The Cork Person of the Year Awards were established in 1993. The primary purpose of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of people from the city and county of Cork. They are run on a voluntary basis and with the help of their sponsors. AM O’Sullivan PR is one of the awards sponsors, and is proud to be involved given the immense benefits the awards provide to the people of Cork.
One of the ways in which the awards benefit Cork’s citizens is that they showcase and celebrate achievement. As author Louise O’Neill wrote when recounting her experience at the awards ceremony in 2019: “At the Cork Person of the Year Awards, that desire to be the best at absolutely everything seemed immediately possible, if not probable.”
The Cork Person of the Year Awards focuses on 12 monthly winners, from which an overall winner is chosen at the end of each year. The success and longevity of the awards is built on a unique process of recognising deserving local people. The monthly winners represent many different walks of life. Typically, they are an eclectic group of inspirational people ranging from community activists and artists to media personalities and sports people.
For example, the most recently elected Cork Person of the Year was the broadcaster, John Creedon. The judging panel said John Creedon received his award for representing the best of Cork city and county through his broadcasting and writing. The judges also said he had ignited a new love of Ireland during the recent Covid lockdown period, through his television series ‘Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland’, and his book, ‘That Place We Call Home’.
A key benefit of the awards being based in Cork is the regular attention that they bring to some of Cork’s most important organisations. Very often, the success of these organisations is closely linked to dynamic individuals who are deeply committed to their mission. The awards can draw attention to these organisations by celebrating the driving force behind them. For example, in December of 2021, Dr. Dermot Kavanagh, director of Cork Simon Community, was chosen as Cork Person of the Month. The media coverage highlighted Cork Simon’s legacy and work, as much as focusing on Dr. Kavanagh’s award.
At the Cork Person of the Year Awards event on March 4th, Caitriona Twomey was inducted into the Cork Person of the Year Hall of Fame for her years of service with Cork Penny Dinners. She announced at the awards that she would be travelling with others to Ukraine to help supply aid to those in need, and received a standing ovation upon finishing her speech.
Dan Donovan, winner of the Cork Person of the Year awards in 2006, was a giant of theatre in the city, and an inspirational teacher for generations of secondary school students. Dan was an actor and director, and was for some years part of a company that toured Munster towns in summer, performing John B. Keane and other works. He was a founding member of the Everyman Theatre Group, which led to the establishment of Cork’s Everyman Theatre.
The Cork Person of the Month chosen for April 2022 was Deirdre Mortell, CEO and Founder of Rethink Ireland. Deirdre’s organisation provides cash grants and business support to the social innovations that are making a real difference across Ireland. They fuel these innovations with the knowledge and the advice they’ll need to succeed on a nationally impactful scale. Since 2016, Rethink Ireland has provided support to 333 social innovations through 36 different funds, which in turn have created at least 677 jobs in the not-for-profit sector. These funds supported over 1000 people into employment and reached over 530,000 people nationwide.
These key examples demonstrate the ability of the awards to emphasise and reinforce the contribution of the people of Cork to their community and, indeed, highlights how individuals can have an incredibly positive impact on the fabric and culture of an entire region.