UL Students Shows its Journalism Chops with Highest Number of Smedia Awards

The University of Limerick swept the competition with six wins at the National Student Media Awards (Smedias) on Wednesday.

During an awards ceremony presented via Zoom call, UL students and publications claimed some of the top prizes among the 35 categories, with a record 19 nominations. The competition is open to all student journalists in Ireland, and according to the Irish Times, over 1,000 entries were considered across all categories.

The prestigious Journalist of the Year award was given to Mostafa Darwish, an MA Journalism student from Egypt. The award is one of many for the multimedia journalist, whose work has appeared in The Associated Press, the BBC, Euronews and more throughout his career. His work in Ireland has primarily featured asylum seekers in Direct Provision centers.


Mairéad Cleary, a fourth year journalism student, claimed the award for Video Journalist of the Year. The recent graduate has been most recently seen in the video miniseries created for the university’s social media, “Some Good News at UL”. Next week, she plans to begin a position as a digital journalist with the Irish Examiner.


Mairéad Cleary is pictured, on right, at the launch of UL’s Limerick Voice newspaper with editor Nicole Glennon, on left

An Focal, UL’s student newspaper, once again received the Website of the Year award. The editorial team, most notably online editors Michael Finnerty and Aislinn Kelly, kept the site at a high quality standard throughout the year despite a system glitch at the start of the semester.


Grapevine, a magazine created by second year journalism students, claimed the awards both Magazine of the Year and Magazine Layout and Design of the Year. Edited by Cathal O’Sullivan, the magazine covered all manner of relevant topics, from student substance abuse to climate change.

The award for Sports Writer of the Year went to Ronan Coughlan, a third year journalism student who was nominated in the same category last year. He has built up an impressive portfolio, writing regular sporting articles for the Limerick Post, Sporting Limerick and An Focal throughout his college career