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Celebrations all around for study heroes

Eleanor Murray has plenty of reason to celebrate after gaining a distinction in her Leaving Cert exams.

The 20-year-old with Down Syndrome achieved a mark of 93pc in the Applied exams, stunning her family and school in Trim, Co Meath.

Proud dad Tom told the Herald that when she started secondary school they met with representatives from special needs teaching and the national educational psychological service, some of whose ambitions weren't as high for Eleanor as she had for herself.


"We were asked what our aspirations for Eleanor were, and I said I hoped that she would take part fully in the school and that she would sit the State exams, but the psychologist said we would need to modify our expectations," said Tom.

"They said no person with that level of disability had ever sat, never mind passed, a State exam. Obviously, we're very proud, and there is a big marquee in the back garden for the celebrations."

Eleanor, from Readstown, was a student of Scoil Mhuire in Trim, Co Meath. Her chosen subjects were Irish, English, French, Maths, Special Education, Childcare and Craft and Display.

"I got 93pc and a distinction, and I'm delighted," she told the Herald.

There was more good news for Eleanor this week when she received confirmation that she has been accepted on a Sports Management and Coaching Course at Dunboyne Institute of Further Education next month.

Swimmer Eleanor's love of the pool has earned her the honour of being the only Irish athlete travelling to Mexico for the World Down Syndrome Games in November.

And in Cork, Joanne O'Riordan (18) is "over the moon" after scoring an excellent Leaving Cert and being awarded a prestigious university scholarship.

The 'No Limbs, No Limits' student secured a prestigious Quercus scholarship from University College Cork (UCC), which is worth up to €10,000. It was awarded to the north Cork teen under the active citizenship category in light of her remarkable contribution to Irish society and civic life.

The teen suffers from Total Amelia, a condition that saw her born without arms and legs.

Joanne was honoured by the United Nations in 2012. Her parents, Joe and Ann, said Leaving Cert results day was another proud day for the entire family.