Noel Casey (Carrick-on-Suir): For the cross-border bridges he built through the ‘Northern Ireland Project’, for his sterling efforts with the Saint Vincent de Paul and so much more besides, Noel Casey thoroughly merited the Mayoral reception he received last January.
Ontario-based Dr Patrick Landy, one of the thousands who benefited from Noel’s counsel, perfectly described the essence of the man many in Carrick and its environs know was ‘Nick’.
“Noel had an unwavering belief in the ability of young people to become involved and get things done. He unselfishly spent hours of his own time guiding young people to decide on career paths, not only helping them but furnishing them with a map outlining the peaks and valleys along the journey.” And so say all of us, Patrick.
Henry Moloney (Waterford Crystal): While ‘The Glass’ sit-in was capturing widespread media attention, retired blower Henry Moloney (72) proved an illuminating guide to this reporter around the Kilbarry Visitor Centre.
The hour spent in his company on a cold Sunday night shall remain a memory as clear as crystal, as Henry regaled me with memories of a company he gave 27 years of his life to.
“You’ve seen a sample of the quality of product that skilled craftsmen, pure geniuses of men, crafted right here over the years and the distinction that their work brought to our city and beyond,” said Henry. “This must not and cannot be lost to Waterford.”
Thanks largely to Waterford City Manager Michael Walsh, ‘The Glass’ will have a future in our city, region and country.
Liz Riches (Ballybeg Community Development Project): One of the joys of this job is how it brings you into contact with so many outstanding people. Liz Riches, who co-ordinates the Ballybeg CDP, is one of them.
She herself exemplifies the ‘can do’ attitude she sees all around her in Ballybeg. As part of a vibrant community team (Una Ryan, Jane Kavanagh and Willie Moore to name but three), Liz has strongly promoted “active citizenship” throughout the area. It’s clearly taken root.
One only has to visit the hive of activity that is the CDP to feel the pride that locals have in their area, and how brilliantly Liz has tapped into that civic spirit.
“She’s a great boss,” said Jane Kavanagh when talking about Liz. “We all love her. We’re lucky to have her.” Ballybeg is clearly all the ‘richer’ for having her.
John Mullane (Waterford and De La Salle): A sporting year that began in a chilly Parnell Park for a dramatic All-Ireland Club semi-final concluded in the pleasant All-Starred climes of Buenos Aires for one of the decade’s outstanding hurlers.
Had John been born in Ballyhale, he’d had at least a half-dozen Celtic Crosses already, but there’s no prouder man wearing the white and blue than Waterford’s player of the year.
His best moment of 2009? Firing over that magnificent winning point in the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Galway in Thurles, having been stifled for most of the game by the outstanding Ollie Canning. Pure class.
Michael Garland (Waterford Chamber): Taking over as Chamber Chief Executive at a time when many businesses were laying off staff, reducing working hours or, sadly, going to the wall, Michael Garland has made a marvellous impact in a handful of months.
A thoroughly decent, amiable man and a real ‘go-to’ person, Michael exudes positivity, just what a body like Waterford Chamber required to guide it through the choppiest economic waters in a generation.
Embracing the virtues of a good working relationship with the local media, Michael has more than done his bit when it’s come to helping generate positive stories about our city. Expect to hear lots more from him during 2010.
Anne Woodworth (Waterford/South East Samaritans): At a time when many people’s lives are falling apart at the seams in this post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, the Samaritans remain just a phone call away (1850-60-90-90), always ready to listen.
As Samaritans Director, Anne Woodworth heads a team of volunteers who are there for anyone who needs a non-judgemental point of contact, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“If you feel you don’t have someone you can trust; if you feel you can’t talk to your family, we’re there,” said Anne. “We’re always there to answer and listen.”
Many men and women experiencing difficulty in our community are eternally grateful for the Samaritans’ ongoing and magnificent efforts.
Honourable mentions: Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny and Ballyhale), Lynn Cahill (Christchurch Cathedral/Theatre Royal), John O’Shea (Manchester United and Ireland), Gary Power (Gary Power Productions), Captain Dara Fitzpatrick (and her Waterford Coast Guard Helicopter colleagues), Alan Gilsenan (for his wonderful cinematic portrait of the late Liam Clancy) and TV Honan (Spraoi).