Furniture students wins top award in IrelandSkills 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013 Press Office
Press Release

A student in GMIT Letterfrack’s campus has scooped the coveted top award in this year’s IrelandSkills National Competition in Cabinetmaking final held in in Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute. Of the six finalists in this year’s competition, five were students of GMIT Letterfrack.

The winner of this year’s competition is Darren Barber from Drumcliffe, Co Sligo. Darren is a third year student on the B.Sc. in Furniture and Wood Technology programme and this was his second time competing, having also reached the final last year. Working from a detailed set of working drawings, the competitors had 18 hours to make an intricate sewing box that incorporated a frame and panelled hinged lid and a lower storage drawer. The piece was made in beech and maple and competitors were allowed to use hand, power tools and machines to make it.

This is the fifth year in a row that a student from GMIT Letterfrack has won this award. Six years ago, a previous winner PJ Murphy went on to represent Ireland at the World Skill competition where he claimed a Medallion of Excellence. The other finalists from GMIT Letterfrack were Shane Walsh (Kilkenny), Cian Mulligan (Westmeath), Ronan Geoghegan (Louth) and Oisin Barrett (Donegal). All five students competing in the final were selected by being the highest scoring candidates in the Preliminary Stage of the competition. The competition was one of twenty other skills competitions that took place in DIT and CIT last week.

Anthony Clare, IrelandSkills Co-ordinator for GMIT Letterfrack says: ”The competition is very challenging and the pressure on the contestants is palpable in the workshop. Time planning coupled with impeccable making is critical for success and we wish to congratulate each student on reaching the final of the competition. Darren Barber is a very worthy winner and he was presented with his award at a ceremony in the Gresham hotel in Dublin. We are all delighted for him and I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all the participants for putting in such a huge effort to have reached the finals, they have done themselves, their families and GMIT Letterfrack proud.“

“In July next year the 42nd WorldSkills Competitions will take place in Leipzig, Germany and Darren is eligible for selection to the Irish team. We require sponsorship to do this and we are seeking assistance from any interested party, body, industry or sector interested in promoting on a world stage the skills, knowledge and expertise our young graduates can offer.”

“Ireland has consistently performed well in WorldSkills Competitions, attaining second place in overall world rankings in the 2009 and sixth in the 2011 Competitions”, added Mr Clare

GMIT Letterfrack has a range of programmes on offer that specialise in the area of furniture design and technology. Also on offer at the campus is an undergraduate teacher training programme for students who wish to become teachers of Construction Studies and Design and Communication Graphics at post primary level.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, GMIT Letterfrack has been designated the National Centre of Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology. The success of Letterfrack students in national competitions underlies the excellence of standards in teaching and learning at the campus.

GMIT Letterfrack has approximately 240 students registered on its degree and honours degree programmes in Furniture Design & Manufacture, Furniture & Wood Technology and Design and Technology Education. The college has strong links with industry with all students offered placements both in Ireland and overseas as part of their programmes.

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