Northern Standard  Thursday 14th January 2016 p.23


Two Monaghan Students Highly Commended for Project on Healthy Diet

Michael Fisher at the RDS


Simone Clerkin and Alison McDonnell, St Louis Monaghan, with their project on healthy diet  Picture: Michael Fisher

Cupcakes with no sugar or salt and with a banana mix proved a winner for two young students from County Monaghan at this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition held last week at the RDS in Dublin. Simone Clerkin and Alison McDonnell, transition year pupils from St Louis Secondary School in Monaghan, were highly commended for their project on a healthy diet for children in the biological and ecological sciences section. Under the heading “Smart Substitution” the pair examined the need for healthy alternatives to high calorific ingredients in an attempt to reduce obesity in young children and increase their nutrition intake.

Their project was based on statistics in a 2007 Department of Health survey showing that 11% of boys and 12% of girls in Ireland are obese. Children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults. Nearly half (48%) of Irish people take snacks between meals. So it is crucial to provide a healthy, nutritious, low calorific snack. The students realised that immediate action was required to highlight the importance of healthy eating and regular physical activity. So they aimed to create a novel and nutritious recipe that would highlight the ease of smart substitution.

Simone and Alison came up with a new recipe for cup cakes. They baked cupcakes using a standard recipe of 113g sugar with the same amount of butter, 117g of flour, three eggs and salt. Then they made alternative cupcakes with a high energy value, using half the amount of butter, slightly less flour, no sugar or salt, two eggs, and a half teaspoon of lemon juice (increasing the level of vitamin C). The fat content of 113g of sugar was replaced with half the amount (56g) of bananas. They provide high levels of potassium, which is known to reduce blood pressure. A calorimeter was used to quantify the calorific value of both types of cupcake. The students then conducted a survey on a group of 11-13 year-old children to test the taste, texture and appearance of the cupcakes. An app was also created to enable children worldwide to access “A Smart Child’s Health”, supporting healthy eating by young children.

So how did the low calorie, wholesome, tasty recipe using bananas work out? Girls in the 11-13 category given samples of the two cupcakes were shown to prefer the taste of the original recipe, but liked the texture and appearance of the substitute cupcake. Boys in the same age group (from St Mary’s Boys National School) showed a much greater preference for the taste of the substitute cupcakes, as well as favouring their texture and appearance. In future Simone and Alison say they hope to investigate smart substitutes for a larger array of foods. They hope the application could be improved to include savoury ingredients and it should be made available on android and iphone devices.


Isabel Doyle, St Louis Monaghan, with her project on Alzheimer’s attitudes among youth  Photo: Michael Fisher

Their school colleague Isabel Doyle also entered a project in the intermediate age group. Hers was in the social and behavioural sciences category. The St Louis student undertook an investigation into the understanding and attitudes of youth towards Alzheimer’s. She analysed the data, subsequently developing an app aimed at teenagers to increase their awareness of the condition. She has also set up a web page to promote youth education for Alzheimer’s at


Aaron Quigley and James Cameron, Patrician High, with their project on homelessness  Photo: Michael  Fisher

The homeless crisis in Ireland prompted Aaron Quigley from Inniskeen and Drumconrath resident James Carolan from Patrician High School in Carrickmacross to come up with a way of tackling it on an individual basis. They developed a simple sign in the shape of a heart containing the message ‘Hope for a Heart’. Volunteers can hang this outside their doors to indicate to a homeless person that they are welcome to come in and get a glass of water or get a snack or use the bathroom. The homeless person is also provided with a yellow knapsack containing useful items such as a bottle for water, an energy blanket, hand warmers and a readymade all-day breakfast meal that can be activated by pouring cold water onto the pack. The students carried out a survey among 300 people in Dundalk, Navan and Dublin and say they got a great response to their idea, with 70% of the respondents reacting positively.


Colm Bermingham, Conor Greene and Paul McEntegart, Patrician High, with their project on video games and deductive reasoning  Photo: Michael Fisher

Conor Greene and Paul McEntegart along with Colm Bermingham

Three other Carrickmacross students from transition year at Patrician High were represented in the same section on social and behavioural sciences. Conor Greene and Paul McEntegart along with Colm Bermingham displayed their project on computer games and deductive reasoning, entitled “Can video games make you Sherlock Holmes?” Deductive reasoning is the skill in which a conclusion is based on the agreement of multiple premises that are generally assumed to be true. The trio examined the deductive reasoning powers of test subjects who were chosen from years 1-4 at the school, at the start of the project and again after a five weeks period to enable them to measure any change. To analyse any factors relating to gaming they asked their subjects to complete a weekly survey of their playing habits. They used a small control group who played less popular video games to ensure they were covered. Players at the end of the test period showed improvements in the genres of action, creative, strategy and puzzles but a decrease in the field of sport. Over two-thirds (68%) of subjects improved their scores, 23% did not change and 9% disimproved. The students say the results indicated that deductive reasoning is improved through playing video games, especially playing strategy and puzzle games.


