Ten-year-old author steals show at People of Year awards

Community and national heroes honoured at Gala ceremony in Dublin


Ten-year-old author Joe Prendergast whose terminally-ill dad Geoff thought him to type at the age of five, stole the show at the Rehab People of the Year awards in Dublin last night.

Joe, who donated the proceeds from his book to the Clinical Cancer Research Trust at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, was described by fellow award winner Lotetta Brennan Glucksman as embodying the spirit of Ireland. “It is all about Joe,” she said.

Now completing his second book, Joe brought guests at the glittering gala ball to their feet with applause after a video depicting him playing and travelling with his dad was shown, before scenes of Joe declaring his next book will be “finished by Christmas”.

People of the Year awards

This year’s awards were also something of a high tech affair with a “silent auction” - bids were sent in by text - and long before RTÉ broadcast the gala ceremony live after the nine o’clock news, social media had noted that weather broadcaster Audrey McGrath and Aoibhin Garrihy of Fair City fame were wearing dresses by the same designer, Rachel Gilbert.

Before the room was fully seated, Twitter revealed that Gay Byrne had been dazzled by the glare of the spotlights, that television presenter Aidan Power’s “date” was his brother Sean, and that Enda Kenny had entered the room, Joe Duffy was in place and Kathryn Thomas had been the first to arrive at 6.10pm.

But the big secret was the names of the award winners. Organisers Rehab were keeping mum -given that nine of the ten people at the press table were working their smartphones - for as long as possible.

As she received her own award for being chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund – and for personally raising over $27 million during her time with the organisation, Ms Brennan Glucksman displayed some courage of her own. “I have a black eye”, she declared enigmatically. Ms Glucksman’s award was presented by Mr Kenny, who praised her tireless work, dedication and commitment.

Kerryman Donal Walsh (16) was posthumously awarded Joint Young Person of the Year for his efforts to show young people the true value and meaning of life, and for speaking out against youth suicide. The award was presspented to his parents Fionnbarr and Elma Walsh by Saturday Night Show host Brendan O’Connor.

Comedian Brendan O’Carroll received an award for his services to the Irish entertainment industry, and his ability to bring a smile to the faces of so many people through his work, particularly through Mrs Browne’s Boys. The award was presented by Gay Byrne.

The Irish Women’s Rugby Team was awarded a People of the Year Award for their “skill, passion and dedication in achieving their success, for capturing the hearts of the nation and breaking down the barriers for women’s sport in Ireland”. The award was presented by Kathryn Thomas.

Fiona Doyle received a 2013 People of the Year Award for “courage, determination and bravery” in fighting for her own rights, and the rights of survivors of abuse.

Suffering years of abuse as a child at the hands of her father, Patrick O’Brien, the audience was told Fiona set about bringing him to justice. Fiona was presented with her award by Joe Duffy.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe who was killed in a raid at the Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, outside Dundalk, was posthumously awarded a People of the Year Award for his “bravery and fearlessness” as a local Detective Garda at the heart of the community in Dundalk. The award was presented to his widow Caroline Donohoe by Micheal O’Muircheartaigh.

Tom Arnold received a People of the Year Award for his “vision, drive and achievements with the charity Concern”.

In 2001, Mr Arnold became chief executive of Concern Worldwide and was “dedicated to the fight against worldwide hunger”, particularly children’s malnutrition.

Mr Arnold was also credited with helping the Irish Government to structure its policy on development aid. His award was presented to him by Rob Kearney.

Ciarán Finn, from Ashbourne, was the winner of the 2013 special award category ‘Dad of the Year’, for his dedication to going above and beyond for his children and teaching them skills in a novel and fun way.

Ciarán’s children, Onóra (12), Cianán (9), Darragh (8), and Aoife (5), are used to their dad being around a lot of the time. As a fireman in the local Ashbourne fire station, Ciarán loves to spend his spare time teaching the kids about food, how to grow their own vegetables and make their lunch boxes creative works of art. Ciarán was presented with his award by Neven Maguire.

Orla O’Sullivan was honoured with a 2013 People of the Year Award for her musical talent and inspiring others with a disability to follow their dreams. At just six weeks old, Orla became deaf-blind due to medication she was taking for an infection. Her award was presented by Rehab’s Angela Kerins.

Fabian Lugandu received a 2013 People of the Year Award for his bravery and courage in saving the lives of Liz O’Brien and her son, Derek who had fallen into a river near their home in Tralee, Co Kerry in January of this year. Fabian was presented his award by Love/Hate’s Peter Coonan and actress Aoibhin McCaul.

Angela Kerins, Rehab chief executive and chairperson of the adjudication panel, said the awards gave us the opportunity to honour unsung heroes from communities across the country whose stories and achievements inspire everyone around them.

With nominations for each winner coming from the people of Ireland, these truly are the “People’s Awards and reflect all that is good about our society,” she said.