A Co Donegal school attended by young people who lost their lives in the Creeslough explosion last year and a young man who saved a mother and daughter from drowning in a Co Carlow river have been honoured at the Garda National Youth Awards.
Young people battling serious health challenges and groups and individuals actively working to make the communities in which the live safer and more inclusive were also honoured at a ceremony in Dublin.
A special recognition award was presented to Mulroy College in Co Donegal where Leona Harper and James Monaghan, two of the 10 people who lost their lives in the Creeslough tragedy, were students.
“Of some comfort, however, is the compassion and support that the staff and students of Mulroy College have not just shown one another in the days and weeks that have followed, but to the whole community of Creeslough,” the citation said.
“Their maturity and compassion have lifted people up during a distressing time, and the support that they continue to offer to the locality is a tribute to all 10 people that lost their lives.”
Another winner, Miley Doran, was aged 17 when he was fishing on the banks of the river Barrow in Carlow town on a Sunday in May 2021. He heard a child shouting that their mother and sister were drowning. and, without hesitation, entered the water and rescued the young girl, pulling her to the bank.
He then turned back and rescued her mother before gathering up his fishing tackle and going home, leaving his family with no idea about his life-saving actions. People only became aware of his bravery when the young girl’s grandmother posted in praise of him on social media.
He is, the citation says, “naturally very modest but a remarkable advocate for the Irish Traveller Community who deserves every accolade and commands all our respect”.
Meanwhile, students from Castleisland Community College in Tralee, who sought second-hand bicycles from their school and local business community for Ukranian refugees, were also commended. Around 60 bikes were donated, serviced and repaired by the students.
There was also praise for Eoghan McCabe from Co Louth, who was born with a rare genetic condition. The citation said that “with years of hard work, love and perseverance, Eoghan has been able to attend his local secondary school [and] plays a central part in the management and operations of his local GAA club.”
It added: “Eoghan had the genius idea of holding a charity tractor run as part of his transition year project for the benefit of charities close to his heart, and he held it again this year to raise a combined €55,585.”
The ceremony heard that 12-year-old Sophie Lanigan from Dublin was running a high temperature last December and within 24 hours was fighting for her life in Crumlin Children’s Hospital after contracting Strep A and Sepsis. She survived but her life was forever changed by the severe infections, which led to her losing her limbs.
After spending more than two months in the care of the staff in Crumlin, Sophie embarked on the next phase of her road to recovery and has “learned to walk with prosthetics and to paint and write again”, the citation states.
Twin sisters Sarah and Rachel Bello from the Carlow-Kilkenny region were also acknowledged at the awards. They were born with a rare and incurable blood disorder which causes both girls severe pain. However, they “continue to meet any obstacles with resilience and good humour”.
The was also praise for Syrian national Sara Marza, who in 2018 sought refuge in Ireland along with her family following a journey “fraught with dangers” that included a sea rescue.
As a student at Inver College in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, Sara has learned three languages and “worked immensely hard to settle in and become a much admired friend and student.
“In her fundraising, children in Syria have benefited greatly by her efforts,” the citation stated.
The Community Safety Award was present to the Solas Project Youth Programme in Dublin for the creation of a positive, community and family friendly event “that provided an alternative and avoided engaging in unsafe behaviour on Hallowe’en”.
“The concept of creating a Haunted House for people to manage and the community to visit on Hallowe’en weekend was creative and exciting, but no easy feat to pull off,” the citation noted.