Pictured: Merit winner Carys Hudner of Moville Community College receives her award
Two Donegal secondary school pupils were among the winners at the inaugural National Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition organised by the Law Society of Ireland.
Carys Hudner, Moville Community College won a merit award, while Keira Keogh, Loreto Letterkenny was also among the 32 finalists that attended the event in Dublin.
The competition received over 80 essays from 38 schools across 14 different counties. Each student submitted a 1,500-word essay examining the topic, “The law and social media: striking a balance between freedom of expression and responsible usage.”
Saorla McDonagh Sharkey, a pupil at St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, took the top prize.
The Gráinne O’Neill Memorial Legal Essay Competition honours the life and legacy of the late Judge Gráinne O’Neill. In 2014, Gráinne became the youngest judge in Ireland when she was appointed to the District Court. Gráinne died in 2018 following a period of illness but, during her life and especially during her years as a judge, Gráinne worked diligently to apply the law in a fair, rigorous and compassionate manner.
The competition was initiated by The Hon Mr Justice Keenan Johnson of the Circuit Court, in collaboration with the Midland Solicitors’ Bar Association in 2019. This is the first year the competition invited entries from transition year students across the country.
Chairperson of the Law Society’s Education Committee, Richard Hammond SC, said, “This competition aims to encourage young people to engage with the law and consider their own legal rights, how the law impacts society. This competition aims to inspire students’ learning and develop their creativity in an engaging way.
“We were delighted to welcome our student finalists, their parents, guardians, and teachers, to the home of the Law Society of Ireland at Blackhall Place to celebrate their achievements.”
Saorla’s essay was selected as the top entry and won a €1000 prize, trophy and shield for her school.
Hari Chandana Parimkayala, Loreto Secondary School, Wexford was awarded second place and Michael Kerley of De La Salle College, Dundalk, Co. Louth came third. Four merit certificates were awarded to Huriyah Baqer of Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin; Carys Hudner of Moville Community College, Donegal; Saoirse Reilly of The High School, Dublin; and Eimear McCarthy of Coláiste na Toirbhirte, Bandon, Cork.