Ireland’s Greatest Woman Inventor: NASA and Silicon Valley trip goes to young Kerry woman

16 Sep 2013

Photo: Conor McCabe

A young woman from Listowel, Co Kerry, Eimear Donovan, has won our trip to NASA’s Space Center Houston in Texas, a visit to Intel Museum in Silicon Valley, California, and two days in San Francisco, California – the prize that was up for grabs for one of the young people who selected ‘Ireland’s Greatest Woman Inventor’ from a shortlist of 10 Irish innovators and pioneers this summer.

Sixteen-year-old Eimear is a science enthusiast and studies biology, chemistry and ag-science at secondary school in Listowel. She admits her mum, Mary, a science teacher, may have had some influence on that passion.

“Mum always had lots of science books in the house, and has always brought me to science exhibitions,” Eimear told us. Indeed, as we sit in the Science Gallery in Dublin for a chat, she tells us her mum has brought to her exhibitions there in the past.

While conceding that chemistry is “quite hard”, she tells us she still really loves it. She’s not altogether sure which discipline of science she will pursue to third level, but she has podiatry in her sights. That, she says, might well change and she is keeping an open mind about the future. Her delighted mother Mary points out that Eimear is also great at English (her dad, Louis, is a teacher of history and English), and her varied subject choice means she has a variety of avenues to follow in the future.

WIT competition winner

Silicon Republic publisher Darren McAuliffe (left) with Eimear’s dad, Louis Donovan, at the Science Gallery Dublin on Saturday

The competition vote ran over the summer months, and closed in late August. It was a close run between the two top contenders, with Dorothy Stopford Price eventually winning out. You can read all about this remarkable pioneering scientist here. Kay McNulty, Ireland’s first woman programmer, came a close second.

The competition was open to 12-18-year-old residents of the Republic of Ireland, and the prize was presented to Eimear on Saturday at the Science Gallery by Brendan Cannon, EMEA co-ordinator, Intel’s Girls and Women initiative – Intel provided the fantastic top prize. Also present were representatives of our other Women Invent Tomorrow partners: Brid Horan of ESB, Marian Corcoran of Accenture, Eucharia Meehan of the Irish Research Council and Noel King of CoderDojo.

WIT competition winner

Eimear’s mum Mary Donovan chats with Intel’s Brendan Cannon at the Science Gallery Dublin on Saturday

Eimear, her mother and a friend will now travel to the US during mid-term break in February 2014, and they are both very excited about the “amazing” trip, they tell us. They have promised to report back to us on their return.

There were prizes for runners-up, too, courtesy of Microsoft. A Microsoft Surface RT tablet computer went to Dairine Morgan of Monaghan, while a Nokia Lumia 820 smartphone went to Roisin Sweeney of Naas, Co Kildare.

WIT winner

(Left to right) Noel King of CoderDojo, Brendan Cannon of Intel, Brid Horan of ESB, Eimear Donovan (front, seated), Ann O’Dea of Silicon Republic, Eucharia Meehan of the Irish Research Council and Marian Corcoran of Accenture

Topmost photo: At the Science Gallery in Dublin on Saturday, Brendan Cannon of Intel presents the prize to Eimear Donovan with (left to right) Noel King of CoderDojo and Marian Corcoran of Accenture. Back row: Brid Horan of ESB, Ann O’Dea of Silicon Republic, and Eucharia Meehan of the Irish Research Council

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and the founder of Future Human