Project on lead levels in water by Niamh Ní Mhaolábhail and Aideen Nic Gabhann, Coláiste Oiriall  Photo: Michael Fisher

The fifth project from Monaghan was submitted by Niamh Ní Mhaolábhail and Aideen Nic Gabhann from Coláiste Oiriall entitled: “Anailís ar Leibhéal Luaidhe in uisce ó áiteanna i n-údaráis áitiúla éagsúla” (an analysis of lead levels in water in different local

Authority areas). They wanted to investigate if the water supply people paid for was fit for purpose. During their primary research they discovered that the lead levels in drinking water supplied from group water schemes and private drinking water supply are 99.9% compliant with the EU limit at 10 micrograms per litre of water.

Their secondary research involved collecting samples of water for lead analysis from group water or mains water schemes where there was lead piping. Water was shown to have increased lead levels the longer the water was in direct contact with lead only.

Altogether 2048 projects were entered for the exhibition from 396 schools throughout Ireland. 550 projects were accepted for participation, involving 1134 students. Nearly three-quarters were group projects and just over a quarter were individual projects.


Patrician High School Principal Joe Duffy and Deputy Principal Sean Rafferty  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Patrician High School Principal Joe Duffy and Deputy Principal Sean Rafferty Photo: © Michael Fisher

School Inspection Praises High Staff Morale at Patrician High

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News p.42

The desks were empty in the converted gym when I visited Patrician High School in Carrickmacross recently. But over the next few weeks the hall will be full of students doing their Leaving Certificate. Principal Joe Duffy and Deputy Principal Sean Rafferty have been ensuring that all necessary preparations are made for the 73 pupils sitting exams. It has been a busy year for them. In January the school underwent its own test, a rigorous whole school evaluation of management, leadership and learning, carried out over three days by two inspectors from the Department of Education and Skills. The high staff morale and motivation of the 35 teachers  was praised.

During the evaluation, the inspection team met the school’s board of management, in-school management, and groups of teachers, parents and students. Inspectors also reviewed a range of school documentation and responses to questionnaires and examined other data in relation to the operation of the school. A range of lessons in a number of subjects was inspected.

Patrician High School is a Catholic voluntary secondary school for boys under the trusteeship of the Bishop of Clogher. It has experienced a significant growth in student numbers in recent years and from a base of around 360 it now has a current enrolment of 507. Joe Duffy expects this will soon increase to 540.

The key findings of the inspection were that the teaching staff is motivated and that morale at the school is high. The senior management team provides effective leadership to the school and models the highest standards of commitment in all areas of school life.

Commitment to quality improvement is clearly evident among all partners of the school community, according to the report. The inspectors found that teaching and learning were effectively led by senior management and the quality observed in classrooms ranged from good to very good with instances of excellent teaching practice evident in many lessons. Finally, the report concluded that care of students received a high priority in the school and was managed effectively. The report made a number of recommendations, which the school is seeking to put into practice, including a review of the system for monitoring student attendance.

The report praised the senior management team for forming an effective partnership that modeled the highest standards of commitment to all areas of school life. A shared model of leadership has been established. According to the findings, “the senior management team prioritises an atmosphere of respect and good order as essential elements to providing optimal conditions for teaching and learning to take place.”

Staff morale is high, teachers are motivated and there is a high level of collaboration between staff and senior management, the report said. The dedication of staff to the provision of a wide range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities is noted and affirmed by management. Transition Year students have had successes in competitions such as the BT Young Scientist, Young Social Innovators, Enterprise Awards at county, regional and national levels and the Scifest in Dundalk.

In Joe Duffy’s office there is a framed note from the Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte. Addressing the young pioneers, he told them “Always work at being the best; You can be and then you will be a real success”. Two of the virtues the staff try to instil are timekeeping and smart appearance, including wearing a clean pair of shoes.

Past pupils have also gone on to be very successful in various fields. They include RTE weatherman Gerry Murphy, RTE Director General Noel Curran and his brother Richard, comedian Oliver Callan, who first developed his mimicry at school concerts, another comedian Ardal O’Hanlon, and local councillors Padraig McNally and PJ O’Hanlon.

