CIVIC PRIDE HONOURED AT MAYORAL AWARDS
CITIZENS RECOGNISED FOR HARD WORK AND DEDICATION
THE Highlanes Gallery echoed to the magnificent strains of the Drogheda Male Voice Choir last Tuesday night, as family and friends of some of the town’s finest citizens gathered for the 2018 Drogheda Mayoral awards.
Members of the Slane Branch of the ONE provided a colour party, marching flags up what used to be the aisle of the former Franciscan church, adding to the almost ecclesiastical air to the event.
Louth County Council Chief Executive Joan Martin spoke with obvious pride about the venue - calling it ‘a community space for the people of Drogheda’ before Mayor Pio Smith began the task of honouring those who have contributed to the community, social, business, humanitarian and sporting life of the town.
‘It is hard to beat that entrance, and it sets the tone for a celebration to recognise some of the qualities and values we hold dear in our society today,’ said the First Citizen.
Sixteen awards were given out in total; ten to individuals and six to local organisations.
Local author Aaron Finnegan received the first award for his literary achievements, and the part he has played in the dramatic arts in Drogheda. His sister Dawn said she was delighted to take it for him.
Next to be honoured was Brother Christopher ‘Sonny’ Kierans, who was recognised for his lifetime of dedicated service to the church and the honour this has brought to the town.
Unable to attend, his brother Dec Kierans said it was the ultimate achievement to be awarded for your civic duties by your peers.
‘He never expected it, and hopefully we will be able to bring it over to him in Rome in May to celebrate.’
Scotch Hall security guard Earl Gorman received his award in recognition of his bravery and presence of mind while assisting a woman in difficulty in the Rive Boyne in August 2016.
The modest hero he did whatever anyone else would have done. ‘It’s lovely to be honoured by the town, but the real heroes are the river rescue guys who do it 24/7.’
Fintan McCarthy received his award in recognition of the huge contribution made to the people of Drogheda through his involvement in GAA, heritage and support for people with disabilities and older people.
‘I love helping my community and we should have more, instead of people sitting at home watching telly,’ said the vibrant 80-year-old, who started St Nicholas GFC 46 years ago.
Augustinian Fr Colm O’Mahony was honoured for the contribution he makes along with the other Augustinians to social care and justice in Drogheda, in particular the families of road traffic and suicide victims.
‘Drogheda is close to my heart, and I have been embraced by the town,’ said the Cork native who attended with his mother Margaret.
‘It is nice to see that the work we all do is still seen as valid and important.’
Gerard Fay was awarded for the 349 marathons he has run for charity, especially the €135,00 he has raised for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.
‘I got an award at the CF conference in Dundalk last week too, so I am very proud,’ he told the Drogheda Independent. ‘It is ten years since I won the Louth Person of the Year award, and I will not stop until I reach the 500 marathons in Dublin next year, and as long as CF needs funds, I’ll keep running.’
Another proud man is Jim Gorman, who got his award for his massive contribution to sport and young people in Drogheda.
‘It is very humbling and after 60 years involved in sport in the town, it is a great honour to receive something,’ he said proudly.
‘It was 38 years ago we started Holy Family Boxing Club, and I look back on some of the 2,500 young people we have had through our hands, and I am like a proud father to them all.’
Businessman Malachy McCloskey said he felt he didn’t deserve his award in recognition of the economic and cultural contribution he made and his championing of environmental sustainability.
‘I’m very honoured to get it, but the favourite part of my life in Drogheda is being with my wife Ann,’ he said romantically. ‘We are together 58 years in June, and she is the greatest honour I have.’
Naas native P J O’Brien says he is particularly proud to get the nod from his adopted town of Drogheda.
‘I’m here 29 years, and I’m shocked and proud to have been accepted so warmly,’ said the paramedic, honoured for his dedication to the National Ambulance Service.
‘I learned quickly about the FAA said, but nobody cares which side of the town you’re from, as long as the ambulance arrives!’
Members of the O.N.E. and Councillors with award particpants at the Mayoral Awards at the Highlanes Gallery
Rosemary Fay , Mayor Pio Smith , Gerrard Fay, Jim Fay
Mayor Pio Smith Presenting John Rooney, Alan Floyd and Gerrard Kavanagh, Irish Red Cross.