Donegal Person of the Year 2016
Stephen McCahill honoured as Donegal Person of the Year!
On Saturday night, 4th of March over five hundred people turned out to honour Stephen McCahill as the 2016 Donegal Person of the Year in the Regency Hotel, Dublin. Stephen was joined by his family, friends and many people from Ardara and Glenties and the surrounding areas. It was lovely that both Stephen’s children Steven and Gemma could fly in from New York to be there to celebrate his special night with him and his wife Marietta. Many of Stephen’s friends and colleagues from the Corner House Bar also joined him in celebrating this special accolade. The evening kicked off with a wine reception in the Regency Suite and from then onwards there was a very special atmosphere for the whole event!
Siobhan Shovlin, MC for the night, kicked off the proceedings shortly after 8.30pm in the Regency Hotel. Stephen was escorted into the room by the President of the Donegal Association Hugh Harkin with piper Kieran Kennedy creating a wonderful starting atmosphere.
Cathaoirleach, Elaine Caffrey thanked those present for making the huge effort to come out and support the function. Elaine paid tribute to the wonderful committee and in particular Kathleen Sheerin for her many years of service to the association. She thanked the Donegal Association’s sponsors for their support and the local media who cover all our events.
Last year’s winner, Deirdre McGlone reflected on her year as Donegal Person of the Year and even told Stephen that she busked outside the Corner House Bar years ago. She spoke of the great pride she takes in our county which is now rated the ‘Coolest Place in the Planet’ and how she will continue to promote the county. She wished Stephen every success in the coming year.
Hugh Harkin, President of the Association, spoke of the economic struggles in Co. Donegal and the importance of people like Stephen in revitalising towns and becoming involved in initiatives for the betterment and improvement of small villages.
Guests in attendance were then treated to some fantastic entertainment starting with a video about Stephen which showed many of his family and friends from Donegal paying tribute to Stephen and telling stories about his early years. The interval act was provided by the wonderful Paddy Mc Menamin on the fiddle.
The man of the moment, Stephen later addressed the crowd and spoke about how honoured he is to have won the Donegal Person of the Year award and spoke of how proud his mother is about it all. He spoke about the uncertainty which exists in society at the moment with events such as Brexit and as a result of political uncertainty people are turning towards the community again. He stated that he is just a symbol for the community and the great work being carried out in the community. He fondly looked back on attending the Donegal Association events when he lived in Dublin and how it provided a link with home at a time when there wasn’t the same access to Donegal as there is today. Stephen also recognised the great work being carried out by Donegal people all over the world and that regardless of whether they are successful in what they do anyone who tries hard deserves credit and respect.
There was a special prize for ‘The Best Dressed Lady’. The winner was Mary Breslin from Ardara who walked away with a wonderful voucher for Chophouse. The raffle this year was in aid of Cancer Care West who hope to establish a centre in Letterkenny this year. There were some wonderful prizes on offer including return flights to Donegal, hotel vouchers and much more. It was fantastic to have board member of Cancer Care West Professor Frank Sullivan present to draw the tickets and say a few words about the charity.
The night was truly fantastic from start to finish with so many special moments for Stephen and his guests. Grainne Gavigan started off the band with a few lively numbers and it didn’t take long to get the crowd on the floor. The Paul and Mary B Band followed and kept the guests entertained late into the night and ensured the dancefloor was full at all times. The night was a fitting tribute to Stephen and the Donegal Association in Dublin wish him well for the year ahead.