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Going for Gold: Gaisce

Cathal shares his experience of An Gaisce.

Written by Cathal Hayes and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

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Gaisce – The President’s Award is the country’s most prestigious and respected youth award programme. It is a personal development programme that is a direct challenge from the President of Ireland to all young people between the ages of 15 and 25 to dream big and fulfil your potential. The great thing about Gaisce is that you will set your own challenges and goals. You won’t be competing with other participants, as each challenge is completely individual — so the only person you’ll compete with is yourself.

I made the decision to take on this project quite a while ago. Ever since I started working towards my bronze Gaisce award I knew that I would have to complete my gold. I am lucky that Mary Immaculate College provide students with the opportunity to achieve their Gaisce awards as there are a number of different PALs (President’s Award Leaders) trained in the college.

Mary I’s chaplain and Gaisce PAL Fr. Michael Wall held a meeting with a group of students interested in undertaking the award to discuss what the award is all about and how he could support us in obtaining the award. As I sat in the chaplaincy room of Mary Immaculate College with a group of people I had never even met before, I felt a sense of community; we all shared our stories from our previous awards and spoke about why we wanted to complete the gold award. That’s when I decided I wanted to create a forum for all of us interested in the award to share our ideas and support each other on our journey.

Then it occurred to me, why not take this community a step further. Why not create Mary I’s own gold Gaisce Society? The college already has a number of really good active clubs and societies that students can avail of, so why not create a support system for students who wish to undertake the gold Gaisce award. I got a lot of support from my fellow gold Gaisce participants in the college, Fr. Michael Wall and the Shout west development officer Stephen Peers.

The society is still currently in the development stages but hopefully will be fully set up in September. So far my experience of Gaisce has been extremely positive. I am now 10 weeks into my award and I am already reaping the benefits. For my Personal skill challenge area, I decided to take up photography. I have always had an interest in photography but I’ve never spent enough time on it to develop a genuine skill set.

However I am already noticing a massive difference as I learn different photographic techniques and functions of the camera. I am looking forward to furthering my skills in photography as I have plans on attending an evening course in the upcoming academic year. Below is a photograph I took when undertaking my residential project(an Irish language course) in Coláistí Chorca Dhuibne. I look forward to undertaking the journey we have ahead of us.

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Published June 12th, 2015
Last updated August 8th, 2018
Tags volunteer gaisce
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