Profiles of Nominees for Person of the Month March 2012 – February 2013

March – Adam Nolan

Adam Nolan, a native of the Ballagh county Wexford has secured himself a position in the 2012 London Olympics by defeating Romanian Ionut Gheorghe 19-10 in the 69kg welterweight semi-finals.

Adam’s foray into boxing started young when at the tender age of 12 he won his first All Ireland Boys title with Billy Walsh in his corner. Coached by his father and his brother he won another All Ireland title when he turned 16. Boxing is a tradition in the Nolan family where Adams father john was ringside to Billy Walsh throughout his 7 national titles. Billy Walsh says that Adam’s qualification is a massive achievement for Wexford he is the second only boxer to qualify after Billy.

Adam’s road to qualification wasn’t smooth with damaged ligaments in his hand following his retention of the senior title 6 months before the qualifiers.

Adam said that he had realized a lifetime ambition by qualifying for the Olympics . He said, “It’s just unbelievable, I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it. It’s a boyhood dream.” Adam is also an accomplished hurler and was asked by county hurling coach Liam Dunne to pick up the ash again but chose  boxing. Now a Garda in Bray, Adam entered the ring as a hopeful challenger and left it as an Irish Olympian. Here’s hoping Adam brings back the gold after this Summers games

April – Hope Cancer Support Centre Enniscorthy

The Hope Cancer Support centre is a deserving winner of the Person of the Month Award. The idea to form a support group for people affected by cancer began in 1999 when 3 people from the Enniscorthy area met, each of whom had been diagnosed with cancer. They quickly realised that there was no emotional support for people with cancer and because cancer never just affects one person but an entire family and circle of friends they decided to organise a meeting place where people could come together chat in confidence and support each other on the journey with their illness.

They soon outgrow this format needing a more fixed premises and to this end they moved to Church Street Enniscorthy staying there for about 6 years. With the generous support of the public the doors of the new Hope Cancer Support Centre opened in 2007 at what was previously Dr Cuddigcans Home in Weafer Street.

Since then over 2000 people have been helped at the centre. None  of this would be possible without the many volunteers that help run the centre.  The wide ranging services provided by Hope are free. A person frequenting the Hope centre is assured they will be treated with respect, dignity and confidentiality and will be supported in any way that is beneficial to them.

The Hope Support Centre is associated to the Irish Cancer Society and work closely with other services that offer support to those touched by cancer.

 May – Lillian McKenna

Lillian Mc Kenna is our May recipient of the person of the month award. The sheer volume of nominations Lillian received is testament to the great work she does at St. Johns Hospital Enniscorthy and for her other voluntary work in the Enniscorthy area.

All of the nominations have something in common, they acknowledge how tirelessly she works for the patients in the hospital, from organizing outings, volunteers and indeed anything that she can do for the benefit of the patients. A volunteer who gives so much to the hospital Lillian is cherished by all the staff and patients. While running the volunteer programme would be work enough for any person, she also managed to set up a residents association to ensure that things that are important to them are facilitated . All people who nominated Lillian agree that the hospital would be a much worse off place without her!

Lillian has done much work to improve the facilities and services provided at Millbrook Day Centre, for adults with intellectual disabilities in Enniscorthy. She helped organise the manual gardening help and clear the overgrown playground area restoring it to its original glory. She has excellent organization and leadership skills with a great sense of giving making her an ideal winner of the person of the month award.

June- Barbara Bent

Barbara Bent is the June winner of the Person of the Month award. Barbara’s work with animals goes above and beyond the call of duty. She has worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare for over 40 years. Her involvement with the many animal interest associations locally and nationally makes  a lengthy and established list  

 She serves on the Veterinary Council of Ireland as the Animal Welfare representative. For the past 11 years she has been a member of the animal welfare advisory council to the Minister of Agriculture.  Barbara is a Director of the ISPCA.

 Her great love is everything equine and Barbara is responsible for running the equine element of the ISPCA Mallow. She was involved in the launch of the Sulky Campaign announced at this years RDS horseshow to abolish the use of sulkys on our roads. 

Barbara is working as part of an overall advisory committee on drafting new Animal Health & Welfare legislation . Our current policies have been in existence for 101 years  where nothing has changed in in animal health and welfare in this time

 July- Billy Walsh 

Congratulations to Billy Walsh, Head Coach to the Irish Boxing High Performance Team on winning the July Person of the Month award specifically for his outstanding contribution throughout  the 2012 London Olympics.

Billy is an outstanding sportsman from Wexford. He developed a love of all sports at an early age and excelled at them all. During his own boxing career he won seven Irish Senior titles, represented Ireland at European and World Championships and achieved his lifelong ambition by competing in the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988.

In recent times Billy has turned a labour of love into a career by becoming head coach for the High Performance Team for the last ten years. The successes to date at European, World and Olympic level are unprecedented in the history of Irish Sport and as a result he has become one of the most highly respected and sought after coaches in the world of Boxing.

Due to the implementation of strategic planning and a constant mission to improve, Irish boxing has surpassed all other sports with an impressive medal haul from every major tournament in which they have participated. With the help of an amazing back room team Billy has overseen the development and nurturing of many boxers, helping to turn them into world class performers.   

