Friday last saw this year’s award winners honoured and lauded at a Gala Ball in Hotel Keadeen. Nine community heroes were presented with an individual award and certificate whilst Caragh’s supreme athlete Pa Monahan received a standalone award for his inspirational recovery and sporting achievements after he sustained life-chaining injuries in a car accident. MC Matt Browne, who had experienced 18 months in a wheelchair many decades ago, asked the Paralympian how he got himself into the frame of mind to say “I need to get up off my ass, and get back out there” – to which the Caragh man retorted “Well, I couldn’t get up off my ass, that was the problem!”. The room almost rocked with laughter, definitely the Quip of the Night! Well done, Pa.
But it was a toss-up between Paddy Price, Jim Clarke, Marie Kelly and John Joe Walshe as to whose interview drew the biggest laughter on the night. Little Paddy Price spoke of his Christmas lighting display which has entertained the people of Prosperous for decades, indeed it’s now a tourist attraction in North Kildare! “Baby Jesus was stolen from the crib one year” he told Matt on stage “And we made the front of the Leinster Leader. But two kind ladies each brought me back a baby Jesus statue, one from Lourdes and one from Medjugorje. So I had identical Baby Jesus twins!” The room collapsed with laughter as the Prosperous octogenarian said he keeps one in a drawer but in case it gets jealous, he takes it out every other year to share the spotlight.
Marie Kelly, who is held so highly in Naas for the massive amount of community work she has carried out was asked about her fondness for the Liscaroll Donkey Sanctuary. “I adopt a donkey every year” she said “And when they asked me to name the first one, I said Timmy.” “Why Timmy?” enquired Matt. “After Timmy Conway from Naas, a former Councillor. I love Timmy and sure every year thereafter, when they’d ask for a name, I’d always say Timmy!” Not the most traditional tribute to a former County Councillor.
When John Joe Walshe came to the stage, again you could feel the affection and respect he drew from the gathering. “Did you ever come across Jim Clarke in your travels?” asked Matt. “I did” chuckled John Joe “I was possibly not quite legally registered to play that day and Jim knew. I think he might have objected but I got to play, albeit Jim had instructed someone to take me out and I got a right hammering on the day!” However, they breed them tough in Mayo and John Joe continued to play with his adopted club, St Laurence’s until he was 57, yes 57!
Kevin Pud Barrett, albeit used to performing on a weekly basis admitted that getting up on stage last Friday was more nerve wrecking than any live performance. With a big following from Newbridge Cancer Support Cancer Group and family, his award many felt was long overdue. Similarly Jack Dunne of Milltown had a large following as he is renowned for his community work and a general all-round community volunteer.
For North Kildare, GAA Confey Chairperson Joann Keenahan looked stunning in a red beaded ballgown and veered away from her education studies and GAA work, as Matt quizzed her about her trip to Russia on the ‘Vodka Train’! Well, her stamina and energy shone on the night as Joann and friends were the last to leave the dance floor.
Juliette Smith looked stunning also, whilst retaining the uniform colour of St John’s Ambulance North Kildare Division, that is, a classical black and white ballgown. Julliette praised the commitment and time both adult and junior members give to training and providing emergency medical cover to all major local and national events.
The last and most comprehensive tribute of the night went to the late Michael Fitzpatrick, TD. It was an emotional night for Michael’s wife Maureen and son Daragh with the Fitzpatrick family from Cavan there in force, along with political colleagues, Liam Doyle, Johnny O’Callaghan, Cllr Carmel Kelly and Deputy James Lawless.
Also in attendance were Deputies Fiona O’Loughlin, Martin Heydon and Bernard Durkan, Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghail and Frank O’Rourke.
There was genuine applause when Aubrey McCarthy was announced the overall winner for his work with Tiglin Rehabilitation Services and as shown here by Pat Tinsley’s photos, the illegible batchelor made the most of the spotlight and was busy being hugged by the loveliest (some single, some night) ladies on the night.
High praise must go to Finbarr Sheehy of BusinessExcellence.ie whose video presentations were superb with audio recordings by John Dunne of KFM. Mayor of Kildare, Cllr Ivan Keatley noted Kildare County Council were delighted to continue sponsoring the awards and welcomed the support of other sponsors, Joe Mallon Motors Ltd, Naas Printing who sponsor the brochures, Lily O’Brien’s, BusinessExcellence.ie and The Keadeen Hotel. The judging panel PJ Gorey, Nellie Dillon and Evelyn Moyles Sheehy had a tough job on their hands and should be praised for the time given to researching the nominees.
Mo Flynn, CEO REHAB Ireland gave an engaging talk on the ongoing work of REHAB services with Bishop Dennis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin saying grace before the meal. A great night was had by all and the organising committee Matt Browne, Edel Browne Curran and Rose B O’Donoghue furthered thanked the local media for all their support, along with behind the scenes workers Sally (brochure sales), Dympna, Betty, Margaret and Leenan, photographers Dessie Boland and Pat Tinsley, Spain Productions and Ger Boland.
A wonderful group of award winners, each deserving of their individual awards, with final mention going to Aubrey McCarthy, REHAB Kildare Person of the Year Award 2016.
Photos Pat Tinsley