One hundred and ninety four students of Colaiste Eile, Thurles received their awards at the annual Awards Ceremony this week accompanied by words of encouragement to continue in education as part of the road of life-long learning, writes Noel Dundon.
There is always a special atmosphere in the college but on such days the air of celebration goes into overdrive as students receive the fruits of their labour, and finally have certification to cap their body of work.
There were 39 recipients of the VTOS QQ1 Awards which includes ECDL/Advanced ECDL/ Occupationsal First Aid/Manual Handling. And, in addition there were also 155 Back to Education (BTEI QQ1 Awards in the same field.
VTOS Student of the Year Awards went to Mary O'Halloran, Karen Hickey and Tommy Mockler, while the BTEI Student of the Year Award went to Sean Doyle. The prestigious Peg Hanafin Bursary and Trophy, which has been presented each year since 2003, went to the very popular Jerry Nolan who was congratulated by all the guests and the attendees at the event.
There were also presentations to outgoing members of the Student Council, including John Vahey, Mary O'Halloran and Mary McLoughlin.
Fine tributes were paid to the staff of Colaiste Eile and to the students who had worked so hard to get back to education - not an easy accomplishment by any manner or means, as Dr Laurenz Egan pointed out in his welcoming comments. He was lavish in his praise for everyone involved in the Education Training Board and pointed out that there are three new programmes coming on stream in September in Colaiste Eile. “We are constantly identifying emerging needs and we are reacting to those needs by the provision of appropriate programmes,” he said, adding that more than any other year, graduates are finding employment very quickly after completion of their studies.
There were words of congratulations also from Cllr John Hogan, Chairman, Tipperary Education Board; Mr Liam Ahern also of the ETB; Mr Gerry Griffin of VTOS; and Antoinette Coffey, Adult Education Officer of the ETB, which currently has 15,000 students across the county and a staff of 1,000.
Peg Hanafin, founder of Colaiste Eile, who presented her bursary and trophy, was thrilled to see the school flourishing, suceeding and making a difference to the lives of so many students. “I fully believe in the work of Colaiste Eile - it holds a place very close to my heart. This is a great day for the staff and the students, and also for all those who supported you throughout your studies, your family and friends. This is your day and you should enjoy it,” she said.
The convivial atmosphere continued afterwards with refreshments and lunch at Colaiste Eile.