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University of Limerick unveils journalism competition in memory of pioneering student

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Pictured at the UL Limerick Voice launch and announcement of The Joe Drennan Memorial Competition were Joe Drennan’s parents, Tim and Marguerite Drennan with Managing Editor, Molly Cantwell and Digital Editor Joe Costigan. Picture: Alan Place

The Joe Drennan Memorial Competition for Inclusive Journalism aims to foster a deeper understanding of marginalised communities

Joe Drennan memorial Competition
Pictured at the UL Limerick Voice launch and announcement of The Joe Drennan Memorial Competition were Joe Drennan’s parents, Tim and Marguerite Drennan with Limerick Voice Newspaper Team. Picture: Alan Place

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 13 October, 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.


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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.  

Dr Kathryn Hayes, Associate Professor, BA Journalism and Digital Communication, said Joe Drennan Memorial Competition for Inclusive Journalism was designed to honour his 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.

Tim and Marguerite Drennan, Joe Drennan’s parents holding up a copy of the Limerick Voice with a memorial of Joe featured on the cover. Picture: Alan Place

“His pitch for the role of editor, just a few weeks before his tragic death, epitomised his wider vision to effect change through his journalism work. 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.”

Limerick Voice Managing editor Molly Cantwell paid tribute to her former colleague and the vision he had for this year’s newspaper.

“Our team has had an incredibly tough year dealing with the loss of our editor-in-chief, Joe Drennan. However, as his co-editor and managing editor of Limerick Voice, I really believe we have done him proud. The LV team of 2023/2024 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’”

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.

“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,” added Molly Cantwell.

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

“We are so grateful to University Limerick for honouring Joe in this way. The writing competition is a wonderful tribute to his memory, he would have been so thrilled. We are so very proud of Joe and what he accomplished in his life; he loved writing and UL. It makes us so proud to know that he will continue to be an inspiration for others.

“It’s an excellent competition one he would have been so eager to compete in himself. It’s a fitting way to remember his passion for journalism and especially the inclusivity that he felt was so often forgotten. He would be so proud to be associated with this competition.”

The winning article will be published in The Irish Times. Entrants will be required to produce a 1,000 – 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 30 November, 2024.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.