December 9, 2023

‘Too hot to handle’ – Kilkenny’s enterprising students to represent county at Croke Park finale

FIVE teenage entrepreneurs from Kilkenny College and Colaiste Eamann Rís in Callan will represent Kilkenny at the Student Enterprise Programme National Finals in Croke Park. .

There was a hive of entrepreneurial activity in the Lyrath Estate Hotel Kilkenny on Wednesday as the venue hosted the Student Enterprise Programme County Final.

It was a great achievement for the 140 or so students who reached the finals stage of the competition from nine secondary schools across the county.

The Senior Judging panel consisted of Jason Dempsey (AIB), Donna Byrne (MacDonagh Junction) and May Stokes. Jennifer McCreery, McCreery Cleaning, Bernie McCoy, former SEP Co-ordinator and Mark Rodgers of IT Carlow were involved in the Junior and Intermediate Categories.

The judges had a difficult task and had to take numerous factors into account, including business reporting, innovation, market research, risk management and finances. After much deliberation they finally decided on the projects that would go forward to represent Kilkenny at the Student Enterprise Programme National Final in Croke Park.

The competition is co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny and is the most successful programme of its kind in the country.

In the senior category, the 1st prize category winners were awarded a €1,000 prize sponsored by AIB and specially commissioned Jerpoint Glass piece. The winners were Liam Foot and Tom Donald (pictured at bottom), students from Kilkenny College with their project Tree Ring Coasters. They were also presented with the Innovation Award, which is sponsored by Institute of Technology Carlow.

In the Intermediate Category, Mark Ahern (pictured below) from Colaiste Eamann Rís, Callan was awarded 1st prize for his innovative business G Sock Ltd – a sports sock that fits and secures a shin guard protector inside.

In the Junior category the winners were confirmed as Luca Harris and Pa Gibbs (main picture) , also from Colaiste Eamann Rís, Callan, with their business Too Hot to Handle – which consists of coffee cup holders made from cotton fabric which prevents your hands from getting burned when  you are holding your take away tea or coffee.

Runners up in the Senior Category were “Castlecomer Goes Green”, run by Eva Brennan, Ciara Normoyle, Darragh Brennan from Castlecomer Community School. This business has accelerated the use of Re-usable Coffee Cups in Castlecomer by not only selling the Re-usable Coffee Cups but by educating locals and getting multiple retailers on board.

Third prize went to an innovative product “Reeve Technology” from Kilkenny College, developed by Michael E. Cunningham.

Special guests at the event included the Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny Council, Cllr Eamon Aylward, Mayor Peter Cleere, Cllr Maurice Shortall, Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick, Cllr David Fitzgerald and representatives from sponsors AIB, McCreery Cleaning, threesixty and St Canices Credit Union.

At the presentation ceremony, Cllr Aylward congratulated the efforts of the students.

He said: “We have a very successful student enterprise programme here in County Kilkenny, with over 900 students from 14 local schools taking part this year. Our national finalists are excellent ambassadors for the programme and we wish them the very best of luck in Croke Park on May 3.”

Senior Enterprise Development Officer Aileen McGrath congratulated all those who participated in the competition.

She said: Every year we are blown away by the ideas, the business savvy and the confidence these students have acquired at such a young age.  They really are a credit to their teachers and school staff who have helped to nurture this talent. The Student Enterprise Programme is growing appeal every year and we hope to see many of these excellent young students coming through the door of their local LEO in the years to come.  We wish today’s winners all the very best as they go on to represent their county at the National Finals in Croke Park in May.”

The three category winners, Tree Ring Coasters, G Sock Ltd and Too Hot to Handle will now prepare for the National Finals, which will be held on Friday, May 3, at Croke Park.




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