'We hope he gets an All Ireland ticket now!' - Families celebrate as seven male students achieve incredible eight H1s in Leaving Cert

Leaving Certificate 2018: More pupils achieve top grades

Andres Clarke, 18 with his Leaving Cert results: 8 H1s. Oatlands College, Mount Merrion, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Kathy Armstrong, Rachel Farrell, Sorcha O'Connor and Katherine Donnelly

SEVEN students have achieved an incredible eight H1s in the Leaving Certificate - and it appears to have come as a surprise to them as much as anyone else.

As more than 57,000 candidates receive their results, a breakdown of the data shows 7,490 students were awarded at least one H1 - a mark of between 90pc and 100pc - while seven are celebrating eight H1s.

The seven were in Coláiste Pádraig CBS in Lucan, Oatlands College in Mount Merrion, Christian Brothers College in Dún Laoghaire, St Andrew’s College in Blackrock, Christian Brothers College in Sidney Hill, Cork, Midleton College in Cork , and Yeats College Galway.

All seven are young men.

A H1 grade is between 90pc and 100pc - under the news system introduced last year.

One of those who somehow managed to get 8H1s is 18-year-old Harry Deacon, who was left feeling “over the moon” this morning when he opened the envelope.

15 Aug 2018; Harry Deacon, 18, from Sandymount, with his Leaving Cert results: 8 H1s. St. Andrew's College, Booterstown, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

“I was very nervous last night and didn’t get much sleep, there was an element of wanting the anticipation to be over,” Harry told Independent.ie.

“There was a mixture of shock and elation when I saw my results, I thought I’d done ok but definitely not as well as I did.”

Anna Doyle and Ann-Marie Eikrem celebrate their Leaving Cert results at Gorey Community College Photo: Tony Gavin

Students receive their Leaving Certificate results at Mount Temple secondary school in Dublin Photo: Mark Condren/INM

Students receive their Leaving Certificate results at Mount Temple secondary school in Dublin Photo: Mark Condren/INM

Rebecca Cavalier, 17, from Camolin who had 590 points in her Leaving Cert results at Gorey Community College Photo: Tony Gavin

Caelfind Branigan and her mother Cait discuss her Leaving Cert results at Gorey Community College Photo: Tony Gavin

The Sandymount native, who has an offer to study Economics and Management in Oxford University in the UK, attributed a combination of hard work and down-time to his success.

“St. Andrew’s College is a brilliant school with all the effort and dedication they put into their students, but it’s all about balance.

“I didn’t stop doing things because of the Leaving Cert, I did the school musical, went on Model United Nations trip abroad- that kind of balance keeps you sane.”

Proud headmistress of St. Andrew’s College in Blackrock, Co Dublin Joan Kirby described Harry as a “role model” for students and put his results down to a strong work ethic.

“Harry has a fantastic work ethic, he was such an all-rounder,” Ms Kirby told Independent.ie.

“He’s a great role model for other students as it shows you don’t have to give up sport, music or your hobbies while studying for the exams.”

Kathlyn O’Neill, 18 from Tara Hill and Shereen Kavanagh, 18, River Chapel, celebrate their Leaving Cert results at Gorey Community College. Photo: Tony Gavin 15/8/2018

Rebecca Cavalier, 17, from Camolin who had 590 points in her Leaving Cert results at Gorey Community College Photo: Tony Gavin

Roisin Rose gets a kiss from her mother Fiona, after she receives Leaving Cert Results Picture: Caroline Quinn

Caelfind Branigan and her mother Cait discuss her Leaving Cert results at Gorey Community College Photo: Tony Gavin

It was also top of the class for Daire Byrne from Lucan Co Dublin this morning.

15 Aug 2018; Daire Byrne, 18, with his Leaving Cert results: 8 H1s. Colaiste Padraig CBS, Lucan, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

The Colaiste Phadraig student was taking it all in his stride however saying that these results were just a “check-point” for him.

“It was a gradual effort, I’m not one for cramming in April, it was work over five years,” he told independent.ie

The next stop for Daire is Edinburgh but his sights are already set further along the road on Oxford.

“There is a Mathematics programme in the University of Edinburgh which I got a provisional offer for earlier in the year.

“Obviously the universities here are great but you can get the Masters there in four years and it facilitates for going to the States or going down to Oxford for the PhD which would be the long-term plan.”

Daire (18) reckoned his parents had hoped he’d bag such high points but they didn’t put pressure on him ahead of the big reveal.

“They’re very happy,” he said.

Principal Tony Brady was full of praise for his star pupil, who he said had always been academically brilliant but also had time for extra-curricular activities within the school.

“Daire is a credit to the school. He’s always been outstanding but he has also regularly taken part in the BT Young Scientist and also is one of the team who have won Tráth na gCeist,” said Tony.

Colaiste Phadraig is a CBS school and Tony who has been principal at the school for four years now said that Daire was a great example of how you don’t have to attend a private school to achieve such great results.

