The year started well with a lovely day out in Dublin with Ciarán and Seán during which I finished the final book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series that had been an important part of my early adolescence. Tip: it's a bad idea to attempt shopping on New Year's Day. Almost nothing is open.
But January was really all about the Young Scientist Exhibition. I'd worked really hard on my project titled (something along the lines of) To develop and functionalise a graphene-based biosensor to detect high-grade gliomas for a year, so this was hugely important to me and seemed very very high-stakes. I had a fantastic time talking to the first winner of the exhibition, John Monahan, got to hang out with a bunch of friends on the Saturday, and ended up winning 3rd in my category and the Intellectual Ventures Insightful Invention award for Best Invention (phew, capitals), which included mentoring at IV and a trip to Seattle.
I also had a parent-teacher meeting in January, where I was informed that the teachers were well aware I wasn't studying and given a kick up the butt to work harder.
Very little happened in February, to be honest. It started off with the Soroptimists Regional Finals (I'd won my local heat around November 2014). I went on a four-hour round-trip to Athlone where I delivered my speech against gender quotas in business and politics and then had to speak for two minutes on an impromptu topic (I was given about two minutes to prepare a speech on Operation Transformation - I didn't know what it was so I just ranted about the evils of toddlers in beauty pageants, but it turns out it's an Irish TV programme. The disadvantage of not watching TV).
I had a really wonderful Valentine's Day with Ciarán, whom I dated from January to July of 2015. I've rarely been so happy so shoutout to him.
I also went to a meeting or two about continuing the Young Scientist research and met some really amazing people like AJ, Laura, Yuri and Adriele. Oh, and I attempted a video game with some of Ciaran's friends, Smash Bros. I was awful (holding the remote upside-down awful) but hey, it was fun. That day I got to get this amazing photo with Ben and Ciarán Murphy.
At the start of March, I attended the BT Business Bootcamp in UCD Nova. High-scoring students from the Young Scientist were kept in a hotel for four-ish days to learn commercialisation skills, with a pitch to a panel of people including Tony Scott on the last day. Here's a post about the first full day. Picture of the team I was on:
Then there my school's careers evening, then I almost immediately returned to Dublin for a lovely few days with Ciarán and friends. There was an amazing reunion and then another one a week later. I'm lucky.
Towards the end of the month, we had a total solar eclipse and the school Musathon (12 hours of nonstop music).
We got a landline installed that month, so I had no internet at home for five weeks while they installed it very very slowly. It almost killed me but I developed an appreciation for the radio on my Blockia. And Sudoku.
In early April, I did my world series on this blog, where I interviewed people from Australia, Canada, France, Zimbabwe, America and Hong Kong. That was really interesting and gave me a taste for doing series(es?). My youngest brother Jude had his Communion, and I went to an awards ceremony at the Department of Education and received an iPad for winning my category at the Drugs.ie Youth Media Awards.
In the last two days of my month, I presented my research at a biomedical conference in the RDS called Evolve Biomed. That was fun and tiring. I took a lot of notes at some really interesting lectures, played with cool tech things including an Oculus Rift headset and got some nice photos.
In the last week of April and the start of May, school ran Positive Mental Health Week, an annual event that really helps boost everyone's morale. On 1st May, we finished off the week with a Fair Day for the whole school.
On the 14th, I won my game in an interschool tournament, and the following day I had two prizegivings, one in school and one for Drogheda Young Innovators, which I won overall. That was a cool day.
Other events in May: teaching Jerry ukulele, finishing school for the summer, being on the radio.
Here began my amazing summer.
I was accepted into Outbox Incubator (didn't have a clue how important that would be yet) on the 15th, then had an article published in Silicon Republic. A few days later, I spent two days attending InspireFest at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. I loved it, and got to meet some really cool people and learn a lot.
On the 23rd, I competed at the long-awaited Sentinus Young Innovators. The day after, I spent a really cool day up in Intellectual Ventures' Irish HQ (my favourite part was either learning about my upcoming trip to Seattle or talking to the former NASA engineer about space).
On the 27th, I went to Dublin Pride with a crowd of friends and had a brilliant time.
July was incredible, because not only did it hold my favourite part of the year (CTYI, duh), it also included an all-expenses-paid trip to Seattle for a week where Mam and I got to visit Intel, Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, the Computer History Museum, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and more.
I've talked a lot about CTYI already, so I'll let those posts explain to you what it means to me: CTYI highlights, Thank You, CTYI. I made and consolidated some beautiful friendships and had enormous fun. I'm really going to miss CTYI.
I went to my friend Niamh's 18th on the 7th, slept over at Katie's and celebrated my birthday early on the 8th as I would be flying to Outbox in London on the 9th.
During the two weeks I was at Outbox: I turned 17, Gabi turned 16, I ate a ton of junk food, I met a bunch of new friends, we experienced buckets of roommate banter (the best kind) in the Aqueerium, we travelled around London a lot, inside jokes were developed and many midnight conversations were had. All that said, it was a relief to touch down in Dublin Airport. Something just felt right.
I had a few days' rest, then a jam-packed last weekend of the holidays featuring Ciaran's Debs and a bunch of cool sleepovers with people I love.
And so the best summer of my life was over and I was straight into sixth year. Honestly, sixth year has been more manageable than fifth so far, but that's certainly not to say I'm enjoying it.
During September, I went to Higher Options and hung out with Ben, John and Kat, watched Physics lectures on Light in Queen's University Belfast, went to European Research Night with Chloe and Gabi and went to reunions. On the 8th, I was announced as a global nanotech youth leader by the Emerging Technologies Hub (more news coming from there over the coming months). On the 30th, I found out that I'd been appointed to the Youth Panel of the British Science Association. Cool.
I attended the launch of the Drugs.ie Youth Media Awards 2016, applied to colleges, had school Open Night, started a CTYI Engineering course in partnership with Intel in DCU, visited London for a meeting of the CREST Youth Panel, stayed with baes Chloe and Alice, watched Mam run the Dublin Marathon, and went to two Hallowe'en sleepovers and a reunion. I really felt grown up overnight after organising my own trip to London and getting around on my own through the whole day, and the same-day round trip was cool. Shoutout to Sobelama and Jason (two London friends) for meeting up there.
I attended the Web Summit, spoke on a Stemettes panel about my experiences in STEM, watched Gabi's musical, went to Engineering, went to reunions and hung out lots with Alice, Ben, Chloe, Gabi and (virtually) Jackson.
I went to the Trinity Open Day (where I met internet friend Lucien, and saw approximately every other person I've ever met), attended Engineering Graduation in Intel, and went to reunions and Kate's birthday.
It's been a year of unprecedented growth, excitement and good fortune for me. On the whole, things have been looking up, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have found such brilliant people to surround myself with. Happy new year, everyone.
Before I go - some reunion highlights: