McAleese tops awards billing with Woman of the Year win

PRESIDENT Mary McAleese has been named the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year.

At a gala black-tie ceremony in Dublin's Four Seasons Hotel last night, Ms McAleese was recognised for her unique contribution to Irish society.

"Self-belief is a vital part of the road to success and our winners demonstrate clearly that it is possible to achieve great things in modern Ireland," said Norah Casey, CEO of Smurfit Communications, which publishes Irish Tatler.

This year a new category, Northern Ireland Woman of the Year, was added to the prestigious list to ensure that women of influence in the North were not left without recognition.

"We hope through this initiative to promote Ireland's excellent female role models to help inspire young Irish women and girls to strive for success," said Ms Casey.

This year's Northern Ireland Woman of the Year was water-skier Janet Gray, who attended the ceremony with a host of friends and relatives.

Picking up the Entertainment Award was actress and comedian Deirdre O'Kane, who is currently enjoying huge success with her nationwide tour, while the Media award was presented to newscaster Anne Doyle, who has worked tirelessly on the national campaign to create greater awareness of depression.

Dynamic Blues singer and song-writer Juliet Turner was awarded the Best Newcomer in Music, while best-selling author Edna O'Brien received the Best Literary award.

Nominations, which were received from readers of Irish Tatler, were judged by a panel of well-known names including Celia Larkin, Jen Kelly, Dame Mary Peters, Des Cahill, Caroline Downey and Marian Keyes.

"There are so many great women in Irish life, it's difficult to weed them all down to just a handful of names," said fashion designer Jen Kelly.

A Special Recognition award was also presented last night to Cathleen O'Neill, who has devoted her adult life to helping women. Ms O'Neill was one of the earliest members of KLEAR, where she provided education for adults who wanted to return to learning.

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