IT was a special moment for Cuisle O'Donovan (28) and her fiance Andrew Forde when she received a Gaisce gold award.
A Gaisce-organised event first brought the couple together four years ago, and they are now getting married in six months time.
It is an award that recognises outstanding community work and significant personal achievements.
Cuisle, a researcher from Galway, visited the elderly and climbed Mount Blanc as part of her Gaisce efforts.
Her fiance Andrew (30) from Claremorris, Co Mayo, has been involved with the Gaisce programme for many years, and is a member of the alumni network. "Gaisce brought us together," said Andrew, who works with the Council of Europe in Kosovo.
He first laid eyes on his future bride-to-be at a Gaisce event in Ratra House, the headquarters of the organisation back in 2010.
Meanwhile, Karen Mulligan (21), from Sutton in Dublin, who made a remarkable recovery from a ski injury, was another recipient of a gold award.
"I shattered a vertebra when I was 18 on a first year Trinity College ski trip," said Karen, who is now in her final year studying genetics.
She said that she was involved in the Vincent de Paul Society, and also did the Camino de Santiago walk as part of her Gaisce efforts.
From Cork city, Mary Angela Quigley (21) learned to fly and achieved her private pilots licence, which means she can fly small aircraft by herself. The care assistant also helped with the Beavers.
The other recipients from all over the country included young people who spent time volunteering with charity organisations, working with the poor, elderly, people with disabilities and getting involved in youth groups and clubs.
President Michael D Higgins said: "These young people really have made a journey, and the awarding of the Gaisce gold medal is a recognition of an achievement, an achievement that involved a personal transformation."