Thank you to Aoife Carberry and the Longford Leader for the following article.

Students tackle heavy issues through the medium of art

Students from seven local schools had their work on display at the exhibition and awards on May 16

Approximately 300 students from seven schools across Longford gathered in the Longford Arms Hotel for the annual Longford Schools Photography Exhibition and Awards, run by Longford Arts Office.

Transition Year classes from six local secondary schools and a PLC group from Templemichael College worked with renowned local Photographer Shelley Corcoran throughout the year, learning about the technical and artistic aspects of photography.

While the groups normally work on a wide variety of topics, this year they focused on two projects in particular. The first of these was the Ardagh Fright Fest, for which the students exhibited their work last October.

They also entered the and ‘Let’s Talk About Drugs’ National Youth Media Awards 2016, which saw Pedro Navarro and Oscar Lopez from Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon come second in their poster category, out of 950 entries. In fact, all the students’ entries made such an impression that the competition are introducing a category just for photography next year.

Following on from their work on the subject, Shelley and the students were delighted to welcome Nicki Killeen from to the awards, where she gave an informative and educational talk.

Though it can be a difficult one to approach, the subject of drink and drugs is one which has been on the students’ photography curriculum for a number of years, with an award previously offered for the best local entry. And while many would see Transition Year students as too young to tackle such a heavy issue, Shelley begs to differ.

“The course is art-based and art is a comment on society,” she explained. “It’s very relevant to all age groups and it’s really relevant in our society. Photography is not just about the aesthetics of the photos, it’s also about the concept behind it and the message you’re trying to send to people.

“I find that there’s such a mature understanding of that issue of drink and drugs among the students and I think with that age group, it’s easy to say ‘they wouldn’t understand’ but in today’s society, it’s everywhere and I think they understand it a lot more than we give them credit for.”
Art and photography are great ways in which to approach the subject too, according to Shelley, who added that it gets the students involved in an interactive, hands-on way.

“It gets them to think about it a lot more; about how, if they’re not already dealing with the issue, how they would deal with the issue in the future,” Shelley continued.

With the Photographer describing her students’ work as ‘mature, conceptual and thought-provoking’, the judges had an extremely difficult task in picking winners for the recent awards.


As in previous years, a winner was chosen from each school, but having worked on a mostly group-based project, many of the schools had two photographers of the year.

The winners at this year’s awards were as follows:

  • Meán Scoil Mhuire: Wiktoria Wojcik and Abbie Ellen Orchin Moloney;
  • St Mel’s College: Niall Flynn and Paddy Duggan;
  • Ballymahon Vocational School: Andrew Keegan;
  • Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon: Catherine Healy and Kerryn O’Sullivan;
  • Moyne Community School: Seán Mc Govern and Aaron Mackin;
  • Cnoc Mhuire, Granard: Khloie Henry and Evan Murphy;
  • Templemichael College: Jason Silva.

The Longford Schools Photograph of the Year was taken by Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon students Áine Bannon and Emily Doyle, while the overall school winner was Moyne Community School.

Photos from the Exhibition