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The University of Limerick unveils memorial journalism competition at launch of the Limerick Voice Newspaper 2024

The launch of the Limerick Voice Newspaper 2024 took place in the Glucksman Library on Thursday, March 14.

The Department of Journalism in University of Limerick (UL) has established a competition in memory of Joe Drennan (21), a final year journalism student, killed in a hit and run incident in Limerick on October 13, 2023. 

The Joe Drennan Memorial Competition for Inclusive Journalism in association with The Irish Times, aims to recognise journalism that enhances understanding of marginalised communities. 

Details of the competition were unveiled at the launch of Limerick Voice Newspaper an award-winning multi-media news project produced by journalism students in UL and published with The Limerick Leader. 

Among the stories featured in the 48-page newspaper is an interview with Joe Drennan’s mother Marguerite and his sister Sarah who spoke about how their family is trying to cope since his tragic death. 

A native of Mountrath, Co Laois, Joe Drennan was appointed editor in chief of Limerick Voice just a few weeks before his tragic death.   

Limerick Voice Managing Editor, Molly Cantwell and Limerick Voice Digital Editor Joe Costigan with Kathryn Hayes, Course Director| BA Journalism and Digital Communication| Lecturer UL. Picture: Alan Place

Dr Kathryn Hayes, Associate Professor, BA Journalism and Digital Communication, said this award was designed to honour Joe’s pioneering spirit and the impact he made during his time in UL. 

“Joe was committed to pursuing stories that would foster a deeper understanding of marginalised communities, whom he believed were often overlooked in some mainstream media.  His desire for change is evident in the journalism work he produced and the vision he had for his role as Editor in Chief of Limerick Voice digital news project in University of Limerick,” Dr Hayes said. 

“As Editor in chief, he urged reporters to ‘find a voice that they themselves had not heard before.’ We believe this competition will help contribute to a more inclusive and diverse media landscape and is a fitting tribute to Joe.” 

Mark Hennessy, Ireland and Britain Editor of The Irish Times, Limerick Voice Managing Editor, Molly Cantwell, Limerick Voice Digital Editor Joe Costigan and Aine Fitzgerald, Editor Limerick Leader. Picture: Alan Place

Also featured in Limerick Voice newspaper is an interview with a Palestinian man, working in Limerick, who is desperately trying to help his family in Gaza. The 48-page newspaper also includes investigative news, community and culture sections, music, arts and sports stories. 

Joe’s mother Marguerite said the Drennan family are extremely proud to know her son will continue to provide inspiration to others.

“I’m very proud of Joe,” Mrs Drennan said. “I’m so delighted with the college for what they have done today, and I’m so grateful to everyone who showed up. It means so much to us.” 

Joe’s sister Sarah and his best friend, Maeve Breslin, also spoke about the award.

“It meant so much to us to see all the hard work put into the paper in honour of Joe,” Sarah commented. “The award means so much. Also, the paper itself really shows how much passion went into it, especially with the representation of marginalised communities, it’s something Joe would have really loved.”

Maeve added: “As his best friend, it’s so nice to see something that I know Joe would have entered himself. He would have been so happy to see an award aiming to give a voice to those who don’t necessarily have one. We appreciate this day so much.”

Picture: Alan Place

The competition winning article will be published in The Irish Times. Entrants will be required to produce a 1,000 to 1500-word article, suitable for multi-media use. Winners will be selected on the basis of impact, originality, news gathering and research, depth of investigations, and quality of writing.  

Speaking at the launch of the competition Mark Hennessy, Ireland and Britain Editor of The Irish Times said: 

“As journalists, it’s not only our duty to report the news, but to illuminate the stories often overlooked, amplify the voices of the marginalised and strive for a more inclusive narrative. The Joe Drennan Memorial Competition serves not only as a tribute to the life of a young journalist whose passion for social justice was cut short, but also as a beacon for more inclusive journalism.  

“This competition will honour Joe Drennan’s spirit of curiosity and empathy and I’m sure the entries will challenge stereotypes, and foster a deeper understanding towards marginalised communities, ensuring that their voices will be heard in The Irish Times.” 

The winner of the competition will also receive a perpetual trophy presented by members of the Drennan family. 

The competition will run annually commencing in Academic Year 2024/25. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2024. 

Joe Drennans parents, Tim and Marguerite Drennan with Managing Editor, Molly Cantwell and Digital Editor Joe Costigan. Picture: Alan Place

The Limerick Voice team has had an incredibly tough year dealing with the loss of our editor-in-chief, however, as his co-editor and managing editor of Limerick Voice, I really believe we have done him proud. We have put together one of the biggest issues of the paper to date, full of articles which perfectly match the mission statement chosen by myself and Joe Drennan: “Stories That Speak”

We have done our utmost to ensure the vision Joe had for the paper was followed and that we worked with as much passion as we know he would have. I’m incredibly proud of the work we are putting forward to the people of Limerick and genuinely hope everyone enjoys reading each and every line.

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