‘I didn’t believe it at first’: Two Leaving Cert students get nine H1s

Class of 2021 generally ‘happy and relieved’ with results after stressful year

Patricia Shevel-Bleikss (16) from Artane in Dublin said she could not believe her eyes when she checked her results online on Friday morning to find she secured nine H1 grades.

“I logged onto the website at 9.50am and got straight in. I didn’t believe it at first, so I logged in about three times to make sure it wasn’t a glitch. I expected high results – but not nine H1s,” she said.

The 16-year-old – who turns 17 next week – is a student at the Institute of Education in Dublin and plans to go to University College London to study for a finance, economics and statistics degree.

She said she decided to skip transition year as she wanted to continue studying.


“If I was studying languages I might have completed it [transition year], but my best subjects are maths-based so I felt I didn’t need to do it,” said the teenager, whose mother is from Russia and father is from Latvia.

She felt it was important to keep up her hobbies, though, throughout her studies. “You need a balance and a bit of fun, so I hung out with my friends on Fridays after school and had violin lessons. I play with the intermediate orchestra at the Royal Academy of Music, which is a nice social outlet.”

Oscar Despard, a student at Sandford Park School in Dublin, also received nine H1s and was relaxed about his achievement.

“It’s nice to finally get the results, but I wasn’t too worried about them,” he said.

He had praise for how his school managed the issue of learning from home. “I was very lucky. My school had an exceptional programme for remote learning, although it was always a great relief to get back in person when it was possible.”

He now plans to accept an offer from the University of Cambridge to study Natural Sciences.


In Cork, a student who received eight H1s was full of praise for his grandparents who had been busy “lighting candles” in the run-up to results day.

Alex Lynch, who was a pupil of Christian Brothers College (CBC) in Cork, said: “I had excitement and nerves and a bit of broken sleep. The Leaving Certificate has been stressful, obviously, and a bit unnerving at times because there were all different reports saying that the exams would be cancelled and that there would be predicted grades. At last we got a bit of clarity.”

He plans to study medicine at UCC, and paid tribute to the support of his family – particularly his grandparents Tim and Eileen Ring in Lombardstown and his grandmother Noreen Lynch in Cobh.

“All the candles they lit and the cards they sent have finally paid off. My nana [in Cobh] is over the moon. She was probably even more nervous than I was.”

Proud mother Margaret Ring said she was delighted for Alex, who “worked so hard”.

“He deserves it... We are going to my parents’ house this afternoon because my mother is thrilled.We are going there to let them give him a big hug.”

Elsewhere, it was a proud day for the Hayden family of Rochestown in Cork, with 19-year-old twins Stephen and Robert receiving excellent results. The twins were within a handful of points of each other.

Stephen received seven H1s and and was relieved to have done so well after the difficulties Covid caused students in their final year.

“I remember in April and it would be dark and you would be doing accounting for hours, and then you would finish the day off with a call with friends... You don’t really have the social outlet, which was hard.”


Robert said having his twin brother in the same house was a big motivator. “I could see that Stephen was putting in the work so I had to do it. It was a visual motivation.”

The brothers plan to study at Trinity College Dublin.

Emer Neville, president of the Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU), was also relieved the day had finally arrived. “While I’m not entirely happy with my results, I’m glad that what has often been called ‘the year from hell’ for Leaving Cert students has finally come to an end.”

She said she was looking forward to a short break and then getting started on “the next chapter of my life”.

Adam Lambe, deputy president of the ISSU, highlighted the difficulties he and all the class of 2021 faced. “We have faced months of uncertainty about our exams and had the stresses of online learning.

“Today I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief and not worry about the Leaving Cert anymore... Like many students I feel like I could’ve done better, but now is a time to celebrate.”