Kerr was posthumously given his award in recognition of his decision to join the PSNI and the show of cross-community unity which erupted following his murder by dissident republicans.
The awarded was accepted by his mother, Nuala, at the ceremony in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin.
Fellow Ulsterman McIlroy, was feted for smashing golfing records on his way to winning the US Open title after earlier falling short despite a valiant bid to win the US Masters. He was given the Sports person of the Year accolade.
The awards, which were held in the company of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, also celebrated the uplifting endeavours of the Irish cricketing team, who yet again proved cricket’s ultimate underdogs by turning over the marauding England side at the 50-overs World Cup.
Now in their 37th year, the awards have sought to laud the efforts of those who beamed Ireland’s brand around the world and for communities who kept the lights shining at home.
The town of Skerries was rewarded for how it pulled together in the search for Ronan Browne, 26, and David Gilsenan, 41, who drowned while fishing.
Sharon Malloy, from Ballymoyler, Co Laois was declared the best friend of the year for helping Ian Lawlor beat his drug addiction.