Honouring the country’s inspirational unsung heroes

The widow of murdered garda, Adrian Donohoe, has spoken publicly for the first time about the devastating impact of her husband’s violent death on her family.

Honouring the country’s inspirational unsung heroes

Caroline Donohoe described Adrian, who was shot dead while responding to a robbery at Lordship Credit Union outside Dundalk last January, as the love of her life.

“I will miss him every minute of every day as long as I live,” said Ms Donohoe who accepted a posthumous award on her husband’s behalf at the Rehab People of the Year awards in Dublin on Saturday night.

In a short film showed during the ceremony, Ms Donohoe, who is also a garda based in Dundalk, said the support of the couple’s friends and colleagues at Adrian’s funeral, when thousands of members of the force joined his funeral cortege, kept her going.

She also thanked members of the public who had written thousands of cards and letters to her and the couple’s two children, Amy and Niall.

She described how the couple met in 1994 when they were both trainees at the Garda Training College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Ms Donohoe also singled out the people of Lordship and Dundalk as well as Adrian’s GAA club, St Patrick’s, Lordship, where a pitch has been named after him.

His younger brother, Colm, said Adrian was a huge influence in his own decision to become a garda. “He was a big man with a big heart,” he said.

Broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, who presented the award, said the loss of such a brave officer reminded people that there are people who look out for them without being asked.

“Let’s be proud that we still live in communities that produce people like Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe,” he said.

Kerry teenager, Donal Walsh, who died from cancer earlier this year, was also honoured posthumously when his parents, Fionnbar and Elma were presented with the award for Young Person of the Year in recognition of his inspirational plea for young people to seek help if they had suicidal thoughts.

The Young Person of the Year award was shared with Joe Prendergast, a 10-year-old author who was taught how to type by his father, Geoff, when he aged five.

The young Dubliner donated all the proceeds from the sale of his first book to the Clinical Cancer Research Trust at St Vincent’s Hospital in honour of his father, who died at the hospital last year from lung cancer.

Joe, who informed the audience that his second book will be finished before Christmas, received a standing ovation at the ceremony after a video was shown of him playing with his late father.

Comedian Brendan O’Carroll, who is enjoying international success with his Mrs Brown’s Boys TV series, received an award for his services to the Irish entertainment industry, while the Irish women’s rugby team were recognised for capturing their first-ever Grand Slam in the Six Nations championship earlier this year.

Fiona Doyle received an award for her courage in foregoing her anonymity and speaking out against a decision to free her father, Patrick O’Brien, on bail and suspend nine years of a 12-year term following a criminal trial in which he was convicted of raping her as a child.

Tom Arnold, the recently retired CEO of Concern, was also honoured for his role as an influential advocate against global hunger.

The award for International Person of the Year was presented to Irish-American businesswoman Loretta Brennan Glucksman for her philanthropic efforts in raising over $27m (€20.3m) for the Ireland American Fund.

Fireman Ciarán Finn from Ashbourne, Co Meath received the special award category of “Dad of the Year” for his dedication in teaching his four children skills in a novel and fun way.

Music teacher Orla O’Sullivan, who became deaf and blind at just six weeks old as a result of medication, was honoured for her musical talent and for overcoming her disability to become the first deaf-blind person to take music as a subject in both the Inter and Leaving Certificate.

For his bravery and courage in saving the lives of Liz O’Brien and her 10-year-old son, Derek after he fell into a river near their home in Tralee, Co Kerry, Fabian Lugandu received an award. Fabian, originally from Tanzania, immediately jumped into the river after hearing Liz’s screams for help and saved three lives as Liz was also six months pregnant at the time.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was guest of honour at the ceremony hosted by Gráinne Seoige and attended by 400 guests at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel.

Rehab CEO Angela Kerins said the ceremony represented an opportunity to honour unsung heroes whose stories and achievements were inspirational.

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