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And the 2013 People of the Year are....

15 September 2013

Comedian Brendan O’Carroll Honoured Kerry’s Donal Walsh Awarded Posthumously The Irish Women’s Rugby Team Awarded for International Success

Comedian Brendan O’Carroll, Kerry teenager Donal Walsh, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year and the Irish Women’s Rugby Team, are among those who were honoured at the 2013 People of the Year Awards. The annual event, which is in its 39th year, was presented by Gráinne Seoige and broadcast live on RTÉ One television from the Citywest Hotel, Dublin. Others honoured on the night included Fiona Doyle, Tom Arnold, Loretta Brennan Glucksman (International Person of the Year), Orla O’Sullivan, Fabian Lugandu, Joe Prendergast (Joint Young Person of the Year) and Ciarán Finn who received the ‘Dad of the Year’ title in a special category this year. Guest of Honour at the Awards was An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD along with other well-known faces including Kathryn Thomas and Rob Kearney.

The prestigious Awards provide a unique and special opportunity for the Irish public to honour and celebrate those extraordinary people among us, who do extraordinary things. This year’s winners have each made a difference to the lives of people around them, from saving lives to fighting for justice in the courts, and pushing boundaries to achieve what was thought to be unattainable. The event is Ireland’s answer to an honour system and the winners are all nominated by members of the public through a nominations process and finalised by a panel of adjudicators.

2013 People of the Year Award Winners:

Donal Walsh is posthumously awarded Joint Young Person of the Year for his courage, strength, determination and desire to show young people the true value and meaning of life, and for being an inspiration to so many. Donal, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year at the age of 16, inspired everyone around him with an insatiable appetite to #livelife right. The award was presented to his parents Fionnbarr and Elma Walsh by Saturday Night Show host Brendan O’Connor, whose interview with Donal earlier in the year led to an outpouring of love and support for the teenager. He used the opportunity to speak out about his love for life and against the epidemic of young suicide, pleading with youngsters to get help and enjoy life as he did, irrespective of his illness.

Comedian Brendan O’Carroll is a People of the Year award winner for 2013 for his services to the Irish entertainment industry and his ability to bring a smile to the faces of so many people through his work. Whilst Brendan has worked in the entertainment business for a number of decades, his most recent endeavour, ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ has become an International television phenomenon. What started out originally as an idea for radio has now become an award winning triumph that is broadcast on both RTÉ and BBC. The show, now in its third series, has won both BAFTA and IFTA awards and is flying the flag high for Irish entertainment. The success of Mrs Brown’s Boys is not stopping there – Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie is currently in the middle of filming, which is great for the O’Carroll family who are very much a part of the production! The People of the Year Award for 2013 was presented to Brendan by Gay Byrne.

The Irish Women’s Rugby Team is awarded a People of the Year Award for their skill, passion and dedication in achieving their success, for capturing the hearts of the nation and breaking down the barriers for women’s sport in Ireland. Earlier this year the team beat their Italian hosts 6-3 in their fifth successive international victory of the year, securing the team their first ever RBS 6 Nations Championship and with it the highly coveted Grand Slam! This Grand Slam and the 6 Nations Championship were the pinnacle of a journey that began as far back as 1993, when the women’s team formed at their own expense. With less than 200 female players in Ireland at the time, the team played its first international game against Scotland, resulting in a 10-0 loss. How things have changed for the unwavering team, who through their hard work and passion for the sport, have led the women’s game to the exceptional point it’s at today. The award was presented to the team by Kathryn Thomas.

Fiona Doyle received a 2013 People of the Year Award for her courage, determination and bravery in fighting for her own rights and the rights of survivors of abuse. Suffering years of abuse as a child at the hands of her father, Patrick O’Brien, Fiona set about bringing him to justice, a brave and unique move for someone abused by a family member. The court case aired publically, with Fiona having to recall the harrowing details of her childhood abuse. With the support of her husband, children and close friends, Fiona endured the spotlight and media attention in order for her story to be heard and justice to be served. The original sentence handed down to her father sparked public outcry across Ireland as he was allowed to walk free on bail and had nine years of his 12 year sentence suspended. The case and Fiona’s plight received widespread support from people throughout the country. Subsequently, the judge revoked his original decision to allow Patrick O’Brien to receive bail pending any appeal. Fiona was presented with her award by Joe Duffy.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, is posthumously awarded a People of the Year Award for his bravery and fearlessness as a local Detective Garda at the heart of the community in Dundalk. On Friday 25th January this year, Detective Garda Donohoe and his colleague were at the Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, just outside Dundalk. On duty to accompany staff in a cash transfer from the credit union to the bank, Detective Garda Donohoe investigated a disruption to the process and was callously shot in the head without any warning by the raiders. An outpouring of anger and collective grief followed across the nation that such a cruel murder could take place. Thousands of mourners attended Garda Donohoe’s funeral to pay their respect and show support for his wife Caroline and their young children. The award was presented to Caroline Donohoe by Micheal O’Muircheartaigh.

Tom Arnold received a People of the Year Award for his vision, drive and achievements with the charity Concern. In 2001, Tom Arnold became Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide following roles with ACOT and the Department of Agriculture. A man brimming with energy, passion and drive, Tom’s core vision for Concern was to innovatively use resources available to tackle poverty. Following on from his predecessors, Tom was dedicated to a fight against worldwide hunger. Tom is recognised internationally as one of the most influential and effective policy advocates in relation to global hunger. Furthermore, Kofi Annan appointed him to the UN Millennium Project’s Hunger Task Force. Tom is also credited with helping the Irish Government to structure its policy on development aid. Retiring from Concern earlier this year, Tom has left behind an organisation well placed to better work with the world’s poorest people to transform their lives. Tom’s award was presented to him by Rob Kearney.

