Cork student named Student Journalist of the Year for Opinion piece on climate

  • Student Journalism and News Literacy programme run by NewsBrands Ireland attracts over 10,000 students each year

17 April 2024. The winners of the NewsBrands Ireland Press Pass student journalism competition were announced today at an awards ceremony in the Aviva Stadium with prizes awarded in six categories including News Writing, Features, Opinion, Sports Journalism, Photojournalism, and best School Newspaper.

The event, which was hosted by Matt Cooper, was attended by the award winning school students, their teachers and families, along with leading national news editors and journalists. A panel discussed journalism as a rewarding career path featuring Aaron Rogan, Deputy Editor Business Post, Jennifer O’ Connell, The Irish Times Opinion Editor, and Linda Maher, Deputy Features Editor with DMG Media.

Grace O’ Leary, a TY Student from St. Aloysius College in Carrigtwohill, Cork was presented with the overall prize for her Opinion piece on climate change.   

According to Michael Foley, Chairman of the Press Pass Judging Panel:

“The winner clearly understood that journalism should be both accessible and assessable. It was well written and was sourced. But it was also smart. Climate change can be overwhelming. Does the little we can do actually make a difference? Yes, according to the winning piece and in so giving us the good news about climate change she encourages us all to do more, a sort of reverse psychology.”

The other category winners are outlined below and can be read here

Press Pass is a Transition Year student journalism and news literacy programme which has been run by NewsBrands Ireland since 2012. The free programme, which has been completed by 120,000 students, seeks to teach the fundamentals of journalism writing, improve news literacy and critical thinking skills, and encourage students to analyse content and form opinions about important social issues.

Participating schools receive access to free digital news, a Teacher’s Lesson Plan, and a specially created student workbook. NewsBrands has a partnership with the Department of Education’s Oide Teachers Support  to provide webinars and podcasts for teachers which included advice and inspiration from renowned journalist and editors.

During the Press Pass module, students are encouraged to engage with newspapers and digital news in the classroom, to analyse the journalism and then to create their own original journalism, the best of which is entered into a national competition.  The judging panel comprises of a group of leading newspaper journalists, which is chaired by Michael Foley, Professor Emeritus of Journalism, TU Dublin. The Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI) judged the photojournalism category.

Ann Marie Lenihan, CEO of NewsBrands Ireland, said:  

“Congratulations to all our finalists and to the members of the judging panel who took the time to read through the many entries and pick the talented winners. A special thank you also to the passionate teachers who teach the Press Pass programme every year.

Press Pass 2024 Winners

Press Pass Student Journalist of the Year

Grace O’ Leary, St Aloysuis College, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork


1st: Art Thornbury, Villiers School, Limerick

2nd: Cian Ó Gallchobhair, Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, An Daingean

3rd Keirsha O’ Hare, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom, Co. Cork

School Newspaper

1st  – The Ursu-Times, Ursuline Secondary School, Cork

2nd – TY Times 2024, Moville Community College, Co. Donegal

3rd – St. Mary’s Chronicle, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom, Co. Cork


1st  – Grace O’ Leary, St Aloysuis College, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork

2nd  – Lucy Crean, Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co. Clare

3rd – Jasmine McWeeney, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod, Dublin


1st: Dylan O’ Driscoll, Pobalscoil na Tríonóide, Youghal, Co. Cork

2nd: Ella Healy, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom, Co. Cork

3rd: Clodagh Creedon, The Institute of Education, Dublin


1st: Molly Cahill, Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co, Clare

2nd: John Sheridan, Ennistymon Community School, Co. Clare

3rd: Maria Weroniecka, St. Aloysuis College, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork

Sports Journalism

1st: Philip Walker, Moville Community College, Co. Donegal

2nd : Ava McSweeney, St Mary’s Secondary School Macroom

3rd: Aine de Courcey, Moville Community College, Co. Donegal