The school provides a broad curriculum and management has reviewed and amended the choice of subjects in response to changing demands. An example of this is the expanded provision of science subjects which now includes Agricultural Science. The report said it was notable that the optional Transition Year programme attracted almost all students. Student care and welfare are school priorities and good supports are provided from within the school’s support structure and through developing links with external agencies.

The newly refurbished school building is very well maintained and facilities are provided to a very high level. A stimulating learning environment has been provided in teacher-based classrooms. The library is open to students at lunchtime and has been brought into greater use by timetabled access to link with the school’s literacy improvement plan. The staff room has been recently extended to include a preparation and corrections area. There is a canteen and lunch area for students and part of it is covered in murals which have been painted with the guidance of the art teacher.

When Joe Duffy spoke to the Northern Standard, he pointed out he pictures along the walls showing the vast range of activities carried out by students. In the field of civic, social and political education they have undertaken trips to the Dáil and the Northern Ireland Assembly. On the sports field, pupils like Stephen O’Hanlon have been successful in basketball and he is now on a sports scholarship in the United States. Others have enjoyed success in football with the local GAA club Carrick Emmets. Hurling is also being developed. More sports success has occurred in swimming and in soccer.

Overall Joe Duffy said he was very pleased with the results of the official school evaluation. He said it showed the great contribution by staff to pastoral care and teaching and the way they had developed a camaraderie with the pupils in a spirit of collegiality. Mr Duffy said he was very pleased with the way things were going. He pointed out the principal values instilled in students: respect, be on time, be prepared, follow instructions and participate fully. He hoped those five important points would continue to be fostered in the next academic year at Patrician High School.


Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher


Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News  Thursday June 11th

It takes dedication to be a record-breaking swimmer, especially when there are no training facilities on your doorstep. 13 year-old Cathal Kearney from Ballintra, Inniskeen, is just finishing his first year at Patrician High School in Carrickmacross, a town which has never had a swimming pool. He belongs to the Aer Lingus Swimming club at Dublin airport and his training schedule has brought him gold medal success in Leinster as well as at Ulster schools’ level.

A typical day for him would involve classes at school until 3:30pm and then a journey of over an hour to Dublin airport. Training at the Aer Lingus 25m pool under the guidance of coach Alan Turner takes up to two hours. This means it’s usually 8pm by the time Cathal returns home and is able to start his school homework. Sometimes his mother drives him and on other occasions he gets a lift with swimmers from Dundalk.

Cathal told the Northern Standard that everyone at the well-run club was very supportive, in particular two of their successful Leinster and Ireland swimmers, Andrew Meegan and Benjamin Doyle.

Two months the Inniskeen student was selected to swim on the Leinster team at the Ulster Age Group and Youth Championship in Bangor, County Down. This is the top swimming competition in Ulster. Cathal won five gold medals and broke five Ulster records in the boys under 13 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m  breaststroke, and the 200m individual medley. He also came second in the 400m freestyle.

Last month he was selected to swim on the Ulster Secondary Schools Interprovicial team, based on his performace at the Ulster Secondary Schools Competition last October, when he won the boys 13/14 years freestyle event. He came second in the 100m Breaststroke whilst representing Patrician High.

At the Interpro Championship Cathal won the 13/14 years 100m freestyle and finished 3rd in the 100m breaststroke, swimming a year out of his age in both events and thus helping his Ulster team to victory and claiming the Interprovincial cup.

A fortnight ago Cathal competed in Leinster for his club Aer Lingus in the Division 1 age group Open at the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown. He was up against the best in Leinster as well as the best in Ulster, for whom he had already competed as a Monaghan schoolboy.

Cathal swam in six events over three days, with heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon. He came home to Inniskeen this time with six gold medals claiming the top award in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, 100m, 200m breaststroke and 200m IM.

Swimming seems to run in the Kearney family as Cathal’s younger sister Aoife (aged 11), is also competing and achieving at the highest standard. A pupil at St Daigh’s National School, Inniskeen, she currently holds both the Ulster and Irish Minor Schools titles in the Girls’ 50m backstroke. His cousin Shauna McGahon from Killanny is also a swimmer and has represented Monaghan at the community games.

Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was as a 7 year-old taking part in the community games that Cathal first swam competitively. His mother had taken him to Dundalk for swimming lessons as a 5 year-old. At the start, he didn’t like them at all but he gradually got used to the water and has never looked back since. Cathal is the eldest of four children. As well as Aoife, he has another sister Kaitlin, aged 7, who also attends St Daigh’s school. The youngest in the family is 4 year-old Sean. As Cathal left Patrician High School where I met him, the Principal Joe Duffy came across and congratulated him on his sporting achievements. Hopefully he will bring back more medals to County Monaghan in future.