Offaly student wins overall prize at National Enterprise Awards

His Abbey Bread product stole the show

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


A bread mix inspired by a 100-year-old recipe from the Cistercian Monks in Roscrea has earned keen baker, 17 year-old Manus Heenan from ‘Abbey Bread,' representing Offaly, the top award in the senior category at the Student Enterprise Programme National Finals organised by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) for secondary schools.

His prize includes a €2,000 technology voucher and €500 One4All Voucher. The school will also receive €1,000. Earlier in the day he picked up an award for “Most Creative Use of Social Media” and bagged an additional €300.

Abbey Bread is thought to be Ireland’s first wholemeal yeast bread mix and was created by Manus from Cistercian College, Roscrea supported by LEO Offaly. The tradition of yeast bread making in Mount St. Joseph Abbey dates back to 1896 and continued until 2010.

Manus’ delicious mix is based on the original recipe used for over 100 years, but has a unique taste and flavour to rival the original. According to the Mount St Joseph Abbey in Roscrea, Manus has “resurrected” the Abbey Bread.

Manus also bakes and sells fresh loaves made from the bread mix and sells a bread mix and a fresh loaf for €10 or two packs
of bread mix for €10. You can find out more at or on Facebook.

Offaly also achieved success in the Junior category with Joanne Cushen’s “Gnó-Jó” receiving the Runner Up trophy and €200 One4All Gift Voucher. Joanne is a first year student in Colaiste Naomh Cormac, Kilcormac and was supported by her teacher Tommy Spollen throughout the process.

She is the first student from the school to the enter the Student Enterprise Programme at Junior level. She is no stranger to winning awards however, having received an award while in sixth class in Ballyboy National School in the Most Enterprising
Student programme.

Joanne’s business offers fund raising opportunities to clubs including supporting clubs going to this year’s Feiles. Find out how Gnó-Jó can help your club by visiting their Facebook page.

The students were all presented with their awards on stage in Croke Park by the Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D. and Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices.

Geraldine Beirne from Local Enterprise Office Offaly was at the National Finals in Croke Park and commented, “We have a strong history of success at the Student Enterprise Programme National Final. This is our third overall winner since the competition began so as a small county we are really punching above our weight."

"We are extremely proud of Manus and what he has achieved so far, and have no doubt this is only the start of a bright future for his business. We are also delighted to see Joanne getting a very well deserved Runner Up trophy in the Junior Category," she added.

"Finally, we must commend our Intermediate category finalists from St. Mary’s Secondary School, Edenderry who represented Offaly so well.”

The programme, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the LEOs, had a total of 230 teenage entrepreneurs, aged between 13 and 18, from 77 different enterprises, competing at today’s National Final, with every local authority area represented.

This year’s Student Enterprise Programme attracted 23,600 student participants from 480 secondary schools around the country. Starting every September, the enterprise education initiative helps students gain the skills and practical knowledge of running a real-life business.

Congratulating this year’s winners and their schools, Minister Breen said: “Whether it’s generating business ideas, developing markets or selling to customers, students taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme throughout Ireland have consistently shown a passion and flair for business and enterprise."

"Entrepreneurship is the backbone of the Irish economy and initiatives such as the Student Enterprise Programme are key to developing Ireland’s future enterprising culture. I’d like to congratulate this year’s winning students and schools.  I hope their success will inspire more schools to sign-up for the next programme in September through their Local Enterprise Office.”

Sheelagh Daly, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices said: “We have seen over 150,000 students learn how to successfully run a business in the 16 years of the Student Enterprise Programme, thanks to a long-term partnership between local schools and Local Enterprise Offices."

"The Programme is by far the largest enterprise initiative for schools in the country, and year after year we see brilliant ideas and businesses that not only succeed at school level but that also succeed at national level. Judging by this year’s finalists and
winners, the future is bright for Ireland’s entrepreneurs.”

Awards were presented for intellectual property awareness by the Irish Patents Office, and for social media by Essential French. 20 students in the Senior Category also won a place at the residential ‘Winners’ Business Bootcamp’ over the summer to help them further develop their business skills.

Further details about the next Student Enterprise Programme, which begins in September, are available through


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