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Four MIC graduates receive MIC Alumni of the Year awards in recognition of considerable contribution to society

Declan, Petula, Miriam and Tomás standing in a theatre with orange chairs

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is delighted to announce Kerry football legend, Tomás Ó Sé, RTÉ broadcaster, Petula Martyn, sustainable fashion designer and educator, Miriam Keegan, and Limerick hurling Captain, Declan Hannon as this year’s Alumni of the Year awardees. The annual Alumni awards recognise the remarkable achievements of notable graduates in their personal or professional lives.

Tomás, was awarded an MIC Alumni Award in recognition of his notable sporting talents, both on the pitch—as a five-time All-Ireland winning footballer—and off the pitch as a pundit and sports writer. Originally from Ventry, Co. Kerry, Tomás is widely regarded as one of the best Gaelic Footballers of the modern game. Representing Kerry on the football pitch, alongside his brothers Darragh and Marc, for over 20 years, Ó Sé has nineteen Munster championship medals, five All-Ireland titles, five All-Stars and three National Football League medals, in addition to one All-Ireland and three Munster Championship medals at U21 level and a Munster Championship title at Minor level. Tomás successfully represented two clubs, winning two County Championships and a Munster Championship with An Gaeltacht before moving to Nemo Rangers (Cork) in 2015 and winning a further two County Championships and a Munster Championship. Tomás was described as the ‘best wing back that I’ve seen play the game’ by former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice and in 2020 was listed as one of the 20 greatest footballers of the past 50 years by the Irish Independent. Since leaving football, Tomás has gone into punditry alongside fellow MIC Alumni of the Year awardee, Jacqui Hurley, on The Sunday Game and writes for the Irish Independent. Additionally, Tomás has taken up a management role, coaching Glanmire’s minor footballers to a Cork Minor Football Championship win before commencing a role with the Offaly senior team in 2021. In 2022, Tomás returned to Kerry, to become manager of the County's U20 football team. Tomás graduated as a primary teacher from Mary Immaculate College in 2001 and nurtured his football career during his time at college. Teaching in Gaelscoil de hÍde in Fermoy since his graduation, Tomás was made Principal of the school in 2022. He currently resides in Glanmire with his wife Orla and four children. On receiving the award Tomás thanked Mary Immaculate College for all it had given him and for the relationships he had formed whilst a student there.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Tomás said: “It’s a huge honour to be given this award. I really enjoyed my time at MIC and made life-long friends here. I was a shy lad when I came into the College and had a desperate fear of teaching and it’s not until you look back that you realise the help you were given along the way. There was a time there I didn’t even think I’d graduate so I was very surprised and delighted to hear that I was to get this award! From the sporting side I was very ambitious when I was in College and I think that MIC, if anything, pushed me along further. The people I met and crossed path with her thought me a lot about leadership, about communication and about bringing people along with you, and I’ve valued that throughout my life.”

Petula graduated from MIC in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications and English. It was whilst a student in MIC that her love for broadcasting began when she cut her teeth working as a contributor for Wired FM, Limerick’s student community radio station. Following MIC, she gained a Masters in Journalism from DCU before returning to her native Limerick where she worked as a news reporter with Limerick's Live 95FM for three years and then with the Limerick Leader, as a member of their editorial team, for four years. In 2011, Petula joined RTÉ, Ireland’s national television and radio broadcaster, as a multi-media journalist working across radio, television and online. For the past five years Petula has been presenting business news on Morning Ireland, the most listened-to programme in the country, interviewing CEOs of banks and ISEQ-listed companies, economists and financial analysts. She has also presented The Business on RTÉ Radio One on Saturday mornings and presents business news on television at lunchtime on RTÉ 1, and on the Drivetime radio programme.

Petula commented: “The first time I pushed up a fader and spoke into a mic in a radio studio was on Wired FM, at Mary Immaculate College. I learned the craft of film and television here at Mary I, thanks to Nicky Fennell - scripting, filming, presenting and editing a documentary. I loved the creative process. Now, I get to work with the best news broadcasters in the country…Limerick has always been good to me. I enjoyed an excellent education from play school to college. My first job as a reporter was with Limerick's Live 95FM and then the Limerick Leader. And to get this acknowledgement from your own, it's really lovely and I really appreciate it. Thank you, Mary Immaculate College. And to those of you lucky enough to be students at Mary I; I hope you enjoy every opportunity.”