“Lads can achieve these results in their local schools once they go in, work with the staff, and put the work in themselves, and have the support of their parents.”

Another who achieved an incredible eight H1s is Alan Hickey (18), from Foxrock in Dublin.

Alan Hickey receives his Leaving Cert results from his principal Gerry Berry, alongside his proud parents Dara and Siobhan

The teenager attended CBC Monkstown and said he is over the moon with his results and hopes to study engineering in UCD from September.

He told Independent.ie: "I'm so relieved that it's all over and I can just relax now.

"I was working yesterday as well so that kind of took my mind off things, I met my friends afterwards to talk about it but this morning wasn't great, I woke up around 7am and it was a nervous wait until I was able to get them at 9.

"I was relieved when I opened the envelope and saw that I had gotten eight H1s, I had done fairly well all year in exams and to get six H1s was a target of mine but I never expected to get eight.

"I went to a nice quiet corner of the school to open my results and my parents were waiting outside, so I think they were a bit nervous that I took a while and people were coming out in front of me.

"They were delighted though and I'm happy that I was able to make them proud of me."

Despite his incredible results there was no rest for Alan today, as he is hard at work at his job in a school uniform shop in Sandyford.

He did say he plans to celebrate later though, he said: "I'll be heading into town, I'll be meeting my mates after work and we'll probably end up on Harcourt street.

"I'll be sure to look out for my mates as I know some people can tend to go a bit mad on Leaving Cert results night."

Alan was the head prefect at the south Dublin school and had some advice for others who are gearing up to begin sixth year.

"I didn't want to become a recluse during sixth year, I have heard how easy it is to get tunnel vision so I tried to continue to keep other things going in my life, there's more to life than the Leaving Cert and academics.

"I would tell anyone that it's a marathon, not a sprint, it takes hard work from the beginning and it will pay off in the end," the modest student added.

Dr Gerry Berry, Principal of CBC Monkstown, said that he was very proud of Alan's achievement.

He told Independent.ie: "We're over the moon for him, he's a lovely, lovely guy and made a great contribution to the school life.

"He is one of those lads who seems to balance it all and we're all so happy for him, he's an unassuming guy and he was head prefect - so that just shows the kind of qualities he has, we're all very proud of him."

He continued to say that there were a lot of happy students and teachers at the school this morning.

"All of the results were really good, we're more than pleased to say that they exceeded our expectations.

"We wish the group well going forward with their futures and they've set a great example for our younger students.

"It's also a great day for their teachers, who helped to get them this far, I'm sure they will also be celebrating today," Mr Berry said.

There must have been something in the water in Dublin as another star student was Andres Clarke who is a pupil at Oatlands College, Mount Merrion in Dublin.

It’s a double celebration for Andres, as today also marks his birthday.

The Donnybrook teenager said it was a "surreal moment" when he opened the envelope this morning.

"I'm hoping to study Natural Sciences in Trinity. I've always had a keen interest in science and did all the science subjects for my Leaving Cert," he explained.

High achiever Andres said that having a part-time job during his final year at school as well as swimming helped him take a step back from study when he needed to.

Now he is looking forward to diving into student life, and starting a new chapter at university.

Principal Caroline Garrett told that the school was “thrilled” with Andres’ performance.

It’s the second year in a row that the school has had a student soar to such heights, and overall Ms Garrett said the results this year reflected very positively for the Christian Brothers College.

“We had 52pc of students achieve over 400, 21pc achieved over 500, and seven students achieved over 600 points,” she said.

“We’re delighted. We are also one of the two non-fee paying schools which had a student achieve 8 H1s.”

In Cork, Alex Burke said he was filled with “relief” this morning after seeing his results.

Alex Burke from Cork pictured with outgoing principal Larry Jordan and new principal David Lordan)

“It’s such a relief, I really wasn’t expecting those results,” Alex (18) told Independent.ie.

The Montenotte boy praised his school, Christian Brothers School on Sidney Hill, Co Cork for their dedication throughout the year.

“The school were fantastic, they helped us a lot,” he said.

Top of the class Alex told Independent.ie that he hopes to land a spot in University College Dublin (UCD) when CAO offers come out next week.

“I’m hoping to study Medicinal Chemistry in UCD. I went to the open day and just fell in love with the college.

"I was always interested in chemistry and I always wanted to do something to help people. I was always interested in cancer research. I fell in love with chemistry from day one here in school and then I thought about ways to apply it.

"Then when you see illnesses with family members or things like that it is kind of an inspiring way to think of how could I  use chemistry in a way to help people. I had a family member (with cancer) a few years ago."

Alex said he was really surprised when he scored the maximum 625 points. He stressed that the results hadn't sunk in and that while he was hoping to do well he had exceeded all of his expectations.

"It is amazing. I was expecting to do well but not this well. I started from day one in sixth year even in fifth year studying every single day. This was always the ultimate goal so there is a lot of work involved. It is exciting times."

