Talented youth are 'the light in our darkness'
TALENTED young people were commended by President Mary McAleese as "a much-needed, much-appreciated light in a place where there is much cursing of the darkness".
The President was speaking at the 25th anniversary of the Gaisce awards ceremony, presenting 57 young Irish people with Gold Medals in Dublin Castle yesterday.
Gaisce is Ireland's National Challenge Award, the most prestigious individual award programme where young people challenge themselves and help their community in order to achieve medals.
The young people involved must complete 78 weeks of challenges in the areas of community, skills and physical recreation. They then need to complete an adventure journey of at least four nights.
"Today we salute them, tell them how much we admire and respect them and thank them for taking on the Gaisce challenge and for seeing it through," said President McAleese.
Garda Breda Smyth was among those who received a gold medal yesterday. The 27-year-old, from Co Galway, learnt to fly a helicopter to secure her gold medal. She also visited Belarus to work in a school there, and befriended elderly people.
Lyndsey Rankin (21), from Co Dublin, and Mary Kenny (22), from Co Wexford, both previously achieved bronze and silver medals before successfully achieving gold. Ms Rankin walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route and Ms Kenny climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa.
The President said: "It is an angry world -- an angry, worried and disappointed Ireland. So if you are feeling burdened . . . listen to the stories of our award recipients and tell yourself this country will get through."