Miriam graduated from MIC in 2016 with a Bachelor of Education, specialising in Visual Art Education. During her time at MIC, Miriam was awarded the Carmel Naughton Foundation scholarship to study at Notre Dame University, USA, where she worked with the children and staff of Perley Fine Arts Academy, creating a collaborative textile mascot that still hangs in the school today. Miriam credits Anne-Marie Morrin, Lecturer in Visual Arts, MIC for her recognition and belief in Miriam's talent in textiles as being one of the catalysts for her career. Miriam spent five years teaching in Laois and Kildare and won the Highly Commended Award at the Department of Justice's 'Someone Like Me' Awards in 2016 for a whole-school collaborative art project. In 2018, Miriam began studying Fashion Design and set up a sewing club in her school for children to learn the basics of sewing. In 2020, during the pandemic, Miriam created the first-of-its-kind EPV teacher online summer course on sustainable fashion in the classroom. Since then, more than 350 teachers have completed this course, and this year will see the introduction of two new courses, 'Sustainable Costume Making in the Classroom' and 'Sustainable Fashion and Maths', both approved by the Department of Education. In 2021, Miriam was one of the select recipients of the Fulbright-EPA award, which allowed her to complete her Master of Science in Fashion and Apparel Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Fashion Business at the University of Delaware. Upon graduation this year, Miriam began working for the Fair Labor Association, where she is part of the social compliance team, advocating for garment workers' rights. In October, Miriam led the fashion brand Aoife Mc Namara to become the first fashion brand in Ireland to achieve BCorp certification, one of the most rigorous and respected sustainability certifications in the world. Miriam is currently studying for a Graduate Diploma in Carbon Footprinting and Life Cycle Analysis at UCD, alongside her work. Miriam's mission is to bring awareness, education and solutions for sustainability in fashion, whether it be for teachers, consumers, children through sewing or for businesses through innovation and transparency.

According to Miriam: “I’m delighted to receive this Alumni award from MIC. I’m very proud of all I’ve achieved and it’s so humbling to get this recognition from the College. Without a doubt, it is what I learned here, especially in my Visual Arts Specialism under the expert guidance of Anne-Marie Morrin, that has been so important to my career in sustainable fashion and it was there that I really focused on my talent for sewing and honed my skills. What I have achieved to date stems from the lessons I learned here at MIC.”

Declan, from Adare, has been central to the county’s recent hurling success, tallying five All-Ireland medals, six Munster titles – five of them consecutively – two National Hurling League titles, a Division 2 League win, two Munster League triumphs, a Waterford Crystal Cup win and an U21 Hurling Championship for his county, so far. Having served in the forward ranks in his earlier years but more recently acting as the keystone to the infamous Limerick defence, Declan earned himself three All-Star awards and was thrice named on the Sunday Game Team of the Year. While studying on the Bachelor of Arts at Mary Immaculate College, Declan was crucial to MIC’s historic first ever win in the Fitzgibbon Cup in 2016 as the top scorer (with 1-12) and Man of the Match in the legendary final against reigning champions, UL. At club level, Declan won a Senior Hurling Championship medal with Adare in 2009 and also holds two Harty Cup medals with Ard Scoil Rís, from 2010 and 2011.On graduating from Mary Immaculate College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English, Declan decided on a career in recruitment and works as the National Recruitment Manager at Unijobs. Earlier this year, Declan married his long-term girlfriend, Today FM radio broadcaster, Louise Cantillon.

On receiving the award Declan said: “It is a great honour and I am delighted to accept the award beside all of my fellow recipients, really I am accepting this on behalf of my Limerick teammates, many of whom are past students of Mary I, without them I most certainly would not be here”. Continuing he recalled his highlight at MIC as being the Fitzgibbon Cup Final in 2016 stating that it was ‘without a doubt one of the best games I have ever been involved in”.

Awardees pictured with Professor Eugene Wall
WATCH: MIC Alumni Awards 2023

Previous recipients of the MIC Alumni of the Year award include Carmel Naughton, founder of the Naughton Foundation; sports journalist, Jacqui Hurley; Supermacs Founder, Pat McDonagh; and author Roisin Meaney; former Executive Director of Trócaire, Éamonn Meehan; presenter, Dáithí Ó Sé; RTÉ political correspondent, Micheál Lehane; former Irish Rugby captain, Ciara Griffin; and Google Ireland’s Director of People Operations, Helen Tynan; and BBC commissioning editor, Tommy Bulfin.

The recipients were presented with their award at the College's annual awards night, where the achievements of almost 150 students and graduates were celebrated. You can read more about the 2023 MIC College Awards ceremony by clicking here.