Clare’s Megan takes on Defence Forces Challenge

Clare’s Megan takes on Defence Forces Challenge



Megan Gaule from Newmarket-on-Fergus was among 30 young Gaisce participants from across Ireland who recently concluded four days of hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, swimming and army assault courses as they took part in the annual Defence Forces Adventure Challenge.

The young recruits aged between 15 and 17 were put through their paces by personnel from the 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment of the Defence Forces, who led the Gaisce participants through a host of incredible adventure challenges, training and team-building exercises. The Defence Forces Adventure Challenge shows young people just what they can achieve when they step outside their comfort zone.

Yvonne McKenna, CEO of Gaisce – The President’s Award said “Gaisce – The President’s Award is delighted to partner with the Defence Forces on the 32nd Defence Forces Challenge. Due to the leadership and generosity of the Defence Forces, 30 Gaisce participants from all over Ireland experienced a unique insight into military life first-hand. These young people pushed themselves to their limits, and in the process, developed skills, built confidence and created friendships and memories to cherish. We congratulate them all on their achievements.”

The once in a lifetime opportunity kicked off for the young people at the Custume Barracks, Athlone before moving to the Curragh, Co. Kildare and finishing on Friday after the participants completed their final challenge of conquering the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

Commenting on the challenge, Defence Forces Spokesperson, Lieutenant Ian Gallaway said: “The foundation of all Defence Forces training is our values of Physical Courage, Moral Courage, Integrity, Selflessness, Loyalty and Respect. We hope that we can help to develop those values in the young people who take part in the Gaisce programme.”

Gaisce Bronze Award Holder Grace O’Rourke, who recently became the only female to complete RTE’s Special Forces: Ultimate Hell week addressed the participants at a special ceremony recognising their achievements on Friday. Grace first became interested in the Defence Forces when she took part in the Gaisce Defence Forces Challenge as a teenager. Commenting on the Challenge she said, “It is all the small lessons from setbacks that have helped me grow and conquer challenges that I never thought I was capable of. It is from the setbacks that you can take the most feedback. It is in not quitting and applying this feedback to your next challenge that builds you and helps you progress further.”

The young people are all participants in Gaisce – The President’s Award, a self-development programme for young people. Gaisce is the most prestigious youth award in Ireland and is a challenge to young people from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to dream big and realise your potential.

This unique event has been taking place for 32 years. In order to participate, Gaisce invited participants aged 15-17 to nominate themselves for consideration.

About Gaisce – The President’s Award

Gaisce – The President’s Award is a self-development programme for young people between the ages of 15-25, which is proven* to enhance confidence and wellbeing through participation in personal, physical, community and team challenges. It is a direct challenge from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to all young people to dream big and realise their potential.

Gaisce is the most prestigious youth award in Ireland. Since its inception in 1985, over 377,000 young people have participated in the Gaisce programme. Today, more than 24,000 young people register for the Gaisce challenge each year, pursuing the award through more than 850 organisations (Gaisce Award Partners) located right across the country. Gaisce supports these organisations and the more than 1,200 President Award Leaders (PALs) working and volunteering in them to mentor young people through their Gaisce journey.

Gaisce celebrates the individuality of each participant and ensures that, while there are many pathways to achieving a Gaisce Award, each Gaisce journey is as unique and expansive as the individual young person determines, and all Awards are equally recognised.

Follow Gaisce on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn by searching @GaisceAward


Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.