The Athenry Person of the Year Ceremony was held in the New Park Hotel, Athenry on Saturday February 28th.
The Ceremony and award procedures were organised by the Athenry Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Irish Permanent Building Society. The proceeds of this inaugural event went to Childline Galway on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of that organisation.
Four nominees reached the final stages of the competition and these were: Kathleen Quinn, Christy Coffey, P.J. Molloy Mrs. Noreen Ryan and Kathleen Quinn
For service to the Community, the Athenry No Name Club nominated Kathleen Quinn, Old Church Street, Athenry. Kathleen a native of Carnmore, married the popular Athenry GAA and Handball man Mick Quinn 25 years ago and they have lived at Old Church Street since then. The Quinns have two sons Brian and Donal and one daughter Edel.
The members of the No Name Club felt that Kathleen had worked very hard for the people of Athenry for many years, and felt that it was time that she gained the recognition she deserved for all her hard work and dedication. Kathleen was already very involved with the running of “Renew” hen she recognised the need to provide recreational facilities for young people.
As a result of Kathleen’s determination, hard work and ingenuity, the “No Name Club” (non-alcoholic) was established in Athenry last September. Her nominators believed Kathleen to be an inspiration to the rest of them and despite being faced with many difficult challenges she keeps on going and gets the job done. Kathleen’s door is always open and she is positive, cheerful and determined to help out whenever she can. She is a pleasure to work with and her supporters strongly recommended her for the Chamber of Commerce, Irish Permanent Person of the Year Award 1998.
For service to the Community and Environment, Martin and Lily Beirne nominated Tidy Towns Chairman Christy Coffey for the award. Christy Coffey is married to Dolores and they have three children, Alison, Senan and Christine. They reside at Prospect, Athenry. Christy, Dolores and their children are all natives of Athenry Parish. Christy is an engineer with Galway County Council where he has special responsibility for Environmental problems. He was very instrumental in reviving the Athenry Tidy Towns Committee – for which he drew up a five year plan to enhance the area. This plan was recently completed under his leadership.
Christy served for four years as chairman of the Tidy Towns Committee – and during this time Athenry’s marks rose each year. More importantly Christy has further plans in mind to enhance the Town and its approach roads. Apart from his Tidy Towns success, Christy Coffey has done Trojan work as Chairman of Athenry Community Council, and also as a member of Athenry Area Development Co. Ltd. Untiring in his efforts to promote Athenry and always available to the individual or body for advice, Christy Coffey for his work at all levels of the Community was nominated for the Athenry Person of the Year award 1998.
For his contribution to sport in the Parish, Athenry GAA Club in the persons of Mixie Donohue and Tom Cloonan nominated P.J. Molloy for the award. P.J. married to Pauleen lives in Newcastle, Athenry. They have two children, Sandra and Martina. P.J. Molloy was one of the most skilful players ever to play the game of hurling in Co. Galway and has won almost every honour in the game. He was a permanent member of the successful Galway Senior Hurling teams of the 1970s and 8Os. He was the only Athenry player on the Galway Senior team which won the All-Ireland title in 1980 after a lapse of 57 years.
But not content with success at County level, P.J. recognised that sport and hurling in particular are very much a part of the culture of Athenry Parish and turned his considerable skill and experience to achieving the ultimate Club honour. Having failed at the final hurdle in the twilight of his own playing career, the defeat in the All-Ireland Club ﬁnal in 1988 by Middleton of Cork, only galvanised the determination of P.J. and his team. The Dream was realised on St. Patrick’s Day 1997, when the managerial and leadership skills of P.J. Molloy guided Athenry to their first ever All-Ireland Club title. The victory brought honour, pride and enjoyment to the parish and its people for months afterwards.
For the years of enjoyment, excitement and entertainment provided to the people of the parish by P.J. Molloy and in particular for the wonderful honour and pride of the All-Ireland Club title in 1997, Athenry GAA Club nominated P.J. Molloy for the Athenry Person of the Year 1998.
For service to her community and to the people of Athenry, Lester McNamara and Leo Coffey nominated Mrs. Noreen Ryan, No.8 Abbey Row, Athenry for the award. Since the l950s to the present day Noreen Ryan has done so much for her neighbours in a very quiet and dignified manner. Each and every child in Abbey Row, Barrack Street and Bridge Street was nursed from birth to parenthood and beyond by this lady whom they called Mrs. Ryan. She cured inﬂuenza, measles, mumps, cuts, bruises, body aches of all kinds and even on occasions she cured the heart-aches. She gave her tender and expert care, always willingly and freely. A native of Athenry Parish, Noreen Ryan qualified as a nurse in the UK before settling in Abbey Row with her husband Tommy to raise her family of two boys and two girls, Thomas, Padraic, Noreen and Angela. She worked tirelessly every day to help the sick and needy in the town. She often called to a number of houses to clean, cook and care for the ill and then do their shopping for them, before returning home to repeat it all for her own family. “Mrs. Ryan” gave dignity to her neighbours especially in the last days of their lives and even after their deaths she remained with the family to prepare the dead for burial and to console and comfort those left behind. Her nominators believe that Noreen (Mrs) Ryan is a truly remarkable woman. who deserves to be honoured by the people of Athenry and recommended Noreen for the Athenry Person of the Year 1998.
An independent panel of judges decided which of the four finalists would be awarded The Athenry Person of the Year for 1998. The winner selected by the independent panel of judges was P.J. Molloy.
Written by To be confirmed!
Published here 23 Mar 2023 and originally published Easter 1998
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