IAMTA

The IAMTA Gold Medals & Bursaries

When the IAMTA was founded in November 2006, we decided to initiate an annual award for the top three students in the Leaving Cert Applied Mathematics exam. We thought that if each student received a gold medal, this would be a wonderful lifelong gift for them and their families, in recognition of their achievement. When looking for a sponsor, I immediately thought of Raymond Kearns who had been a Maths teacher for much of his life, before he founded the Institute of Education.

Raymond Kearns, flanked by his son Peter and daughter Una,
					directors of the Institute of Education
Raymond Kearns, flanked by his son Peter and daughter Una,
directors of the Institute of Education

When I asked Ray Kearns if he would be the sponsor of the three Gold Medals annually, he was delighted. He loved the idea that we would encourage excellence in a challenging subject. He insisted that not only would each winner get a Gold Medal, but also a bursary of €500 towards their studies. We in the Irish Applied Mathematics Teachers Association were thrilled with this, as we were determined to use every means to encourage and enhance the standing of Applied Maths as a Leaving Cert subject. The three Gold Medals and three bursaries of €500 each would be one of the pillars on which we would build the future of the subject which we all loved and cherished.

I am extremely lucky to have been taught by Ray Kearns in Gonzaga for six years. He was a wonderful teacher: his classes were focused, fun, competitive, interesting and engaging. We all worked very hard. Ray was ahead of his time: he never got cross, he encouraged us all, he never invoked the official punishments of the day, he taught through his personality. He was amusing and extremely well organised. He never made the mistake of teaching or talking for too long. He was clear and succinct; we spent most of each class beavering away at the problems which he had carefully selected before he came to class. If we finished the allotted problems, we brought our copy up to him. He would glance through our work and announce, “Winner all right! Winner all right!” I am deeply indebted to Ray for his brilliant teaching – as are his many devoted former students at Gonzaga. We loved his classes and some of us went on to study Maths in college. When I became a teacher, I had an outstanding model in Ray Kearns.

Ray Kearns on his graduation day
Ray Kearns on his graduation day

Ray Kearns is from Ballaghadereen in Co Roscommon. After leaving school, he worked for CIE as a railway clerk. When he was warned by his colleagues not to work too hard, as he would show the rest of them up, Ray realised that there was more to life than this – and he embarked on a night degree in Mathematics.

Ray has often said that he got his big break when Laika the dog went into space in 1957. The Americans were shocked that the Russians had beaten them in the race to put a living creature into space. They decided that the education system in the USA had to improve and they set about the task straight away.

Laika the dog
Laika the dog in reality
– and as she appeared on a Russian stamp

They American educationalists put a huge emphasis on Maths – or Math (as they call it). They invited new graduates in mathematics from around the world to be part of this movement which they called ‘The New Math’. Ray was sent by the Department of Education as part of a small team of Maths teachers to the USA to learn about the New Maths. He won a scholarship to do a Masters Degree in Mathematics at Pittsburgh University. When he returned, he gave talks to other teachers about this new wave in Mathematics. In Gonzaga we had these bulky American text books in which the money was in dollars and the names were Amos and Abigail instead Seán and Mary. I still have my copy: it’s a great book – and I continue to use it as a reference text.

My American Maths book published in 1965
My American Maths book published in 1965

Ray has long since retired, but he still sponsors the Gold Medals and bursaries – through the good offices of the Institute of Education. We in the IAMTA owe Ray and the Institute of Education a great debt of gratitude for their continuing support and sponsorship. When the IAMTA was founded, our subject was in danger and numbers studying Applied Maths were low. For many reasons, including the Gold medals and bursaries, Applied Maths has a greater standing in our country now.

This year, for the first time, the numbers sitting Applied Maths in the Leaving Cert went over 2000. I hope that this trend continues into the future – long after the exciting new course comes into use in 2021. And I also hope that the Institute of Education and the Raymond Kearns Benevolent Fund will continue to sponsor the three Gold Medals and the bursaries for many years to come. They have been wonderful partners with the IAMTA in the quest for excellence in our schools.


Oliver Murphy



Gold Medal Winners

Here is the list of those who have won IAMTA Gold Medals for Applied Maths in the Leaving Cert. It is important to realise that these are not in order of merit (first, second and third). They are all in joint first place and are printed here in alphabetical order.

Year

The Three Winners

2007

Matthew Carrigan

Mount Temple Comprehensive, Dublin

Fionán O’Reilly

Coláiste Pádraig Naofa

Cavan

Ciarán Rochford

Patrician College

Ballyfin

2008

Ciaran McCarthy

Presentation School Milltown

Antoinette O’Connor

Coachford Community School

David Whelan

Meanscoil Iognaid Rís

Naas

2009

Colman Humphrey

St Andrew’s College

Dublin

Jack McKenna

Newbridge College

Co Kildare

Daniel Quilton

St Michael’s College

Dublin

2010

Aoife Duignan,

Mount Anville

Dublin

Craig Mac Liatháin

Colaiste na Coiribe

Galway

Seán Murphy

St Finian’s College

Mullingar

2011

Padraig Condon

St Gerard’s College

Castlebar

Stephan Oehler

King’s Hospital School

Dublin

Conor Waldron

Institute of Education

Dublin

2012

Richard Creedon

Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Cork

Fiona McCarthy

Mount Anville

Dublin

Conor McMenamin

St Mary’s College

Dundalk

2013

Michael Craig

St Michael’s College

Dublin

Andrew Cullen

Blackrock College

Dublin

Cathal Tobin O’Briencbs High School

Clonmel

2014

Oisín Faust

The High School

Dublin

Kevin Holland

Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Cork

Ivan Lobanski

St Benildus College

Dublin

2015

Paul Clarke

St Paul’s

Raheny

Eoin McCrossan

Clinkeen College

Dublin

Niall Ó Donnagáin

St Peter’s College

Wexford

2016

Evan Bracken

St Mary’s CBS

Portlaoise

Oran O’Connor

Christian Brothers College, Cork

Robbie Power

Ardscoil na Mara

Waterford

2017

Joseph Casey

Coláiste Einde

Galway

Conor Lucey

St Francis Capuchin College, Rochestown

Diarmuid O’Donohue

Ashton Comprehensive School, Cork

2018

Thomas McCarthy

St Gerald’s College

Castlebar

David Nugent

Castleknock College

Dublin

Cormac Watson

Clongowes Wood College, Clane, Co Kildare

2019

Daniel Andrews

Christian Brothers College, Cork

Jack Connolly

Coláiste Mhuire

Crosshaven

Peadar Hennessy

Christian Brothers College, Cork