The nine nominees for the Paddy Fitzgerald Awards have been announced by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The purpose of the biennial awards is to recognise the achievements of IFA members who are committed to their fellow farmers and to their communities.

Each of the IFA county executives in Munster has put forward a nominee for the awards night, which will take place on Sunday, October 30 in Adare, Co. Limerick. EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness will be the guest speaker.

The awards did not take place in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

‘Spirit of volunterrism’

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.

“Each of the nine nominees has the honour of being chosen by their county executive and I want to wish all of them well on the night,” Cullinan said.

“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.”

FBD Trust chairman Michael Berkery added: “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.

“In FBD Insurance, we value the community role played by Paddy Fitzgerald and his achievements for farmers the length and breadth of the country. FBD Insurance is delighted to support this award and we hope to see the spirit of Paddy Fitzgerald live on for many years to come.”

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

“Every rural community can point to achievements that would not be possible without people stepping up to make it a better place. The Paddy Fitzgerald Awards celebrate those who can say they left their mark.”

Award nominees

Clare: Martin Murphy, Cahermurphy, Kilmihil;

Cork Central: Gerard O’Connell, Rathanker, Passage West;

North Cork: Mary Twomey-Casey, Johnstown, Glanworth;

West Cork: Neilie O’Leary, Inchinagown, Coomhola, Bantry;

Kerry: Bridget O’Connor, Gleann na Gealt, Camp, Tralee;

Limerick: Tom Hogan, Inchacombe, Anglesboro;

North Tipperary: Padraig Moran, Coorevan, Borrisokane;

South Tipperary: Vincent Quinlan, Baptistgrange, Lisronagh, Clonmel;

Waterford: Michael Murphy, Coolbeggan, Tallow.

Paddy Fitzgerald Awards

In 1998, a group of farmers in Co. Limerick established the Paddy Fitzgerald Memorial Awards to remember the late Paddy Fitzgerald, a dairy and livestock farmer who, for 40 years, worked tirelessly for farmers and his community in Limerick and across Munster.

Paddy was Munster vice-president of IFA, a founder member of FBD, vice-chairman of Cork Marts and a board member of Golden Vale Marts.

The awards aim to recognise members that are following in the footsteps of Paddy Fitzgerald and his support for the farming community.

The IFA has said that these people are the “unsung heroes of rural Ireland”. They are the people who built community halls; organised group water schemes; set up sports clubs; and laid the foundation for many successful co-ops.

The format of the awards is that the nine IFA county executives across Munster nominate a person who they think is worthy of the award.  At the awards night, their achievements are outlined and publicly acknowledged.

All nominees receive a cash prize and scroll.

In addition, the Trustees have awarded over 16 special awards to individuals deemed to have made an extraordinary contribution to their fellow farmers and local community.

Winners include the late Tim O’Meara, North Tipperary; Tom Cahill, Clare; the late John Buckley, Cork Central; Tom Cleary, North Tipperary; and John Roche, Kerry.