Special Olympics supremo Mary Davis was presented with the Irish Person of the Year Award by guest of honour, An Tanaiste, Mary Harney, whilst the late Niamh ní Dhoibhilín, from Dublin and Limerick youngster, Ciara MacMahon were jointly awarded the Young Irish Person of the Year Award.
Fifteen year old Niamh finally lost her courageous battle for life last month, just days after she was chosen to receive the award for her inspirational qualities in the face of years of serious illness.
Ciara, who is just seven years of age, received her award for her immense bravery in saving the lives of her three younger brothers by enduring the trauma of three separate operations to donate bone marrow to them.
The overall award went to Ms Davis for what the adjudicators described as her hard work, energy and vision in making the Special Olympics one of the great events of 2003, not just in Europe, but across the world. Meanwhile, Mike Meegan was named as the International Person of the Year for his work in helping large numbers of AIDS victims in East Africa.
The other award winners were: Peter Canavan for leading Tyrone to All-Ireland glory and for his contribution to football in the county over many years; Ita Bourke, who was chosen to receive a posthumous award for her tireless work in establishing a full time care centre for Irish cancer patients while also fighting her own brave battle with breast cancer; Niall Mellon for his work on behalf of poverty stricken township dwellers in South Africa and Dermot Weld for his achievements as a racehorse trainer, not least the extraordinary feat of twice capturing the Melbourne Cup.
Each of the award winners were chosen by an adjudicating committee including editors from national newspapers, provincial press and broadcast media from nominations made by the public.
For further information: Monina Nagle, Bill O'Herlihy Communications - 01 6602744 or visit www.peopleoftheyear.com
People of the Year Awards 2003 – Citations
For her hard work, energy and vision which made the Special Olympics one of the world’s great events in 2003, Mary Davis is this year’s Irish Person of the Year.
NIAMH NI DHOIBHILIN
For her immense bravery and strength of character, her thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit throughout a short life during which she was virtually always fighting serious illness, tonight we remember Niamh ni Dhoibhilin, one of this year’s Young Irish People of the Year.
For her courage in saving the lives of her three younger brothers by donating bone marrow that helped to cure them of a rare genetic illness Ciara McMahon is one of this year’s Young Irish People of the Year.
DR MIKE MEEGAN
For the compassion he has shown for impoverished people in East Africa and, in particular, for his work in helping many people suffering from AIDS, Dr Mike Meegan is awarded the International Person of the Year Award.
For his role in leading the Tyrone team to victory in this year’s All Ireland final and his years of dedication to football in the county, Peter Canavan is awarded a People of the Year Award.
For her vision and her tireless work in establishing a full time care centre for Irish cancer patients while also fighting her own brave battle with breast cancer, tonight we remember Ita Bourke – one of this year’s Irish People of the Year.
For his remarkable generosity and determination in providing a better life for poverty stricken township dwellers in South Africa, Niall Mellon receives a People of the Year Award.
For his outstanding and exceptional achievements as a racehorse trainer, both nationally and internationally, Dermot Weld is awarded a People of the Year Award.