The winner of the 2022 Paddy Fitzgerald Award has been announced as Neilie O’Leary from Inchinagrown, Coomhola in Bantry Co. Cork, who has been involved in the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) for almost 50 years.

The announcement was made at a ceremony in Adare, Co. Limerick last night (October 30), where EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness was the guest of honour.

O’Leary currently sits on the national hill committee, which he chaired for some time in the early 2000s, and is also involved in numerous community initiatives in the Borbin Valley area.

He was nominated by the West Cork county executive and speaking about his win, he said it was “a huge honour”, and dedicated the award to his family and community.

IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Paddy Fitzgerald Awards represent the spirit of volunteerism and the selfless dedication of people to the betterment of their communities. He stated:

“Each of the nine nominees had the honour of being chosen by their county executive. The cornerstone of IFA’s work is the willingness of farmers to give of their time in representing their fellow farmers.

“It is only fitting that this should be recognised and I would like to thank FBD for their support for this prestigious event.”

“The late Paddy Fitzgerald worked unselfishly to better the lives of farmers, first through his work with Macra in Co. Limerick and then in the NFA and Cork Marts IMP,” said FBD Trust chair Michael Berkery said.

FBD Chairman Liam Herlihy said:

“FBD Insurance values the community role played by Paddy Fitzgerald and his achievements for farmers the length and breadth of the country.”

IFA national treasurer and returning officer Martin Stapleton, who is the chairman of the Trustees, said the Paddy Fitzgerald Award is an opportunity to celebrate those who put themselves forward on behalf of their neighbours and their communities.