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The West Cork Community Awards

Bandon Co-op are delighted to continue our partnership with The Opinion in presenting the Annual Community awards for the past 6 years.

Since 1989 The Opinion magazine has organised an annual awards scheme for West Cork. It is the longest-running of its type in Munster and is deemed by many to be one of the social highlights of the year in the area, the ceremony usually attracting an attendance of 500 people . Awards are typically presented to recognise achievements in Sport, the Arts, Community and Voluntary Endeavour

Eddie Goggin and the Staff of The Opinion deserve special recognition for their hard work in the organisation of these awards year after year. And these awards have now become synonymous with the great Community and Sporting values of West Cork which we share in the Co-op.

Each year nominees for awards typify what is great about community life in West Cork and it is appropriate that we acknowledge the contribution and hard work that they have put in to their respective communities.

2019 Awards

30th Annual Opinion West Cork Community Awards 2019

The current Miss Ireland, Aoife O’Sullivan from Ballinadee was the guest of honour at the 30th Anniversary of the Opinion/Bandon Co-op West Cork Community Awards held in the Munster Arms Hotel, Bandon on Friday April 5th.

Over the past three decades this, the longest-established awards scheme of is type in Ireland has recognised the social, community, cultural and economic life of West Cork. Over 600 individuals and organisations have been honoured, some of whom have gone on to achieve national and international acclaim.

At this year’s gala ceremony the Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award went to four individuals who performed a Lazarus-like miracle on 47 year old Paul Harrington from Kilbrittain, who suffered massive cardiac arrest on September 5th last at a garage forecourt in Bandon. Paul had no pulse for over 25 minutes, but through the use of CPR and defibrillation by Ciarán Walsh, Fiona Coffey, John O’Connell and Ger Crean, Paul survived.

Innishannon author Alice Taylor, who has been most prolific over the last 30 years, received an award for her outstanding contribution to Literature.

Others honoured included Skibbereen woman Jennifer Dowler who set up a pioneering charity, Irish Dogs for the Disabled, in 2007 to provide dogs to children and adults with physical disabilities.

Octogenarian Seán Ó Sé, associated for over 50 years with traditional Irish music received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Youthful Kinsale golfer John Murphy, quickly niching a reputation for himself on the international circuit, won the Sportstar of the Year.

A children’s charity shop in Bandon which donated hundreds of thousands of euro to Sr. Jesinta in India, who runs a school to educate young boys and girls to pursue 3rd level education, won the Community Award.

The committee behind the Sam Maguire Bells project in Dunmanway, one of the most innovative projects undertaken in West Cork in 2018, were also saluted.

Spearline, Skibbereen’s up and coming global software company, was the worthy winner of the Enterprise Award.

The West Cork Rally, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, was awarded a Sporting Milestone Award.

Two stalwarts of Drinagh Rangers FC - Don Hurley and Declan Deasy - were honoured with Club Persons of the Year. Rugby too had it winners in young stars Josh Wycherley and John Hodnett, with Bandon RFC winning the Club of the Year Award.

Other winners included:

Denis McCarthy, Voluntary Endeavour Award, Michael Collins, Referee, Hall of Fame and Youth Awards were presented to Mel Deasy, Moira Barrett, Orlaith Deasy and Justin Lucas.


2018 Awards

Colette Twomey, the dynamic lady behind the success of Clonakilty Blackpudding scooped the top award at the 29th Annual Opinion/Bandon Co-op West Cork Community Awards

When Colette Twomey unexpectedly found herself at the head of the Clonakilty Food Company after the death of her husband Edward in 2005, she could easily have sold up, but the thought that their sons might one day run the family business kept her going through those dark days. With a blend of courage, vision and determination, Colette has taken a traditional cottage industry and transformed it into a global brand that is exported to the UK, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong and the Middle East. Rapid expansion of the business meant a move up to Cork for a while, but in October last, Colette brought it home to Clonakilty to a custom-built production facility complete with a visitor centre.  Not content with creating one national treasure, Colette has saved another through her recent purchase of the magnificent Lisselan Estate, which at one point seemed destined to fall into foreign hands. Colette has used her success to boost the local economy, to provide local employment, to support local charities and community organisations and to show the world that West Cork is a place of enterprise, innovation and excellence.

Colette was one of 23 individuals and clubs honoured at the gala ceremony, attended by upwards of 500 people.

Dan MacSweeney, who recently retired as CEO of Carbery and has been appointed Chairman of An Bord Bia, was presented with a LIfetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the agri/food sector over many decades.  Community groups and individuals were recognised for their voluntary endeavour, including the Friends of Bandon Community Hospital who raised €240,000 locally for the provision of a new Day Room and the Housing Committee of St. Michael’s Centre, Bandon for the construction of 9 units for the elderly. Garda James O’Mahony for his commitment to youth projects was honoured on the night. A Rosscarbery volunteer, Ted Hayes, was recognised for his major fundraising activities for worthy causes, as was the Bandon Christmas Party Group who have visited patients in local hospitals for close to four decades.

