Lanesboro native Fr Brendan O’Sullivan, who celebrated the silver jubilee of his ordination earlier this year, was chosen as the Midlands Simon Community Longford Person of the Year 2018 at Friday’s gala awards ceremony in the Longford Arms Hotel.
After he was announced as the overall winner, Fr Brendan, during an inspiring acceptance speech, said he was ‘deeply taken aback and honoured’ to follow in the footsteps of previous Longford Person of the Year winners, Victor Connell (2016) and Jillian McNulty (2017).
Assigned to Carrick-on-Shannon in September 2016, Fr Brendan began his vocation in Longford parish and the 250 guests accorded him a rapturous ovation as he made his way up on stage to accept his award from main sponsor of the event, Frank Kiernan, (Kiernan Structural Steel Limited), and Midlands Simon CEO Tony O’Riordan.
“I’ve always loved Longford. It is my part of my life, my home and growing up. Lanesboro is where I was born and raised. Longford is where I worked most of my life and now I’m sharing among the great community in Carrick on Shannon where I’m very happy,” remarked Fr Brendan.
He received a rousing round of applause when he said, “I receive the award with great thanks and great courage. Living through a difficult time for the church in recent times, it took great courage to continue to do the work we do and I receive this award on behalf of all priests who have done good work over the years. I do humbly accept this trophy but I also humble myself in acknowledgement of the great hurt that was caused in recent and past years.”
Stressing the importance of faith, Fr Brendan struck a chord when he commented, “If you turn your back on faith, you have nothing, because faith is not just about a belief in God, it is about a belief in who you are yourself.”
Fr Brendan worked with Accord for twenty one years as a facilitator and counsellor and continued further studies in counselling through Middlesex University in London. “You meet people who are broken in life and try to give them a sense and purpose and meaning to life; that is so important.”
A priest since 1993, Fr Brendan outlined that ‘faith and family love and people like you keep me going. I receive more than I could ever give’.
Paying tribute to his family, parents Pat and Josie, his siblings Michael, Marie, Ciara and Diarmaid, Fr Brendan said everyone needs the love, care and support of family. “Looking at the theme of night, every person needs a place that you can call home. Home is where you are accepted and loved for who you are and as you are.”
Compére and MC for the enjoyable occasion was Joe Flaherty, and he was assisted on stage by organising committee member Martin Skelly. The awards are promoted by the Midlands Simon Community, with Kiernan Structural Steel Limited as the main sponsors, along with media partner, the Longford Leader .
Thanks were extended to Noel Greene, Community Fundraising Coordinator Midlands Simon, for his sterling work in organising the event, while Midlands Simon CEO Tony O’Riordan and Chairperson Mark Cooney highlighted the valuable work the Midlands Simon Community does in Longford.
Other award recipients on the night included record breaking athlete Cian McPhillips from Ardagh and he was recognised as the Young Person of the Year.
Farmer and author, John Connell from Ballinalee, was honoured on the back of his incredible breakthrough book, 'The Cow Book', and sensational swimmer, Darragh Greene, from Newtownforbes, also figured on the winners list and he is bidding to achieve qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games.
Community activist Majella Doherty (Edgeworthstown) was recognised for her tireless fundraising for many deserving causes.
Longford Slashers stalwart, Dermot Brady, who announced his retirement from inter-county football last year, was honoured, as was Eoin McGinnity (Longford town) in recognition of his annual charity truck run to Belarus with clothes and food for orphanages there.
Killoe national school principal and long-time FCA member, Colm Harte; Irish music enthusiast and community activist from Newtowncashel, Siobhan Casey, and Marie McGivney, the Mullinalaghta district nurse, who goes over and above the call of duty on a daily basis, were also recognised on the night.
Longford People of the Year Awards 2018
Overall Winner: Fr Brendan O’Sullivan (sponsor Kiernan Structural Steel Limited)
Young Person of the Year: Cian McPhillips (sponsor Bank of Ireland)
Darragh Greene (sponsor Longford Credit Union)
Fr Brendan O’Sullivan (sponsor Chris Cullen Construction, Lanesboro)
Marie McGivney (sponsor McCarrick Brothers Stonehouse Cash & Carry, Longford)
Majella Doherty Kelly (sponsor Valentine’s Bar, Longford)
Colm Harte (sponsor Kiernan Milling)
John Connell (sponsor Ulster Bank)
Siobhan Casey (sponsor McDonalds, Longford)
Dermot Brady (sponsor Vocella’s, Longford)
Eoin McGinnity (sponsor David Blessington Concrete Works)
Connellan Solicitors, Benny Ledwith Building Contractor, Tool & Plastic Company Limited, Garvey’s Garden Sheds, Mulleady’s Waste Disposal, ProTrans, Paul & Vincent Milling, Apple Green Filling Station, Byrne’s Filling Station, Viewmount House, Loughrey’s Pharmacy, Nolan’s Garage and AIB.