Members of the Limerick Voice, who were the winners of Newspaper of the Year, holding a picture of Joe Drennan
Members of the Limerick Voice team, who were the winners of Newspaper of the Year, holding a picture of Joe Drennan Picture: Tom Honan
Monday, 15 April 2024

University of Limerick journalism students have scooped three awards at the National Student Media Awards.

For the second time Limerick Voice, produced by the final year journalism class, was named Newspaper of the Year 2024 and also won the award for Layout and Design of the Year 2024.

Limerick Voice reporter Gemma Good also won the prize for Journalism Relating to Health for her piece with Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention.

The National Student Media Awards (The Smedias) is the largest competition of its kind in Ireland dedicated to recognising and celebrating the next generation of media talent.

Open to students from every college across Ireland, the awards are judged by key media industry leaders including Mark Hennessey, Ireland and UK editor of The Irish Times.

After presenting the award for Newspaper of the Year to the Limerick Voice team, Mark Hennessy described the publication’s submission as “particularly poignant this year,” and added that it made “determined efforts to report the community around them.”

The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday, 10 April at the Mansion House in Dublin and was attended by Irish media personalities and experts in every aspect of Irish media.

In addition to the team’s big wins on the night, a tribute was paid to Limerick Voice’s late Editor-In-Chief, Joe Drennan, who died tragically in a hit and run incident on October 13th last. After announcing that from next year, 2025, the Journalism Relating to Road Safety Award would be renamed The Joe Drennan Award for Journalism Relating to Road Safety, there was a standing ovation to honour the late journalism student.

UL journalism students received 16 nominations at this year’s Smedias, which is testament to the talent of the University’s students according to Dr Kathryn Hayes, Association Professor and Course Director BA Journalism and Digital Communication.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our journalism students. To be so successful at The Smedias after such a hard year is a tribute to their resilience. Their work on Limerick Voice shows their ability to work through extremely difficult circumstances to produce award-winning journalism. Joe Drennan would be so proud. The past few months have been full of teaching moments. I look forward to seeing our students make major contributions to Irish journalism in the years ahead.

“We are extremely proud of all of our students who were nominated for awards in highly competitive categories at this year’s Smedias and of those who received awards. This is well deserved industry recognition of the excellent work our students have been producing across multimedia news platforms, which is an integral part of journalism education in UL.”

Managing Editor of Limerick Voice, Molly Cantwell added: “I am so grateful to The Smedias, Oxygen, and The Irish Times for the honour of winning Newspaper of the Year alongside our Layout and Design win. In a year that has been so horrendously difficult, having such an important project recognised on a platform of this size means the world to the entire team.

“In September 2023, Joe Drennan and I started out as co-editors of Limerick Voice, excitedly planning what the year would look like. Ultimately, our main goal was to give a voice to the voiceless in our community, and to take home this highly coveted award. I know he would be so incredibly proud of the team and of the newspaper.

“Thank you so much to our wonderful lecturer Dr Kathryn Hayes for the work and support over the last year that led us to this point. Thank you to the beautiful Drennan family and friends of the family for their tireless support of our work. Thank you, Joe, for the ever-present reminder to work to the best of our abilities and represent what you stood for. We miss you so much.”

Joe Costigan, Digital Editor, spoke about the team’s Newspaper of the Year win: “We said before we even started working on the newspaper that we would dedicate it to Joe, so to have it recognised nationally at an awards ceremony that meant so much to him is incredible. It’s hard to explain how special it felt, it genuinely means the world to everyone on the team.”

SMEDIAS Nominations 2024

Full list of UL nominees:

Newspaper of the Year: Limerick Voice

Website of the Year: Limerick Voice

Layout and Design of the Year: Limerick Voice

Journalist of the Year – National Media: Molly Cantwell

Features Writer of the Year – Arts & Pop Culture: Molly Cantwell

European Commission Award Journalism Relating to EU Affairs: Molly Cantwell

SFI Journalism relating to Science & Technology: Molly Cantwell

Virgin Media Belonging Award: Molly Cantwell

Radio Production of the Year – News & Current Affairs: Molly Cantwell, Rachel Kelly, Conon MacLeod, Oisín Nolan

Features Writer of the Year – News & Current Affairs: Gemma Good

Journalism Relating to Health: Gemma Good

Virgin Media Digital Content Creator Award: Daniel Ryan; Anna Powell

Journalism Relating to Travel: Anna Powell

EPA Award Journalism Relating to the Environment: Abigail Hayden

TV Production of the Year: Aishlín Hennigan