He was among a number of leading sports people and community activists to be honoured at last night’s mayoral awards in Killarney.
He is believed to be the first journalist to be so honoured by the town council in its 113-year history.
Mr Hickey has covered Killarney Town Council meetings for 38 years for the Irish Examiner, and was the first staff man to be appointed by the then Cork Examiner in Killarney.
Appointed in 1975, he previously worked in North Cork and in Tralee for The Kerryman. Now specialising in news, along with environmental matters, over the course of his career he has covered business as well as sport, including almost every All-Ireland in which Kerry played over the last 40 years.
Mayor of Killarney Seán O’Grady said: “Donal would be representative of all that is good in journalism. He would epitomise the plus-side of the profession — he is a dedicated newsman and journalist and very well respected not just locally, but nationally too.
“He is also of course an author,” the mayor added, in reference to a number of books including Stone Mad for Music on the musical tradition of his native Sliabh Luachra.
Killarney had a vibrant community and people of great distinction, said the mayor. He urged that these annual awards, suspended for 13 years, be re-instated.
Among the more than 20 other organisations and individuals to receive an award at the ceremony was rower Aoife Cooper for her silver medal win in rowing at the European Championships.
Thomas Kelliher who donated a kidney to his brother, and retired Fossa teacher Mary Murphy were also among those honoured.