3 UCC students receive gold medals from President of Ireland Higgins

On Nov 9th, three University College Cork (UCC) students received gold medals from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, having won various categories in the 2012 Undergraduate Awards – an academic awards programme that identifies top students across the island of Ireland for their innovative undergraduate research.

The awards ceremony marked the culmination of the Undergraduate Awards Summit, an annual three-day event in Dublin that brought together some of the world’s most impressive budding academics. These are the top performing entrants in this year’s Undergraduate Awards programme, which received 2,890 submissions from third level institutions on the island of Ireland as well as elite universities primarily in the UK, USA, Canada and Ireland.

Addressing the attendees, patron of the awards programme President Higgins commended the students on their remarkable achievement. “All of the submissions being recognised here today are a reassuring reminder of the great wealth of innovative and imaginative talent that exists amongst our young people – the leaders, policy makers, scientists and artists of the future. I would like to congratulate all of our awardees here today and wish them every success.”

Jesse Harrington from Douglas, who is undertaking a BA (Joint Honours) at UCC, bagged his award in the Historical Studies and Archaeology category for his paper: “*Conveying the Sacred: Expressions of sacred space and sacred time in the scheme of Ardmore Cathedral*”.

Professor David Ryan, Acting Head of the School of History and Vice-Head of College (Teaching & Learning), says: “We are truly delighted with the result of this year’s Undergraduate Awards. The essay makes an important contribution to the study of the cathedral, in particular and research on medieval Irish iconography, in general. This award is a testimony to the achievements of Jesse through the undergraduate years in the UCC School of History.”

Niall Colbert, who is completing a BCL (Law and French) at UCC and hails from Mitchelstown, won the Languages and Linguistics category for his essay entitled: “*The Waiting Game: The Human Condition of Being in Time in the Theatre of Samuel Beckett*”.

Commenting on Niall’s essay, Professor Patrick O’Donovan, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at UCC, highlights: “It is a terrifically ambitious piece of writing. Under the witty title ‘The Waiting Game’, Niall provides a fresh look at the condition of being in time in the theatre of Samuel Beckett”.

Kathy Bunney, who is studying law at UCC and who is also the Students’ Union Mature Student Officer, successfully argued her case in the law category with her essay: “*The Forgotten People: The position of voluntary patients within the Irish mental health system and the absence of statutory safeguards to protect them against deprivation of liberty*”. Kathy, who lives in Rochestown, is also co-author of T*he Ship of Seven Murders*: *A True Story of Madness* *and Murder* (Collins Press, 2010) along with Alannah Hopkin.

Professor Ursula Kilkelly, Head of the Department of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law, says: “On behalf of the staff and students of the Law Faculty, I wish to congratulate Kathy. These awards are an important recognition of academic excellence and I have no doubt that Kathy’s award will serve the mission statement of the Undergraduate Awards ‘to inspire generations of future graduates by supporting and celebrating their ideas”.

Mary O’Sullivan, Mature Student Officer at UCC, comments: “We are delighted at Kathy’s achievement. She is an inspirational woman and this award is a reflection of her academic ability and her motivation to succeed in life”.

A further 16 UCC undergraduates were highly commended for their entries to the UA 2012. Two UCC undergraduates also won at the 2011 UA.

Professor Caroline Fennell, Head of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, says: “The Undergraduate Awards are an important event, providing an opportunity for excellent students to push the boundaries of inquiry in their chosen disciplinary fields by engaging with high achieving scholars in other disciplines”.

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