ALISON O’Connell from Ballylickey, Bantry, has been awarded the Bantry Credit Union Third-Level Education Scholarship for 2017. The daughter of Joe and Deirdre O’Connell, Alison is the 15th winner of the scholarship, which is worth up to €6,000 over four years.
At an award ceremony at the credit union office last week, the chairperson of Bantry Credit Union, Anna Fitzgerald, congratulated Alison on her achievement in winning the scholarship.
Ms Fitzgerald explained that the scholarship is awarded following a rigorous process, involving a detailed application form, a written submission and an interview. The assessment and decision-making process is conducted entirely by an independent panel of experienced adjudicators.
Alison sat the Leaving Cert in June at Scoil Mhuire, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh. The chairperson congratulated Alison on being the first pupil from the Ballingeary school to win the scholarship.
Alison has now started the next stage of her education, studying for a BEd in Sports Studies, Physical Education and Irish at UCC.
Anna noted how suitable the course seemed to be for Alison, combining as it does her two great passions – sport and Irish.
The chairperson thanked all the students who submitted applications and thanked the three schools in Bantry Credit Union’s area (Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, Scoil Phobail Bhéara and Scoil Mhuire, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh) for their continued co-operation in the operation of the scholarship scheme.
Ms Fitzgerald paid particular tribute to the ongoing contribution of the panel of adjudicators: Denis O’Sullivan (Maria Immaculata Community College, Dunmanway), James Kilduff (Cork Institute of Technology) and Olive McCarthy (University College Cork). Noting that all three adjudicators have been involved for nearly all of the 15 years of its operation, the chairperson said that the continued success and high reputation of Bantry Credit Union’s scholarship scheme was due in no small part to the tireless commitment of these three educationalists.
Representing Scoil Mhuire, teacher Barra Concannon spoke very warmly about Alison and the positive contribution she made to Scoil Mhuire during her five years there. He said the school was delighted that the scholarship was being awarded to ‘such a nice person from such a nice family.’ Acknowledging Alison’s own ‘ideal career,’ Barra said he looked forward to the day when she returned to Scoil Mhuire as a PE and Irish teacher!
Accepting the award, Alison thanked the credit union for the honour and for the very valuable financial assistance that the scholarship will provide. She also thanked her family and everyone at Scoil Mhuire for all their help, guidance and support over the years.
Thanking the credit union, Alison’s mother Deirdre remembered her late mother Nora Kelly. Mrs Kelly joined Bantry Credit Union in June 1966, within a few weeks of it being set up, and remained a committed member for nearly 50 years, until she died a few years ago.
Mrs Kelly had a great belief in and gratitude to the credit union for the role it played in her life, and would have immense pride and joy in seeing her granddaughter, Ali, winning the credit union scholarship today.
Ali herself has been a member of the credit union since she was three months old, when her godmother opened the account as a christening gift.
Now some 18 years on, she is now the proud recipient of the credit union’s Third-Level Education Scholarship, which has been helping a local student to attend college every year since she was just three years old.