Blarney and Cork GAA star Mark Coleman was named as 2017 Blarney Person of the Year on Saturday at the Blarney Person of the Year reception held at the Blarney Castle Hotel. The popular local man received a rapturous response from the 150 guests at the annual awards ceremony. Earlier, Blarney Woollen Mills CEO Freda Hayes saw her huge contribution to Blarney acknowledged when she was inaugurated in the Blarney Hall of Fame for her ongoing contribution to the community.
Speaking at the awards, John Henchion said, ”We receive many nominations throughout the year and no one is voted a person of the month lightly. The awards are a way for us to show off the talents and hard work of people who just don’t know how to show off. People who work tirelessly under the cloak of invisibility, with humility and for the common good, not for any personal gain. Damian Boylan continued, “We consider ourselves extremely lucky to live in a village where charitable and altruistic work is the rule and not the exception. The eleven people or groups that are being honoured here tonight richly deserve their monthly award and so much more. The Blarney Person of The Year award endeavours to applaud and recognise our unsung heroes who put their community and their charitable work before themselves.”
The Muskerry News / Blarney & District Chamber of Commerce awards aim is to recognise achievement, leadership and altruism so that others may be inspired to follow. The panel of local judges had the hard job of deciding from a panel of monthly winners that included retired teacher John Kelly, who gave 43 years of his career to the young people of Blarney; Freda Hayes who is head of not one, but two, iconic Irish brands: Blarney Woollen Mills and Meadows & Byrne, which as a group employs over 500 people between three Blarney Woollen Mills stores and thirteen Meadows & Byrne stores throughout the country; Noel Holmes for his success with his horror film Jack Scott’s Wood; Chairperson of Blarney Active Retired Group Bridget Harrington; Adam Whitbourn Head Gardener of Blarney Castle Estate whose mission is ‘to make the gardens as famous in their own right as the Castle’; Blarney and Cork GAA star Mark Coleman; Mary Walsh who is responsible for the birth of a new storytelling community called the ‘The Gab’, a community of storytellers and story lovers based in Blarney, who meet once a month for a night of poetry, song and story; popular Blarney GAA Chairman Martin Lynch; Eddie Geary and Barry Looney who retired this year from Blarney Swimming Club after an incredible cumulative 78 years of volunteering; Pat Keohane who has worked with charitable and voluntary organisations for many years and who founded Waterloo Renewal Group; horse rider Angela Lyons who despite the difficulties associated with her Rheumatoid Arthritis won 2 Munster Dressage Championship titles at the start of August and is also a member of Para Dressage Ireland and has qualified to represent Ireland Internationally this year.
The awards evening was MC’d by awards organisers John Henchion and Damian Boylan, and guests included local Councillor Kevin Conway, Rev Robert Ferris, Blarney Tidy Towns Chair Adrian O’Connell, Blarney and District Chamber of Commerce Chair John Foley, Brand Blarney Chair Deborah Maguire and former Blarney People of the Year Tom MacGrath, Donal Hayes, Sean Foley and Celeste Foley.