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UCD Irish Young Philosopher Awards 2021

For the fourth year since its inception, the UCD Irish Young Philosopher Awards again, received huge levels of interest from Gonzaga College students. Our students were among the 500 students worldwide who entered this prestigious competition. For the second year running, the competition was held online due to Covid restrictions, but this did not diminish the level of interest shown by students around the country and in students around the world, entering the International Young Philosophers Award this year.

This year students in Ireland and Northern Ireland were asked to create a short project on any philosophical question they consider important to think about in the current time. The International Award asked students across the globe to reflect on the topic of solidarity. In a Covid-19 message, the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins highlighted the need to show “Solidarity, Care, Compassion and Kindness” in our collective response to the pandemic. The International Award theme is in response to this imperative.

Again, this year, the competition was opened with an address from the president, Michael D Higgins who reflected on how the awards “impressively demonstrated the wealth of creativity and the great willingness to question and explore the status quo that exists amongst our young people when given the opportunity.” He also thanked and praised the students who took the time to participate “producing work that is thought-provoking and reflective, asking important and fundamental questions about the way we live and the core values that define our society today.”

We are delighted to announce and publish a list of our students who took part and were celebrated for their projects:

Category: Third and Fourth Year (Second Level)


· Toby Burns: 3rd Year, Gonzaga College SJ, Co. Dublin

Project: “Are Intentions more Important that Outcomes when Judging whether Actions are Morally Justifiable?”

Highly commended:

· Des McMahon: 4th year at Gonzaga S.J, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin

Project: “Is it Better for Life to Have Meaning?”

· Justin Ikwu: 3rd year, Gonzaga College SJ, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin

Project: “Can the Act of Giving be More Harmful Than Helpful?”

Category: Small Group Prize


· Seán Radcliffe and Macdara Hickey: 3rd Year Gonzaga College, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin

Project: “Euthanasia”

Category: Philosophy For Our Time Prize (Social Reflection):

· Winner: Cillian Murphy: 4th Year Gonzaga College S.J, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin

Project: ‘Can we Justify an Era of ‘Cancel Culture?’

Category: International Young Philosophers Awards 2021 Intermediate II Prize for 3rd and 4th Year

· Equal Winners: Seán Radcliffe and Macdara Hickey: 3rd Year Gonzaga College, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin

Project: “Solidarity and Social Media”

· Equal Winners: Cormac Hannon: 3rd Year Gonzaga College, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin

Project: “Does Solidarity Undermine Individuality? Does Solitude, Therefore, Provide More Happiness?”

The winners of the 2020 Irish Young Philosopher Awards were also announced yesteday.

Winners from Gonzaga College from last year’s event include:

Category: 2020 Special Covid-19 Ethics Prize: 1st and 2nd Year Secondary Level:

Overall Winner: Joe O’Grady

Project: ‘Does Covid only have a negative impact?’

Category: 2020 Special Covid-19 Ethics Prize: 5th and 6th Year Secondary Level:

Highly Commended: Daniel Kelly

Project: ‘Should the HSE buy PPE made by slaves to save Irish citizens?’

You can watch the Awards ceremony with an opening presentation by President Michael D. Higgins here

The speech delivered by the president, Michael D Higgins, can be watched here

Ms Clare O'Brien-Quinn


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