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Cork Science Students Honoured as Cork Persons of the Month

CORK SCIENCE STUDENTS HONOURED. Award winning science students Eilíse Ireland, international science award winner in New York and Simon Meehan, BT Young Scientist of the Year and Expo Sciences Luxembourg prize winner, have been chosen Cork Persons of the Month. Pictured front l/r Ann-Marie O’Sullivan, AM O’Sullivan PR; Eilíse Ireland and Simon Meehan, Cork Persons of the Month, John Lehane, Lexus Cork. Rear l/r Tony O’Connell, Tony O’Connell Photography, George Duggan, Cork Crystal, Pat Lemasney, Southern, Manus O’Callaghan, Awards Organiser. Photograph by Martin Collins. Picture, Tony O’Connell Photography.

Students Eilíse Ireland and Simon Meehan have received this month’s Cork Persons of the Month award to mark their achievements in science.

Eilíse Ireland, a student of Regina Mundi in Douglas, received recognition by discovering a new way to channel rainwater in downspouts to produce electricity.  By recycling parts of an old computer she developed a prototype of a water turbine.  Due to her discovery, she was one of the top three award winners at this year’s Spellman High Voltage Electronics Clean Tech Competition in New York.  This STEM competition is designed to focus on using clean technology to solve environmental challenges.

Eilíse, who was the only finalist from Europe and Ireland’s first ever finalist, received €5,000 and trophy for her invention.  Following her success, she was invited to the Irish Consulate in New York where she used her invention to light up their library with her self-powered LED’s in the tricolour of the Irish flag.  “When you consider some 550 teams from 40 countries submitted projects, Eilíse Ireland’s success was phenomenal,” said Cork Person of the Year awards organiser, Manus O’Callaghan.

Simon Meehan from Ballinora, Waterfall, a student of Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig, took the top prize at this year’s BT Young Scientist competition and, in recent weeks, won the Expo Sciences Luxembourg prize at this year’s European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) at the RDS, Dublin.  His project led to the discovery of a potential new antibiotic capable of beating antimicrobial resistant bacteria including MRSA.  Simon spent two years working on his winning project, which involved collecting samples of the aerial and root parts of ten common plants in 40% ethanol.  Simon’s love for plant life was instilled in him from a young age by his botanist grandfather.

Professor John O’Halloran, BT Young Scientist judge said, “This is a really exciting project which explores the possibility of the blackberry leaf extract’s ability to control harmful bacteria.”

Mr O’Callaghan said, “MRSA is a strain of infection that can be resistant to antibiotics and it’s fantastic to think that Simon discovered locally sourced blackberries that have the potential to control such bacterial growth.  It is a great credit to him and his science class at Colaiste Choilm.”

Eilíse Ireland and Simon Meehan will now go forward with the other persons of the month chosen this year for possible selection as Cork Persons of the Year at a gala awards lunch on January 18th 2019 at the Rochestown Park Hotel before an invited audience of 250 people representing all aspects of Cork life.

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