National student media award renamed in memory of queer journalist Joe Drennan

The awards ceremony included a moving tribute to Limerick Voice’s late Editor-In-Chief and incredibly talented GCN contributor, Joe Drennan.

Photo of University Limerick journalism students posing with a photo of Joe Drennan
Image: Photograph: Tom Honan, Members of the Limerick Voice, who were the winners of Newspaper of the Year, holding a picture of Joe Drennan.

At this year’s National Student Media Awards (The SMEDIAS), a national student media award was dedicated to late queer journalist Joe Drennan, who was tragically killed in a hit and run on October 13, 2023. Joe was an incredibly talented and professional GCN contributor as well.

The SMEDIAS are dedicated to recognising and celebrating the next generation of media talent in Ireland. Students travelled from 22 colleges and universities across Ireland to attend the awards ceremony at the Mansion House where they were recognised for their work in print, radio, film, documentaries, production, digital, and Irish language journalism.

The ceremony of the 24th National Student Media Awards that took place on April 10 included a moving tribute to Joe Drennan, who had been appointed Limerick Voice’s Editor-In-Chief shortly before his tragic death. To honour his legacy, the Journalism Relating to Road Safety Award (RSA Award) was renamed the ‘The Joe Drennan Award, for Journalism Relating To Road Safety’. This announcement earned a standing ovation from the crowd.

At this year’s SMEDIAS, the Limerick Voice newspaper produced by the final year journalism class won two prestigious awards including Newspaper of the Year and Layout and Design of the Year 2024. While presenting the award for Newspaper of the Year, Mark Hennessy of the Irish Times, praised the University Of Limerick students for their “determined efforts to report the community around them.”

University of Limerick journalism student and Limerick Voice investigative reporter Gemma Good was also honoured with the Journalism Relating to Health award.


Managing Editor of Limerick Voice, Molly Cantwell, who was a co-editor with Joe Drennan, said: “In a year that has been so horrendously difficult, having such an important project recognised on a platform of this size means the world to the entire team.”

She added: “Thank you to the beautiful Drennan family and friends of the family for their tireless support of our work. Thank you Joe for the ever present reminder to work to the best of our abilities and represent what you stood for. We miss you so much.”


Joe Costigan, Digital Editor, said: “We said before we even started working on the newspaper that we would dedicate it to Joe, so to have it recognised nationally at an awards ceremony that meant so much to him is incredible. It’s hard to explain how special it felt, it genuinely means the world to everyone on the team.”

Dr Kathryn Hayes, Associate Professor and Course Director of the BA Journalism and Digital Communication programme, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of our journalism students. To be so successful at The SMEDIAS after such a hard year is a tribute to their resilience.”

She added: “Their work on Limerick Voice shows their ability to work through extremely difficult circumstances to produce award-winning journalism. Joe Drennan would be so proud. The past few months have been full of teaching moments. I look forward to seeing our students make major contributions to Irish journalism in the years ahead.”

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