Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone is thrilled to have been crowned the winner of the national #ThinkLanguages competition by Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD. The team of six Transition Year Students – Hannah Murray, Mia Daly, Teresa Detoche, Ella Scullion, Eilish Brehany and Cindy Zhang have won an all-expenses paid trip to Brussels which includes a visit to the European Parliament and European Commission to speak to EU leaders about the importance of promoting language-based careers as well as linguistic and cultural diversity.

Winners of the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team Final, students of Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, being presented their award by Minister for Education Norma Foley TD at the Department of Education. From L-R: Teresa Detoche, Hannah Murray, Ella Scullion, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, Cindy Zhang, Eilish Brehany and Mia Daly

#ThinkLanguages is an annual event for Transition Year students, celebrating languages inside and outside of the classroom and thinking about how languages can enhance life’s opportunities. Some 180 schools and over 15,000 TY students participated in the event this year, by holding a languages event in their school celebrating the personal, social and career benefits of foreign language learning. The competition is part of #ThinkLanguages week which took place between November 27 and December 1st 2023, and is a joint collaboration between Post Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs under Languages Connect and the Career for EU strategy..

In the competition, schools are encouraged to welcome local speakers, involving school staff and students, engaging with local businesses and organisations for a wide variety of language filled activities, talks, games and workshops. Schools submitted the line-up for their event in order to be chosen for entry into the competition and a panel of field judges visited the selected schools during #ThinkLanguages week to meet the teams and see their activities.

Our Lady’s Bower Think Languages Team at the #ThinkLanguages National Final at Clock Tower in the Department of Education. L-R: Ms D Quilty, Eilish Brehany, Teresa Detoche, Ella Scullion, Mia Daly, Cindy Zhang, Hannah Murray and Ms R. Mooney.

The visiting judge to Our Lady’s Bower, PPLI representative Agnieszka Grochola, was thoroughly impressed with efforts the school went to during their #ThinkLanguages event and in particular, highlighted the wonderful language-promoting atmosphere that encapsulated the entire school community through events such as the languages murder mystery, language quizzes, international dance-off and Spain vs Ireland volleyball match.

Three schools were shortlisted, after a thorough adjudication of their event, Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, Killarney Community College and Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Waterford.



#ThinkLanguages Team Captain, Hannah Murray, introduces her team to the judging panel at the Department of Education.

The three schools were invited to a ceremony in Clock Tower at the Department of Education on Thursday 25th January, where each school team delivered a presentation to a panel of judges from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Post Primary Languages Initiative and the Department of Education. The criteria for the presentation required the students to focus specifically on the skills they developed, and knowledge they acquired through organising their school’s #ThinkLanguages event. After their presentations, students engaged in a Q&A session with the judging panel, to further discuss the contents of their presentation and the success of their school’s #ThinkLanguages event.


After the presentations, Minister for Education, Norma Foley, was invited to the stage to announce the winner of the competition, where Our Lady’s Bower was awarded first overall.

The Our Lady’s Bower #ThinkLanguages Champion Team discussing their #ThinkLanguages event with Minister for Education, Norma Foley.

Minister Foley said: “I am delighted to present this prize for the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team to Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone. All the schools involved have shown great creativity, teamwork and enthusiasm for languages and the competition was fierce. I want to congratulate the three finalists for being chosen as Champion Teams”

Minister Foley added: “The Department is committed to increasing and diversifying the foreign languages taught and learnt in our schools and I know that through participation in the #ThinkLanguages event, TY students will gain an appreciation of the benefits of learning languages, not only for future career options in a globalised world, but for social and cultural interactions”.



Cindy Zhang and Mia Daly hug one another in celebration as they find out they have won the #ThinkLanguages Champion Team of the Year Award.

Hannah, Mia, Cindy, Ella, Eilish and Teresa returned home to a hero’s welcome at Our Lady’s Bower, where they were paraded around the school and received a standing ovation from the entire school community. The girls are now looking ahead to their trip to Brussels, and preparing for the presentations and conversations on languages education they will engage in at the European Union.

Congratulations to the girls and to their teachers, Ms Mooney and Ms Quilty, on this wonderful achievement.