Principal David Lordan said Alex was “the star” of results day this morning, praising his hard work during his school career.

“We’re thrilled, it’s been a great morning all round and Alex is the star of the show,” Mr Lordan told Independent.ie.

“It was a wonderful reward for all the hard work and dedication over the last number of years.”

Also in Cork is Liam Mariga from Midleton College. His principal described his "delight" at Liam's "exceptional result".

"Liam is one of triplets, so it is a big day in his household today," said Principal Edward Gash.

"His sister and brother got their results today too and they both did very well. Liam worked very hard for the last two years and wants to study Medicine in Trinity College. He was involved in lots of aspects of the school, including being head prefect and captain of the hockey team."

Speaking to Independent.ie, Liam said: “It hasn’t hit me yet but I’m delighted.

"I was hoping for five or six H1s anyway. I was happy with the exams- they went almost as I’d hoped . I had a few doubts ( about how well I did ) but i didn’t want to worry about it all summer.

"I’m hoping to study Medicine in Trinity. I hope to go on to become a neurosurgeon.

"I didn’t throw my life away (with regard to how hard I worked ). I still played hockey and went out with friends.

"I paid attention in class and did homework and built up the amount of study I did as the exams drew near.

"I didn’t want to burn out too early."

Another young man who also notched up eight H1s is Lorcan Mulkerrin (17), who attended Yeats College in Galway.

Lorcan is planning to study medicine at Trinity College Dublin and has thanked all of those who helped him in the run up to the exams.

His parents said they are "over the moon" and celebrations will be in full swing this weekend for the All-Ireland final against Limerick.

"We are absolutely delighted. He'll follow his brother and sisters into medicine now. He got fabulous support from all his teachers."

When asked about Lorcan's secret to success, his mother said; "Slow and steady like the tortoise".

"He'll celebrate properly on Sunday now, so hopefully he gets a ticket!"

Lorcan Mulkerrin, from Salthill in Galway, achieved eight H1s

Principal Terry Fahy congratulated Lorcan and said that he was delighted with the top marks achieved by his students.

"Lorcan was here on a two year course and he worked very hard throughout the programme.

"It's a great day, I'm delighted for all of our students who got their results today.

"The teachers worked so closely with all of the students to help them to reach their full potential and you could really see the end result of that this morning as the results were given out - the relief and happiness amongst everyone was clear to see," he said.

Bigger picture

Overall, Leaving Cert students are aiming higher and are rewarded today with a jump in the numbers achieving the highest grade in a subject.

An ongoing upward trend in the numbers sitting higher level papers is revealed in data from the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for the class of 2018.

There was no dramatic swing in the second year of the new grading system.

However, a 1.7pc increase in students achieving at least one H1 grade is noteworthy in a year when overall candidate numbers dipped slightly.

The CAO bonus points for a minimum 40pc in "honours" maths continue to attract students, with more than 31pc of maths candidates taking higher level, but the relatively high numbers under-achieving in the subject will cause disappointment.

At higher level, 7.7pc received below 40pc and, while most are in the 30pc-40pc bracket and will qualify for points under the new CAO scale introduced last year, it is a cause for concern in a subject regarded as critical for future study and life.

Meanwhile, 9.8pc of ordinary level candidates failed to achieve 40pc in maths, a figure that remains high year on year.

Art students, in particular, will notice an uplift in grades at the top, following the introduction of new assessment arrangements this year.

It has been notoriously difficult for students to achieve at the highest levels in art, but the proportion receiving a H1 is up to 2.9pc, from 1.2pc last year, while H2s are up from 11.4pc to 13.5pc

Education Minister Richard Bruton led the congratulations to students and said they "should all be so proud of the work you have put in and what you have achieved".

This is the first year of assessment in the new subject of politics and society, with 867 students in 41 schools having taken the exam.

It will be available to all schools from September, while computer science and physical education are also being phased in from next month.

The release of the results sparked a hard-hitting statement from the business organisation Ibec, which claimed that the Leaving Cert "is not fit for purpose".

The Ibec statement followed research published by Dublin City University (DCU) this week revealing that the exams were largely memory tests and were not adequately assessing students' intellectual skills.

Ibec senior executive for innovation and education policy Claire McGee said: "In its current form it is doubtful that the Leaving Cert is in tune with the needs of Irish society and its economy." She added that reform was overdue.

"A high-stakes, terminal exam, predominately based on rote learning and information recall, leaves students with little opportunity to think critically, engage analytical skills and develop greater interpersonal skills," she said.

Ms McGee said it was "now time to make the Leaving Cert, and indeed the whole senior cycle and careers service, more relevant for the 21st century".

"To help students transition to future study and into the world of work, we need an education system that encourages a spark for learning, one that creates options for young people and prepares them for the their next phase in life," she said.

Ms McGee said Ibec looked forward to engaging on the review of the Leaving Cert that is currently under way.

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