Meet some of the remarkable students who are top of the class when it comes to school attendance — with more than 800 years of unbroken school attendance between them.

There’s no secret breakfast, diet, or vitamin regime — it’s all down to their parents, teachers, and classmates, they revealed.

Sisters Holly, Millie, and Jodi Fitzgerald, from Carrigaline, Co Cork, were among 81 students from 28 schools across Cork City who were honoured in City Hall yesterday for never missing a day of school for more than eight consecutive years.

The Mount Mercy College students have a cumulative total of 32 years of unbroken school attendance — that’s a phenomenal 5,720 days.

Second-year Holly, 13, hasn’t missed a school day for nine years; transition-year student Millie, 15, hasn’t missed school in 11 years; and Jodi, 16, who is in fifth year, hasn’t missed school since she started in junior infants 12 years ago.

“We just get up every morning and it just kind of happened that we never missed a day, so we just continued on with it,” said Millie.

Jodi admitted there have been days when a duvet day was on the cards. “But we’ve come this far already, so we may as well keep going,” she joked.

Their proud mum, Rosaleen, said: “I think the magic ingredient is having a good school, good principals, good teachers, and good friends. Then they’re motivated to go in and enjoy themselves.”

They were among a group of 10 siblings in the cohort honoured by Tusla, the child and family agency, and Cork City Council, in a ceremony which dates from the 1920s. It is the only civic event of its kind in Ireland.

Chloe Pope, from Bruce College; Brian O’Driscoll, Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh; John Murphy and Dylan O’Callaghan, Presentation College; and Mairead Creedon, Scoil Mhuire, were honoured for 13 years’ unbroken school attendance.

Five were honoured for never missing a day of school in their entire 14 years in primary and secondary school.

Orla Barry, a former student of Christ King Secondary School who is now studying international development in UCC, said: “I had fantastic teachers — they always made it a dream to go to school.”

Dean Hodge, a former student of Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh who is now studying arts in UCC, said the secret in his case was a home environment which made it natural to go to school.

Adam O’Driscoll, who attended Nagle Community College and who is now working for Greenstar, said: “It was fun to go to school. My classmates made it for me every day.”

Dan O’Shea, the regional manager with Tusla’s Educational Welfare Service, said research shows that regular school attendance lays the foundation for good relationships and a successful life at work.


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