Mr Crothers also announced that, following recommendations from the independent Scholarship Board, the number of scholarships to be awarded in the new cycle would be increased to 16, while the amount of the award would be €2,000 for each year of third-level study.

The Carne function was held to recognise the 2012/2013 successful applicants who are: Aisling Cafferkey (Our Lady’s Secondary School); Darragh Carey (Our Lady’s Secondary School); Natasha Corduff (St Brendan’s College); Micheál Ó Corrduibh (Coláiste Chomáin); Marie Deane (Coláiste Chomáin); Emma Ní Dhochartaigh (Coláiste Chomáin); Aoife Leneghan (Our Lady’s Secondary School); Christine McAndrew (St Brendan’s College); Margaret McAndrew (St Brendan’s College); and Thomas Togher (St Brendan’s College).

Mr Crothers paid tribute to the teachers and to all the parents for the support they provide to their children while attending college. He also thanked the members of the Scholarship Board whose “independence and integrity are crucial to the success of the programme.”

Seán Staunton, Chairman of the Scholarship Board, said the members were proud to be involved in such a worthwhile and beneficial programme. The Board members were conscious of the difficulty many parents faced in supporting their children through college and it was for that reason that they had proposed an increase in the number of scholarships to be allocated.

Since the programme was introduced in 2007 a total of 61 scholarships have been awarded to Leaving Certificate students attending the four schools covered under the scheme – Coláiste Chomáin, Ros Dumhach; Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet; St Brendan’s College, Belmullet and St Patrick’s College, Lacken Cross.

St Patrick’s College, Lacken Cross did not participate in the programme in 2012 as they introduced a Transition Year and did not have a Leaving Cert class. For the coming year, the same will apply to Coláiste Chomáin, who recently introduced Transition Year.