Fr Pierce Cormack (left) and Bill Deasy, from Union Hall pictured with the Community Group of ther Year Award which was presented to them at the Rehab People of the Year Awards 2012 held in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin. Pic: Robbie Reynolds/CPR

THE people of Union Hall were honoured on Saturday evening last at the 2012 People of the Year Awards, organised by Rehab and broadcast live on RTÉ One television from the Citywest Hotel, Dublin.


Union Hall won the Community Group of the Year award for the community spirit demonstrated at a time of great tragedy and pain when the Tit Bonhomme sank with the loss of five lives in January this year.


At 6am on 15 January 2012, the Marine Rescue Sub Centre in Valentia received a mayday call from the Tit Bonhomme which was being forced on the rocks on Adam’s Island in Glandore Harbour.


It subsequently transpired that five men had been lost at sea, skipper Michael Hayes, 53; Kevin Kershaw, 21; Wael Mohamed, 35; Attaia Shaban, 26 and Saied Ali Eldin, 22.


However, in the face of great tragedy, and with different communities mourning the loss of their loved ones, Union Hall brought everyone together over the following four weeks of the search and showed true community spirit in providing unstinting physical and emotional support to those affected.


A makeshift village sprung up on the pier, where people, tired and cold from hours of searching at sea or on land, were met with hot food and drinks and a comforting ear, while there were also numerous wonderful acts of generosity and kindness by people from all across the country.

The award was presented by celebrated actor Jeremy Irons.


Guest of Honour at the awards, which are now in their 38th year, was An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.

The winners are nominated by members of the public through a nominations process and finalised by a panel of adjudicators.


Other Cork winners announced on the night were 16-year-old Joanne O’Riordan, who was born with the rare condition Total Amelia Syndrome, leaving her without arms and legs, who was named Young Person of the Year for her determination in highlighting the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Cork Penny Dinners also won a People of the Year Award for providing food and warmth for those in need in Cork over the past 100 years.


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