Belfast Telegraph

Fears of student with nine A1s

Ireland's smartest student fears he will have to leave the country to get a job when he leaves university.

Mark Berney scored nine A1s in his Leaving Certificate, despite starting to teach himself one of the subjects only six months before the state exam.

The 18-year-old said he was so nervous opening his result at Gorey Community School in Co Wexford that he ripped the envelope.

"I was just so surprised," said Mark, the only person to get top marks in nine subjects.

"When I saw the list of As, I was really shocked."

The teenager started teaching himself biology from text books in February to fill a gap when his teacher finished the chemistry curriculum ahead of time.

He plans to take science at Trinity College and eventually specialise in chemical research, but he admits that is a "long way off".

"I don't know what I'll do," said the teenager, from the townland of Kilmurray, who is searching for a part-time job.

"I'm worried because I want to go in to research and I might have to go abroad to find a decent research job."

Almost 56,000 teenagers have received Leaving Certificate results, with a record one in four sitting honours maths for the first time.

Mark was celebrating his grades alongside close school friends Aaron Collier, who got the maximum 600 points, and Dermot Wild, who achieved 590.

Nine other students in the country managed eight A1s, another 50 got top marks in seven subjects, and 92 pupils got 600 points.

Mark said he was most surprised at his result in English, which he admits he has never enjoyed, but was confident of making the grade in Italian, which he also studied outside school from the age of 11.

His top tip for next year's class is to pick subjects of interest so studying is not hard work.

A keen tennis player, he also taught himself piano during his transition year - which he plays in the nearby Seafield Hotel at weekends - and plans to take up Spanish next.

"I don't know what it is, I get really fascinated by one thing at a time," Mark added.

"I always just randomly get obsessed with one thing for a month and play and practise it until I get bored."

Proud parents Joe Berney and Nicky Deacon, who run a saddlery business in Enniscorthy, are waiting for Mark's 15-year-old brother Conor to get his Junior Certificate results next month.

"Mark is not competitive with others, just himself, and has never been flamboyant about what he does," she said.

"They are just the type of lads that get on with it.

"Hopefully Mark will be a good role model for Conor. He was always very bright and always worked hard."

Four of the nine pupils with eight A1s went to schools in Cork - Mount Mercy, Colaiste Spioraid Naomh, St Francis Capuchin College and Loreto Convent - with others studying at St Killian's German College, Dublin; Dominican College, Galway; Presentation Secondary School, Killarney; St Vincents Secondary School, Dundalk; and Kilrush Community School, Co Clare.

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