25 May 2022

Pictures: Kilkenny's top young minds honoured at Student Enterprise programme awards

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The next generation of Kilkenny entrepreneurs were lauded for their business efforts when the Local Enterprise Office handed out the Student Enterprise Programme Awards.

The cream of the county’s students, together their parents and teachers, were invited to Set Theatre, Kilkenny for the ceremony, which also had Cllr Fidelis Doherty, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council; Colette Byrne, Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council.

Invited guests also included Mayor Andrew McGuinness; Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick and Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny. The winners of the County Student Enterprise Awards in all categories will be considered for inclusion in the National Finals to be held in The Helix on 18 May 2022.

This enterprise education initiative, which is funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, is the largest of its kind in the country. The Kilkenny programme featured over 120 students from 14 schools - Castlecomer Community School, Coláiste Cois Siúire, Coláiste Éamann Rís, Coláiste Mhuire Johnstown, Coláiste Pobail Osraí, Duiske College, Grennan College, Kilkenny CBS, Kilkenny College, Loreto Secondary School, Presentation Secondary School, Kilkenny Vocational School, St Brigid’s College and St Kieran’s College.

In the ‘My Entrepreneurial Journey’ competition, where students interview and map out the life of an entrepreneur and what is required, Saoirse Walsh (Grennan College) was named the Junior Category winner while Ned O’Meara (Coláiste Éamann Rís) was awarded the Intermediate prize. Both will represent Kilkenny at the next stages of the competition.

In the ‘Most Creative Business Idea’ competition, senior level students were asked to asked to come up with an inventive business idea based around the theme of fitness and well-being innovations. Maria Salvans (Loreto SS) was declared the winner.

In the Junior category, Ciara Ryan (St Brigid’s College) will represent Kilkenny in the next stages of the competition with Sew Stylish. Ciara’s business creates uniquely designed multifunctional hair scrunchies with a discrete zip pocket that can be used to hide/store money, lip gloss or keys, but can also still be used to tie your hair up.

Twin brothers Adam and Liam Doyle (Coláiste Éamann Rís) earned the intermediate honour with their painting service business Twin Painters will be representing Kilkenny.

In the Senior category of the competition, Aoibhinn Morrissey and Louise Hearne (Presentation SS) will represent Kilkenny with their business Sea Ya later. The students identified a need in the market to develop and sell a natural based tan remover. Runners-up in this category were Jacqueline Wallace and Aisling Dwan, who produced beautiful handmade 100% beeswax candles and lip balm products. Amy Lawless and Emma Lawler, who produced handmade phone charging pockets in a variety of colours and patterns, were third.

“The Student Enterprise Programme is a great initiative,” said Cllr Doherty. “We have seen students react to create businesses that are solving real world problems, whether it be pandemic related or about sustainability.

“Our students don’t want to just create a business, but a business that makes a difference in the world,” the Cathaoirleach added. “That’s fantastic to see.”

Presentations were also made to a number of category winners. The Best Green Business award went to The Bottler, which was set up by Richard Delaney in Coláiste Éamann Rís while Amy Malone (Presentation SS) received the Best Branding Award for her Tots by Amy enterprise. Molly Burke from Coláiste Pobail Osraí received the Best Commercial Potential Award for Molly’s Jewels.

Special merit awards were presented to the following student enterprises: Problem Solving - Simone Nolte, Coláiste Cois Siúire (Puppy Pouch). Teamwork - Sarah Gilchrist, Rebecca Mahon and Aimee Dunne, Duiske College (Bake it Easy). Entrepreneurial Spirit - Diarmuid Langton and Joe Prendergast, St Kieran’s College (Agrislurry Ltd). Creative Thinking - Lucy Pringle, Kilkenny College (Wonderful Wooden Wreaths). Social Enterprise - Ronan Hackett, St Kieran’s College (MHM Clothing).

All category winners of the County Student Enterprise Awards will be considered for inclusion in the national finals, which will be held in The Helix on May 18.

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