President appoints Mr. Philly McMahon to the Council of Gaisce – The President’s Award



President Michael D. Higgins today, 12th June 2019, has appointed Mr. Philly McMahon to the Council of Gaisce – The President’s Award for a 3-year term. Mr. McMahon will join the President’s fellow appointee Mr. Justin McAleese, who has just been re-appointed for a second term.  

Making the announcement, Chair of Gaisce – The President’s Award John Cunningham said, “I am delighted to see such eminently qualified persons as Mr. Philly McMahon and Mr. Justin McAleese being appointed to the Council of Gaisce – the President’s Award. Both exemplify all of the qualities that I believe are essential to being a member of the Council of Gaisce – The President’s Award and encourage young people to dream big and fulfil their potential”.

Mr. Mahon is a Dublin GAA footballer, business owner and founder of charity Half Time Talk which educates, trains and empowers young, unemployed adults in communities nationwide. Speaking about his new role, Philly McMahon said: “I\’m honoured and delighted to be involved with Gaisce, a program I believe in, that targets self-improvement in 15-25 year olds. It\’s important that we recognise that it only takes one person to believe in someone to make a difference in their lives. In a generation that should be the most connected, we seem to be disconnected and distracted from what\’s important in life. Gaisce can be the program to build bridges and knock down barriers in all social classes and in every community. I look forward to learning from the amazing people in Gaisce and hopefully adding energy to participants and all involved”.


Mr. McAleese is a PwC trained chartered accountant and is currently Head of Operations of a satellite communications company. He has already completed a 3-year term on the Council and is delighted to be re-appointed by the President.  Speaking about his re-appointment, Justin McAleese said: “I am honoured to be appointed by President Higgins to serve a second term on the Gaisce Council and the Joint Award Committee.  In the midst of all the BREXIT chaos and absence of a NI assembly, the Joint Award Initiative between The President and Duke of Edinburgh Award is a great example of what can be achieved when organisations come together with the sole purpose of ensuring all young people on our island have the opportunity to take part in the award”.

Gaisce is a self-development programme for young people which enhances confidence and wellbeing through participation in personal, physical and community challenges. Gaisce is a direct challenge from the President of Ireland to young people aged 15-25 to dream big and realise their potential. Gaisce is non-competitive: participants are encouraged to choose their own activities and goals with the support of a trained, adult President’s Award Leader (or PAL).

The Gaisce programme is delivered by over 1,200 PALs working and volunteering in a variety of organisations – Gaisce Award Partners – across Ireland. There are three levels of award – Bronze, Silver and Gold. The more time and energy participants give, the greater their reward.

Since its inception in 1985, an estimated 377,000 young people have participated in the Gaisce programme and 176,000 young people have completed it and received an Award.

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