Loretta Brennan Glucksman is the winner of the International Person of the Year Award for her tireless work, dedication and commitment to her extraordinary philanthropic efforts. A member of the Irish diaspora, Loretta is recognised for her generosity of spirit and honoured for her role as Chairman of The American Ireland Fund. Founded in the USA in 1976 and now operating in 12 countries, The Ireland Funds has become one of the largest private funding sources for not-for-profit organisations across Ireland, with Loretta personally raising over $27 million for the Fund during her time with them. Through her philanthropy efforts, Loretta has played a key role in spreading the message of peace throughout Ireland and is a great ambassador for the country some 30 years after first visiting Ireland. Loretta’s award was presented to her by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD

Ciarán Finn, from Ashbourne, is the winner of the 2013 special award category ‘Dad of the Year’, for his dedication to going above and beyond for his children and teaching them skills in a novel and fun way. Ciarán’s children, Onóra (12), Cianán (9), Darragh (8), and Aoife (5), are used to their dad being around a lot of the time. As a fireman in the local Ashbourne fire station, Ciarán loves to spend his spare time teaching the kids about food, how to grow their own vegetables and make their lunch boxes creative works of art. He uses his time at home to take his kids on adventures and have fun with crazy DIY classes! Ciaran’s philosophy is to use every day to teach his kids something new. Ciarán’s wife, Yvonne, said: ‘’I tell him all the time that he is a great dad but he is a really humble person and I’m not sure he believes it. That’s why I nominated him. I’m so proud of him. He is my number one. Maybe now he’ll believe me that he really is a number one dad!’’ Ciarán was presented with his award by Neven Maguire.

Joe Prendergast was awarded Joint Young Person of the Year for his motivation, determination and successful achievements as one of Ireland’s youngest authors. At just 10 years of age, Joe has already had one book published and donated all proceeds towards the Clinical Cancer Research Trust at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. Growing up with a love for reading and writing, Joe started creating small picture books when he began at school. Joe’s flair for writing, passion and determined character are commendable for such a young age. His decision to donate all the proceeds from the sale of his book to St. Vincent’s Hospital was in honour of his dad, Geoff, who suffered from cancer and died at the hospital last year. Geoff taught Joe to type at just 5 years old and, together with his mum, encouraged his passion for books. Joe wants to keep writing and if that doesn’t work out he’d quite like to be a journalist or radio DJ. Joe shows at such a young age that if you are determined and strong-willed you can achieve anything. His award was presented by Nicky Byrne.

Orla O’Sullivan was honoured with a 2013 People of the Year Award for her incredible musical talent and acting as an inspiration for others with a disability to follow their dreams. At just six weeks old, Orla became deafblind due to medication she was taking for an infection. Despite growing up with dual sensory loss, Orla is remarkably positive, something she attributes to music and the importance it plays in her life. Orla was the first deafblind person to undertake music as a subject for the Inter and Leaving Certificate. A very determined lady, Orla admits that she works hard and that once she has set herself a goal, she refuses to give up until she has achieved it. For the last 22 years, Orla has taught piano and electronic keyboard to students, including many who are deaf, and also plays organ guitar and violin. Orla’s award was presented by Rehab Group Chief Executive, Angela Kerins.

Fabian Lugandu receives a 2013 People of the Year Award for his bravery and courage in saving the lives of Liz O’Brien and her son, Derek. Fabian’s quick thinking and courage led to the rescue of Liz and her 10-year-old son Derek who had fallen into a river near their home in Tralee, Co. Kerry in January of this year. While crossing the bridge to his grandmother’s house via a short cut, Derek slipped and fell. Liz, who was six months pregnant at the time and describes it as the worst experience ever for a mother, without thinking leaped to her son’s rescue but soon realised how impossible a rescue it was. Fabian heard Liz’s screams and instantly jumped in to help, pulling Liz and Derek from the water and unknowingly saving three lives - Derek, Liz and her unborn child. A true hero, the effect of Fabian’s brave actions is long-lasting – three months after the traumatic event Liz gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Fabian was presented his award by Love/Hate’s Peter Coonan and actress Aoibhin McCaul.

Angela Kerins, Chief Executive, Rehab Group, and Chairperson of the Adjudication Panel, said: “We are delighted to organise the People of the Year Awards for the 39th year, and are honoured to share the stories of this year’s winners with the nation. These awards give us the opportunity to honour unsung heroes from communities across the country whose stories and achievements inspire everyone around them. With nominations for each winner coming from the people of Ireland, these truly are the ‘People’s Awards’ and reflect all that is good about our society.”

Mairéad Ní Nuadháin, Head of External Relations, RTÉ, said: “RTÉ is proud of its long standing association with REHAB and the People of the Year Awards. Huge numbers of viewers tune in every year to see the achievements of Ireland’s everyday heroes being honoured in this way and we are delighted to play our part in seeing generosity and courage of this magnitude brought to the fore.” Previous People of the Year Award winners include Katie Taylor (2012), Joanne O’Riordan (2012), adventurer Mark Pollock (2012), Pieta House founder Joan Freeman (2011), Rory McIlroy (2011), PC Ronan Kerr ( 2011), Graeme McDowell (2010), Gerry Ryan (2010), the Irish rugby team (2009), actor David Kelly (2009), autism campaigner Keith Duffy (2008), former Northern Ireland Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan (2008) and campaigner Bob Geldof (2005).

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