First established in 1995, the Rehab Galway People of the Year Awards recognises the positive contribution made by individuals and groups to life in the city and county. Among the guests in attendance at the event were Cllr. Tom Costello, Mayor of Galway City; Cllr. Seán Canney, Mayor of County Galway; Joe McDonagh, former President of the GAA; and Keith Poole, Director of Finance, Rehab Group.
Speaking at the event, Keith Poole, Director of Finance, Rehab Group, said, “This is a great event recognising the fantastic work of many people in Galway and the winners have all made outstanding contributions to Galway life. I would like to thank everyone involved in supporting the work of Rehab in Galway, particularly our funders, the sponsors of this event and our volunteers. With your help Rehab is able to make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of people in Galway every year.”
Previous award winners include local businesswoman Mary Bennett and world-renowned plastic surgeon Dr Jack McCann, both of whom were members of this year’s Galway People of the Year adjudication panel.
Dr Kieran Daly, Raymond Rooney and Neil Johnson were jointly awarded a Galway Person of the Year Award for making a difference to the lives of everyone in the West by founding and leading the specialist heart charity Croí. Their work has enabled people in the West to receive treatment in the West rather than have to travel to Dublin. The award was presented by Gerry Burke, CEO of the Bon Secours Hospital.
Brendan O’Connor of Oranswell was honoured for his great leadership and drive in the foundation of the internationally-renowned Cois Cladaigh choir in the 1980s. The choir sang for Nelson Mandela when he was granted the Freedom of the City and won five titles at the 2007 Cork Festival. The award was presented by Cllr. Tom Costello, Mayor of Galway City.
Marie Moran Greaney from Abbeyknockmoy was recognised for her enormous contribution to the arts, culture and entertainment as an outstanding set-dancer and teacher over the last 12 years. In that time, Abbeyknockmoy has won 14 national titles, including three first prizes at the World Fleadh last August. The award was presented by John Mannion of Royal Rock.
Mary Lane Heneghan of Craughwell was honoured for her tireless campaigning for improved services for people with cystic fibrosis. She has organised major fundraising events and lobbied for a dedicated cystic fibrosis unit in University College Hospital Galway and was involved in commissioning the Pollock Report which is now a blueprint for the future provision of cystic fibrosis services. The award was presented by Dorothy Kelly of Medtronic.
Valerie Swanwick received an award for her long and dedicated service with the Ballinasloe Mental Health Association over the past 40 years. She has spearheaded a programme of awareness of mental health issues which has helped change perceptions and break down obstacles in every community in the region. The award was presented by Adrian Aherne of the Health Service Executive.
James Harris of Galway was recognised for his sterling work, imagination and fundraising efforts for the most vulnerable in society. He has campaigned to raise money for autism projects, and for those with Alzheimer’s and Down’s Syndrome, supported the Galway Hospice and Galway Contact, as well as promoted ‘Once Upon a Time’ school diaries which encouraged 700 children to liaise with the elderly. The award was presented by David Lohan of Lohans, Prospect Hill.
Helen Concannon of Barna was honoured for her inspirational work with young people. A President’s Award leader for more than 30 young people, 32 of her charges have already won President’s awards. Helen has previously volunteered in India, Kenya and the Republic of Georgia. She co-founded the Friends of Londiani charity which has sent Irish people to work on water and education projects and build a maternity hospital and school in Kenya. The award was presented by John Grealish of Harvest Off-Licence.
Ray O’Connor of Roscahill was recognised for motivating others to run for charity and thus helping thousands of people. Ray has been running marathons for charity since 2000, completing 12 in 2007. He works with Croí to recruit runners for the New York marathon every year, organises the Connemarathon which attracts 6,000 runners, and founded the Frank Haines Trust and the Galway Bay 10 race. He is currently training to run across the Sahara Desert. The award was presented by Boston Scientific.
