Mr Crothers was speaking at a function in Carne Golf Club to honour the sixteen successful applicants to the 2013/2014 scholarship scheme.

He referred to the fact that there had been over seventy applicants for the awards for the 2013/2014 programme and, as in previous years, the competition for the awards was intense.

“That you succeeded in winning one of the sixteen scholarships is a credit first of all to your own hard work, but also the excellence of your teachers and yes, the support (or continuous loving harassment!) of your parents,” he told the assembled scholars.

The Corrib Natural Gas Scholarship programme is now in its seventh year and, to date 77, scholarships have been awarded by the independent Scholarship Board which is chaired by Seán Staunton of Westport.

In his remarks, Sean Staunton referred to the change in the scheme which resulted in the applicants having to come together to write their themed essay in an exam type situation.

In previous years, applicants could research and write their essay in the familiar surroundings of their home. “The change to the exam type situation created additional pressure but I’m delighted to say that everyone rose magnificently to the challenge and the standard of essay was on a par with previous years.”

The successful applicants, who were accompanied by their parents and family members, were each given a gift presentation bag by Michael Crothers as a memento of the occasion.

The 2014/2015 programme will open to applications in March and application forms will be available in the four schools involved in the scheme - Coláiste Chomáin, Ros Dumhach; Our Lady’ Secondary school, Belmullet; St Brendan’s college, Belmullet and St Patrick’s college, Lacken Cross.