The presentation ceremony for the annual Mayo People of the Year Awards took place on Friday last in the Castlecourt Hotel in Westport, Co Mayo.
The 500 guests at the black-tie event, organised by Rehab, Mayo County Council and the Connaught Telegraph, were treated to a gala dinner before each of the 11 winners was announced by guest presenter, Mid West Radio news announcer, Teresa O’Malley.
First established by Rehab in 1992, the Mayo People of the Year Awards celebrate the positive contribution made by local people to life in the county. Among the guests in attendance at the event was the Chairperson of Mayo County Council, Cllr Joe Mellett, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, and the CEO of the National Road Safety Authority, Noel Brett.
The winners of the 2008 Mayo People of the Year Awards were as follows:
Kevin Kilbane was honoured with the Michael Davitt International Award for his great achievements in sport.
Fr Micheál MacGreil from Loughloon near Westport received a well-deserved Hall of Fame Award for his devoted work in championing a variety of causes including the rights of workers, Travellers and prisoners, the promotion of the Irish language, fighting discrimination, the restoration of the Western Rail Corridor and the economic development of rural Ireland.
Mayo Community Games was recognised with the Youth Group of the Year Award.
Seán Ó hÉalaí from Achill Island was honoured with the Gradam na Gaeilge Award for a lifetime commitment to the preservation of the Irish language and the welfare of the people of Mayo.
David O’Loughlin from The Neale was presented with an award for being an inspiration to athletes of all disciplines. David represented Ireland in cycling at the Olympic Games this year and is ranked world number nine in his field.
The Mayo Peace Park Committee received an award for their painstaking work to create a place where over 1,000 Mayo men and women who fought in wars across the world during the last century are honoured.
John Cummins from Thornill was recognised with an award for his long-standing commitment to maintaining the 102-year-old church on the summit of Croagh Patrick.
Sean Clarke of Killala was honoured for his great achievements as an ambassador for farming and rural Mayo over many years.
The Castlebar Outreach Group Chernobyl Children’s Project received an award for providing children from contaminated areas of Belarus with holidays for more than two decades.
Timmy Quinn from Castlecarr, Carnacon, was presented with an award for his outstanding achievements in farming. Tommy, who is the 2008 FBD Young Farmer of the Year, took over the running of the family farm when aged just 20.
The Castlebar Pantomime Committee was recognised for the great entertainment it has brought to the town as well as the support it has provided to numerous charities over more than two decades.
The Mayo Association Boston received the Special Merit Award for its great work over many years.