August- Canon Felix Byrne 

Canon Felix Byrne, Monaseed, Gorey is the Person of the Month winner for August.  For over 2 decades Canon Byrne has worked tirelessly for the people of the third world. He embraces the concept of self help wholeheartedly in the interests of less fortunate people in Africa and Eastern Europe. He has organised countless shipments of heifers and goats to countries such as Albania and Kosovo and all across North Africa including Somalia and Ethiopia. 

To do this successfully required him to personally contact farmers across Co Wexford and the South East encouraging them to donate an animal to rear and keep it until it is in calf. The animal is then sent to a needy family in the third world to provide them with milk or to provide meat. 

In addition to his work with animals, he has collected vast sums of money in donations from schools, organisations and individuals including collection points at the agricultural shows in the County. Children at Ferns National School, inspired by Canon Felix and other teachers, raised €16,000 for Bothar. The money is used to pay for airlifting animals or the purchase of other animals without any deductions for administration or other costs. 

Over the years 1000 heifers and 5200 goats have left Co Wexford to bring relief and hope to starving families. The offspring of those animals have been used to bring many more families back from the brink of despair. 

Meanwhile Canon Felix, a sprightly octogenarian continues to work tirelessly to raise goats and to cajole funds and animals from willing supporters across the County.

September Winners Catherine O Neill and Darragh McDonald

 Catherine O Neill

Catherine is one of Ireland’s most experienced field-event athletes and the current world discus champion. She made her third Paralympics appearance at the London Paralympics winning silver in the discus event.

Winning a gold in the discus event as far back as 1998’s IPC World Championships, Catherine’s claimed another gold in that event and silver in the Club Throw at 2011’s World Championships in Christchurch. These impressive results demonstrate her enduring ability to deliver world-class performances.

Away from training and competition, Catherine has worked to promote involvement in disability sport in Wexford and loves to spend time with her 7 year old son Calum. 

She says being involved in sport has opened up so many avenues to her. She loves travelling to interesting and exciting countries to compete, but top of her list is the honour she receives in representing her country. 

Catherine has her sights set on the World Championship in France inJuly 2013 and of course Rio is calling in 2016. 

We are already looking forward to watching her compete and making us all very proud. 

Darragh Mc Donald

Darragh began swimming competitively at the Asgard club in 2006 and his swimming career has gone from strength to strength.

He achieved an amazing double at the IPC European Swimming Championships in 2009 in the Laugardalur Swimming Complex in Reykjavik, his first European Championship. In his first final of the championship, Darragh set a new Irish record finishing in a time of 1:10:50 winning the first of his 2 silver medal wins, remarkably destroying the record he had only set that morning!

Darragh  is an 18 year old leaving cert student from Gorey Co Wexford and already he has added a second Paralympics medal to his medal chest, this time gold, winning the 400m freestyle event at the 2012 London Paralympics.  He previously won silver in Beijing at the tender age of 14 in 2008. He says seeing the Irish flag being raised was like a dream come through.

His sights are firmly set on the Rio Paralympics in 2016 where he plans to beat his previous performances. Of course before all of that he has to sit the Leaving Cert exam this summer! He plans to study law and history at UCD and get involved in the swimming club on campus.

We wish him every success in his leaving certificate and future swimming events.


October Winner- Lar O Connor

Lar has a long and distinguished association with water safety, tracing his interest back to his secondary school days where he competed with St. Peters College in swimming and water safety competitions as a teenager. He attended Easter and Summer Water Safety weeks in Wexford Swimming Pool in order to become an Irish Water Safety Instructor.

During his student days he worked as a beach guard in Rosslare and Curracloe, With his brother Tony and his team mate John Doyle they won 6 national titles whilst representing Wexford at National Water Safety competition. In fact Lar still hols a speed carry Irish record with Tony!

Lar has been teaching swimming with Wexford Water Safety for over 30 years. He became an Irish Water Safety Examiner in 1995 and an Irish water Safety Risk Assessor in 2004.

He instructs beach guards and pool lifeguards as well as instructing on Bunclody’s Water Safety week every summer. Over the last 10 years, the Wexford Water Safety club has evolved into a year round club with a summer base in Curracloe where Lar coaches three times a  week.

Lar has been  involved in Water Safety competitions, coaching for National competitions. He was also chairperson of  Wexford Water Safety in the past and he is currently Vice Chairperson.

He helped to organise the National Nipper and Junior Surf Life Saving
competition which was held in Curracloe last Summer and they are hosting the Senior event there this September.

His long term ambition is to attract an international event to this great venue in the future. They  were very proud when 8 of their members were selected for the Irish squad recently.

Lar continues to compete in Irish Masters Life Saving Championship but apart from swimming, he enjoys skiing and horse racing. He  bred his own racehorses and last year he had some luck with a  horse he bred called Sumkindasuperstar


November Winner – Denis O Connor


Denis O Connor is a native of Rathnure. He has a long history that extends over 25 years in working with community and voluntary organisations around the County.

