The 21st Student Enterprise Programme National Finals took place in Croke Park on 5 May, with 82 finalist groups showcasing their innovative business ideas. The programme encourages secondary school students from first to sixth year to learn basic entrepreneurial skills by creating their own business models. A number of students created innovative agricultural products and business ventures.

About the programme

The programme is funded by the Government through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 local enterprise offices in local authorities throughout the country. Since the programme began in 2003, over 350,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.

The National Final saw students in junior, intermediate and senior categories challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product. This year, close to 25,000 students participated.

Planting a seed

Michael Nevin has been the chair of the Local Enterprise Office’s Enterprise Education Committee for the last 10 years.

Speaking at the final in Croke Park, Michael told Irish Country Living about the lasting impact the programme has had on students since its inception.

“It’s a very important programme because it teaches them the practical skills involved in running their own enterprise,” he said.

“They are real-life skills around brainstorming, teamwork, keeping books and selling their product and themselves. These skills will stand out no matter what career they embark on in the future.

“We are planting a seed, and if they are interested in self-employment and a career in business, we can nurture them along to become entrepreneurs in the future.”

Overall winners

Senior category

1st – McCompactors – Roscommon Community College, Roscommon

2nd – Colaiste Muire Student IDs – Colaiste Muire, Cobh, Cork

3rd – Hurlr – Heywood Community School, Laois

Intermediate category

1st – Clip Clop Designs – Moyne Community School, Longford

2nd – Premier Woodworking – CBS Thurles, Tipperary

3rd – HD Horseshoe Design – St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny

Junior category

1st – Grasper – Drumshanbo Vocational School, Leitrim

2nd – Orlaith’s Derrybrien Honey – Gort Community School, Galway

3rd – Clochai Cneasta – Castleisland Community College, Kerry

For more information on the Student Enterprise programme, visit:

First for farm safety

In the junior category, farm safety came out on top with Handled with Hearts winning for their product, Grasper. The three students – Freya Whitney, Alexandra O’Looney and Amy Keaveney – from Drumshanbo Vocational School in Co Leitrim created a handheld farm safety tool used to assist farmers with the opening of slurry tank agitation covers.

The initial product idea came from Alexandra’s grandad.

The Grasper team with left Neale Richmond, Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Business, and John Magee, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices.

“I was on the farm with Grandad, and I noticed he was struggling to pick up the slatted tank cover. He was always complaining about his back hurting. I brought this back to Freya and Amy and we came up with the Grasper,” she explained. “It saves the farmer from hurting their back or getting their fingers caught and it keeps them far away from it [the slurry tank] so the fumes don’t knock them out.”

Farm safety is a huge aspect of their business and the students met the Minister of State with special responsibility for farm safety, Martin Heydon, who said: “It was great to meet with the passionate team behind Handled with Hearts. Alex, Amy and Freya showed such passion for farm safety and have come up with a very practical tool that can help farmers look after their physical well-being.

“I am a big believer that young people can play an important role in improving safety on farms – they are some of the most powerful influencers around the kitchen table. We should not underestimate their ability to deliver real change when they are empowered to do so.”

Alexandra’s grandad tested out the product on camera and their video received over 279,100 views on TikTok. They have used social media platforms to spread awareness of farm safety and showcase their product. They now hope to diversify the business into other farm safety products.

To see the product in use visit:

Odhran’s hen houses

Odhran Freeman, Kiefer Walsh and Owen Monaghan from St Louis Secondary School Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, are the team behind Odhran’s Hen Houses. When Odhran couldn’t find the perfect hen house on the market, he decided to take the matter into his own hands.

“I was looking to buy a hen house myself for my hens and it was hard to find the right size for the right price. So, I make them to order. You can tell me what size you want and I make them then,” he explained.

Students Kiefer Walsh, Odhran Freeman and Owen Monaghan from St Louis Secondary School Kiltimagh, Co Mayo.

Learning woodwork skills from his grandad (who is a builder), Odhran started coming up with designs and dimensions of a hen house he could sell. He and his fellow first-year students from Kiltimagh have enjoyed talking to people and having “the craic” during the competition.

You can find the hen houses on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

HD horseshoe design

Jack Dooley and Cian Holohan from St Kieran’s College, Co Kilkenny, have created a range of decorative products made from recycled horseshoes.

Taking the time out of their Junior Cert studies, the third-year students have created a business to make use of old horseshoes. “We have ponies at home, and I saw the horseshoes lying around the yard,” said Jack. “I was wondering what we could do with them, so I started welding them in the workshop. Once I settled on a few ideas, we stayed going. We attended a couple of markets and it went very well.” He isn’t as interested in the ponies, but loves machinery as his family are fencing contractors. “I like welding and I am getting good at it. It is a very useful skill to have and you can do a lot with it.”

Cian broke his leg so couldn’t attend the final in Croke Park, but his friend Killian Ryan attended to help Jack.

OCM light bars

Darragh O’Callaghan and Evan Moloney from St John Bosco Community College, Co Clare, created their business around manufacturing stainless steel light bars for tractors, lorries and trailers as a safety feature.

Darragh O'Callaghan and Evan Moloney.

Evan, who is from a suckler farming background, came up with the idea for the OMC Light Bars. He told Irish Country Living: “I came up with the idea because I was interested in getting one for my own tractor, but they were too dear from other companies. We made a prototype and we were happy with our outcome. We got better materials and advanced the construction.”

After spending two hours on the farm, they came up with a prototype, “It was rough and ready but it did the job and got us going. We got a bit of a bug then and started looking for suppliers,” said Darragh.

You can find them on Facebook and Instagram and they also have a stand in Clare Hire and Sales.


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