Darragh McDonagh

Summerhill College, Sligo

During my Transition Year Programme, I completed the European Parliament Ambassador School’s Programme (EPAS). Each week, my class and I would complete the Graduate.ie quiz. The EPAS module taught us about the European Union; the structures of it, it’s history, the member states, the MEPs, the laws, and its objectives. Personally, I found this to be a very enjoyable class. I learned the importance of Ireland’s membership in the EU, as well as the benefits of being and EU citizen. The Graduate.ie quiz was a fantastic learning tool that enabled my classmates and I to discover more about the EU, through a wider lens. It was a fun, engaging and interactive quiz, and one that we looked forward to completing each week.

I was overjoyed to be one of the winners during the 2020-21 academic year. The prize would afford me the opportunity to partake in a three day educational trip to the European Parliament in Brussels. To get this opportunity at seventeen years of age is something that I will always be extremely grateful for.

Following the restrictions, it was fantastic to be able to journey to Brussels. The Irish group assembled in Dublin Airport. It was lovely to meet everyone, and the fact that we came from all different parts of the country made it even more special.

The trip was a once in a lifetime experience. I loved the bus trip and guided tour of the city. We got the opportunity to see many important buildings in the city – the Atomium, the national museum and sports ground and the Royal houses. The guided tours of the area surrounding the European Parliament was also very enjoyable.

The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly our visits to the European Parliament. I loved hearing the individual inputs from the Irish members of the EPP Group, as well as EU Commissioner, Mairéad McGuiness. Hearing the work they do and the role they play within the EU was extremely interesting. It afforded me the opportunity to build on the knowledge I had obtained earlier from the EPAS class and Graduate.ie quiz.

I would like to thank Martin Heneghan (Programme Coordiantor) for affording young people across Ireland the opportunity to learn about the EU and its importance in our lives. Thank you to all of the sponsors who support the quiz and the trips, especially my sponsor, the Western Development Commission. Your assistance is greatly appreciated and plays a major role in creating fantastic memories for young people in Ireland. The EPP group, and Maria Walsh in particular – I would like to thank them for the kindness they showed us and the way in which they gave of their time so willingly to engage with us. The trip was one that I will never forget – the memories I made, the opportunities I was afforded, the people I met and spoke with, and the friends I made were incredible.