A Look At The All Ireland Scholarship
The All Ireland Scholarship was set up in 2008 and gives financial support to 125 students every year. The scholarship scheme allows the students to take part in all aspects of college life by giving them that extra bit of financial support. The scholarship has been awarded to a total of 1,221 students, with 545 of these becoming successful graduates.
In establishing the scholarship scheme, JP McManus stated that “the Celtic Tiger will not be around forever and that education will be the key for success in more difficult times”. He was also aware of the cross border dimensions of the scholarship ensured that it would be operated in a similar way in the North and South of Ireland.
Each scholarship is valued at €6,750 per year in the South and £5,500 per year in the North. This value is continuous over the duration of the under graduate programmes that the scholarship winners have chosen. Over the years in which the scholarship has operated it has paid out a total of €18.5m. To participate in the scholarship scheme, the student must be exempt from paying the Leaving Certificate fee. The scholarships are awarded in terms of a candidate’s results in the Leaving Certificate or final secondary level examination. Each year, two scholarships are awarded in each county of Ireland.
The top 4 undergraduate courses that scholarship winners take are medicine, science, engineering and law. In first is medicine with 143 students. It is closely followed in second by science which has 137 students. In third it is engineering with 91 students and in fourth it is law which has 76 students.
I spoke to Eoinlee Bley who was a winner of the scholarship in 2016. Eoinlee attended Larkin Community College secondary school and comes from Cabra in Dublin. He did excellently in the Leaving Certificate, doing much better than the average results in the country and achieving over 500 points. He is now studying engineering in UCD.
I asked him how he first found out about the scholarship and he discussed how it felt out of reach for him.
“The scholarship was always well known in our school. One of my classmate’s sisters had won it in our school before I started, yet she was still well known around the school for that achievement. The almost ‘legendary’ status it awarded her made the award seem somewhat outside the realm of possibility at the time.”
He told me how it felt when he found out he was going to receive the scholarship.
“Completely elated, in short. I hadn’t even passed my mind in the weeks leading up to, and following the results. I had applied for a different scholarship earlier on in the year, and I was offered that first, but this was a whole other level. It was a really nice feeling that still hasn’t faded.”
Eoinlee talks about the awards ceremony in Limerick and the amazing food that was on offer.
“There was an awards ceremony in University of Limerick, the alma mater of the scholarship’s founder, JP McManus. While it was optional, I felt I just couldn’t miss it. It was quite the ordeal getting down to UL from Dublin for 9AM but I managed, just about. The event itself was amazing, no expense was spared and it just was great to see so many people there from all around the country for the same reason. Also, the food was unbelievable.”
Eoinlee also told me how the scholarship scheme has helped him in his journey through college thus far.
“It has helped me in an enormous way. It allows me the time and freedom to pursue all my endeavours, both academic and extracurricular. The absence of any financial worries is like a huge burden lifted from my shoulders. It’s been instrumental in my college career so far.”
Eoinlee will certainly be hoping to take after the 545 previous scholarship winners who have graduated with primary and post graduate degrees. After his performance in the Leaving Certificate it will be no surprise when we see him in a graduation robe with his degree in hand. It is clear from his results in the Leaving Certificate that he has the ability to learn within a short amount of time so he will definitely be an engineer to look out for in the future.