Pupils from Kerry and Galway win All-Ireland schools quiz

Irish League of Credit Unions president says standard is getting higher every year

The RDS was hosting chartered accountancy exams in one corner on Sunday but the tension was far greater next door in the main hall where the Irish League of Credit Unions All-Ireland Schools Quiz was under way. Judging by the standard of the quiz questions, these primary school students could probably have sat the accountancy exams on their way in and passed with flying colours.

Some of the parents attending the event cheerfully admitted that they would have struggled to name the prime minister of Australia (Tony Abbott)or the name given to a greyhound in its first year (sapling), without the help of their smartphones.

Having to ensure that the mobile phones were prised from the youngsters' hands before the event began was a relatively recent necessity, observed Martin Sisk, president of the Irish League of Credit Unions. And just in case one errant phone made it through the barricades, credit union officials were dotted around the tables, watching the competitors.

This was the 24th year of the event, which has a competition for under 11-year-olds and one for 11-13 year olds. More than 25,000 children took part in the regional rounds over the past three months and they were whittled down to 400 children in 100 teams for the final.


Mr Sisk said the standard was definitely getting higher every year. “I’m struggling here to answer some of the questions,” he said. “It’s a credit to them, and to their teachers.”

The pupils from Scoil Mhuire in Killorglin, Co Kerry didn't struggle too much and won the category for under 11-year-olds. Hugh Fitzpatrick, Eoghan Joy, Eoin Lynch and Killian Spillane were delighted with their trophy but even more delighted with their prize of Samsung Galaxy tablets.

Hugh said a retired teacher Mr Moriarty helped them to prepare for the quiz. “He loves the quizzes and he’s very good at them,” he said magnanimously. “We practised over the Easter holidays too.”

There was one burning question for the winners of the 11-13 year old category. Niamh Maguire, Pádraig Faherty, Sam Dooher and Róisín Duffy from St Annins National School, Roscahill, Galway were waiting for an update on the homework situation. "We were told we would get no homework for a week if we won, but that was before we even started the first round so I didn't really think that was going to happen," said Pádraig. He said the team's secret weapon was Niamh Maguire's mother who drew up lists of questions for the team so that they could practise at home.

But what about the embargo on homework? Principal Marc Sheehan looked slightly alarmed when he was reminded about the wild promise. "Oh, I don't know," he said with a nervous laugh. "We'll decide that tomorrow."

So the issue of a homework pass was the only question to go unanswered at the quiz. And it was one that all 400 competitors would have liked to answer.

Test your knowledge: Sample questions

Q What is the name of the scale used to measure the spice level of a chilli pepper? – A, Scoville. Q Name the process that involves placing potatoes or other tubers into egg cartons to encourage sprouting. – A, Chitting. Q Halifax is the provincial capital of what Canadian maritime province? – A, Nova Scotia. Q Which artist had a famous blue period between 1901 and 1904? – A, Picasso.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times