While topping the grades of nearly 58,000 other school leavers, it came as little surprise to his principal at St Gerald’s College in Castlebar, Co Mayo.
“It’s a wonderful achievement for him, and we as a school community are proud and delighted for him and his family, and I’m especially proud of his teachers,” said Daniel Hyland.
Among eight students who were one shy of his feat with eight higher-level A1s were two Cork musicians, including 19-year-old Skibbereen man Ciaran O’Donovan.
He was calm enough collecting his results, expecting to need only around 400 CAO points for his chosen college course of Arts with Music at University College Cork, having passed an audition and interview earlier this year. Instead he got the maximum 625 and is more nervous as he hits the road this morning for the All-Ireland Fleadh Ceoil in Sligo.
“The first round was in May, and I’ll be competing in mandolin and lilting. I was very involved in music during Leaving Cert year, and that helped me focus my other time on study,” he said.
Kate Henry from Ballincollig was one of two students of Mount Mercy College in Cork with eight honours A1s, but her music exam was one of those in which she was not sure she would get the top grade.
“It turned out okay in the end,” laughed Kate, who plays classical violin and is hoping to get a place in UCC’s medical school on Monday.
Kate’s schoolmate Méabh Allen from Ovens got the same results, which were collected by her family as she is out of the country.
Conall Ó hAiniféin also got eight higher-level A1s at Gaelcholáiste an Chláir in Ennis, Co Clare, as did students of Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore, Co Offaly, and three Dublin schools: Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green; Loreto Abbey, Dalkey; and Jesus & Mary College, Goatstown.