Maggie Houlihan receiving her award.
A Laois student who battled illness through her final years of secondary school, has achieved one of the top Leaving Cert Applied results in Ireland.
Maggie Houlihan, 19, from Coolrain was recently awarded the Leaving Cert Applied National Association’s Feargal Quinn award, after getting an overall 95% Distinction in her exams. She was one of only ten students in Ireland to achieve the award.
Maggie is a graduate of Mountrath Community School.
It was because of her ongoing illness that Maggie had chosen to switch to do the Leaving Cert Applied course.
“I had started in the normal Leaving Cert course in 5th year, but then I got really sick. I decided to repeat in LCA because it caused less stress,” she said.
The course had been introduced to Mountrath CS four years ago. It offers students a practical vocational education geared towards employment rather than just third level.
Subjects she enjoyed include leisure and recreation, social education, agriculture, childcare and commerce as well as languages.
“There were only nine of us doing it and the teachers really help you out more, the subjects are much more practical. I really loved doing it,” Maggie said.
She was stunned to hear she had won an award for her results.
“I was absolutely over the moon to receive this award and I'm honored to be the first student in Mountrath Community School to receive it. I was really surprised and really happy,” she said.
She attended the recent award ceremony in the Shamrock Lodge Athlone, along with her proud mother Brigid Austin and Maggie's boyfriend Daragh Brennan.
“It was a very proud day for us. Maggie had done a lot of work over the two years to get her results. She is a hard worker, a very intelligent girl,” said her proud mother Brigid.
“She had a lot of support from her stepdad Desmond, who helped her through her illness. She is in top form again and we are very proud of her,” said Ms Austin.
Maggie also had thanks for her mother and stepfather.
“They supported me a good lot, I get stressed and my stepdad was always there to help me calm down,” she said.
Maggie has since fully recovered from her illness.
She is now studying for a Social Care qualification in Carlow Further Education Centre, while working part-time down in Carlow to fund her studies and accommodation.
Maggie who has one older sister Nicole, recommends the Leaving Cert Applied route to others.
“I would 100 percent recommend it, I couldn’t praise it enough,” she said.
Her coordinator in Mountrath Community School was Anne Breen.
“Maggie was such a hard working student and I am thrilled to hear about her award. In fact, the current Leaving Cert Applied students are very encouraged to hear of this unique achievement,” she said.
The principal is Mrs Siobhan McCarthy.
“The Leaving Cert Applied programme is very successful in Mountrath CS, and it's just great news to hear of Maggie's award. Maggie is a wonderful role model for the current Leaving Cert Applied students,” the principal said.
Her teacher Mary Gannon added her congratulations.
“Maggie is a very deserving award winner and we wish her every success in the future, we are all so proud of her,” she said.