Anne-Marie O’Brien, who is the force behind the successful Butlerstown Musical Group won the Cultural Award and The Young Offenders star Jennifer Barry was honoured for her role in the popular Cork-based comedy show.

In sport the Bandon Rugby Club Junior 1 Team that won the Munster Junior Cup in 2017 and the Munster Junior League only a few weeks ago, won the Men’s Team of the Year Award. The Kinsale Intermediate Ladies Football Team won the Ladies Award and Mary Crowley, Innishannon, whose name is synonymous with camogie in Valley Rovers GAA Club won the Hall of Fame award. The Innishannon area also saw Innishvilla Soccer Club awarded the Club of the Year Award for their success in winning the AOH Cup and the building of a magnificent pavilion. Kilmacabea Junior A Football Team was honoured for their first ever County title and the top sports award went to Skibbereen Rowing Club for their success on the water at World and European level.

Youth were also among the Roll of Honour, with the Youth Enterprise Award going to Mark Shorten and Conor Lehane, two St. Brogan’s College students who won the 2018 Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition. The Sacred Heart Secondary School Debating Team, winners of the National Concern Debates were awarded the Junior Team of the Year Award, Five other youth winners included Cathal Ryan, Athletics; Abbie Sweetnam, Showjumping; Paidi McCarthy, Rugby; Nicole Quinn - Soccer and Mark Collins, Hockey.

Speakers on the night included the Mayor of County Cork, Declan Hurley, Eddie Goggin, Editor The Opinion magazine (organisers) and Ger Brickley, CEO Bandon Co-op (sponsors). Donal Warren was Master of Ceremonies.

2017 Awards

The Opinion/Bandon Co-op 28th Annual West Cork Community Awards
Local heroes who contributed to the social, cultural, sporting and community life of West Cork over the past twelve months, were honoured at the 28th Annual West Cork Community Awards Ceremony held at the Munster Arms Hotel, Bandon, on Friday April 7th.
RTE broadcaster Anne Cassin, co-presenter of Nationwide was the guest of honour at the gala celebration attended by 500 people from all over West Cork. Anne congratulated the winners on their success, saying that they were a credit to themselves, their families and communities. Other speakers included Ger Brickley, CEO Bandon Co-op (sponsors) and Eddie Goggin, Editor of The Opinion magazine (organisers). Donal Warren was the Master of Ceremonies for the occasion. 
The West Cork Persons of the Year Award went to Gary and Paul O’Donovan, who brought home silver medals from the Rio Olympics. The organisers of the Clonakilty Street Carnival, held last June to celebrate the completion of the town's drainage scheme and to mark the unveiling of its new streetscape, won the West Cork Event of the Year Award. The Cultural Award was presented to Eileen Nolan of Montfort fame, who has played a key role in many school musical productions in Clonakilty over the decades. With West Cork GAA Clubs experiencing their most successful season ever, many of them were recognised on the night: Carbery Rangers Senior Football Team that won the County were the Team of the Year Award winners, while Bandon GAA Club, which captured the double, took the Club of the Year Award. Skibbereen native and former Cork and O'Donovan Rossa Senior Football star Anthony Davis won the coveted Hall of Fame Award, Christy Collins, Castlehaven was the winner of the Club Person of the Year award, having spearheaded a major redevelopment of the club's grounds and facilities. Two veteran players in Gabriel Rangers and Goleen - Pat Nolan and John Cullinane received Recognition Awards for the role they played in both their clubs achieving County honours in 2016. 
While unavoidably absent due to his Aintree commitments, jockey Noel Fehily scooped the International Sports Award. A group of volunteers in Clonakilty who assist the elderly with Meals on Wheels and social gatherings - St. Fachtna's Club, were the worthy recipients of the Community Award. A young Bandon man, Barry O’Donovan who is National Secretary of the Irish Red Cross, was presented with a Distinguished Service Award, while a recently retired member of the Kinsale Lions Club, Bernard Greaves won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his huge contribution to worthy causes in and around Kinsale. Three members of the RNLI in the seaside town - Nick Searls, Jim Grennan and Matthew Teehan were awarded, as was Clonakilty volunteer extraordinaire Sinead Crowley. Three youths - Colin Deane (Rugby), Laura Nicholson (Athletics) and Daragh McElhinney (Athletics), as well as Ballinascarthy Foróige Club were all honoured on the night. 
This social event, the biggest in the West Cork calendar selects a worthy cause to benefit each year and on this occasion the Stella McGrath Fund was the chosen fundraiser. The young budding jockey suffered serious injuries at Glenbane Point to Point last year and is undergoing rehabilitation at present.

Selection of Award Winners with Anne Cassin

2016 Awards

The gala 27th annual Opinion/Bandon Co-op West Cork Community Awards Ceremony was a major celebration of all the good work and achievements of West Cork’s local heroes who contributed to the social, cultural, sporting and community life of the region in the past 12 months and beyond. The presence of Mary Kennedy, broadcaster and author, as guest of honour added greatly to the sense of occasion as she proved a most popular choice with both the winners and the 500 strong attendance. To add sparkle to the occasion, the newly appointed Director General of RTE, Dee Forbes, also attended, as did Eoin Ryan, producer of Nationwide, the programme so synonymous with Mary Kennedy. Sean Kelly MEP, the three newly elected TDs for Cork SW - Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Jim Daly and Michael Collins were present as was Cllr James O'Donovan, Chairman Bandon//Kinsale Municipal District, who addressed the audience, Cllrs Alan Coleman, Kevin Murphy and Gillian Coughlan were also present. Speakers on the night included Ger Brickley, CEO Bandon Co-op and Eddie Goggin, Editor The Opinion magazine. Donal Warren was the efficient Master of Ceremonies for the evening. A total of 20 awards were presented to worthy winners.

