GOAL workers Darren Hanniffy and Ronan Scully were honoured as the 23rd winners of the Offaly Association Dublin Person of the Year award at the association’s 54th annual dinner dance in the Burlington Hotel.
Association Chairperson Martin Delaney hailed the GOALie’s as ‘two great men striving to improve the world for others’ and he praised Ed Stones, Liam Fleury, Tom Mangan, Olivia Buckley and Ann Carey for their assistance with organising last Saturday’s successful gala banquet that attracted Offalians from far and wide.
Previous award recipients Tom Parlon (1998), Matt Connor (1999), Brian Whelahan (2000), Dr Philip Brady (2001), Tom & Paul Mangan (2005) and Sr Oliver Wrafter (2006) were in attendance, along with newly elected Dáil Deputies Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy and Barry Cowen.
Offaly County Council Cathaoirleach Danny Owens was present along with Cllrs Eamon Dooley and Dervill Dooley. Other guests included GOAL CEO John O’Shea, Irish Independent Sports Editor PJ Cunningham, Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael Feehan, NUJ Secretary Seamus Dooley, John O’Connor (Blackwater Press), Paddy Dunican (kilbeggan Race Course Manager) and All-Ireland senior hurling championship medal winners Fr Michael Kennedy, Liam Hogan, Joe Errrity and Brian Hennessy.
After he read a citation, MC, RTE’s Eamon Horan interviewed Darren and Ronan before they accepted their award from sponsor Coolderry native Noel Tynan, of The Celt Lodge & Bar, 81-83 Talbot Street. Millennium Man Brian Whelahan led a toast to the winners who join a distinguished roll of honour that also features former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
Darren, who was GOAL’s Country Director in Haiti, co-ordinated the GOAL emergency response in the immediate aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, said he was humbled to gain recognition and pointed out that the work carried out in Haiti over the past fourteen months should ensure the country is far better prepared ahead of any further ‘major event’.
He and his three brothers (Conor, Gary & Rory) are All-Ireland Club SHC medal winners and he revealed he continues to keep a close eye on the progress of Birr and Offaly hurling teams.
Ronan outlined he was honoured to accept the award and did so on behalf of GOAL workers everywhere. He said he was grateful to his family, parents, brother, sisters, wife and children for their support. Ronan invited guests that if they had any novel fund-raising ideas that might benefit GOAL he’d be more than willing to hear from them. He praised the Offaly Association for their ‘fantastic work’ and referred to his own involvement with the Offaly Association London and how he became acquainted with Fr Tom Scully. “We need to support and care for one another now more than ever. The Associations are a great meeting point when you are away from home.”
On his Operation Transformation experience, Ronan remarked, “Your health is your wealth and it was a life changing experience.” And this week he is embarking on the North Pole Marathon to raise funds for GOAL.
Offaly GAA Chairperson Pat Teehan highlighted that Darren and Ronan were from families steeped in GAA tradition and that in the difficult economic circumstances we find ourselves in we should take inspiration from the example they’ve set – helping others. “They’ve shown courage in the work they have undertaken and they’ve raised the profile of GOAL enormously.
“There must be something in the air around Birr and Clara, as Darren is the fifth person from Birr and Ronan the third from Clara, to receive the Offaly Person of the Year award and congratulations to them both.” Jane Feehan (1994), Bro Denis (1997), Brian Whelahan (2000) and Stephen Grant (2007) were the previous Birr winners, with Ronan following in the footsteps of Brian Cowen (1992) and Shane Lowry (2009).
Edenderry based Dr Philip Brady, Person of the Year in 2001, paid tribute to Darren and Ronan and complimented them on their achievement. An accomplished poet, Dr Brady recited a poem called ‘Forgotten Photograph’.
Musician and Midlands 103 broadcaster Ricey Scully, father of Ronan, also read a recently found poem entitled ‘Homeless’ that was penned by the late Frank Sweeney of Kilcormac, author of the much loved county anthem ‘The Offaly Rover’ and for many years a prominent member of the Offaly Association Dublin.
Introducing Ricey, Eamon Horan said he served his broadcasting apprenticeship under his stewardship at, adding, “If you think I’m rubbish, blame Ricey!”
John O’Shea, who founded GOAL in 1977, extended congratulations to Darren and Ronan, and he thanked the people of Offaly and beyond for their support. “We are a caring nation and long may it continue.”