Rowers Paul and Gary O’Donovan were named Cork Persons of the Year for 2016, at a glittering awards lunch in Cork last month. Before an invited audience of 250, representing all sectors of Cork society, they received a standing ovation at the Gala Awards Lunch in the Rochestown Park Hotel. The Mayor of Cork County Cllr. Seamus McGrath and Lord Mayor Cllr. Des Cahill presented the award to Gary O’Donovan, on behalf of the people of Cork County and City. Paul O’Donovan could not attend the award ceremony, as he was detained in Dublin involved in his UCD Physiotherapy Exams. “In the 24 years history of these awards, we got the most nominations ever for Paul and Gary, so it was really no surprise to most, when they picked up the Persons of Year trophy for the huge impact they have made” said awards founder and organiser Manus O’Callaghan. These Olympic Heroes brought the country to a standstill, when they won Olympic Silver in Rio last year and Paul won gold at the World Championships in Rotterdam, immediately afterwards. Many guests at the awards lunch spoke about the boys endearing personalities as well as their herculean efforts in rowing. Already their success has led to huge membership growth in rowing and sailing clubs around Ireland. The Lisheen, Skibbereen natives had already won the RTE Sports Team of the Year award, and the Director General of RTE Dee Forbes who spoke at the lunch yesterday, was the first up to congratulate her fellow West Cork neighbour Gary O’Donovan. Mr. Tom Crosbie of Landmark Media, owners of the Irish Examiner, also spoke at the awards and said, “These sportsmen have captured the nation’s heart and their positive outlook make them outstanding ambassadors for our youth, sport and Cork.” The O’Donovan brothers were surrounded by family at the awards lunch, including Mother Trish and “Nan” Mary Doab. Master of Ceremonies at the event was well known RTE broadcaster Sean O’Rourke and the two award judges were Tim Lucey, Chief Executive of Cork County Council and Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council. Sponsors of the award scheme were, the Irish Examiner; RTE; Southern; AM O’Sullivan PR; Lexus Cork; Tony O’Connell Photography; Cork Crystal and C & C Gleeson.