This year’s Cork Person of the Year Award is one of the most open in the event’s 26-year history, but according to its organiser, two monthly winners were streets ahead when it came to hits on social media.
Event organiser Manus O’Callaghan acknowledged that it will be hard for the judges to choose a winner.
But he said the public reaction to the announcement that developer Michael O’Flynn and jockey Davy Russell had won monthly awards was noticeably far higher than any other monthly winners.
Mr Russell, from Youghal, was given his award for his outstanding career to-date and Mr O’Flynn got the accolade for his role as chairman of Liam Miller Fundraising Committee.
However, Mr O’Callaghan pointed out that one monthly winner, author Louise O’Neill, said on the Ray D’Arcy TV show recently that her favourite to win Cork Person of Year was Mary Crilly of the Sexual Violence Centre.
Another being spoken about was Herbie Hendrick, conductor of the Cork Butter Exchange Band.
The winner will be announced at a gala lunch which will be held in the Rochestown Park Hotel on Friday, January 18.
What is known, however, is that two special awards will be made on the day to notable personalities.
Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt will be made an honorary Corkman at the event, following in the footsteps of acclaimed director David Puttnam and legendary actor Jeremy Irons.
Such has been Schmidt’s success that if Ireland beat England and Scotland in the upcoming Six Nations they were leapfrog New Zealand to become the top team in world rankings.
World-renowned journalist Fergal Keane will be presented with a Hall of Fame award. As BBC Special Correspondent his coverage of such stories as the Rwanda genocide shocked the world and Amnesty International have marked his work with their highest honours.
“Fergal Keane has shone a light on the most important stories around the globe over recent years. That has never been more important in a year when Time magazine’s own Person of the Year was “The War on Truth” which honours journalists who were killed, persecuted and imprisoned,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
Meanwhile, a special award will also be presented to the RTÉ Nationwide team on the day in recognition of the programme’s 25th anniversary. It will be accepted by the programme’s presenters, Ann Cassin and Mary Kennedy, and producer Eoin Ryan.
Speakers at event will inlcude Dee Forbes, Director General of RTÉ and Ronan McManamy, MD Irish Examiner and Evening Echo.
The award judges are Tim Lucey, chief executive of Cork County Council and Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council.
Award sponsors are Irish Examiner[/]i, RTÉ, Southern Lexus Cork, AM O’Sullivan PR, Cork Crystal, Tony O’Connell Photography, AV3 Media and Musgrave Marketplace.