A special night of celebration took place in St Patrick’s College, Thurles recently when the Scholarships Awards Evening saw a total of eleven students honoured in recognition of excellence in the academic and sporting fields.
From the moment one entered the famed college - a centre of educational excellence for over 175 years - there was a very special atmosphere of celebration in the air. This was the night when the hard work, dedication and commitment of the elite student was rewarded, and the scholarships - much sought after amongst those attending the third level institution - have become very prestigious indeed.
Former Tipperary minor hurling, and camogie Manager Paddy McCormack had the task of overseeing the evening and ensured the smooth running of proceedings which had many special guests present including His Grace, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly; Rev Fr Tom Fogarty, President of St Patrick’s College; Professor Willie Smith, native of Clonakenny and renowned academic in UCC; PJ Maher of the Munster GAA Council; Tim Floyd and Sean Nugent of the County GAA Board; and the families and friends of the recipients of the scholarships.
In welcoming everyone to the event, Paddy McCormack recalled a comment from Rev Fr Joe Egan who spoke at the 175th anniversary celebrations of St Patrick’s. He pointed out that the celebrations were all about the achievements of those who attended and worked in the college, not the building itself. In a similar manner, the Scholarships Awards Evening were all about the recipients of the awards, and rightly so.
r Tom Fogarty noted the presence of so many trophies in the college with pride of place going to the Irish Press Cup - the All-Ireland minor hurling trophy. He referred to the long and proud tradition St Patrick’s has with sport and in particular the GAA, noting that many club and county teams still use the facilities to this day. The 1984 Centenary Year celebrations were also hosted in St Patrick’s and he acknowledged the integral role sport plays in the life of the students of the college.
Fr Fogarty thanked those who made the scholarships available and said that they were appropriate recognition of those who achieved excellence on the sports field and in the lecture theatre.
“St Patrick’s College is a college of education and there will be no compromise in the excellence of the work done here,” the President said that he added that the first students with UL degrees will be conferred in the college soon. Those teachers, he hoped, would inspire future generations and he recalled the old saying ‘ a mediocre teacher teaches, but a great teacher inspires.’
Fr Fogarty referred to sport and the GAA in particular. Success on the field can give sheer ecstacy, a taste of heaven. He mentioned the greatness and the humbleness of “ that model human being” Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny) who became the first man to win nine All-Ireland senior hurling medals on the field of play. He also mentioned the meteoric rise of the Dongeal footballers who won the All-Ireland Final - a year previously they couldn’t win an argument, he said, “now, Jimmy is winning matches.”
Archbishop Clifford noted how St Patrick’s College is a driven institution -driven from the top by a man who leads by example, Fr Tom Fogarty. He congratulated the winners and said that they were worthy of their prizes for their achievements in the classroom and on the sportsfield. “Success is always worth celebrating and I am delighted that we are doing that here tonight,” he said.
After the awards had been presented Professon Willie Smith spoke on the subject of the connection between sport and academic life. He recalled with great passion his own hurling days and how the game often came into conflict with his studies. His philosophy was to play hard and work hard and he offered the view that discipline on the field of play or in the gym, supports the discipline of study.
The Awards were presented to:
Lauren Beason, Blackcastle, Two-Mile-Borris,
Fionnuala Begley, Killarney,
Amy Dinan, Tralee,
Peter Mulhall, Grange, Kilkenny
Marie McKenna, Killarney.
Patricia McElgunn, St Raphael’s, Cabra, Thurles
Yvonne O’Rourke, Roscrea
Padriac Hanly, Longford,
Shaun Bray, Kilkenny.
The sports awrads went to:
Rebecca Stapleton, Listowel, Co Kerry
Rory Hickey, Ballyraggett, Co Kilkenny.