the judges. The team created Life Charms that could be used as an emotional aid; that would help young people to express their feelings and promote positive mental health.

All teams received a great deal of support and advice from their mentor Peter Hopkins; who worked tirelessly to help the teams and encourage them to attain the best result they could from the Student Enterprise Programme.

Nationwide Success

The programme, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the LEOs, had a total of 230 teenage entrepreneurs, aged between 13 and 18, from 77 different enterprises, competing at last week’s National Final, with every local authority area represented.

This year’s Student Enterprise Programme attracted 23,600 student participants from 480 secondary schools around the country. Starting every September, the enterprise education initiative gives students the skills and practical knowledge to run a real-life business.

Congratulating this year’s winners and their schools, Minister Breen said: “Whether it’s generating business ideas, developing markets or selling to customers, students taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme throughout Ireland have consistently shown a passion and flair for business and enterprise. Entrepreneurship is the backbone of the Irish economy and initiatives such as the Student Enterprise Programme are key to developing Ireland’s future enterprising culture. I’d like to congratulate this year’s winning students and schools. I hope their success will inspire more schools to sign-up for the next programme in September through their Local Enterprise Office.”

John Magee with Local Enterprise Office Mayo said: “Congratulations to the students of Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet and St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina on winning this prestigious national award in Croke Park this week, which recognises all their hard work. We have seen over 150,000 students learn how to successfully run a business in the 16 years of the Student Enterprise Programme, thanks to a long-term partnership between local schools and Local Enterprise Offices. Judging by this year’s finalists and winners, the future is bright for entrepreneurs here in Mayo.”
The three main category winners on the day were: ‘Abbey Bread’ from Cistercian College Roscrea, representing Local Enterprise Office Offaly (Senior Category Winner), ‘Lift Arm Assist’ from CBS Kilkenny, representing Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny (Intermediate Category Winner), and ‘Complete Camán’ from Presentation Secondary School Castleisland, representing Local Enterprise Office Kerry (Junior Category Winner).
Abbey Bread, set-up by Manus Heenan, is a wholemeal bread mix inspired by a 100-year-old recipe from the monks of Mount St Joseph Abbey in Roscrea; Lift Arm Assist, developed by three teenage boys from Kilkenny, is a hydraulic arm that replaces the lift arm stabiliser on the back of a tractor; while the Complete Camán, developed by five teenage girls from Kerry, is an all-in-one training hurley.

In the Senior Category, for students from Transition Year to Leaving Certificate, the runner-up prize went to ‘The Roofing Safety Bar’ from St. Patrick’s Classical School Navan in Meath, and third place went to ‘Free Flow Bunkers’ from St. Macartan’s College in Monaghan.
Meanwhile in the Intermediate Category, which is for Second Year and Third Year students, ‘Inishowen Pens’ from Scoil Mhuire Buncrana in Donegal took the runner-up prize, and third place went to ‘U Shield’ from Coláiste Dún Iascaig Cahir in Tipperary.

For First Year students in the Junior Category, the runner-up award went to ‘Gnó-Jó’ from Coláiste Naomh Kilcormac in Offaly, with ‘Slimey Wonders’ from Dominican College Muckross Park in Dublin City taking third place.
Previous winner, Luke Byrne of ‘Headphone Helpers,’ spoke during the ceremony about how the programme has boosted his business skills both inside and outside the classroom.

Awards were presented for intellectual property awareness by the Irish Patents Office, and for social media by Essential French. 20 students in the Senior Category also win a place at the residential ‘Winners’ Business Bootcamp’ over the summer to help them further develop their business skills.

Further details about the next Student Enterprise Programme, which begins in September, are available through