Ger Brickley, Bandon Co-op, Mary Kennedy & Dee Forbes of RTE, and Eddie Goggin, The Opinion.

Summary of Awards Presented:

  • Spirit of the Community Award: Flooding Group
  • Sportstar of the Year: Conor Hourihane
  • Community Award: John Field
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael McCarthy
  • Posthumous Hall of Fame Award: John Corcoran
  • Cultural Award: Ger Condon
  • Club Person of the Year: John Murphy
  • Literary Award: Louise O’Neill
  • Club of the Year: Newcestown GAA
  • Men’s Team of the Year: Bandon Junior A Football Team
  • Ladies Team of the Year: Bantry Ladies Football Team
  • Special Presentations: O’Donovan Brothers (Rowing)
    Harte Brothers (Hockey)
  • Recognition Award: Clonakilty Show – 100th Anniversary
  • Recognition Award: St. Patrick’s Youth Pipe Band
  • Recognition Award: Bandon Hockey Club
  • Youth Awards:  James French
                               Liam Coombe
                               Issie Hayes
                               Fiona Everard

Selection of Award Winners with Mary Kennedy

Emergency and voluntary services win Spirit of the Community Award

This year the organisers, instead of presenting a West Cork Person of the Year Award, decided that a group should be the recipients and a special Spirit of the Community Award was given to a host of emergency services and volunteers who came to the assistance of Bandon during the December flooding episodes. The award was accepted by Aidan Buckley, Station Officer Bandon Fire Service on behalf of representatives from the Civil Defence, Gardaí, Pastoral Centre, Bandon Scout Group, Cork County Council, Fire Services from Bandon, Clonakilty and Kinsale, ESB, Irish Red Cross, Farmers/Agri Contractors, Friends of Bandon, Bandon Flood Action Group, traders, local volunteers and the Army.

Award Winners receiving the Spirit of the Community Award

2015 Awards

A spontaneous standing ovation by over 500 people greeted the announcement that Dr. Jason van der Velde was the winner of the West Cork Person of the Year accolade at the 26th Annual West Cork Community Awards. Earlier in the night the committee from Ballinascarthy who coordinated the major fundraising campaign to acquire a jeep for the dedicated voluntary doctor were also honoured with the Community Award. Other West Cork’s local heroes saluted at the ceremony included Denis and Eileen Kingston, Inchydoney, for their involvement in organising the South of Ireland Band Championships in Clonakilty for the past 35 years.

Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy Thow and Emer Hickey from Kinsale were given the prestigious Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award for being recognised by Time magazine as among the most influential teenagers in the world and the Cultural Award went to renowned guitarist and proficient songwriter Declan Sinnott, who performed magnificently on the night, supported by his partner Vickie Keating.

Sports Awards

The cream of the sporting talent in the area were saluted for their achievements over the past 12 months. Club of the Year went to Valley Rovers for their success both on and off the field. Laura McSweeney from Bandon was presented with the Sportstar of the Year Award – a world champion in Powerlifting and a national champion in Shot Putt. The adjudicators travelled west to Castlehaven GAA Club to select a Hall of Fame winner in the person of Ned Cleary, whose name is synonymous with the success of the club. !e U14 Newcestown Camogie Team, Clonakilty Ladies Hockey Team and Bandon Grammar School Relay Team scooped the Youth, Ladies and Men’s Team of the Year Awards respectively, for outstanding success in 2014. Two unique achievements were recognised on the night; Alex O’Shea, Ballineen who got into the Guinness Book of Records for running a marathon in his fire gear, was honoured, as was the Crowley family from Castletown, Enniskeane for winning the TG4 Clann Feirm Factor competition.

Youth Awards

Four youth awards were presented: Brian O’Mahony (Badminton), Gavin Coombes (Rugby), Aideen Lynch (Football) and Claire Sexton (Camogie). Guest of honour for the occasion was Tracey Kennedy, first lady Vice-chairman of Cork County Board, whose address to the audience was

most thought-provoking, as well as being excellently delivered. Gus O’Brien, retired CEO of Bandon Co-op was the recipient of a presentation in recognition of his outstanding service to Bandon Co-op.

Speakers on the night included Alan Coleman, Mayor of County Cork; Eddie Goggin, Editor of The Opinion and Ger Brickley. CEO Bandon Co-op. The Master of Ceremonies was once again in the capable hands of Donal Warren; and the Awards Administrator was Jacinta O’Donovan, both of whom were specially thanked by the editor of The Opinion.  A Special Collection was taken up for the Friends of Jamie Wall Fund.