Denis established Console House in Wexford Town 3 years ago and already it has played a huge role in the lives of bereaved families throughout the County.

Console is The National Suicide Charity and is a dedicated service to suicide bereavement. Console responds to the needs of those bereaved by suicide in the community in a variety of ways. This service is delivered with respect, dignity and compassion. A 24 hour suicide prevention helpline is now also in place for those in distress.

Today Denis works with a team of 6 qualified therapists at Console House. They help individuals, families and groups in a respectful and confidential manner. They also provide a weekly support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Denis along with his team facilitate training groups in the community.  Console receives about 30% of its funding from the HSE, the rest of what it costs to run their office comes from voluntary contributions.

He says that none of this would be possible without the support of everyone in  Co Wexford and surrounding Counties. He is constantly amazed at peoples generosity with their time and of course money.


December Winner – Fionn O Callaghan


In January 2012 Fionn saw a woman smoking in her car with children passengers. This sparked concerns for Fionn about the health impact of smoking in a confined space when children are present.  

Fionn wrote to the Taoiseach requesting that he make a new law banning adults from smoking in cars when children are present. The Taoiseachs department responded to his letter saying that they passed his request to the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald and the Minster for Health, James Reilly. 

Fionn is invited to a informal meeting of Senators at Leinster House in April 2012 where he addresses 12 senators and interested advocacy groups. His campaign gains traction with media picking up his story and Senators John Crown, Jillian van Turnhout and  David Norris acknowledging his tremendous input into bringing the second stage of the bill through the Seanad  in May 2012,  banning adults from smoking in cars with children. 

In January Minister James Reilly announces that legislation will be forthcoming hopefully before the summer break which gives powers to Gardai  to enforce the ban on adults smoking in cars with children present. 

Fionn is an extraordinary example of how one person, adult or child can make a difference to way we live our lives. The concerns that he acted upon will benefit every child in years to come.  Thank you Fionn.


January Winner-Jade Whelan

Jade Whelan is an inspiration to all that know her. Her winning smile is ever present despite what physical challenges are thrown at her. Her courage knows no bounds. Jade hadn’t reached her mile stone first birthday when her parents Sarah and PJ knew that something wasn’t quite right. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis.  Her life long relationship with hospitals began.

Jade was admitted to Our Ladys Hospital in Crumlin and placed on steroids, one of which almost caused her blindness in one eye. She underwent many operations to rectify her eyesight and has glaucoma  to this day. She was in permanent pain caused by her arthritis and by 2011 the hospitals had tried everything they could to treat her condition. Jade was referred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for a stem cell transplant.

Jade embraced the opportunity to get better and along with her parents decided while it was high risk, the odds of mortality were less than 20%, she couldn’t go on like this.  In April 2012 the chance to have a stem cell transplant were realised. By now Jade needed morphine everyday to keep the pain at bay. She celebrates the anniversary of the transplant on the 19th April. 

She was the first Irish stem cell transplant patient. The transplant was successful in curing the juvenile arthritis but unfortunately Jades immune system was compromised from all her treatments and since her transplant has had a long battle with infections one of which meant a return to the hospital in Newcastle for 3 months. Whilst there, she was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system.  She was in a lot of pain during this time.

In February of this year Jade was flown from Newcastle to Our Ladys Hospital in Crumlin where she continues to receive treatment today. Now 14, Jade is progressing well and she returns home every weekend to be with her family and friends. Jade continues to inspire everyone in her community with her bravery and her ability to smile through it all. We wish Jade every success with her upcoming rehabilitation programme.


February Winners- Hope & Dream 10 Organising Committee

The Hope and Dream 10 project was the brainchild of Tom Herlihy and John O’Leary. They later recruited Alan Maher to the organizing committee. As members of Slaney Olympic Athletic Club, Tom and John had taken part in a few races and fun runs and had experience in organising running events and thought they would try their hand at something bigger.  

They agreed to hold a 10 mile race in Enniscorthy as they lived there and April 1st 2012 was chosen as D –day.  They chose 2 fantastic charities to benefit from the race proceeds. The committee had an affinity with the Hope Cancer Support Centre in Enniscorthy who do amazing work to support those with cancer. They were also aware of the incredible work done by Shay Kinsella and his team from the Share a Dream Foundation who help make dreams come through for very sick or terminally ill children.

‘Hope and Dream 10’ was born. They felt that if they could persuade 1,000 people to raise €100 each that €100,000 might be achievable. There was a commitment that all money raised would be handed to the charities.

The 10 mile race was designed to appeal to everyone from the walker/jogger to the serious runner. The Little Dreamers Dash is a kids event that was established to fulfill the ethos of an all inclusive family event. It took place on the Promenade for all children. The event was managed and stewarded by local students. A race by kids – for kids.

For the event Tom, John and Alan surrounded themselves with an excellent team of organizers with representatives from the Hope Cancer Support Centre and the Share a dream Foundation. Up to 150 volunteers on the day of the event made it all possible.
When the dust settles, it is estimated that over the two years, Hope and Dream 10 will have contributed a staggering €250,000 to Hope Cancer Support Centre and Share a Dream Foundation. A big well done to everyone involved.