Ann Tierney of Tuam was honoured for bringing life to a piece of North Galway’s history. Her diligent and painstaking work over six years tracking down information on the RAF crew who died when their plane crashed near Tuam in 1943 led her to making contact with the men’s families. Ann organised a memorial and a garden, and the booklet on the unveiling ceremony carried a royal seal of approval from Buckingham Palace. The award was presented by Aidan Connolly of Congil Construction.
Liam O’Carroll of Oranmore was recognised for his contribution to the local community. As part of the Oranmore Development Association, he helped raise almost €900,000 to build an impressive Astroturf pitch and playground used by more than 2,000 children each week. He has also overseen the revival of the St Patrick’s Day parade and been heavily involved with the Maree/Oranmore juvenile soccer club. The award was presented by Cllr. Seán Canney, Mayor of County Galway.
The Special Merit Group Award was made to Merlin Park Walkers who have raised more than €600,000 for local charities in Galway city and county since their foundation in 2000. The award was presented to the Chairman of the Group, Gerry O’Neil, by Debra O’Loughlin of Contech.
Sponsors of this year’s awards included Galway City Council; Galway County Council; the HSE; Medtronic; Boston Scientific, Galway; Contech Medical; Lohans, Prospect Hill; Congil Construction; Harvest Off-Licence; Bon Secours Hospital, Galway; Royal Rock Ltd, and Galway Irish Crystal, represented by James Tex Callaghan.
Notes to Editor:
List of Winners
The full list of winners is:
• Galway City Council Award: Brendan O’Connor (Oranswell)
• Boston Scientific Award: Ray O’Connor (Roscahill)
• Galway County Council Award: Liam O’Carroll (Oranmore)
• Congil Construction Award: Ann Tierney (Tuam)
• HSE Mental Health Award: Valerie Swanwick (Ballinasloe)
• Lohans, Prospect Hill Award: James Harris (Galway)
• Royal Rock Award: Marie Moran Greaney (Abbeyknockmoy)
• Medtronic Award: Mary Lane Heneghan (Craughwell)
• Harvest Off-Licence Award: Helen Concannon (Barna)
• Bon Secours Hospital Joint Award: Dr Kieran Daly, Raymond Rooney and Neil Johnson
• Contech Award – Special Merit Group Award: Merlin Park Walkers
Rehab Services in Galway
The Rehab Group is an independent not-for-profit organisation working for social and economic inclusion among people with disabilities and others who are marginalised. Rehab works in partnership with the HSE Galway and FÁS, and is supported by Galway City and County Council in the successful development and operation of these services.
Rehab operates an Acquired Brain Injury Service in the West, with RehabCare operating the residential/transitional living and community support services which compliment the work of Quest. RehabCare also operates a broad range of services throughout Galway city and county. These include a state-of-the-art service operated from the centres in Liosbán Business Park, a sheltered occupational service in Casla and other specialist accommodation services, including one for those with Asperger’s syndrome in Galway City.
National Learning Network is the Training and Education division of the Rehab Group. The organisation assists people at a disadvantage in the labour market to learn the skills they need to build a lasting career or progress with their learning in an area that reflects their interests and abilities. National Learning Network offers 40 different programmes throughout Ireland and is a FETAC-Accredited Provider. National Learning Network, Ballybrit, Galway has a range of innovative Vocational and Rehabilitative training programmes on offer. Quest Brain Injury Services, located in Liosban Business Park, assists people and their families in rebuilding their lives following an Acquired Brain Injury through services on offer including a Rehabilitative Training Programme, Outreach and Aftercare Service.
Rehab Enterprises is the largest employer of people with disabilities outside of the State sector and, since January 2006, Rehab Recycle has been running a processing facility in Galway city providing custom-developed services for large and medium-sized manufacturers in the Western region. Forty-seven people are currently employed in the facility, 43 of whom are people with disabilities. Rehab Recycle also provides recycling services for the Western Seaboard from this facility for glass, cans, electronic waste and paper.
For further information on the winners and the awards, please contact:
Ollie Robinson, Area Organiser, Rehab Group
Tel: 087 2437 009
Tess Tattersall, Rehab Group
Tel: 01 2057 260/ 086 8722 509