| 6.5°C Dublin

Schoolgirl (12) who aced Junior Cert maths to sit Leaving Cert exam to raise funds for charity

Cara Darmody became the youngest person to sit the Junior Cert maths exam at 11 earlier this year


Cara Darmody

Cara Darmody

Cara Darmody

A sixth class pupil from Co Tipperary will take on the Leaving Cert maths exam next summer to raise funds for charity.

Earlier this year, Cara Darmody became the youngest person to sit the Junior Cert maths exam, when she was aged just 11.

Now the Ardfinnan native is setting her sights on the ordinary level, senior cycle paper to raise vital funds for Ardfinnan National School, the autism charity AsIAm, Family Carers Ireland and Scoil Chormaic.

A disability advocate and a young carer, Cara took on the challenge of the Junior Cert exam to raise awareness of the the lack of services afforded to children with special needs.

Her advocacy also led her to Government buildings where she has held meetings with An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin leader, Mary-Lou McDonald, and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism.

Cara decided to sit both State exams as her younger brothers, 9-year-old Neil and 5-year-old John, are both non-verbal with autism, and she has seen first-hand the difficulties her family have had in getting much needed supports services for her younger brothers.

Now aged 12, Cara joined Ryan Tubridy on Late Late Show last night, where she also got the results of her Junior Cert maths paper. 

She was visibly shook when her principal from the local national school revealed that she achieved 97pc. 

“Yes, yes, yes, oh wow,” she said. 

“I never thought in a million years I’d get 97pc. I’m so happy because now I can keep helping those 18,000 children.”

“I suppose, Ryan, it was really, really tough,” she told host the Late Late Show host before the results were revealed about sitting the exam. “But I did it for those 18,000 kids who are on the waiting list (for services),” she said.

“To get 50 or 60pc would be a dream come true. I dream of it every night.”

Cara enlisted her father Mark to help her study for the exam, which is normally sat by students when they are 15 years old.

“It was a very tough nine months and I think he is still recovering,” she said.

Her father mark said it is a “ national disgrace that she even has to do this but we support her in everything she is doing”. 

Speaking about her visit to Government buildings, Cara said the country’s leaders are not “not treating it like (it’s) a house on fire”.

"It needs to be treated like that. There are 18,000 children left to rot on waiting lists. This is a massive problem and they’re not treating it like that and politicians are all talk and no action. The time has come for change,” she added.

Cara has already raised more than €38,000 for special needs therapies for two local schools and said she intends to sit the Leaving Cert next June “to help more people”.

Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland , Catherine Cox, said they are “delighted to have in Cara such a strong ambassador and role model for young carers”. 

“In taking on this incredible challenge, she is not only raising funds but raising awareness too ensuring young carers’ issues are at the forefront of our minds. Cara’s bravery in speaking out and her determination to help her brothers is simply extraordinary. We are incredibly grateful to her and wish her the very best in her studies,” she said.

Meanwhile, AsIam Fundraising Manager, Dick White, described Cara as a “breath of fresh air”.

"I really love her role as part of a wonderful family including Neil, John, Mark and Noelle. She has now taken on a challenge which many of us might not take on and we wish her well in this new Everest challenge,” he added.

Most Watched