Gaisce is golden for 33 winners
FROM kayaking the White Nile River in Uganda to becoming a Garda Reserve, the recipients of this year's Gaisce Gold Award recipients have all had an eventful 18 months.
Thirty-three young people received their awards from President Michael D Higgins for their outstanding community work and significant personal achievements at an awards ceremony in Dublin Castle.
Gaisce – the President's Award – challenges young people between 15 and 25 to get involved in their community, set personal goals in physical recreation and personal skill and take an adventure journey.
There are three separate awards – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Sisters Ailbhe (19) and Treasa Kelly (21), from Falcarragh, Co Donegal, both received gold medals yesterday.
Ailbhe walked 150km along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, while Treasa had climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – both in the company of their father Manus.
"It's more than just the award you get out of doing this," said Ailbhe. "It pushed me to look for something different to do, something outside the box."
Treasa added: "There is a sense of camaraderie in it as well. You are all in this together aiming for the same thing."
Garda Reserve James O'Gorman (21), from Dublin, said Gaisce helped him find his calling.
"Gaisce gave me an insight into what I like and what I didn't like and into potential career paths."
Kenneth Hynes (25), from Co Westmeath, battled river rapids in a kayak in Uganda, and organised an outdoor adventure week in Soca Valley, Slovenia, as part of his award.
"I did Gaisce to encourage me to do new things. I earned the Bronze award in school and did a few different things I otherwise wouldn't have done, so when I went to college I decided to do this to motivate me more – like going to Uganda."
At the ceremony, Mr Higgins said: "This award comes to crown your journey of generous commitment in the service of your community, a journey which involved great perseverance and the surpassing of your own limits," he said.
"Such an ability to commit, and to take part in the workings of a local organisation or association is the basis of any genuine republican culture.
"It is one of the surest means to embed an awareness of and care for the res publica – the public good."