THE newest People of the Year showed bravery, genius and generosity in many challenging situations but their greatest achievement may well have been to crack the seemingly impossible task of lightening the public gloom of the last 12 months.
The sporting brilliance of golfer Graeme McDowell was honoured with one of the 2010 awards for not only lifting the coveted US Open trophy, but Ireland’s mood with it, while Dr Louise Ivers and Gena Heraty jointly received the International Person of the Year award for bringing hope to Haiti through their work with vulnerable children and destitute families on the earthquake-stricken island.
Ten awards in total were presented at the weekend ceremony to people from all walks of life who were nominated by the public.
They included Owen O’Keefe from Fermoy, Co Cork who at 17 became the youngest Irish person ever to swim the English Channel, while raising funds for the Irish Cancer Society in tribute to his late grandmother who died from cancer.
Emma Fogarty, 26, from Ballyroan, Co Laois was similarly honoured for her spirited campaigning on behalf of people affected by EB, or Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare and cruel medical condition that leaves people like herself in constant pain from continually blistering and tearing skin.
Another individual award winner was mother to 142 children, Rio Hogarty, an unstoppable 73-year-old from west Dublin who has cared for 140 foster children over 40 years, as well as her own two children.
Judge Catherine McGuinness also received an individual award for her pioneering work in the law, as a judge of the High and Supreme Courts and more recently as president of the Law Reform Commission.
Other awards went to group nominees including GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network; the Garda Community Policing Unit in Limerick and the Families of the Victims of Bloody Sunday.
A special posthumous award was made to broadcaster Gerry Ryan whose shock death last April deprived radio listeners of an unique talent. The award was collected by Lottie and Rex Ryan, the eldest of Gerry’s five children.
Angela Kerins, chairperson of the adjudication panel, said the awards “demonstrate what is best in Irish spirit, courage and determination”.
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