ONE hundred students from primary and secondary schools across the county gathered in Cork City Hall today to receive awards from Lord Mayor John Sheehan for never once missing a day in school for eight or more consecutive years.
Sixteen sets of siblings received awards this year, including four siblings from one family whom between them have a cumulative total of 43 years of unbroken school attendance at school.
The lord mayor praised the students’ diligence and dedication, saying: "Cork City is proud of you all and I applaud your efforts.
"Unbroken school attendance is a remarkable achievement and is not simply down to good health."
He also acknowledged the support network behind the students, saying:
"I’d also like to say congratulations to the parents because there is a lot of effort and work that goes into achieving an award for this.
"As we all know, in the morning at home it’s fairly chaotic at the best of times and to get someone out the door on one day is often an achievement — but to do it with unbroken service for many, many years is a phenomenal achievement."
The ceremony, which is a joint venture of Cork City Council and Tusla’s Educational Welfare Service, dates back to the 1920s and is the only event of its kind in Ireland.
"Research has shown again and again that regular school attendance lays the foundation for developing good social skills and relationships and achieving success at work," said Tusla Educational Welfare Service regional manager Dan O’ Shea.
"The achievements of the students today are even more impressive when you take into account that the average primary school pupil misses 10 days each school year and the average secondary student misses 13."
Amongst those at the ceremony were twins Kacper and Wiktor Dudek from Coláiste Chríost Rí, who both have eight years unbroken attendance.
"Even if we’re feeling a bit under the weather, we go in anyway," one told The Echo.
Many of the recipients credited parental encouragement for their awards.
Sisters Chloe, Kayleigh, and Sophie Liu, who all attend Ursuline Secondary School, have nine years unbroken attendance and said it’s all thanks to their mum getting them out the door in the morning.
Similarly, Deiric O’Fíannaí from Gaelchláiste Mhuire, who has clocked up an impressive 14 years of unbroken attendance said:
"It’s down to my mam pulling me out of bed in the morning that I’ve got the award.
"My two sisters had 13 years unbroken attendance as they skipped fourth year.
"I did the year, so I got the extra one on them," Deiric added.
With school in the morning, most of the recipients were aiming for a relaxing night in.
Ella O’Brien, 17, from Regina Mundi, who was awarded 10 years unbroken attendance, said she would celebrate with a meal at Ramen.
Proud parents and guardians at the ceremony largely credited healthy eating and exercise for their children’s achievements.
Michelle O’Herlihy, whose daughter Amy received an award for 12 years said:
"I’m thrilled for her, it’s an excellent achievement.
"Sports have a lot to do with it.
"I think being out in the fresh air is fantastic for her."
Amy, who is a student at Presentation Secondary School, joked: "Unfortunately it’s at the Christmas or summer holidays when I get under the weather!"