Winners of NewsBrands Ireland Press Pass student journalism competition announced

7. June 2021. The winners of the NewsBrands Ireland Press Pass student journalism competition have been announced with prizes awarded in six categories including News Writing, Features, Opinion, Sports Journalism, Photojournalism, and best School Newspaper.

Ciara Ní Ghéibheannaigh, a student from Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Dingle, Co. Kerry,  was named the overall Student Journalist of the Year for her News Report which included an interview with a world champion Irish dancer.

 According to Michael Foley, Chairman of the Press Pass Judging Panel, Ciara’s winning piece showed an ability to tell a real Covid story well.

“The story she told was interesting and unusual but said something about so many people forced to stop performing because of Covid. In this case it was a five times world champion Irish dancer, from Ciara’s hometown of Dingle. The story was verified, mature and confidently written and a joy to read.”

“Ciara’s work, like that of the other entrants, are examples of learning by doing, understanding what makes good journalism by doing good journalism, using sources, formulating opinions and writing clearly. Congratulations to them all.”

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 90,000 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 free newspapers, a Teacher’s Lesson Plan, and a specially created student workbook. This year NewsBrands also ran a number of free webinars for schools which included advise and inspiration from renowned journalist and editors. Students are encouraged to engage with the newspapers in the classroom, to analyse them 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.

Speaking about the awards, Michael Foley said:

This has been a strange time for journalists, whether professional or student but our Press Pass journalists rose to the challenge, writing great stories while studying at home, working with restrictions and finding there was really only one story, Covid. But that did not stop them, they still found great stories and interesting angles. They also wrote well and understood the importance of getting it right whatever category they entered.

Our entrants have written their pieces at the end of a process,  and have followed a programme that we hope has made students aware of why journalism matters, why democracy depends on good journalism, and also learnt to question journalists and journalism itself if it is not doing its job of questioning those who hold power. In learning that, they become active citizens. They have also understood the importance of checking, and that accuracy is important whatever story they are telling. The students have acquired transferable skills that can be applied to any activity or subject, anything that demands good clear communications, good writing, and an understanding of word counts and deadlines.”

Speaking about the awards, 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 worthy winners. We are delighted to see so many schools take part in Press Pass every year and look forward to launching our 2021/2022 programme for schools this autumn.”

Press Pass winners 2021

School Newspaper

1st Prize: ‘New Wave’, Colaiste Muire Crosshaven, Co. Cork

2nd Prize: Ballinamore Community School News, Co. Leitrim

3rd Prize: What’s the Sus?, Fingal Community College


1st Prize: Molly Kay, Moville Community College, Co. Donegal

2nd Prize: Saoirse Ní Chonaill, Pobalscoil na Trionoide, Youghal, Co. Cork

3rd Prize: Caoimhe Busher, FCJ Secondary School, Bunclody, Co. Wexford


1st Prize: Isolde Ní Dhubhagáin, Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Dingle, Co. Kerry

2nd Prize: Eve Carey, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod, Dublin

3rd Prize: Eve Leslie, St Louis High School, Rathmines, Dublin 6


1st Prize: Sophie Quinn, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod, Dublin 20

2nd 1st Prize: Clodagh King, Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth

3rd 1st Prize: Jess Todd, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod, Dublin 20


1st Prize: Joy Nic Niocaill, Pobalscoil na Trionoide, Youghal, Co. Cork

2nd Prize: Cian Carr, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway

3rd Prize: Emma Keane, Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co. Clare


1st Prize: Emma Geoghegan, Ballinamore Community School, Co. Leitrim

2nd Prize: Georgina Dempsey, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod, Dublin 20

3rd Prize: Cormac Thompson, Scoil Mhuire & Ide, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick