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Early Childhood Ireland National Awards 2018

January 22, 2018

Pictured are Teresa Heeney, CEO Early Childhood Ireland. Children from Carr’s Child and Family Services and Oskar Persson, Senior Brand Manager, Danone


Early Childhood Ireland National Awards 2018 – Leaders in Practice

Venue: Clontarf Castle

Date: Friday 13 April 2018


Early Childhood Ireland are delighted to announce our 2018 National Awards. Our awards are the biggest Early Childhood Care and Education Awards in Ireland celebrating and recognising excellence in practice.  A night to celebrate, congratulate and acknowledge the work of Early Childhood Professionals.  These awards acknowledge the spirit, energy and drive of early years’ educators in providing quality experiences for the children and families accessing their services. They highlight their ongoing commitment to reflecting on and improving their practice.

This year’s event will be in the luxurious Clontarf Castle Hotel on Friday 13 April 2018 commencing at 7pm. 


Main Sponsor


We are delighted to announce that Toddlebox will sponsor our 2018 Awards. is Ireland’s only website dedicated to toddlers. It provides advice and support for parents at this important stage in children’s growth and development. Numerous Irish experts have contributed to, providing guidance on areas such as toddler nutrition, growth and development, sleep and behaviour.  The website aims to ensure that parents and caregivers are aware of the importance of good nutrition during these formative years.  We are delighted to work with Toddlebox in creating a memorable and rewarding night.



We are delighted to announce that the MC for our National Awards 2018 will be Keelin Shanley.
Keelin has recently commenced her role as a new presenter of the Six One News. She has worked as a reporter and presenter with RTÉ’s flagship current affairs television programme, Prime Time for over 10 years and has made a number of award winning documentaries.

She has also worked as a news reporter for RTE Radio, Radio France International and for CNN World Report. Keelin hails from Dublin and currently lives in Portobello with her young family.
Keelin is aware of the level of dedication, commitment and enthusiasm our members have in ensuring quality experiences for the children and families accessing their services. Our Awards Night will be a night of celebration and an opportunity to acknowledge the great work and amazing people in our sector.

National Awards

We have 3 main award categories:

  • Learning Stories Award – These awards were initiated to showcase the wonderful work and learning that is happening in our members’ services.
  • Inspired Practice Award – The Inspired Practice awards have been instigated to showcase the quality of early childhood care and education provided in member services across the country. 
  • Educator Award – Leader in Practice –  This NEW annual award will celebrate the exceptional contributions of individuals whose work has had significant positive quality impact on children, families, practitioners, and their community. The award will recognise and acknowledge members work that go beyond normal expectations of daily service operation. It will acknowledge individuals who advocate, lead change and create wonderful experiences for children, families, practitioners and their community. 


We have four external judges who will decide the overall winner of each of the award categories:


Anne FitzpatrickAF.jpg


Anne Fitzpatrick has worked for many years as a lecturer and tutor on the BA Early Childhood Education programme in the Dublin Institute of Technology.  Before that she worked in a variety of early years services in both the community and disability sectors. Her teaching and research interests focus mainly on early years practice including the professional development of early years practitioners, safeguarding young children and partnership with families and communities. She is a member of an EU-funded project team promoting intergenerational learning between young children and older people. As part of the Together Old and Young (TOY) project she is currently involved in piloting a blended learning course on intergenerational learning in five European countries including Ireland.
Heino Schonfeld Heino trained and qualified as a Social Worker and Social Pedagogue in Berlin, Germany. He practiced as a front-line worker, manager and policy maker in Germany, the USA and, since 1987, in Ireland.
Heino was the founding Director of the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education and a member of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment for over 10 years. He was the Deputy Director of the Centre for Effective Services and is now the Early Years Development in Barnardos, Ireland’s largest child welfare organisation. Heino is a very experienced practitioner, manager, writer and policy maker across the NGO and statutory sectors. He has also successfully trained professionals at all levels.
Geraldine French Dr Geraldine French is the Programme Chair of the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education degree at the Institute of Education, DCU, St Patrick’s Campus, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 and a specialist in early childhood education. Her doctoral thesis is in the area of pedagogical interactions between adults and very young children in early childhood settings with a particular focus on educational inequality. She has worked for a variety of governmental and voluntary organisations, national and international, in conducting continued professional development, research, needs analysis, evaluations and consultancy for strategic planning. She has published in the area of quality professional practice in early childhood settings.

Michelle Redmond

Michelle completed a BSc in Nutrition and a MSc in Public Health Nutrition in University College Dublin. She has a special interest in early life nutrition exposures and feeding issues and has recently completed a PgCert Allergy at the Imperial College London. Michelle has been working in Danone Nutricia since 2014 and is currently specialising in early life nutrition and allergies. 


Agenda for the Evening


7.00-7.45pm: Drinks Reception

8.00pm  Welcome address by MC

8.00pm: Gala Dinner  

9.30pm: Awards Ceremony

11.00pm – 1.00am: Music and Dancing


Clontarf Castle Hotel

It’s the people who have lived, loved and laughed here that enrich the experience. They have shaped and moulded what Clontarf Castle is; from Brian Boru to the Vernon’s to Handel & the wonderful premiere in Ireland of his famous work Messiah to the Clontarf locals and our visitors from far and wide. Clontarf Castle has seen generations of celebrations played out within these historic walls, a building where the richness of the old enriches the new. 

Directions: 2 miles, 10 minutes drive from Dublin city centre. With easy access from South Dublin via the East Link Toll Bridge & M50. 10 minutes from M50 and M1. 5 miles, 20 minutes from Dublin Airport. Approximately 1 mile from East Point Business Park and  Croke Park Stadium. Clontarf Castle Hotel has ample free car parking for 180 cars.  Bus No. 130 stops at the Clontarf Castle Dublin Hotel doorstep and it’s journey ends right in the City Centre.

GDS co-ordinates: Lat: 53.364667 Long: -6.206557



This event is now available for booking and ticket costs have been reduced this year for Members of Early Childhood Ireland, thanks to our sponsors Toddlebox. 

Bookings can be made directly online



The National Awards Evening is part of our overall 2018 AGM and Conference weekend. Don’t miss this opportunity to avail of all events over the weekend. Please visit: Coming Together in Difference: Leadership in Inclusion, Equality & Diversity


Last Year’s Award Winners

Our overall award winners from last year were: 

Overall Innovation Award Winner – Little Gumboots, Balbriggin

Overall Learning Story Award Winner – Beverton Preschool, Donabate

Overall Inspiring Practice Award Winner – Carrig Briste, Enniscorthy

Please click here to see the full list of winners from our 2017 Awards

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