Leaving Cert: Top student ‘floating on cloud’ after eight A1s

Top of the class: Six students got eight A1s in schools in Dublin, Cork and Mayo

Schools with the highest achievers in this year's Leaving Cert results are from Cos Dublin, Cork and Mayo.

While no candidate received nine A1s this year, six students received eight A1s in the exams.

Three of the students are from Dublin schools: Gonzaga College in Sandford Road, Dublin 6; Loreto College St Stephen's Green in Dublin 2 and Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan Rd, Co Dublin.

Two of the top-performing students attended schools in Co Mayo: Scoil Cnocán Mhichil Naofa in Claremorris and Ballinrobe Community School on Convent Road.


One Cork student from Regina Mundi College, Douglas Road received the same tally.

Niamh Ryan, a Loreto College student, said she was in “shock” at her result of eight A1s.

“I was so nervous I didn’t really sleep last night. I’m so relieved and delighted,” she said.

“I didn’t feel like some subjects went well at the time- some went good, other’s medium. I was lucky things went my way.

“I’m feel like I’m floating on a cloud after seeing the results.”

The 18-year-old from Castleknock said she planned to study chemical engineering in Cambridge.

Des Fitzgerald, deputy principal from Loreto College, said the school was very proud of all the students.

“They have performed extremely well in their exams. The students and their teachers have worked very hard to get these results. We would like to wish them all the very best for next year,” he said.

Student Annie Duffy from Ballinrobe Community School in Co Mayo said she could not sleep in the nights leading up the results of the landmark exam.

“I had put in loads of work but I was very nervous. I wasn’t sleeping the last few days,” she said.

“I didn’t want to go in this morning, I was putting it off I didn’t know what I was going to read- I didn’t know what my reaction was going to be.”

The 18-year-old, who has four younger siblings, said it was a tense moment when she opened the envelope.

“My legs felt like jelly. I got a bit of a shock. . I didn’t really believe it at first,” she said.

“I’m thrilled, so happy. All the work paid off.”

Annie said she hoped to study medicine at National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG).

William Culkeen, principal of Ballinrobe Community School, said Annie achieving eight A1s was “extraordinary”.

“Her results are a brilliant achievement. She’s been a role model since she came into the school in first year,” he said.

“She also involved in sports and athletics, she plays for Mayo ladies football. “Also Annie’s the second person ever in the 25 year history of the school to get eight A1s.”

Mr Culkeen said there were a number of high results in the school of 630 students.

“Considering we’re a community school and we cater for every student at all levels and abilities from the less academic to the very academic, it’s an achievement.It’s a tribute to the teachers getting the best from students too. ”

Fellow Co Mayo student Emma-Louise Ruane, who attended Mount St Michael’s Secondary School in Claremorris, also received eight A1 grades.

“I wanted to check the results and make sure they were correct, I had to recount them- it was surreal,” she said.

“ I was in a state of shock but so happy. It’s hard to take in the reality of the whole experience. I feel amazing.

The 18-year-old said she had worked hard in her senior years at school.

“During the exams in every subject there was a moment of panic but I felt I did well. But you never know with the Leaving Cert. It’s a relief to get these results.”

Emma-Louise said mathematics was her favourite subject and she planned to study Management Science and Information Systems Studies (MSISS) in Trinity College Dublin.

Another of the high achievers was 18-year-old Jessica O’Shea from Douglas in Co Cork.

Jessica, who was a student at Regina Mundi College, said she could barely believe her results of eight A1s.

“It’s incredible. It’s a weird feeling, hard to take in but I’m so happy,” she said.

“My parents are ecstatic. My mum is ringing everyone and crying, my dad is really excited too.”

Jessica said her twin brother also achieved high grades and is also delighted with the results.

Jessica has more than enough points to secure her choice of doing primary teaching at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.

A keen musician, Jessica said that she plays violin and used to play with the National Youth Orchestra, the Cork Youth Orchestra and the Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestra but gave up playing in all three orchestras at the start of sixth year to concentrate on her studies.

Jessica’s principal Margaret O’Donovan said it was a “wonderful day” for the students, the school and parents.

“We’re very proud of Jessica. She’s a dedicated, committed student- what a wonderful achievement,” she said.

“On top of her academic achievements she’s a great musician and she never fails to contribute to school activities- an all rounder.”

The principal, whose school has 540 students, said she was very proud of all the students and what they had achieved.

Andrew Cleary, a student from Gonzaga College, said his day had been a mixture of nerves, shock and happiness.

“I’m ecstatic. Nerves had hit in the last 48 hours. Some subjects had gone really well but with some others I was thinking it was not my best,” he said.

“I was shocked when I saw them. I’m really delighted with my results today.”

The 18-year-old from Carrickmines said he wanted to study theoretical physics at Trinity College Dublin.

More than 55,000 Leaving Cert students get their exam results today with no major fluctuations in grades across most subjects.

Those who applied for college will not know whether they have secured their first choice until next Monday when offers through the Central Applications Office (CAO) are made.

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is Digital Features Editor and journalist with The Irish Times

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times