High achievers balance work and play


Ten star students today shared the top spot in this year’s Leaving Certificate results by achieving eight A1s in higher level papers.

Another 39 pupils managed to secure seven A1s, while 92 teenagers achieved six A1s, and some 214 students got full marks in five subjects.

A teenager who began teaching himself Japanese just three years ago to talk to a girl in his class was among the top achievers. Ruadhan Treacy was one of ten star students who secured eight A1s in the State exam. The 18-year-old, from Newtown School in Waterford city, admitted he only took up the language in the third year to speak to a girl in school.

“I don’t really remember why I took up Japanese,” he said. “There was a Japanese girl in my year in school and I think I was looking up something in Japanese to say to her.”

Ruadhan went on holiday to Japan and China before deciding to take it as a Leaving Cert option - teaching himself at home from a text book as the subject was not taught in his school. He now plans to go on to study business and Japanese in Manchester.

Another A1 student, Stephen O’Brien, from Ballinlough in Cork, was so nervous about collecting his results from Colaiste Chriost Ri he could not sleep last night.

“My aim all year was just to get into medicine in University College Cork, so anything else is a bonus,” he said. “I studied consistently from September and there was no cramming until 4am. But I still went training two to three times a week with the GAA. “I just felt I had to go out and do something else.”

But the dedicated Blackrock GAA hurler said he would have to skip the celebrations to train for the county’s minor hurling championship quarter final.

Caitriona Callan (18) from Clonskeagh, said she was shocked when she found she got an A1 in every subject, especially in maths — which she needed to study medicine at Cambridge. But the violin and piano player, of Alexandra College in Milltown, south Dublin, vowed she did not spent all her spare time studying.

Despite getting top grades in her three favourite subjects - physics, chemistry and biology - a Waterford teenager instead plans to divert from the science path and study law with politics at University College Dublin.

April Duff (18) of St Augustine’s College in Dungarvan, admitted to having her head in the books all year. She also went cycling every morning before school to clear her head.

“I would not put myself as one of those really intelligent people,” said April, a member of the national youth parliament. “I’ve got a good brain and memory but I put a lot of hard work into it.”

Bray teenager Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne, who attended the prestigious Gonzaga College in Dublin, plans to take medicine at Trinity.

“I knew I had done okay but I wasn’t quite expecting that,” admitted the 19-year-old piano player. “I made sure I had a good few other things going on when I was studying, like school stuff, sports and music. You have to keep a bit of a balance.”

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said all candidates should be rightly proud of their achievements. “Today is the culmination of many years of hard work and I hope that your dedication is reflected in the results that you receive today,” he said.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) revealed the number of high achievers varied from last year - when one teenager got nine A1s, six secured eight, 37 got the top mark in seven papers and 92 were awarded six. Eleven teenagers got eight A1s and one scooped nine in 2009.